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Sachin Waze Case | The Issue of Right to Legal Counsel in Custody

Synopsis – The NIA recently arrested Sachin Waze in the Antilia case. Waze has filed an application seeking permission to meet his lawyer. In this article, we will see the provisions regarding the right to legal counsel for those in police custody.

Introduction-
  • In Feb., an SUV was found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s multi-story residence Antilia, with gelatin sticks in it. The NIA arrested the Mumbai policeman. Sachin Waze, for his alleged role in this case.
  • The NIA recently claimed in Mumbai Court that Sachin Waze has not been cooperating in the interrogation. He has sought his lawyer’s presence during questioning, while the NIA has argued that this insistence could hamper the investigation.
Is access to a lawyer, the right of an accused?

Around the world, arrestees are entitled to various rights. It protects the accused from the use of forced methods like torture to make self-incriminating statements.

In the US, under Miranda warning, a police officer needs to inform the following rights to the accused, before an arrest

    1. The right to remain silent.
    2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
    3. The right to speak to an attorney.
    4. To have an attorney present during any questioning.
Different Constitutional and legal rights of an arrested person in India
  1. Cannot testify against himself-
    • Article 20 (3): No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
  2. Right to know the grounds of arrest
    • Article- 22(1): No police officer can arrest any individual without informing the accused of the reason/ ground of his detainment/ arrest.
  3. Right to consult a Lawyer-
    • Section- 41D of CrPC allows the accused to be able to consult with their lawyers during their interrogation. But lawyers are not allowed to be with the accused throughout the interrogation.

Are lawyers allowed to remain present during the interrogation of an accused in custody?

Although the Supreme Court also noted the difficulty and ruled that a lawyer should not be present during interrogation. However, in certain cases, the court permits lawyers to be present during the interrogation:

  • In the judgment of Senior Intelligence Officer vs Jugal Kishore Sharma (2011) case, the following facilities were allowed to accused-
      • The accused’s lawyer was allowed to watch the proceedings from a visible distance which is outside hearing range.
      • The lawyer was not available to the respondent to consult during the questioning.

In the Sachin Waze case, the special court in Mumbai referred to the same judgment. Waze’s lawyer was permitted to stay in the NIA office during interrogation by the special court, but not allowed to speak with his lawyer in private.

Source- The Indian Express

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