Madras HC issues guidelines to ensure that Police Officers do not harass people in the guise of ongoing investigation

High Court of Judicature of Madras: A Single Judge Bench comprising of M. S. Ramesh, J., recently addressed a petition that was filed under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure Code which prayed to the Court to direct the respondent Police to not harass the petitioners under the pretence of ongoing investigation/enquiry.

The Court acknowledged that Investigation Officers hold unfettered powers with respect to an enquiry into a non cognizable offence or a cognizable offence but it needs to be ensured that such powers are legitimately exercised. The Court observed that even though the Magistrate is empowered with the privileges of being a guardian in all stages of the police investigation, he’s still not handed over with powers which allow him to interfere with the actual investigation or the mode of investigation.

The Court held that its exercising of powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code would not normally allow it to interfere with the investigation conducted by a police officer but, it would also not turn a blind eye to instances of harassment under the guise of investigation by the police. It also observed that what constitutes as “harassment” could fall under a broad ambit and hence, “harassment” in the words of the petitioners could be different from what the respondents thought to be “harassment”.

The Court issued the following guidelines to curb harassment from taking place while investigation was going on:

(i) When a person named in a complaint, or a witness needs to be summoned, the police officer shall present such a person with a written summon under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code specifying the date and time for appearing before the enquiry;

(ii) The minutes of the enquiry shall be recorded in the general diary of the police station;

(iii) The Police Officers shall not indulge in harassing the persons being investigated.

[A. N. Lalman Lal v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 10974, order dated 7.12.2017]

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