Editorials

Online FIR: Is Odisha Police Equipped to Follow Supreme Court’s Directive?

Making available FIRs on the web will require a dedicated website of the State Police with huge server space because the copies will be authentic and meant for official use.

The Supreme Court direction to all States and Union Territories (UTs) on Wednesday to ensure uploading of FIRs on the websites within 24 hours of registration is going to pose a stiff challenge for Odisha Police.

As of now, there is no such system in place under which FIRs can be made available on the web for access of public although, under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), police stations can electronically store the FIRs.

Why Online FIRs?

According to the Supreme Court of India, this step will usher in transparency in police work since an accused had every right to know what he was accused of.

“Where liberty of a person is at stake and the criminal law is set in motion, the accused should have all the information,” the Bench observed.

It said access to the FIR would help the accused prepare his defence and “seek redressal of his grievances.”

While DGP KB Singh asserted that CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) can take care of the tough task, what the SC has directed could be different altogether. Despite the fact that police stations in the State are networked through CCTNS, uploading of the FIRs will necessitate a whole new framework which is yet to be created in the State.

The CCTNS system enables police stations to record the FIRs which can be downloaded by the State Crime Records Bureau, National Crime Records Bureau as well as the Crime Branch of State Police. It is primarily for the internal use of police.

Sources pointed out that modalities for uploading FIRs for public access will have to be decided by the Government.

“It has either to be done at the end of the District Police or at the State Police Headquarters. However, it is unlikely that District Police will be mandated with the task given the multi-dimensional issues,” sources said.

The Challenges Ahead

Making available FIRs on the web will require a dedicated website of the State Police with huge server space because the copies will be authentic and meant for official use.

Last year, staggering 83,000-odd cases were registered in the State under Indian Penal Code while another 19,000 cases were booked under the special laws. With the number of cases rising, the storage space requirement will be huge.

Besides, the website will have to have advanced search options so that people can look for a document of the past year.

Moreover, the website needs to have a strong web security system to keep hackers at bay. Any compromise with the system can be of disastrous consequences.

There are issues of infrastructure too. At present, a number of police stations located in remote pockets faces challenges in electronic storage of the FIRs under the CCTNS because of slow BSNL Internet connectivity as well as erratic power supply.

A senior police officer said for compliance of the SC order, its nuances have to be understood first which will be possible only after the State Government receives the order of the apex court.

Courtesy: New Indian Express

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. hcparekh

    September 9, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    Let ATC outnumber ATM

    Business Standard ( 07 Sept 2016 ) , carries a news report titled :

    ” Supreme Court asks states, UTs to upload FIRs on websites within 24 hours ”

    Details read as follows :

    ” The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all States and Union Territories to upload the FIRs on their websites within 24 hours of registration at police stations.

    A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan, however, extended the time up to 72 hours for uploading of the FIRs for those states which are located in difficult terrains where internet connectivity is poor.

    The bench also made it clear that the accused cannot take benefit before the courts of law of the fact that FIRs lodged against them have not been uploaded on the website.

    Initially, it was suggested during the hearing that the states be allowed to upload FIRs on websites within 48 hours. However, the court later fixed the time limit at 24 hours.

    The PIL referred to a decision passed by the Delhi High Court in which the city police was directed to upload the FIRs on its website within 24 hours of being registered.

    The apex court agreed to the directions of the HC with certain modifications. ”

    Hardly a flattering picture of India going Digital !

    Anyone who has ever visited a Police Station to lodge a FIR , knows that a police clerk will pull out some paper ( may be by now , it is a Register ) and start writing with a pen , as being dictated by a police officer on duty , who dictates as he listens to the complainant

    What is important to remember at this stage is :

    Those words are not exactly what the complainant utters ! What gets ” written ” , is what gets paraphrased by the police officer !

    Often , totally distorting the meaning / essence of the complaint !

    And finally , the complainant is literally ” coerced ” into signing that FIR ( don’t ask to read it before signing ! )

    This does not happen only with illiterate villagers but even with educated city-folks !

    Why could not the Supreme Court direct that :

    # Police Station Computers must be internet connected

    # Computer must be permanently logged into the official web site of the State Police Department

    # Like an ATM enclosure at all bank branches , that computer must be directly accessible to the complainant from

    an outside separate entrance , obviating need to talk to a police officer ( call it ATC = Any Time Complaint ? )

    Other than the web site of the State Police department , no other web site can be accessed from this special

    purpose machine ( ATC ) , which will be equipped with Bio-Metric Reading device

    For enabling universal / immediate / easy access , NDA government should also install these ATC , at

    * 145,000 post offices of India Post

    * 220,000 offices of Gram Panchayats

    # From an ATC, complainant can enter his complaint on his own, into the Police department web site , by

    entering

    * Full personal details , and

    * Aadhar ID

    The Biometric Reading Device , built into the computer will compare the complainant’s bio-metric data with the

    bio-metric data already available in the Aadhar ID database

    If the two sets of data do not match , complaint will not get accepted / registered

    This ( matching of bio-metric data ) , will also prevent ” Proxy ” complaints

    It will also enable the Police department to catch a person lodging a ” False / Malicious / Harassing ” complaint

    # It should be possible to enter the complaint , using a language of choice of the complainant

    # Using built-in Speech Recognition software ( such as SIRI / CORTANA / GOOGLE-SPEAK / DRAGON NATURALLY
    SPEAKING , etc ) , complaint can even ” record ” his complaint , if he cannot type

    # As soon as complainant finishes and SUBMITS the complaint , Complaint Number will flash on the screen ,

    using which , the complainant can track the progress of his complaint over time , by logging into the web site

    Now it is entirely possible that some State Governments want to make it even ” Easier to Do Business ” with their Police Department , by introducing my suggested Mobile App ,

    ” I SIN > < U Solve It Now )

    { http://www.hemenparekh.in/2013/08/i-sin-sin-that-could-be-name-of-android.html#.V9Dxxvl94ok }

    Such a miniaturized / hand-held / complainant-owned ATC , would be a much BETTER / FASTER / CHEAPER

    method , needing no investment on part of the government !

    And those FIRs will get uploaded on Police web site in 24 MINUTES !

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    09 Sept 2016

    http://www.hemenparekh.in / blogs

  2. Hariram

    September 8, 2016 at 1:22 PM

    Supreme Courts orders must be complied with at all cost.If BSNL is slow,government can switch to Reliance Jio,net connection at 4G speed and pay the appropriate fees.

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