SC: Arrest shouldn’t be done as routine | India News

NEW DELHI: Holding personal liberty as an important aspect of constitutional mandate, the Supreme Court has said that arrests should not be done in a routine manner when the accused is cooperating in a probe and there is no reason to believe that s/he will abscond or influence the investigation.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said arrest causes incalculable harm to a person’s reputation and self-esteem and police should not resort to such an action just because arrest is allowed under law.
“The occasion to arrest an accused during investigation arises when custodial investigation becomes necessary or it is a heinous crime or where there is a possibility of influencing the witnesses or accused may abscond. Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made. A distinction must be made between the existence of the power to arrest and the justification for exercise of it,” the bench said.
The bench lamented that despite comprehensive guidelines issued by the apex court way back in 1994, routine arrests are being made and even lower courts insist on such a course when a chargesheet is filed in a non-bailable and cognisable offence.
“If the investigating officer has no reason to believe that the accused will abscond or disobey summons and has, in fact, throughout cooperated with the investigation, we fail to appreciate why there should be a compulsion on the officer to arrest the accused,” it said.
While interpreting Section 170 of the Criminal Procedure Code under which trial courts insist on arrest of the accused, the bench said it does not impose an obligation on the officer-in-charge to arrest each and every accused at the time of filing of the chargesheet. The bench elaborately referred to various judgments of HCs which held that criminal courts cannot refuse to accept a chargesheet simply because the accused has not been arrested and produced before the court.
“We are in agreement with the aforesaid view of the high courts and would like to give our imprimatur to the said judicial view… We have, in fact, come across cases where the accused has cooperated with the investigation throughout and yet on the chargesheet being filed, non-bailable warrants have been issued for his production premised on the requirement that there is an obligation to arrest the accused and produce him before the court,” the bench said.
“The word custody appearing in Section 170 of the CrPC does not contemplate either police or judicial custody but it merely connotes the presentation of the accused by the investigating officer before the court while filing the chargesheet,” it said.
The court passed the order on a plea of an accused seeking anticipatory bail as an arrest memo was issued against him after a trial court in UP took a view that unless the person was taken into custody, the chargesheet would not be taken on record in view of Section 170 of the CrPC.

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