The Patna High Court has clarified that the Officer-in-Charge of the Police Stations who are not registering FIRs on the complaint of the Telecom Companies will be proceeded against for committing contempt of court while hearing an ongoing case pertaining to cyber-crime of SIMs of Telecom Companies by way of forged documents and non-registration of the same.
According to Single Judge Sandeep Kumar in Shiv Kumar vs. State of Bihar & Ors. (1 February, 2022), telecom company advocates are permitted to submit information regarding police stations and their Officer-in-Charge who have refused to register their cases.
Facts of the case
After this Court specifically inquired about the registration of FIRs regarding the sale and purchase of SIMs by cybercriminals on forged documents, the observation was made in response to the arguments made by counsels for telecom companies Airtel, Vodafone, B.S.N.L., and Reliance Jio regarding the difficulties they face in registering FIRs in some police stations due to the Officer-in-Charge of those police stations not registering the FIRs.After hearing the arguments, Justice Kumar concluded that the telecom companies were unable to respond to the Court’s inquiry into whether the Department of Telecommunication (DoT)’s instructions for the nationwide registration of FIRs were being followed and that they would need to seek instruction.
As a result, the Single Judge ordered the Department of Telecommunication to submit a specific affidavit to determine whether telecom companies are filing FIRs in all States or just in Bihar in accordance with the DoT’s instructions.
On the final day of the hearing, the telecom companies claimed that they had stopped selling pre-activated SIM cards. However, this claim has been disputed, pointing to the fact that an FIR was filed in Allahabad, and approximately 500 pre-activated SIM cards were recovered from the accused, who was misusing them for criminal purposes.
Therefore, Justice Kumar directed the telecom companies to file supplementary affidavits answering the Circulars of March 23, 2017 and August 9, 2012, and to submit a specific statement as to whether or not these Circulars are being followed by the telecom companies. He also noted that the telecom companies were to respond on this issue as to how their SIMs are still reaching the criminals.
The Single Judge ordered that the DoT also submit its affidavit detailing the actions it has taken against the telecom companies for not following the circulars.
The Single Judge continued, “The action of Rupaspur Police Station of not registering the F.I.R. is in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines in the case of Lalita Kumari vs. State of U.P. reported in (2014) 2 SCC 1 and similar guidelines have been issued by this Court recently for registration of the F.I.R. in similar matters.”
As a result, despite the Supreme Court’s directive for the registration of FIRs, the Officer-In-Charge of Rupaspur Police Station was notified by the High Court as to why he is not registering FIRs.
In addition, the Court stated that the Police cannot refuse to register the FIR in the event of a cognizable offense despite the small amount involved.
As a result, the High Court scheduled additional hearings on the case for March 7 and 11, 2022.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ROLI NAYAN.