The Supreme Court recently held the state is not obliged to provide the public free access to chargesheets by uploading them on police or government websites.
The Supreme Court said that the chargesheet filed by investigating agencies in a criminal case in court is not a public document which could be directed to be put in public domain by uploading it on a website and also it cannot be revealed under Right to Information Act.
What is a Chargesheet?
- According to Section 173 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a charge sheet is a report generated by police officers after investigating a case.
- It contains all the stringent records right from the commencement of investigation procedure of lodging an FIR to till the completion of investigation and preparation of final report.
- It contains the names of the people brought in the custody, the charges they are brought in for and the identity of the accusers.
- Once the charge sheet has been submitted to a court of law, prosecution proceedings against the accused begin.
- Time limit for filing a Charge Sheet —
- It is to be filed within 60 days from the date of arrest of the accused in cases triable by lower courts and 90 days in cases triable by Court of Sessions.
- If the charge sheet is not filed within the prescribed time mentioned above, the accused has a right to default bail.
- A charge sheet is distinct from the First Information Report (FIR).
What is the First Information Report (FIR)?
- It is a written document prepared by a Police officer based on information given by an aggrieved person or any other person either in writing or made orally about the commission of a Cognizable Offence.
- Investigation is started only after filing of the FIR.
- Who can file an FIR? — Anyone can file a FIR, whether it is the victim, victim’s family or friends, or any witness to a crime.
- An FIR can only be lodged in case of cognizable offences.
What is a Cognizable Offence?
- It is one in which the police may arrest a person without warrant.
- The police are authorised to start investigation into a cognizable case on their own and do not require any orders from the court to do so.