Summoning, detaining a person without any crime violates basic principles: SC

The Supreme Court has observed that summoning and detaining of a person without any crime registered against that person would violate basic principles.

A bench comprising justices U.U. Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi said: “The mere fact that no crime was registered, could not be a defence, nor would it be an escape from the rigour of the decisions rendered by this court. As a matter of fact, summoning the person without there being any crime registered against him and detaining him would itself be violative of basic principles”.

A man based in Andhra Pradesh moved the high court seeking a direction not to arrest him without giving due notice under Section 41A of CrPC. The man’s wife had filed a criminal complaint against him. The single judge of the high court directed the police to strictly follow the guidelines laid down by the top court in Arnesh Kumar Vs State of Bihar.

However, he was forcibly taken away by the police officer to Akividu police station, where he was also detained. Later, he filed a contempt case alleging that in spite of the high court direction, he was detained at the police station. The sessions judges, tasked to filed an inquiry report in the matter, stated that petitioner was not only summoned to the police station in the name of counselling, but he was also detained. The single judge bench of the high court held that the police officer is guilty of contempt of court and sentenced the officer to three months imprisonment.

The division bench of the high court set aside this order. The court noted that in the instant case, no crime was registered. “When there is no crime, the question of arresting the writ petitioners would not arise”, it added.

The top court, in its order, said: “In the circumstances, the Division Bench was not right and justified in setting aside the view taken by the Single Judge of the High Court. We, therefore, allow this appeal. While setting aside the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court, we restore the decision of the Single Judge”.

The top court, restoring the single bench order, modified the substantive sentence of three months to 15 days. “The contemnor shall surrender himself before the Registrar of the High Court within two weeks from today. With these observations, the appeal stands allowed”, said the top court.