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June 13, 2024

Daily Legal Current- 13 June 24 : Supreme Court’s 2 judgments : CrPC

Why in News?  The Supreme Court  has recently  gave two significant judgments that impact the liberty of people accused of criminal offences. The first judgment says that the custody of an accused is not necessary prior to the filing of the charge sheet in certain criminal cases. If the lower courts strictly comply with the directives in this judgment, it would bring relief to investigating agencies.

The second judgment relates to informing an accused of the grounds of arrest in writing. This is a fundamental right under Article 22 of the Constitution. While this judgment was delivered in the context of special statutes — namely, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 — it will be relevant to see whether these directives can equally be extended to provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) as far as communication of grounds of arrest is concerned.

About first judgment:

The Supreme Court of India has indeed recognized that custody of an accused is not always necessary before a charge sheet is filed in certain criminal cases.

Legal Basis: This principle stems from interpretations of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), particularly Section 167.

Magistrate’s Authority: While Section 167 allows the Magistrate to remand an accused to custody for investigation purposes, it doesn’t mandate it.

Investigating Officer’s Discretion: The investigating officer has the discretion to decide whether an arrest is necessary for completing the investigation. Factors like:

  • Cooperation of the accused
  • Likelihood of absconding
  • Nature of the offense

Supreme Court Judgments: Landmark judgments like:

Suresh Kumar Bhikamchand Jain (2019) clarified that filing a charge sheet fulfills the requirements of Section 167, even if cognizance (official court acknowledgement) hasn’t been taken before the stipulated period.

Criminal Appeal No. 391 of 2024 reiterated that an accused can be released on a statutory bail if the charge sheet isn’t filed within the mandated timeframe.

Not Absolute: This principle doesn’t apply universally. In severe offenses or situations where the accused might tamper with evidence or flee, arrest and custody might still be essential.

About Second judgment:

The Supreme Court has emphasized the fundamental right of an arrested person to be informed about the grounds of arrest in writing.

Fundamental Right: The right to be informed of the grounds of arrest stems from Articles 20, 21, and 22 of the Indian Constitution, guaranteeing the right to life and personal liberty.

Mandatory Duty of Police: The Supreme Court has stated that informing the arrested individual, in writing, about the grounds of arrest is a mandatory duty of the police officer making the arrest. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Content of the Information: The written information should include all “basic facts” on which the arrest is based. This empowers the arrested person to understand the reason for their arrest and allows them to defend themselves effectively during the remand hearing and apply for bail.

Distinction from Reason: The court clarifies the difference between “grounds of arrest” and “reasons of arrest.” The grounds are specific to the accused, outlining the factual basis for the arrest, while reasons may be more general, like following a warrant or suspicion of a crime. Timeliness: The written information about the grounds of arrest should be furnished “at the earliest” and “as a matter of course,” without any unnecessary delay.

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