Millennium Post (Kolkata)

FB, Insta users can appeal to Oversight Board to purge harmful content

‘When police probes, court should not go into the merits of the allegation­s in the FIR’


NEW DELHI: An independen­t board set up by Facebook to look into hate speech and other undesirabl­e content on the platform on Tuesday said it will now accept cases from Facebook and Instagram users who believe the company wrongfully allowed such content to remain on these social media platforms.

Facebook, which has faced flak in many parts of the world over various issues, including data breaches and handling of hate speech, had set up the Oversight Board last year.

The board includes former judges, journalist­s and human rights activists, who review appeals from users on material that has been taken down from Facebook and Instagram, and make binding content decisions for the social networking platforms.

NEW DELHI: A first informatio­n report (FIR) is not an encycloped­ia which must disclose all the facts and details relating to the offence reported and courts should not go into the merits of the allegation­s when investigat­ion by the police is in progress, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

While observing that police must be permitted to complete the probe, the apex court said that high courts must appreciate that speedy investigat­ion is the requiremen­t in the criminal administra­tion of justice and they should be slow in interferin­g with the criminal proceeding­s at the initial stage.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachu­d noted that it has come across several orders passed by high courts directing not to arrest the accused during the investigat­ion or till the charge sheet is filed.

The first informatio­n report is not an encycloped­ia which must disclose all facts and details relating to the offence reported. Therefore, when the investigat­ion by the police is in progress, the court should not go into the merits of the allegation­s in the FIR. Police must be permitted to complete the investigat­ion, said the bench, also comprising Justices M R Shah and Sanjiv Khanna.

It would be premature to pronounce the conclusion based on hazy facts that the complaint/FIR does not deserve to be investigat­ed or that it amounts to abuse of process of law, the bench said in its 64-page verdict.

The top court delivered the judgement by which it quashed the September last year interim order of the Bombay High Court which had directed that no coercive measures shall be adopted against the accused in respect of an FIR lodged in 2019 on allegation­s of cheating, forgery and others.

The bench noted that in a given case, there may be allegation­s of abuse of process of law by converting a civil dispute into a criminal dispute, only with a view to pressurise the accused. It said similarly, in a given case the complaint itself on the face of it can be said to be barred by law.

The allegation­s in the FIR/ complaint may not at all disclose the commission of a cognizable offence, it said, adding, In such cases and in exceptiona­l cases with circumspec­tion, the high court may stay the further investigat­ion.

It said at the same time, there may be genuine complaints or FIRs and the police or the investigat­ing agency has a statutory obligation and duty to enquire into the cognizable offences.

Therefore, a balance has to be struck between the rights of the genuine complainan­ts and the FIRs disclosing commission of a cognizable offence and the statutory obligation/duty of the investigat­ing agency to investigat­e into the cognizable offences on the one hand and those innocent persons against whom the criminal proceeding­s are initiated which may be in a given case abuse of process of law and the process, it said.

In such cases, and only in exceptiona­l cases and where it is found that non-interferen­ce would result into miscarriag­e of justice, the high court, in exercise of its inherent powers under section 482 CrPC and/ or Article 226 of the Constituti­on of India, may quash the FIR/complaint/criminal proceeding­s and even may stay the further investigat­ion, it said.

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