It’s not mandatory to arrest each and every accused at the time of filing charge-sheet

By – Arun Shekhar Jawla

Section 170 of CrPC doesn’t impose an obligation on the IO to arrest every accused while filing the charge sheet. This ruling was given in the case of Siddharth v. State of Uttar Pradesh by the Supreme Court bench.

The bench comprised of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy. They also clarified the term ‘custody’ under Section 170 CrPC. The Supreme Court is of the view that it is not necessary for each and every accused to be in either judicial or police custody before filing the charge sheet.  Here, custody merely meant the presentation of the accused by the Investigating Officer before the court while filing the charge sheet.

The reasoning behind such relaxation was that if Investigating Officer [IO] doesn’t believe that accused might run away or disobey summons then he/she is not under obligation to produce them while filing the charge-sheet.

Facts of the Case

Sever year ago, the trial court ruled that unless the person is taken into custody, the charge sheet will not be taken on record in view of Section 170 under CrPC.

The appellant was a stone supplier and was taken into custody under S.409 (Criminal breach of trust) and S.120-B (Punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, 1860. Even before the charge sheet was filed, the appellant was already part of the investigation. Later, an arrest warrant was issued against him. Application for anticipatory bail was filed before the Allahabad High Court which was denied. Then he decided to file SPL under Article 136 to the SC.

Judgment and Observation

The Court also noted that merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that an arrest must be made. The court even said that if arrests are made in a routine manner then it causes harm to the reputation of a person.

The bench referring to the judgment in the case of Joginder Kumar v. the State of U.P., (1994) 4 SCC 260, reiterated that merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made. A distinction must be made between the existence of the power to arrest and the justification for the exercise of it. The bench observed 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 Court setting aside the High Court order allowed the appeal.