Not A Prohibited Place Under Official Secrets Act: Bombay HC Quashes FIR For Video Recording Inside Police Station
The Bombay High Court has quashed the FIR registered against a man who was accused of secretly video-recording certain proceedings of the police station on his mobile phone.
While quashing the FIR, the bench of Justice Manish Pitale and Justice Valmiki Sa Menezes observed that the definition of 'prohibited place' as defined in section 2(8) of the Official Secrets Act does not specifically include Police Station as one of the places or establishments, which could be included in the definition 'prohibited place'.
Advocate D.R.Bhoyar was the counsel for the applicant whereas APP S.M.Ghodeswar appeared for the State.
The complainant in the case is a Police Officer, who alleged that during certain proceedings being undertaken in the Police Station, the applicant secretly video recorded the proceedings on his mobile, thereby committing offence punishable under section 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
The Court observed that there was a dispute between the applicant and his wife on one hand and owner of adjacent agricultural field on the other, leading to a situation where a non-cognizable report was registered against the owner of the adjacent agricultural field, at the behest of the applicant.
The Police Officer informed the applicant and his wife that on the basis of a cross-complaint being placed before the Police by the owner of the adjacent agricultural field, there was every likelihood of registration of offence against the applicant and his wife. In this backdrop, the rival parties were present in the Police Station and it is alleged that attempts were being made to settle the inter se dispute between the parties.
It is at this stage that, according to the complainant-Police Officer, the applicant made the aforesaid video recording, thereby committing the said offence.
The Court observed that "…the definition of 'prohibited place' as defined in section 2(8) of the Official Secrets Act is relevant. It is an exhaustive definition, which does not specifically include Police Station as one of the places or establishments, which could be included in the definition 'prohibited place'."
"Considering the aforesaid provisions and proceeding on the basis of the statements made by witnesses during the course of investigation, in the backdrop of the allegation made by the complainant, this Court is of the opinion that none of the ingredients of the alleged offence are made out against the applicant. Therefore, this would be a fit case to allow the present application.", the Court held.
Accordingly, the Court quashed the FIR registered against the man for the offences punishable under Section – 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
Cause Title- Ravindra Shitalrao Upadyay v. State of Maharashtra