Chargesheets need not be put in public domain: Supreme Court

A Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and C.T. Ravikumar declared chargesheets to be "private documents".

Updated - January 20, 2023 10:15 pm IST

Published - January 20, 2023 12:19 pm IST

A view of the Supreme Court building, the apex judicial body of India, in New Delhi.

A view of the Supreme Court building, the apex judicial body of India, in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on Friday held the state is not obliged to provide the public free access to chargesheets by uploading them on police or government websites.

A Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and C.T. Ravikumar declared chargesheets to be "private documents".

Independent journalist Saurav Das, represented by Prashant Bhushan, had referred to the court's 2016 decision in Youth Bar Association of India, which had directed copies of FIRs to be published within 24 hours of their registration on police or government websites.

‘Will enhance transparency’

The logic of disclosure applied more strongly to chargesheets as they were filed after due investigation unlike First Information Reports (FIRs) which were based on unsubstantiated allegations. Putting chargesheets in the public domain would enhance transparency in the criminal justice system, Mr. Bhushan had argued.

But Justice Shah dismissed the contentions on the ground that putting up chargesheets for public viewing would violate the rights of the accused, victims and even the investigating agency. It would also be contrary to the scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

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