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Guidelines to be adopted in all cases where non-bailable warrants are issued by the Courts

March 12, 2018


The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Raghuvansh Dewanchand Bhasin vs State Of Maharashtra & Anr in CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1758 OF 2011 (Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.5412 of 2008) on 9 September, 2011 discussed the law relating to issuance of non-bailable warrants, arrests and compensation for wrongful imprisonment which results in violation of fundamental rights and issued certain guidelines to be adopted in all cases where non-bailable warrants are issued by the Courts.

In this judgment, the Apex court examined the law relatingto issuance of non-bailable warrants, arrests and compensation for wrongful imprisonment and referred to several earlier rulings.

It was also observed as follows:

In Inder Mohan Goswami & Anr. Vs. State of Uttaranchal & Ors, (2007) 12 SCC 1 7, a Bench of three learned Judges of this Court cautioned that before issuing non-bailable warrants, the Courts should strike a balance 1 (1976) 3 SCC 1 2 (2007) 12 SCC 1 between societal interests and personal liberty and exercise its discretion cautiously. Enumerating some of the circumstances which the Court should bear in mind while issuing non-bailable warrant, it was observed:

“53. Non-bailable warrant should be issued to bring a person to court when summons or bailable warrants would be unlikely to have the desired result. This could be when:

it is reasonable to believe that the person will not voluntarily appear in court; or  the police authorities are unable to find the person to serve him with a summon; or it is considered that the person could harm someone if not placed into custody immediately.


In para 16 of the judgment, it was observed as follows:-
16. In Rudul Sah Vs. State of Bihar & Anr. (1983) 4 SCC 141, Y.V. Chandrachud, CJ, speaking for a Bench of three learned Judges of this Court had observed thus:
“One of the telling ways in which the violation of that right can reasonably be prevented and due compliance with the mandate of Article 21 secured, is to mulct its violators in the payment of monetary compensation. Administrative sclerosis leading to flagrant infringements of fundamental rights cannot be corrected by any other method open to the judiciary to adopt.”
In para 17 of the judgment, it was observed as follows:-
17. In Bhim Singh, MLA Vs. State of J & K & Ors. (1985) 4 SCC 677 , holding illegal detention in police custody of the petitioner Bhim Singh to be violative of his rights under Articles 21 and 22(2) of the Constitution, this Court, in exercise of its power to award compensation under Article 32, directed the State to pay monetary compensation to the petitioner. Relying on Rudal Sah (supra), O. Chinnappa Reddy, J. echoed the following views:
“When a person comes to us with the complaint that he has been arrested and imprisoned with mischievous or malicious intent and that his constitutional and legal rights were invaded, the mischief or malice and the invasion may not be washed away or wished away by his being set free. In appropriate cases we have the jurisdiction to compensate the victim by awarding suitable monetary compensation”. 
In para 18 of the judgment, it was observed as follows:-
18. In Nilabati Behera (Smt) Alias Lalita Behera Vs. State of Orissa & Ors. (1993) 2 SCC 746 , clearing the doubt and indicating the precise nature of the constitutional remedy under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution to award compensation for contravention of fundamental rights, which had arisen because of the observation that “the petitioner could have been relegated to the ordinary remedy of a suit if his claim to compensation was factually controversial” in Rudul Sah (supra), J.S. Verma, J. (as His Lordship then was) stated as under:
“It follows that ‘a claim in public law for compensation’ for contravention of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of which is guaranteed in the Constitution, is an acknowledged remedy for enforcement and protection of such rights, and such a claim based on strict liability made by resorting to a constitutional remedy provided for the enforcement of a fundamental right is ‘distinct from, and in addition to, the remedy in private law for damages for the tort’ resulting from the contravention of the fundamental right. The defence of sovereign immunity being inapplicable, and alien to the concept of guarantee of fundamental rights, there can be no question of such a defence being available in the constitutional remedy. It is this principle which justifies award of monetary compensation for contravention of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, when that is the only practicable mode of redress available for the contravention made by the State or its servants in the purported exercise of their powers, and enforcement of the fundamental right is claimed by resort to the remedy in public law under the Constitution by recourse to Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution. This is what was indicated in Rudul Sah and is the basis of the subsequent decisions in which compensation was awarded under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution, for contravention of fundamental rights.” 


(See full text of the judgment in Raghuvansh Dewanchand Bhasin vs State Of Maharashtra & Anr in CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1758 OF 2011 (Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 5412 of 2008) on 9 September, 2011).)

Held as follows:-

23. However, before parting with the judgment, we feel that in order to prevent such a paradoxical situation, we are faced with in the instant case, and to check or obviate the possibility of misuse of an arrest warrant, in addition to the statutory and constitutional requirements to which reference has been made above, it would be appropriate to issue the following guidelines to be adopted in all cases where non-bailable warrants are issued by the Courts:- 

(a) All the High Court shall ensure that the Subordinate Courts use printed and machine numbered Form No.2 for issuing warrant of arrest and each such form is duly accounted for; 
(b) Before authenticating, the court must ensure that complete particulars of the case are mentioned on the warrant; 
(c) The presiding Judge of the court (or responsible officer specially authorized for the purpose in case of High Courts) issuing the warrant should put his full and legible signatures on the process, also ensuring that Court seal bearing complete particulars of the Court is prominently endorsed thereon; 
(d) The Court must ensure that warrant is directed to a particular police officer (or authority) and, unless intended to be open-ended, it must be returnable whether executed or unexecuted, on or before the date specified therein; 
(e) Every Court must maintain a register (in the format given below), in which each warrant of arrest issued must be entered chronologically and the serial number of such entry reflected on the top right hand of the process; 
(f) No warrant of arrest shall be issued without being entered in the register mentioned above and the concerned court shall periodically check/monitor the same to confirm that every such process is always returned to the court with due report and placed on the record of the concerned case; 
(g) A register similar to the one in clause 
(e) supra shall be maintained at the concerned police station. The Station House Officer of the concerned Police Station shall ensure that each warrant of arrest issued by the Court, when received is duly entered in the said register and is formally entrusted to a responsible officer for execution; 
(h) Ordinarily, the Courts should not give a long time for return or execution of warrants, as experience has shown that warrants are prone to misuse if they remain in control of executing agencies for long; 
(i) On the date fixed for the return of the warrant, the Court must insist upon a compliance report on the action taken thereon by the Station House Officer of the concerned Police Station or the Officer In-charge of the concerned agency; 
(j) The report on such warrants must be clear, cogent and legible and duly forwarded by a superior police officer, so as to facilitate fixing of responsibility in case of misuse; 
(k) In the event of warrant for execution beyond jurisdiction of the Court issuing it, procedure laid down in Sections 78 and 79 of the Code must be strictly and scrupulously followed; and 
(l) In the event of cancellation of the arrest warrant by the Court, the order cancelling warrant shall be recorded in the case file and the register maintained. A copy thereof shall be sent to the concerned authority, requiring the process to be returned unexecuted forthwith. The date of receipt of the unexecuted warrant will be entered in the aforesaid registers. A copy of such order shall also be supplied to the accused. 
Format of the Register S. The Case title and Name & The officer/ Date of Date Date of Due Report The action Remarks No. number particulars particulars of person to judicial of cancellat date of returned taken as printed on the person whom order issue ion, if return on reported the form against whom directed directing any used warrant of Arrest arrest is Warrant to issued be issued (accused/ witness)
24. We expect and hope that all the High Courts will issue appropriate directions in this behalf to the Subordinate Courts, which shall endeavour to put into practice the aforesaid directions at the earliest, preferably within six months from today.

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