In its latest Judgment, the Supreme Court has been held that mere filing of the charge-sheet does not entitle accused to get copies of the relevant documents including a statement recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C.
The Supreme Court has observed that the Allahabad High Court has completely failed to maintain the confidentiality of the statement, recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C
The father of the Appellant (daughter) lodged a Complaint with P.S Kotwali, District Shahjahanpur to the effect that he had seen a video of her daughter (Appellant) on her Facebook account, in which she is alleging that Respondent No.2 and some other persons have sexually exploited his daughter and other girls.
It was also alleged that the Appellant was not contactable, and he was apprehending danger to the Appellant; therefore, prompt action be taken in the matter.
An FIR No.445 of 2019 was registered on the aforesaid complaint with respect to offences under Sections 506 and 364 of IPC.
Aforesaid Facebook video of the Appellant having gone viral, some advocates wrote letters to Supreme Court, whereafter Suo Motu Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 2 of 2019 was registered.
After that, on 30.08.2019 it was reported to the Supreme Court that the girl was traced in District Dausa of State of Rajasthan. On 30.08.2019, the Appellant recorded her statement before the Supreme Court that she did not want to go back to Uttar Pradesh but would meet her parents in Delhi.
Thereof Supreme Court directed the Chief Secretary of U.P. to constitute an SIT headed by a police officer of the rank of the I.G. of Police to be assisted by the S.P. and a team of police officers to enquire into the grievances expressed by Appellant and also the apprehension expressed by her parents.
Supreme Court also requested the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court to constitute a special bench for monitoring the investigation. It further requested to review the protection accorded to the family members of Miss “A” and pass appropriate orders.
Accordingly, the SIT was set up, and on 16.09.2020, the statement of the Appellant was recorded by Judicial Magistrate under the provisions of Section 164 of the Cr.P.C.
On 17.09.2019, the Appellant filed an application alleging that there were certain lapses in recording her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. On the same day, another application was moved by Respondent No.2 seeking a certified copy of the statement of the Appellant recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C.
Relying on the State of Karnataka by Nonavinakere Police vs Shivanna alias Tarkari Shivanna reported in (2014) 8 SCC 913, the application was rejected by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Shahjahanpur, vide order dated 19.09.2019.
After that, the Respondent No.2 was arrested, and his bail application was rejected by the CJM, Shahjahanpur on 23.09.2019.
On 22.10.2019 Respondent No.2 filed a Criminal Miscellaneous Application, No.39538 of 2019 in the Allahabad High Court challenging the Order refusing to provide 164 Cr.P.C. statement. Thereafter the SIT filed the charge sheet on 05.11.2019 with spect to FIR No. 442/2019 and 445/2019.
As per the charge-sheet the Respondent No. 2 committed offences punishable under Section 354D, 342, 506 and 376C of IPC.
The Allahabad High Court by means of its Order dated 07.11.2019 allowed the Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. 39538 of 2019 filed by the Respondent No2.
Before the decision of the Allahabad High Court could be challenged, by filing the Special Leave Petition, a copy of the statement of the Appellant recorded under Section 164 of the Code was provided to Respondent No.2.
The Supreme Court held that from the Judgement in the case of State of Karnataka by Nonavinakere Police vs Shivanna alias Tarkari Shivanna (Supra) it is clear that the Court directed that a copy of the statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 of the Code be handed over by the concerned Judicial Magistrate to the Investigating Officer with a specific direction that the contents of such statement under Section 164 of the Code should not be disclosed to any person till charge-sheet/report under Section 173 of the Code was filed.
Further, the Hon’ble Judges of Supreme Court observed that the Scheme of the relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code shows that after the completion of the investigation, a report under Section 173 of the Cr.P.C is to be filed by the police giving required information as per Section 173. Thereafter in terms of Section 190 of the Cr.P.C, the concerned Magistrate may take cognizance of any offence considering the police report.
It has been further held by Supreme Court that only after taking of the cognizance and issuance of the process by the competent Court the accused is entitled to copies of the documents referred to in Sections 207 and 208 of the Code.
Supreme Court has made it clear that unless the stages indicated above are undertaken, the mere filing of the charge-sheet, does not entitle an accused to get copies of any relevant document, including the statement recorded under Section 164 of Cr.P.C.
Hon’ble Judes of Supreme Court further observed that the Allahabad High Court completely erred in appreciating the earlier directions issued by the Court, especially with offence alleged is of sexual exploitation. The High Court has completely failed to maintain the required utmost confidentiality.
In view of the above, the Supreme Court has set aside the Order of Allahabad High Court and laid down that under no circumstances copies of statements recorded under Section 164 of the Code can be furnished till the Court passes appropriate orders after taking cognizance in the matter.
Title- Miss A vs State of U.P.
Case No.– Criminal Appeal 659 of 2020
Coram– Hon’ble Justice U.U. Lalit, Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran and Hon’ble Justice S.Ravindra Bhat
Date of Judgment– 08.10.2020