PIL in Supreme Court seeks quashing of FIRs lodged under section 188 of IPC during lockdown

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Afresh public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday seeking quashing of all FIRs filed under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for alleged violation of lockdown orders.

The PIL has been filed former director-general of police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Vikram Singh, who is currently the chairman of think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic.

Section 188 of the IPC provides for imprisonment of up to 6 months for disobeying orders passed by a public servant.

The PIL warns that lockdown enforced to prevent community spread should not result in India turning into a police state. The PIL argues before the apex court that increasing instances of police brutality and frequent lathi charge during lockdown cannot be allowed to be normalized and institutionalized.

The PIL states that between March 23 and April 13, 848 FIRs under Section 188 of IPC, were filed in Delhi alone. That figure was as high as 15,378 FIRs against 48,503 people, in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The PIL argued that registration of FIRs under Section 188 of IPC was illegal. As per the petitioner, only a magistrate can take cognizance of offenses under section 188. Further, it seeks the central government to direct states to refrain from filing FIRs under Section 188 of the IPC.

The petitioner submitted that the result of the FIRs being filed indiscriminately was that the poor, who lacked the means to seek legal representation, were being targeted. The petition also red flags the instances of lathi-charge and corporal punishment aimed primarily at the poor.

PIL is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court.

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