Del HC | Court approves of road map prepared by Delhi Police for online reporting of missing persons: hopes that time-frames shall be duly complied with

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. appreciated the Delhi Police for the alacrity with which it reacted to the suggestions made by the High Court regarding online registrations of FIRs.

On 23-04-2019, a letter was received by the Court wherein the author of the letter stated that her daughter, who had been working as a maid, had gone missing. The letter was marked to the Delhi Police. Despite that, the FIR was registered only on 18-05-2019. Due to delay in lodging the FIR, the “golden hour” of the investigation was lost and in all probabilities, the important leads had dried up.

On 13-05-2019, while considering another petition, the Court had directed the Delhi Police to consider allowing online registration of FIRs by way of SMS, emails and WhatsApp. The suggestion was made as it was observed in a number of writ petitions filed by the family members of missing persons that either the FIRs had not been registered or had been registered belatedly. With online registration of FIRs, the human interface — which normally causes a delay in registration of FIR — would be obviated. On the present hearing, the Deputy Commissioner of police (Legal Cell) submitted a “Proposed Road Map for online reporting on Missing Persons through Delhi Police Web Portal and Mobile Application.” The Court appreciated the alacrity with which the Delhi Police has reacted to the suggestions made by it. It hoped that the time-frame mentioned in the road map shall be duly complied with.

This Court was of the view that at the police station level as well as at the district level, the investigation procedure followed by AHTU/Crime Branch should be replicated. For this purpose, not only the latest technology and training but also the general guidelines in the form of Standard Operating Procedure should be issued and followed at the ground level. The intent behind directing issuance of SOP/guidelines is not to control the discretion of the investigating officer, but to ensure that certain essential steps like flashing of message on wireless and placing the information of the missing person on the ZIPNET are taken in a time bound manner.

Directions were given to file fresh status report in regard to aforesaid developments within eight weeks. Further, a status report with regard to facts of the present petition was directed to be filed within 4 weeks. [Court on its own motion v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8807, decided on 30-05-2019]

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