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Report No. 177

Again in para 21, at page 1033, it has been observed:

"We have earlier spoken of the conflicting claims requiring reconciliation. Speaking pragmatically, there exists a rivalry between societal interest in effecting crime detection and constitutional rights which accused individuals possess. Emphasis may shift, depending on circumstances, in balancing these interests as has been happening in America. Since Miranda ((1966) 334 US 436) there has been retreat from stress on protection of the accused and gravitation towards society's interest in convicting law-breakers.

Currently, the trend in the American jurisdiction according to legal journals is that 'respect for (constitutional) principles is eroded when they leap their proper bounds to interfere with the legitimate interests of society in enforcement of its law. (Couch v. United States (1972) 409 US 322, 336). Our constitutional perspective has, therefore, to be relative and cannot afford to be absolutist, especially when torture technology, crime escalation and other social variables affect the application of principles in producing humane justice."

The National Police Commission in its Third Report referring to the quality of arrests by the Police in India mentioned power of arrest as one of the chief sources of corruption in the police. The report suggested that, by and large, nearly 60% ofthe arrests were either unnecessary or unjustified and that such unjustified police action accounted for 43.2% of the expenditure of the jails. The said Commission in its Third Report at page 31 observed thus:

"It is obvious that a major portion of the arrests were connected with very minor prosecutions and cannot, therefore, be regarded as quite necessary from the point of view of crime prevention. Continued detention in jail of the persons so arrested has also meant avoidable expenditure on their maintenance. In the above period it was estimated that 43.2 per cent of the expenditure in the connected jails was over such prisoners only who in the ultimate analysis need not have been arrested at all.".... (The figures given in the Report of the National Police Commission are more than two decades old. Today, if anything, the position is worse.)

The Royal Commission suggested restrictions on the power of arrest on the basis of the 'necessity of principle'. The two main objectives of this principle are that police can exercise powers only in those cases in which it was genuinely necessary to enable them to execute their duty to prevent the Commission of offences, to investigate crime. The Royal Commission was of the view that such restrictions would diminish the use of arrest and produce more uniform use of powers. The Royal Commission Report on Criminal Procedur.- Sir Cyril Philips, at page 45 said:

"We recommend that detention upon arrest for an offence should continue only on one or more of the following criteria;

(a) the person's unwillingness to identify himself so that a summons may be served upon him;

(b) the need to prevent the continuation or repetition of that offence;

(c) the need to protect the arrested person himself or other persons or property;

(d) the need to secure or preserve evidence of or relating to that offence or to obtain such evidence from the suspect by questioning him; and

(e) the likelihood of the person failing to appear at court to answer any charge made against him."

The Royal Commission in the above-said Report at page 46 also suggested:

"To help to reduce the use of arrest we would also propose the introduction here of a scheme that is used in Ontario enabling a police officer to issue what is called an 'appearance notice'. That procedure can be used to obtain attendance at the police station without resorting to arrest provided a power to arrest exists, for example to be finger-printed or to participate in an identification parade. It could also be extended to attendance for interview at a time convenient both to the suspect and to the police officer investigating the case...."

In India, Third Report of the National Police Commission at page 32 also suggested:

"An arrest during the investigation of a cognizable case maybe considered justified in one or other of the following circumstances:

(1) The case involves a grave offence like murder, dacoity, robbery, rape etc., and it is necessary to arrest the accused and bring his movements under restraint to infuse confidence among the terror stricken victims.

(2) The accused is likely to abscond and evade the processes of law.

(3) The accused is given to violent behaviour and is likely to commit further offences unless his movements are brought under restraint.

(4) The accused is a habitual offender and unless kept in custody he is likely to commit similar offences again.

It would be desirable to insist through departmental instructions that a police officer making an arrest should also record in the case diary the reasons for making the arrest, thereby clarifying his conformity to the specified guidelines."

It would equally be relevant to quote para 24, which reads as follows:

"The above guidelines are merely the incidents of personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India. 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 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 the constitutional rights of a citizen and perhaps in his own interest that no arrest should be made without a reasonable satisfaction reached 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 need to effect arrest. Denying a person of his liberty is a serious matter.

The recommendations of the Police Commission merely reflect the constitutional concomitants of the fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom. A person is not liable to arrest merely on the suspicion of complicity in an offence. There must be some reasonable justification in the opinion of the officer effecting the arrest that such arrest is necessary and justified. Except in heinous offences, an arrest must be avoided if a police officer issues notice to person to attend the Station House and not to leave Station without permission would do."

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