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SC Judgement on liberty of accused UPSC NOTE

 Two major judgements

  • The Supreme Court in May 2024, delivered 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.

  • In Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India and Others (2023), the Supreme Court held that the grounds of arrest must be informed in writing to the accused as a matter of course and without exception, to give true meaning and purpose to the constitutional and statutory mandate of Section 19(1) of the PMLA

  • Similarly, recently in Prabir Purkayastha v. State (NCT of Delhi), the Court reiterated the ratio of Bansal (supra) case and held that the provision of arrest, as far as informing grounds of arrest is concerned, is pari passu (equal footing) under the UAPA

Importance

  • The Court held that the ‘reasons of arrest’ are purely formal parameters which commonly apply to any person arrested on charge of a crime whereas the ‘grounds of arrest’ would be invariably personal and required to contain details which necessitated the arrest of the accused

  • Therefore, unless grounds of arrest are informed in writing, arrest and subsequent remand would become invalid in the eyes of law.

  • Importantly, Section 50(1) of the CrPC also provides that “every police officer or other person arresting any person without warrant shall forthwith communicate to him full particulars of the offence for which he is arrested or other grounds of arrest”. 

  • Therefore, even for offences registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), an accused is required to be informed about the grounds of arrest, along with important facts of the case

  • The Court has said that the grounds of arrest must be provided in writing so that the accused person can seek legal counsel and seek bail on the basis of unambiguously stated facts of the case by the investigating agency

  • If that be so, the ratio of the Bansal case (supra) must equally apply to Section 50(1) of the CrPC, particularly when such a right is held to flow from Article 22 of the Constitution. 

  • It will be apposite to amend the law and provide a copy of the arrest memo with some modification to fulfil the constitutional mandate towards an accused person.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: SC Judgement on liberty of accused UPSC NOTE
SC Judgement on liberty of accused UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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