Image: The Indian Express

Emphasizing the question of personal liberty as an important aspect of constitutional mandate, the Supreme Court of India has said that arrests should not be made a routine and in cases where the cooperation of the accused show in the probe and there exists no reason to think that they might abscond or influence the investigation, they should not be arrested.

“We may note that personal liberty is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate. The occasion to arrest an accused during investigation arises when the custodial investigation becomes necessary or it is a heinous crime or where there is a possibility of influencing the witnesses or accused may abscond,” the order said.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court including Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy was hearing a plea against the Allahabad High Court verdict in which the lower court had dismissed an application that sought anticipatory bail in a case in which FIR was registered seven years ago.

Just because a law has the provision of arrest, police should not resort to it if there exists no concrete reason to do so, the bench observed.

“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.

The bench also brought attention towards the comprehensive guidelines issued by the Supreme Court back in 1994 and said that despite those directions arrests have continued to remain a routine affair that is in many cases supported by even lower courts.

The bench said that if the investigating officer in a case is of the belief that the accused will not abscond or disobey the summons, they are required to be produced before the court in custody.

“Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made,” the order said and further added, “If arrest is made routine, it can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person.”

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February 2024


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