18 Sep 2023 11:45 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently held that registration of complaints via WhatsApp, coupled with acknowledgement by relevant authorities, is substantial compliance of Sections 154(1) and 154(3) of CrPC- provisions pertaining to registration of FIRs.Justice Javed Iqbal Wani made this observation while hearing a plea challenging a complaint filed by the respondent...
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently held that registration of complaints via WhatsApp, coupled with acknowledgement by relevant authorities, is substantial compliance of Sections 154(1) and 154(3) of CrPC- provisions pertaining to registration of FIRs.
Justice Javed Iqbal Wani made this observation while hearing a plea challenging a complaint filed by the respondent under Section 156(3) CrPC in the City Munsiff's Court at Srinagar. The case revolved around a property dispute.
The complainant had forwarded her grievances through WhatsApp chats to the SHO (Station House Officer) of the local police station on multiple occasions, with responses from the SHO acknowledging the receipt. On seeing no action, she made a complaint to the Magistrate under Section 156(3) CrPC, seeking a direction to the SHO for taking necessary action.
The petitioner herein approached the High Court against order of preliminary enquiry, stating that the complainant did not adhere to the legal requirements specified in Sections 154(1) and 154(3) of CrPC.
Complainant asserted that she had followed the correct procedure by initially reporting her grievances to the police and providing evidence of these initial reports through WhatsApp chats and emails.
On perusal of the record Court noted,
"the complainant respondent herein seemingly forwarded a complaint on 5.5.2022 before SHO police station as is evident from pictures of Whatsapp chats between the complainant respondent herein and SHO and response thereto from the SHO that the complaint has been diarized and is proceeded legally... Another complaint also appears to have been filed through Whatsapp by the complainant respondent herein to SHO concerned on 22.9.2022... The aforesaid facts essentially amounts to substantial compliance of section 154 (1) and 154 (3) Cr.PC and as such the complainant respondent herein can safely be said to have complied with the said requirement for invoking the provisions of section 156 (3) Cr.PC"
The bench emphasised the extensive powers granted to magistrates under Section 156(3) CrPC to ensure proper investigations and stressed the significance of such applications being supported by an affidavit from the complainant and the magistrate's duty to verify the truth and veracity of the allegations.
The bench found that the respondent's use of WhatsApp chats and emails to communicate her grievances to the police can be considered substantial compliance with the legal requirements of Section 154(1) and 154(3) CrPC.
Highlighting that the complainant had diligently reached out to the authorities, including the SHO and SSP, through various means and had requested the registration of a case, the court also noted that an affidavit was filed by the complainant, in line with the principles laid down in the Priyanka Srivastava & Anr v State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.
"Filing of the complaint/application by the respondent herein and its entertaining by the Magistrate and passing of the impugned order cannot be found fault with. Even if it is assumed that the Whatsapp chats and the email aforesaid were not part of the complaint at the time of its filing before the Magistrate as at this stage while examining the validity of the complaint as also the impugned order, non-filing of the same before the Magistrate would be having no effect on the merits of the application now in view of the said material being available before this court", the bench reasoned.
Citing Neeharika Infrastructure Private Limited v. State of Maharashtra where it was held that criminal proceedings are not to be scuttled in the initial stage and that quashing of a complaint/FIR should be an exception, the court found the petition devoid of any merit.
Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.
Case Title: Dilshad Sheikh & Ors vs Sabha Sheikh
Case No: CRM(M) 572/2022 CrlM 1586/2022
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment