Arrest cannot be made in a routine manner on mere allegation of commission of an offence

Madhya Pradesh High Court: An appeal was filed under Section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 before a Single Judge Bench comprising of J.P. Gupta, J., wherein the appellant was granted anticipatory bail in a case registered under various provisions of IPC and the SC/ST Act, 1989.

The complainant belonged to the Scheduled Tribe community and worked as a driver of the bus owned by the appellant. It was alleged by the complainant that the appellant assaulted him and abused him by addressing his caste. The appellant was consequently booked under various provisions of SC/ST Act and was apprehending arrest in connection with the same. He applied for anticipatory bail before the Special Judge which was dismissed. Hence, this appeal under Section 14-A of the SC/ST Act.

While considering the instant appeal, the High Court referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court to observe that it is expected from a police officer, who intends to arrest a person, not being a government servant and is accused of the offence punishable under the Act of 1989, to arrest only with prior approval of the SSP concerned, and after recording the reasons of arrest in writing. 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. Arrest and detention in police lock-up of a person can cause irreparable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. Hence, arrest cannot be made in routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence. It is expected from a police officer to act as a prudent man in the interest of protection of the constitutional rights of a citizen not to arrest a person without a reasonable satisfaction arrived after some investigation as to the genuineness and bonafides of a complaint and need of arrest and thereafter record genuine reasons showing that such arrest is necessary and justified. Except in heinous offences, an arrest must be avoided.

In the background of the aforesaid discussions, considering the facts and circumstances of the present case and the material available in the case diary, the Court was of the view that the nature of the offence was not very severe and prima facie, the appellant’s arrest was not warranted for the purpose of investigation. Hence, the appeal was allowed. [Ajeet Jain v. State of MP, Cr. A. No. 1757 of 2018, dated 04-04-2018]

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