Report No. 152
6.3. Section 160, Cr. P.C.: Recommendation.-
Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which we have quoted in the preceding paragraph is not a minor provision of routine character; instead it confers very wide power on a police officer investigating a case to summon any person to the police station for interrogation. The enacting section grants legislative sanction to the age-old convention of the police officers to bring persons to police station for purposes of interrogation. By and large, this power is misused by the police.
Though the law requires the investigating officer to summon any person for interrogation by an order in writing. Yet, in actual practice, this is rarely followed. Generally, the investigating officer or a constable of the police station calls the witness to the police station, where he is interrogated. Many a time, he is made to wait for hours and sometimes even for days together and if during interrogation, the witness pleads ignorance of the incident which may be the subject-matter of investigations he is threatened, coerced, assaulted and even tortured at the police station.
Some persons have raised this question whether it is necessary to call a witness to the police station for interrogation. A witness is not an accused he need not visit the police station to give evidence though as a responsible citizen, it is the duty of every citizen to furnish to the police information regarding the facts and events which may be in his knowledge. That information from him may be obtained by the police officer at the place of the witness.
However, there may be special circumstances in some cases where the presence of the witness at the police station may be necessary, but, by and large, the provision requiring the witness to appear at the police station for interrogation by the investigating officer does not appear to be necessary or desirable. This section provides an easy handle and occasion to the police to coerce and torture the witness at the police station.
We are, therefore, of the opinion that section 160 needs modification to the effect that ordinarily attendance of the witness at the police station shall not be necessary; instead, he should be interrogated or examined at his place of residence but, if in any particular case it is necessary to do so, reasons must be recorded and the witness must be summoned by a written order. Section 160(1) needs amendment to avoid the prevailing malpractice.