Non- bailable warrants
Issuance of non- bailable warrants involves interference with personal liberty. Arrest and imprisonment means deprivation of the most precious right of an individual. Therefore, the courts have to be extremely careful before issuing non-bailable warrants. But, just as liberty is precious for an individual so is the interest of the society in maintaining law and order. Both are extremely important for the survival of a civilized society. Sometimes in the larger interest of the public and the State it becomes absolutely imperative to curtail freedom of an individual for a certain period, only then the non-bailable warrants should be issued.
Warrant of arrest can be issued under the Code in three circumstances: –
Section 73 of the CrPC, which lays down the following:-
“Warrant may be directed, to any person –
(1) The Chief Judicial Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class may direct a warrant to any person within his local jurisdiction for the arrest of any escaped convict, proclaimed offender or of any person who is accused of a non- bailable, offence and is evading arrest.
(2) Such person shall acknowledge in writing the receipt of the warrant, and shall execute it if the person for whose arrest it was issued, is in, or enters on, any land or other property under his charge.
(3) When the person against whom such warrant is issued is arrested, he shall be made over with the warrant to the nearest police officer, who shall cause him to be taken before a Magistrate having jurisdiction in the case, unless security is taken under section71.”
firstly, for arrest of escaped convict;
secondly, for arrest of proclaimed offender and
thirdly, for arrest of any person who is accused of non- bailable offence and is evading arrest. In the third circumstance, a warrant can be issued even pending investigation. (Randhir Sharma v. State of Bihar, 2009 CrLJ 3889 (Pat)
Procedure as to when non-bailable warrants should be issued
“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
54. As far as possible, if the court is of the opinion that a summon will suffice in getting the appearance of the accused in the court, the summon or the bailable warrants should be preferred. The warrants either bailable or non-bailable should never be
issued without proper scrutiny of facts and complete application of mind, due to the extremely serious consequences and ramifications which ensue on issuance of warrants. The court must very carefully examine whether the criminal complaint or FIR has not been filed with an oblique motive.
54. In complaint cases, at the first instance, the court should direct serving of the summons along with the copy of the complaint. If the accused seem to be avoiding the summons, the court, in the second instance should issue bailable warrant. In the third instance, when the court is fully satisfied that the accused is avoiding the court’s proceeding intentionally, the process of issuance of the non-bailable warrant should be resorted to. Personal liberty is paramount, therefore, we caution courts at the first and second instance to refrain from issuing non-bailable warrants.
55. The power being discretionary must be exercised judiciously with extreme care and caution. The court should properly balance both personal liberty and societal interest before issuing warrants. There cannot be any straitjacket formula for issuance of warrants but as a general rule, unless an accused is charged with the commission of an offence of a heinous crime and it is feared that he is likely to tamper or destroy the evidence or is likely to evade the process of law, issuance of non-bailable warrants should be avoided.
56. The court should try to maintain proper balance between individual liberty and the interest of the public and the State while issuing non-bailable warrant.”.(emphasis supplied)
Inder Mohan Goswami v. State of Uttaranchal 2007 PLRonline 0008
Reiterating the principles laid down in Inder Goswami case ,the Apex Court held:
“9. It needs little emphasis that since the execution of a non-bailable warrant directly involves curtailment of liberty of a person, warrant of arrest cannot be issued mechanically, but only after recording satisfaction that in the facts and circumstances of the case, it is warranted. The Courts have to be extra-cautious and careful while directing issue of non-bailable warrant, else a wrongful detention would amount to denial of constitutional mandate envisaged in Article 21of the Constitution of India. At the same time, there is no gainsaying that the welfare of an individual must yield to that of the community. Therefore, in order to maintain rule of law and to keep the society in functional harmony, it is necessary to strike a balance between an individual’s rights, liberties and privileges on the one hand, and the State on the other. Indeed, it is a complex exercise. As Justice Cardozo puts it “on the one side is the social need that crime shall be repressed. On the other, the social need that law shall not be flouted by the insolence of office. There are dangers in any choice.” Be that as it may, it is for the court, which is clothed with the discretion to determine whether the presence of an accused can be secured by a bailable or non- bailable warrant, to strike the balance between the need of law enforcement on the one hand and the protection of the citizen from highhandedness at the hands of the law enforcement agencies on the other. The power and jurisdiction of the court to issue appropriate warrant against an accused on his failure to attend the court on the date of hearing of the matter cannot be disputed. Nevertheless, such power has to be exercised judiciously and not arbitrarily, having regard, inter-alia, to the nature and seriousness of the offence involved; the past conduct of the accused; his age and the possibility of his absconding.”
Raghuvansh Dewanchand Bhasin v. State of Maharashtra, (2012) 9 SCC 791,
Guidelines in relation to the issuance and execution of a warrant of arrest
“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 theprocess;
(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 concernedcase;
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;
(g) 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;
(h) 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;
(i) 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;
(j) In the event of warrant for execution beyond jurisdiction of the Court issuing it, procedure laid down in Sections 78 and79of the Code must be strictly and scrupulously followed; and
(k). In the event of cancellation of the arrest warrant by the Court, the order canceling 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.”
Raghuvansh Dewanchand Bhasin v. State of Maharashtra, (2012) 9 SCC 791,