Rashmi Uday Shukla v. State of Maharashtra

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Quashing of FIR in a case involving leakage of confidential information by a police officer

Rashmi Uday Shukla v. State of Maharashtra
In the High Court of Bombay
WP (Crl.) 1901/2021
Before Justice Nitin Jamdar & Justice Sarang V. Kotwal
Decided on December 15, 2021

Relevancy of the case: Quashing of FIR in a case involving leakage of confidential information by a police officer

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Constitution of India (Article 226)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 482)
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Sections 43 (b), 66, 77(B))
  • The Official Secrets Act, 1923 (Section 5)
  • The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (Section 30)
  • The Right to Information Act, 2005 (Sections 2(h), 8)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The petitioner was the Commissioner of State Intelligence Department in 2020 when she addressed a communication to the Maharashtra DGP. This communication was about a network of brokers with high political connections engaging in the desirous posting of police officers in exchange for large sums of money.
  • The police put the concerned phone numbers on surveillance. They conveyed this information to the Additional Secretary (Home) and the Chief Minister.
  • On March 23, 2021, the Opposition Leader produced the confidential letter that the petitioner had sent to DGP. He also claimed possession of a pen drive containing sensitive information.
  • The police registered an FIR against the petitioner for leakage of confidential information outside authorised authorities.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The petitioner’s counsel submitted that she did not have access to the computer and did not download the confidential information. Therefore, the allegations under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 do not hold true.
  • Further, the petitioner was neither the source nor delivered any information to the Opposition Leader. Hence, allegations under Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 are not made out.
  • The basis of the FIR is a political vendetta that wrongly frames the petitioner, even though her name is not there explicitly.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The bench relied on the cases of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal (AIR 1992 SC 604) and Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 2021 SC 1918) while discussing the issue of quashing the FIR. It further said that a court should only exercise quashing power in the rarest of the rare cases. As the investigation is ongoing, it is not the right time to decide whether the offences are made out.
  • Moreover, quashing the FIR will interfere with the ongoing investigation.
  • The Leader of Opposition is not an authority but merely a watchdog of democracy. Therefore, this position is outside the scope of Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, read with Sections 2(h) and 8 of the RTI Act.

Final Decision

  • The Court rejected both the prayers of the petitioner. However, it directed the state to give a 7 days notice if the state intends to take coercive action.

Parth Chaturvedi, a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Allahabad, prepared this case summary during his association with The Cyber Blog India in January 2022.