The Allahabad High Court has recently voiced significant concern over the substandard quality of investigations conducted by the Uttar Pradesh police into cases involving the sharing and circulation of non-consensual images, especially targeting women.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot highlighted the escalating menace of circulating "indecent videos," emphasizing that women are particularly vulnerable to such cybercrimes.

The Court noted that its repeated concerns about the poor quality of police investigations in cybercrime cases have largely gone unaddressed. "Cyber offences are becoming a menace to society. In particular, indecent photographs of persons being captured, stored, or transmitted through digital devices are tearing apart the social fabric of the country. Women victims are more vulnerable to such offences. These offences may have lifelong traumatic consequences for the victim," the Single-Judge Bench said.

"It is the responsibility of the police to investigate cyber crimes in professional manner and obligation of the courts to ensure that further investigations are permitted in case any lapses are noticed at the appropriate stage as per law," it added.

As per the prosecution case, indecent photographs of the victim were captured, stored, and transmitted by the applicant from his mobile device to the mobile device of one Dharmendra. The mobile device of Dharmendra was not seized or sent to the forensic science laboratory for analysis during the course of the investigations. This deficiency in the investigation came to light during the bail hearing. "The said deficiency has also been acknowledged in the affidavit filed by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Bulandshahar. Disciplinary action for such lapses has been initiated against the responsible officials. But that will not suffice," the Court said.

"The offenders cannot go scot-free on account of inadequacy in investigations or pedantic view adopted by the trial court," the Bench said. The Bench also urged the Uttar Pradesh Police to enhance their investigation skills and proficiency to tackle this emerging threat effectively.

The Court also emphasized the responsibility of trial courts to ensure that further investigations are permitted when lapses are detected. "Need for further investigation may arise for various reasons, including unintentional oversight during the investigation. Further investigation will help to ensure that full evidence is produced before the court to arrive at the truth of the matter. The court should not adopt a pedantic view and block further investigation by rejecting such applications without due cause. To the contrary, the court should ensure that appropriate investigation unearths all relevant evidence for consideration by the court," the Court said in its Order dated May 16.

The Court underscored that offenders should not escape accountability due to inadequate investigations or rigid views adopted by trial courts. He also stressed the responsibility of trial courts to address any deficiencies in investigations when taking cognizance of offences.

Given the current state of affairs, the Court directed the State to ensure that the infrastructure in forensic science laboratories is regularly upgraded to keep pace with technological advancements.

"In the meantime the Home Secretary, Government of U.P., Lucknow and Additional Director General of Police (Technical Services), Government of U.P. are directed to ensure that the existing technology/know how in the Forensic Science Laboratories is regularly upgraded to keep pace with the rapid advances in technology. A copy of this order be placed before the trial court for deciding the application for further investigations in light of the facts of this case," the Court ordered.

Cause Title: Dharmendra v. State of UP


Applicant: Advocates Hemant Sharma, Saurabh Kumar

Opposite Party: Advocate Pankaj Kumar Tiwari (GA)

Click here to read/download the Order