High ranking police officers have no elementary knowledge of law, Karnataka High Court while hearing plea regarding child pornography

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On hearing the Public Interest Litigation regarding the child Pornography, the Karnataka High Court Division Bench comprising of Chief justice Abhay oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar, reprimanded police officials for lack of elementary knowledge in criminal law for carrying out investigation without registering FIR pertaining to the cases of child pornography.

Brief Facts:

Earlier in September 2018, the Ministry of Women and child Development issued a report stating that high number of child pornography cases being reported in the state of Karnataka. The report stated that there are 113 victims of child pornography which includes 87 boys and 26 girls in the state-run children homes. Based on the report, Banchpan Bachao Andolan, a New Delhi-based NGO, filed public interest litigation, seeking direction to formulate new or amended Child protection program as the old one relates only to children in Supreme Courthool. It further sought report on the status of rehabilitation of victims of child pornography and the action took against the officials.

The Karnataka High Court also registered a suo motu PIL based on the directions given by the Supreme Court for the better implementation of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 in Sampurna Behura vs. Union of India and others, vide judgment dated 9th February, 2018. The Supreme Court in its direction observed: “to make the involvement and process more meaningful, we request the chief justice of every High Court to register proceedings on its own motion for effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2015 so that the road blocks if any encountered by statutory authorities and the Juvenile justice committee of High Court are meaningfully addressed after hearing the concerned governmental officials.

In pursuance to the filing of PIL, based on the remarks of the Petitioner’s counsel that no single FIR was registered against the 113 child pornography cases, the court sought the response of the state government regarding the action taken pertaining to the same. The superintendent of Police was issued a letter by Additional Director General of Police to submit a report regarding the child pornography events occurred in the state of Karnataka within one day who submitted a report without any indication of the event of Child Pornography. The court was taken by surprise by the state government’s claim that there were no such cases being reported in the state of Karnataka.

The court lashed out the state government and questioned the basis of the report filed by the superintendent of police without registration of FIR and conducting enquiry. The court further directed to withdraw the correspondence made by the DG, as there was no FIR registered. The court also directed the state to render an apology to the central government for the error committed in investigation. The Court cautioned the police officials that appropriate action would be taken under Section 21 of POCSO Act, 2012 if the investigation pertaining to these cases is not carried out in proper manner. The court pointed out to file an affidavit by any officer superior to DG or by the DG himself with respect to whatever action taken. On 21st January, 2020, Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police, Neelamani N Raju, filed his affidavit stating the action taken by the government.

Key Features:

1. The court observed that with respect to the cognizable offences, registration of FIR is mandatory prior to the investigation as held by the Supreme Court in Lalitha Kumari vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors.

2. The court also pointed out that there is no law that provides for the investigation of a crime without registration of FIR.

3. The court expressed its dissatisfaction with regard to the lack of elementary knowledge of criminal law among the senior police officials.

4. The court while stating that there are some elementary errors in registration of FIR, refused to comment on the contention of the DG that the FIR was duly filed before the magistrate which was later modified to include the report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development which was severely criticized by the petitioner’s counsel.

The division bench, while considering this PIL suggested that the police officials must be made aware of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Lalitha Kumari case and it is necessary to conduct a workshop for IAS and IPS officers. The Court posted the case for further hearing on 7th February, 2020 and directed the state to come up with remedial measures by then.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference:

1. Sampurna Behura vs. Union of India and others, Supreme Court of India, 9th February, 2018 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/67162757/ (last Visited on 23rd January, 2020)

2. Bar and Bench, High ranking police officers have no elementary knowledge of law, Karnataka HIGH COURT while hearing plea regarding child pornography, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.barandbench.com/amp/story/news%252Flitigation%252Fregistration-of-fir-cannot-be-denied-in-any-case (last Visited on 23rd January, 2020)

3. Live Law, “ it seems that they do not have elementary knowledge of criminal law” : Karnataka HIGH COURT slams police for not registering FIRs before investigation, https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-High Court-slams-police-for-not-registering-firs-before-investigation-151888 (last Visited on 23rd January, 2020)

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I am Lavanya Narayanan, pursuing a master's in international law. With three years into the profession, I am currently reviving my long-forgotten passion for writing. As and when I find a time I watch debates and interviews on the current affairs of our nation. My areas of interest are criminal law, women and child rights especially toddlers. I love listening to puranic stories. I believe accepting things you don’t know as you don’t know leads you to the path of growth. Happy reading!