Section 173 CrPC is not applicable on chargesheets/challans: Supreme Court

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In the Saurav Das vs. Union of India case, the petitioner prayed for appropriate directions/orders directing the states to enable free public access to chargesheets and final reports filed as per Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This was placed on rationale as established by the Supreme Court in Youth Bar Association of India v. Union of India on their websites. In this addressed case the Hon’ble Court directed the police to publish copies of FIRs on their websites has induced transparency in the working of the criminal justice system. The logic of disclosure applies more strongly to the chargesheets while FIRs were based on unsubstantiated allegations and chargesheets were filed after due investigation. Moreover, the Investigating Agency was required to furnish copies of the report along with the relevant documents to be relied upon by the prosecution to the accused and to no others.

Therefore, the relief as prayed in the present petition (in Saurav Das vs Union of India) was allowed and all the chargesheets, as well as relevant documents produced, were put on the public domain or on the websites of the State Governments will be contrary to the Scheme of the CrPC. Also, it may as such violate the rights of the accused as well as the victim and/or even the investigating agency. The top Court further stated that putting the FIR on the website cannot be equated with putting the chargesheets along with the relevant documents on the public domain and on the websites of the State Governments. The petitioner was not entitled to the relief directing all the States to put on their websites the copies of all the chargesheets/challans filed under Section 173 of the Cr.P.C.