The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday, came down heavily on the State government and senior police officers for not registering a First Information Report (FIR), before investigating alleged cases of Child Pornography.
Registration of FIR before investigation of cognizable offence, is mandated by the Supreme Court, in the case of Lalita Kumari Versus State Of Uttar Pradesh.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar, said "They (Police Officers), it seems do not have an elementary knowledge of criminal law." it orally said to the state "House has to be set in order."
The observation was made after going through an affidavit filed by the Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police, Neelmani N Raju, in which it was stated that "The report of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India was first produced before the court. However, this did come as a surprise given the fact that there are no allegations of any such child pornography that had occured anywhere in Karnataka. The locations were the events had occurred were informed by the Karnataka State Integrated Child Protection Society. Immediately on receipt of the information, Additional Director General of Police (Crime) issued a letter to all Superintendent of Police to ascertain the occurrence of the alleged child pornography and submit a report within a day. It was on this basis that the Superintendent of Police, submitted reports, which did not indicate any event of child pornography."
The bench said "Which law permits inquiring into cognizable offences, without registering a complaint. When a report of cognizable offence is submitted why such a gimmick is being done by police officers?. These people will have to be taught elementary principles of law."
Justice Oka, said "In the Lalita Kumari case, the Supreme Court has said in which kind of case preliminary inquiry before registration of FIR, is permissible, but now the whole process in these cases has become vulnerable." The affidavit also stated that "FIR have been rectified to refer to the report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India as a source of information which should have been incorporated in the FIR, as lodged and further investigation will be done by CID."
Advocate Venkatesh P Dalwai, appearing for the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, submitted that the FIR has already been presented to the concerned magistrate and subsequently modified, which is unheard of in law." The bench said "There seems to be an elementary mistake committed."
The bench said it would not express its views on the FIR and its modification, as it would benefit the defence, but suggested that "Senior IPS officers even IAS officers, should be made aware of the Lalita Kumari judgement. A workshop should be conducted for them. A similar initiative was undertaken by me in Mumbai," said Justice Oka.
The PIL, pointed out that there were 113 victims, including 87 boys and 26 girls, of child pornography in Karnataka. They are all housed in state-run homes for children. The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on February 7, and directed the state to come out with remedial measures.