SC rejects plea seeking quashing of FIRs for petty offences during COVID-19 lockdown
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking quashing of various FIRs registered under an IPC section which deals with disobedience of orders of a public servant and other petty offences during the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The violation of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) attracts jail term of one month or fine up to Rs 200, or both and if the disobedience causes danger to human life, health or safety, the person can be punished with 6-month jail term and a fine of Rs 1,000 or both.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, hearing the matter through video-conferencing, asked the counsel appearing for petitioner that if Section 188 of the IPC was not invoked then how the lockdown would be imposed.
“You want there should be no FIR?,” the bench asked senior lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan and advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for petitioner Vikram Singh, who is a former DGP of Uttar Pradesh and the chairman of an NGO ‘Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change’ (CASC).
Sankaranarayanan told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and B R Gavai, that several FIRs have been registered against migrants and there cannot be a rule of law which is selective.
The plea had sought directions under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to various state governments to refrain from filing complaints and registering FIRs under section 188 or other petty offences during the lockdown period.
The NGO had said that as per its research, 848 FIRs under Section 188 of the IPC have been registered in 50 police stations of Delhi alone between March 23 and April 13.
It further said the Uttar Pradesh government through its Twitter handle has informed that 15,378 FIRs under the section have been registered in the state against 48,503 persons.
“If this is the situation in the national capital and adjoining state then the situation in other parts of the country can very well be imagined,” the plea had said, adding, that the registration of FIRs under section 188 of IPC is grossly illegal and antithesis to Rule of Law, and violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
Singh said in the plea that being a retired police officer, he understands the police functioning as well as the pain and suffering of those who are caught in the wheels of criminal justice system.
“The Petitioner is also concerned with the undue burden on police officers, who will have to do voluminous documentation in all such matters,” the plea had said.