Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 12 June 2024

Arrests, Agencies and Criminal Courts

Relevance: GS Paper II

Why in News? 

Two impactful judgments were recently handed down by the Supreme Court, affecting the freedom of individuals accused of criminal offenses.

More About the News: The initial ruling stipulates that in specific criminal cases, it's not obligatory to detain an accused before the charge sheet is filed. Adhering strictly to this directive by lower courts could alleviate the burden on investigative agencies.

  • The second verdict revolves around ensuring that an accused is formally informed of the reasons for their arrest in writing, a right enshrined under Article 22 of the Constitution. 
  • While this ruling primarily addressed specialized laws such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
  •  Its applicability to provisions within the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) concerning the communication of arrest grounds remains a pertinent consideration.

However, there is a pertinent question about whether these directives can be extended to provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) regarding the communication of arrest grounds.

Key Points of these judgments:

Filing of Charge Sheet:

  • In the case of Siddharth v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Another (2021), the Supreme Court clarified that it is not mandatory for the investigating officer (IO) to present the accused in custody at the time of filing the charge sheet. 
  • This ruling was grounded on the premise that if the accused cooperates in the investigation and there is no necessity for arrest, the charge sheet can be filed without custody. Section 170 of the CrPC was interpreted to not impose an obligation to arrest every accused before filing the charge sheet. 
  • Consequently, it is deemed unjustified for criminal courts to reject charge sheets solely on the basis of the accused not being present. The Court underscored the importance of bringing such issues to the attention of the Sessions Judge if charge sheets are rejected for this reason.
  • Despite this directive, practical challenges persist. In cases involving riots or a large number of accused individuals, it can be difficult for IOs to file charge sheets. Moreover, courts sometimes decline to accept charge sheets beyond a certain quota per day or after specific hours
  • IOs are often hesitant to report such issues to a Sessions Judge, fearing adverse effects on their other responsibilities. Despite the Siddharth judgment being over two years old, little change has been observed in this regard.

Grounds of Arrest:

  • The case of Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India and Others (2023) emphasized the necessity of informing the accused in writing about the grounds of arrest. This is essential to uphold the constitutional and statutory mandate of Section 19(1) of the PMLA. Similarly, in Prabir Purkayastha v. State (NCT of Delhi), the Court reiterated this principle, extending it to the UAPA. The distinction between "reasons of arrest" and "grounds of arrest" was elucidated, with the latter being personal and requiring detailed explanation. Failure to inform the accused in writing renders the arrest and subsequent remand invalid.
  • Section 50(1) of the CrPC also mandates the communication of full particulars of the offense or grounds of arrest to the accused. This applies even to offenses under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The onus lies on the prosecution to demonstrate compliance with statutory provisions.
  • Despite the existence of an arrest memo prepared by the IO, which includes crucial details such as sections of offenses, date, time, and place of arrest, there is no provision to provide a copy of this memo to the accused at the time of arrest. This gap in the law becomes especially pertinent for individuals not named in the First Information Report.
  • The Court's insistence on providing grounds of arrest in writing enables accused persons to seek legal counsel and pursue bail based on clearly stated facts. Extending the principles of the Bansal case to Section 50(1) of the CrPC, given its constitutional underpinning in Article 22, would necessitate amending the law to ensure accused persons receive a copy of the arrest memo with appropriate modifications.


These Supreme Court judgments underscore the significance of procedural fairness and upholding fundamental rights in criminal proceedings. The directives laid down have the potential to transform the landscape of criminal justice in India, provided they are implemented effectively and diligently by all stakeholders.

Beyond Editorial

What is a chargesheet?

  • A chargesheet is a formal document prepared by the police or investigating agency in a criminal case. 
  • It contains details of the charges or accusations against the accused person(s) based on the evidence gathered during the investigation.
  • Once the chargesheet is filed in court, it formally initiates the judicial process against the accused person(s). The court then takes cognizance of the case and proceeds with the trial, where the accused has the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges.
  • The purpose of a chargesheet is to present the case against the accused in a comprehensive and organized manner, allowing the court to evaluate the evidence and determine if there is sufficient grounds to proceed with the prosecution.

Constitutional provisions protecting an arrested person:

  • Protection against Arrest and Detention - Article 22 safeguards individuals against arbitrary arrest and detention
  • It ensures that no person can be arrested or detained without being informed of the grounds for such arrest or detention.
  • Right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner-Article 22(2): An arrested person has the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
  • Protection against double jeopardy-Article 20(2): It ensures that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.
  • Protection against double jeopardy-Article 20(2): This provision ensures that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.
  • Protection against self-incrimination-Article 20(3): It states that no person accused of an offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

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