A PIL seeking a writ of certiorari for quashing of registration of FIRs under Section 188 of IPC has been filed in the Supreme Court. Section 188 of IPC states “Disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant”. Dr.Vikram Singh, former Director-General of Police of Uttar Pradesh filed the petition. The writ says the police cannot register FIRs under Section 188 of the IPC; only the Magistrate can take cognizance of the offence on the basis of a written complaint by a public servant u/s 195 of CrPC. Thus, he has termed the filing of FIRs u/s 188 of the IPC as illegal and unconstitutional.
The revised lockdown guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs state that their violations will be a punishable offence. Therefore, any violation of the guidelines will amount to an offence u/s Sec. 188 of the IPC. As per the research conducted by CASC, FIRs u/s 188 has been registered in 50 Police Stations of Delhi alone. The Uttar Pradesh government, through its official Twitter handle, released 15,378 FIRs registered against 48,503 persons. The FIRs were filed between the period of March 23 and April 13.
Dr. Vikram says, “Police action on an individual who is perhaps suffering from distress and lack of information as a result of the circumstances has ramifications which can extend beyond the coronavirus lockdown, and cannot be good for a constitutional democracy“.
The petitioner claims that when the economy is going through an emergency situation; bothering the criminal justice system with more cases is not going to help. The petitioner, therefore, states that registration of FIRs u/s 188 IPC is illegal and contrary to the Rule of Law. Adding that it also violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Conclusively, the petitioner has asked the Union of India to issue directions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to the various State Governments to refrain from filing complaints / registering FIRs under Sec. 188 or other petty offences during the coronavirus and the lockdown.