Statements recorded under Section 164 of CrPC cannot be furnished to the accused until the court trying the case passes appropriate orders after taking cognizance, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
With the order, the court set aside an Allahabad High Court order allowing former Union minister Chinmayanand’s request for a copy of such statement of a women who had levelled sexual harassment charges against him.
“Under no circumstance copies of statements recorded under Section 164 of the (Criminal Procedure) Code be furnished till appropriate orders are passed by the court after taking cognizance in the matter,” a bench of Justices U U Lalit, Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat said, allowing the appeal against the HC decision.
“In our view, the High Court completely erred in appreciating the directions issued by this court, especially in a matter where the offences alleged against accused are of sexual exploitation. In such matters utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained. In our view, the High Court completely failed in that behalf,” the bench said.
Chinmayanand had initially moved the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Shahjahanpur, for a copy, but this was rejected by the court, which relied on the 2014 SC judgment in ‘State of Karnataka by Nonavinakere Police vs Shivanna alias Tarkari Shivanna’.
Chinmayanand subsequently moved HC against the order, after which the Special Investigation Team that probed the case filed the chargesheet against him. After the chargesheet was filed, the HC allowed his request and ruled that conclusions in the Shivanna case would not apply in the matter before it.
Disagreeing, the SC said that after investigation is complete in a case, a chargesheet is filed and the magistrate concerned may take cognizance of any of the offences mentioned therein. Sometimes the magistrate may deem fit that the matter requires further investigation on certain aspects and may pass appropriate direction, the court observed.
It is only afterward that the accused is “entitled, in terms of…the Code, to copies of the documents referred to in said provisions”, the court said.
“The filing of the chargesheet by itself does not entitle an accused to copies of any of the relevant documents, including statement under Section 164 of the Code, unless the stages indicated above are undertaken,” the judgment said.
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