The Bombay High Court has imposed Rs 25000 cost on the state government after an FIR was lodged against a man for taking photo and video of the complaint application filed against him.

The bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice R. N. Laddha observed that by no stretch of imagination, the act of taking photos/video can be said to be an act constituting an offence of 'spying’.

“It is always open for the police to put up a board prohibiting photography but if one does take a photo/video, certainly, the said act would not come within the ambit of the Official Secrets Act.”, the Court noted.

In this case, the petitioner was called to the police station for enquiry on the complaint made against the petitioner.

During enquiry, the petitioner sought a copy of the complaint application filed against him.

As the concerned officer declined the request of the petitioner to take a photo of the said application and also refused to provide a copy of the said application, the petitioner took a photo and video of the said application filed against him.

Following this Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act was invoked against the petitioner.

Advocate Anees Shaikh appeared for the petitioner whereas APP J. P. Yagnik appeared for the Respondent – State.

The Court observed that prima facie the Official Secrets Act was malafidely invoked by the concerned Police.

“By no stretch of imagination, section 3 could have been invoked in the facts of the present case. It is pertinent to note that the definition of 'prohibited place' as defined in section 2(8) of the Official Secrets Act, is an exhaustive definition, which does not specifically include 'Police Station' as one of the places or establishments.”, the Court noted.

The Court also added that “Law cannot be used as an instrument to oppress and harrass people. Police being the custodians of law are duty bound to uphold it and not misuse it.”

Accordingly, the Court quashed the FIR registered against the petitioner and directed the State Government to pay costs of Rs.25,000 to the petitioner.

Cause Title- Zishan Mukhtar Hussain Siddique v. State of Maharashtra

Click here to read/download Order