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PIL in Supreme Court Seeks Directions for Quashing of FIRs Registered u/s 188 IPC & for Other Petty Offences Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

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A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions for quashing of FIR’s registered under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code and for other petty offences during the Corona Virus and violation of lockdown.

The petition has been filed by Dr.Vikram Singh, Chairman of the ‘think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change’ (CASC) submitted that “as per provisions of S. 195 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as well as many judgments of this Hon’ble Court and High Courts, no FIR can be registered u/s 188 IPC.”

The petitioner has further submitted that “Section 188 of the IPC must be read with S. 195 of the CrPC, which mandates that only a Magistrate can take cognizance of an offence under Section 188 IPC, and that too on a complaint submitted by a public servant.”

As per research conducted by CASC, 848 FIR’s have been registered under section 188 IPC between 23 March 2020 and 13 April 2020, in 50 Police Stations of Delhi alone. Moreover, as per Uttar Pradesh Government’s Twitter handle, 15,378 FIRs under Section 188 have been registered in Uttar Pradesh against 48,503 persons.

The petitioner has submitted that the Central Government in its guidelines has recommended action under provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Section 188 of Indian Penal Code against the violators. The petitioner has urged that all such guidelines must be first promulgated by public servants in their respective jurisdictions so that they become the law and be enforceable.

The petitioner has further highlighted that the guidelines were being interpreted differently in different States which has rendered all steps taken by Police in the garb of action under S. 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1993 and Epidemic Act, 1897 redundant.

He contended that the Supreme Court has recently directed for release of prisoners from jails to reduce overcrowding, but the Police is continuing to burden the criminal justice system through FIRs in petty offences in unlawful manner, which at the most mandate the jail term of six months.

The Petitioner who himself was the DG(P) of Uttar Pradesh points out that he has no intention of promoting violation of the lockdown, also he is well aware of the police functioning as well as the pain and suffering of those who are caught in the wheels of Criminal Justice System.

The petitioner has further sought for directions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to the various State Governments to refrain from filing complaints / registering FIRs under S. 188 or other petty offences amid COVID-19 Lockdown.

-India Legal Bureau

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