A plea has been preferred before the Top Court seeking issuance of directions to the Director General of Police of States and respective Home Secretaries for devising a mechanism of ensuring supply of certified copy of FIR to accused within 24 hours of the same being sought.
Filed by Avishek Goenka, the petition filed by way of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) states that in light of the prevailing pandemic situation, the issue of availability of an FIR attains immense importance "as courts of jurisdictional magistrates are closed, forcing the accused persons to abandon their legal remedy which is violative of Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution".
In light of this, the instant plea poses a question of whether directions passed by the Supreme Court in Youth Bar Association of India V. Union of India (2016) 9 SCC 473 with regard to the supply of the certified copy of FIR by police/jurisdictional magistrate needs re-consideration in view of the present pandemic situation.
"the accused persons can seek any legal remedy effectively only if he/she has the copy of FIR along with a copy of the complaint. In normal circumstances, one can get the same from the court of jurisdictional magistrate..... With the closure of courts of jurisdictional magistrate, the accused persons are left in lurch and are at mercy of the police for the copy of FIR. Non availability of a copy of FIR effectively curbs the fundamental rights of such persons" - the Plea states
Thus, the plea states that even though there have been efforts to effectively fight the COVID19 pandemic, its guidelines are "totally silent towards the apathy faced by such accused persons in getting a copy of the FIR alongwith a copy of the complaint in present pandemic situation."
The petition also notes that the Disaster Management Act the Central Government can issue mandatory directions to State Government, during the prevalence of the pandemic under DMA Act and the same shall not be hit by doctrine of federalism.
Additionally, the petition seeks issuance of directions to issue necessary directions to DGP's and Home Secretaries of States to accept applications for copy of FIR through physical and electronic means and constitution of an expert committee for examining and recommending on the prayer laid down on this petition.