By Alok Mohit
PATNA: The Patna high court has issued a circular outlining several key directives aimed at ensuring strict adherence by police authorities and criminal courts to the Supreme Court’s guidelines on arrest. The circular, issued by the court’s registrar general in compliance of a Supreme Court order, has to be followed by all courts within the territorial jurisdiction of the Patna high court.
On July 31, the Supreme Court, in the case of Md. Asfak Alam v. State of Jharkhand and Another, had issued a directive to circulate circulars, notifications, and instructions aimed at ensuring strict adherence by police authorities and criminal courts to the arrest guidelines established in the 2014 Arnesh Kumar case.
The ruling in 2014, Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar, was prompted by the court’s awareness of the rampant misuse of Section 498A (which deals with cruelty against women) of the Indian Penal Code, particularly in relation to dowry demands. Consequently, the court had formulated guidelines to prevent unnecessary arrests and to ensure that arrests were made only when necessary.
According to the circular, the state government is required to advise police officers not to automatically arrest individuals when a case under Section 498-A IPC is registered. Instead, officers must satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest based on the parameters laid down in Section 41 CrPC, it says.
The circular states that all police officers are required to be provided with a checklist containing specified sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii) CrPC. It says the police officer making an arrest must forward a completed checklist and furnish the reasons and materials that necessitated the arrest when producing the accused before the magistrate for further detention.
The magistrate, upon authorising the detention of the accused, must peruse the report furnished by the police officer and only authorise detention after recording satisfaction, it adds.
The notice of appearance in terms of Section 41-A CrPC, according to the circular, must be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case. This period may be extended for reasons recorded in writing by the superintendent of police, it says.
Failure to comply with the above directives will render the police officers concerned liable for departmental action and contempt of court, it says, adding that contempt proceedings will be instituted before the high court. It also says that magistrates who authorise detention without recording reasons will be liable for departmental action by the high court.
The circular emphasises that these directives will apply not only to cases under Section 498-A IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act but also to cases where the offense is punishable with imprisonment for a term extending up to seven years, with or without a fine.
(Author Alok Mohit is former senior News Editor of Hindustan Times Patna and Chandigarh editions; can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)