Police Station Not a Prohibited Place Under Official Secrets Act: Bombay High Court Quashes FIR Against Man Booked For Shooting Video Inside PS
The Bombay High Court recently said that the definition of 'prohibited place' in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 is exhaustive but police station has not been included as one of the establishments or places under it.
The court made the observation while quashing an FIR in July this year against a man, who was booked under Section 3 of the Act for recording a video inside a police station in 2018.
Justice Manish Pitale and Justice Valmiki Menezes of the Nagpur bench were dealing with an application for quashing of the FIR that was registered on the complaint of a police officer. Advocate D. R. Bhoyar represented the applicant and APP S. M. Ghodeswar represented the State.
According to the FIR, there was a dispute between the applicant and the owner of the adjacent agriculture field. The rival parties had registered complaints against each other. When the rival parties were present in the police station and an attempt was being made to settle the disputes, the accused allegedly made a video recording of these proceedings.
The court referred to Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act which provides penalty for spying. According to section 3(1)(a) of the Act, if any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of, or enters, any prohibited place, he shall be punished with imprisonment.
'Prohibited place' is defined in Section 2(8) of the Act. The court observed that it is an exhaustive definition.
"It is an exhaustive definition, which does not specifically include Police Station as one of the places or establishments, which could be included in the definition 'prohibited place'."
The court also referred to case of Satvik Vinod Bangre and others v. State of Maharashtra and another in which video recording was made in police station in context of more serious offences. However, the Bombay High Court had found that there was no material to invoke sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
The bench concluded that none of the ingredients of the alleged offence are made against the applicant in the present case and quashed the FIR registered against him.
Case no. – Criminal Appln. (Apl) No. 615 of 2021
Case title – Ravindra Shitalrao Upadyay v. State of Maharashtra
Citation- 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 421
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