[S. 438 CrPC] HP HC | A balance has to be maintained between the right of personal liberty and right of Investigating Agency to investigate and arrest an offender for the purpose of investigation

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Vivek Singh Thakur, J., dismissed the petition and approved the prayer for custodial interrogation.

The facts of the case are such that the daughter of the petitioner i.e. the victim left home for school and did not return. On him contacting school authorities he got to know that school was not open that day. He went to register a complaint at the police station under Section 363 Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC and investigation started. On investigation, it was found that her phone was being used on various locations and two numbers were contacted most frequently. The last location of the victim was Panipat after which the phone was switched off. The main fact that points to Nazim i.e the petitioner in the instant case being of significance is the fact that he spoke to Ibrahim who kept the victim with him as the petitioner was in Kerala. The victim was recovered and her statement was recorded after which a lot of additional facts and names came to the fore and thus Sections 366A, 370(4), 506 and 120B IPC were added. The Petitioner has approached this Court under Section 438 Criminal Procedure Code (i.e. Cr.P.C.), seeking anticipatory bail apprehending his arrest.

Counsel for the petitioners Mr Rajesh Kumar Parmar submitted that there is no overt act on the part of the petitioner in leaving the house by the victim, rather victim had voluntarily left her house and when she reached Ambala, the petitioner had only helped her by providing shelter to her and victim was not sexually abused. It is also submitted that there is no past history of petitioner involving in the commission of the same nature or any other offence.

Counsel for the State Mr Raju Ram Rahi and Mr Nasib Singh submitted that petitioner is a part of racket involved in fishing adolescent girls for throwing them in international flesh trade by trafficking. It was further submitted that accused are absconding and investigation is at the initial stage and non-cooperation of the accused persons, including petitioner, is hampering the investigation.

The Court observed that Police Officer/Investigating Officer is empowered to arrest the offender or the suspect for proper investigation of the offence as provided under Section 41 read with Section 157 CrPC. Arrest of an offender during investigation is duly prescribed in CrPC. Section 438 CrPC is an exception to general principle and at the time of exercising power under Section 438 CrPC, balance between right of Investigating Agency and life and liberty of a person has to be maintained by the Courts, in the light of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India, but also keeping in mind interference by the Court directing the Investigating Officer not to arrest accused amounts to interference in the investigation. It was also observed that nature, gravity and seriousness of offence, are also amongst those several relevant factors which may compel the Court to reject or accept the bail application under Section 438 CrPC.

The Court thus held “Considering entire facts and circumstances of the case and nature, gravity and seriousness of offence for the manner in which girl has been managed to be transported/travelled from Shimla to a remote village of Uttar Pradesh in an organized manner, and also for finding or ruling out possibility of amplitude and magnitude of the conspiracy, I find that prayer for custodial interrogation of the petitioner is justified and thus acceptable.” 

In view of the above, petition was dismissed.[Mohammad Nazim v. State of Himachal Pradesh, Cr. M.P. (M) No. 620 of 2021, decided on 06-04-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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