Give it a rest: SC reminds lower courts, cops to avoid unnecessary arrests. But bureaucratic habits die hard

Source: TOI

Relevance – To differentiate between the right to arrest and need to arrest

Synopsis: Supreme Court (SC) mentioned that arrest provision in law does not mean that government can use power indiscriminately to crush the personal liberty


Recently, the SC has held that merely because the law allows arrest, it doesn’t mean that the State can use the power indiscriminately.

SC clarified, word “custody” under section 170 of the CrPC does not mean police or judicial custody, but it only means the presentation of the accused in the court by the investigating officer.

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When a person should not be arrested?
  • When an offence is not heinous
  • When a person is cooperating with the investigation
  • When a person is not influencing the witness
Where does the problem lie?

The high court in many instances and the SC in Joginder Kumar guidelines 1994 instructed the police and courts to follow for arrest in cognisable offences.

But despite that, the SC mentioned that the trial court judges were insisting on arrest as a “prerequisite formality” for taking charge sheets on record.

What needs to be done
  • There is a need for better training and refresher courses for judicial officers
  • India also needs an effective method for circulating important SC judgments and statutory changes to the lower judiciary and police.
  • For example,
    • There are still courts accepting Section 66A of the IT Act cases blissfully unaware of its 2015 scrapping
    • Police officers are ignorant of the far older 1962 Kedar Nath Singh judgment underlining that criticism of the government isn’t sedition
Way Forward

There is a need to strike the right balance between thorough investigation and the rights of the accused.

Terms to know:

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