Legal Provision regarding arrest-detention

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I just went through the Article written by Mr Yashwant Singh about his mother's alleged detention in the Nandganj police station in Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh. There I saw the voice of a son who had been deeply and vigorously purturbed by whatever had happened to his mother, far away from his place of residence.

This triggered my thought process and a lot many questions related to Human Rights suddenly came in my mind. I thought that without going into the facts presented by Mr Yashwant and commenting upon their veracity and truth, I must bring a few legal issues related with arrest in our legal system. This is because many of us are not aware of our legal rights as provided in our books of law.

As we all know, the provision of arrest has been provided in our Criminal Procedure Code itself, both as Preventive arrest (which takes place before the happening of the actual crime) and substantive arrest (which are made after crime has actually been committed). There is no provision as such in our Criminal Procedure Code or any other legal document to detain any person (male or female) just like that without placing those facts on the records of the Police Station. Thus in India no person can be detained or kept in police station just for the sake of it.

Yes, there is also a provisiuon of calling people as witness in the Police stations, as given under section 160 of the CrPC. But here again the Proviso to subsection (1) of section 160 very clearly says- "Provided that no male person under the age of fifteen years or woman shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such male person or woman resides.". Thus section strictly forbids any woman to be brought to the police station just for the sake of asking a few questions or as a witness.

Coming back to the provision of arrest, there again, Art. 22 (1) of the Indian Constitution and Section 50 of the Cr.P.C  make it very clear that every arrested person has a right to be informed of the grounds of arrest by the police. The police should also inform the arrested person of this right.

The Landmark Supreme Court Judgement of D.K.Basu v. State of West Bengal makes it mandatory that the arrested person is not to be ill-treated, abused or tortured while in custody during interrogation and investigation.

In the case of women, there are even special provision for search. It says that females can be searched by only another female with strict regard to privacy and decency. (Section 51(2), Cr.P.C).

These facts are being provided for the benefit of one and all because I strongly feel that each one of us must know about our legal rights and the safeguards provided by our laws.

Amitabh Thakur


IRDS, Lucknow