Charge sheet not 'public document', cannot be put in public domain: Supreme Court [20.1.2023]

The Supreme Court on Friday held that charge sheet filed in criminal cases by investigating agencies cannot be put in public domain for free access.

Dismissing a PIL seeking free public access to charge sheets, a bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar said uploading a charge sheet would be contrary to the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

It said a charge sheet is not a 'public document' and cannot be published online.

The top court on January 9 had reserved its verdict on the plea.

The apex court had orally observed that if FIRs are given to those unrelated to the case like busybodies and NGOs, it might be misused.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan had submitted that it is the duty of every public authority to put out that information suo motu.

"Every member of the public has the right to be informed of who is accused, and who has committed a particular crime," Bhushan said.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by journalist Saurav Das seeking free public access to charge sheet by police in accordance with Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

20 Jan 2023