Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made, the Supreme Court recently observed. The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed that personal liberty is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate.
In this case, the appellant along with 83 other private persons were sought to be roped in a FIR which was registered seven years ago. Before the court he submitted that he had already joined the investigation and the chargesheet was stated to be ready to be filed. As the arrest memo was issued, he filed anticipatory bail application before the High Court which was dismissed and thus he approached the Apex Court in appeal.
The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed that the trial court, in this case has taken a view that unless the person is taken a view that unless the person is taken into custody the chargesheet will not be taken on record in view of Section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.On this aspect, it held that Section 170 of the Cr.P.C. does not impose an obligation on the Officer-in-charge to arrest each and every accused at the time of filing of the charge sheet.
We may note that personal liberty is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate. The occasion to arrest an accused during investigation arises when custodial investigation becomes necessary or it is a heinous crime or where there is a possibility of influencing the witnesses or accused may abscond. Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made.', the court said.
The court said that a distinction must be made between the existence of the power to arrest and the justification for exercise of it. "If arrest is made routine, it can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. 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 a compulsion on the officer to arrest the accused.", the court said.
The bench, in this case, referred to the observations made in Joginder Kumar v. State of UP & Ors. (1994) 4 SCC 260. In the said case, a lawyer, who was kept under police custody, had approached the Apex court by filing a writ petition. It was observed thus in the said case: "No arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so. The existence of the power to arrest is one thing. The justification for the exercise of it is quite another. The police officer must be able to justify the arrest apart from his power to do so. Arrest and detention in police lock-up of a person can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. No arrest can be made in a routine manner on a a mere allegation of commission of an offence made against a person. It would be prudent for a police officer in the interest of protection of theconstitutional rights of a citizen and perhaps in his own interest that no arrest should be made without a reasonable satisfaction reached after some after some investigation as to the genuineness and bona fides of a complaint and a reasonable belief both as to the person's complicity and even so as to the person's complicity and even so as to the need to effect arrest. Denying a person of his liberty is a serious matter.