Confinement of witnesses for the purpose of investigation of crime illegal: Allahabad HC [Read Judgment]

Confinement of witnesses for the purpose of investigation of crime illegal: Allahabad HC [Read Judgment]


The practice of taking witness in custody for recording her statement under Section 164 CrPC is not contemplated under the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law for that purpose, the bench observed.


Allahabad High Court, coming down heavily on Police officers for illegally confining a lady for fifteen days, in the garb of investigation against her husband in the complaint filed by her parents accusing him of kidnapping her, has observed that practice of taking witness in custody for recording her statement under Section 164 CrPC is not contemplated under the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law.

Division Bench comprising of Justices Ajai Lamba and Ravindra Nath Mishra asked the Police department to compensate the lady by paying sum of Rs.1, 50,000.

The lady had eloped with her boyfriend and married him. The parents of the lady who were not in favour of the marriage, filed a complaint before Police that their daughter was kidnapped. The police kept her in custody for fifteen days to record her statement, she being the prime witness. She denied that she was kidnapped and said that she has already married the boy with whom she was in love. The husband filed Habeas Corpus petition alleging that the lady is being kept in illegal custody by the police in the garb of investigation.

Disposing of the Habeas Corpus petition filed by the husband, the bench observed “So as to carry out the order or so as to conduct investigation, as per law, by no figment of imagination could Seema Devi be kept in confinement for a period of 15 days as has been done by the respondents, who appear to be totally oblivious to the right to liberty of the petitioner.”

TAKING WITNESS IN CUSTODY FOR RECORDING STATEMENT NOT CONTEMPLATED UNDER ANY LAW

Terming the confinement of witness as ‘illegal’, the court further observed “We have come across a number of cases of this nature in which although witness is required to be medically examined and for recording her statement, however, particularly in cases under Sections 363, 366 or 364 I.P.C. where parents of the girl are opposed to the marriage and initiate criminal proceedings making allegations of kidnapping, the witness/kidnappee is taken in custody and is kept as such for weeks together.Thereafter, at times, the custody of the girl is given to the parents, although the girl might be desirous of living in her in-laws' house.The practice oftaking witness in custody for recording her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. is not contemplated under the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law for that purpose.Likewise, for conductingossification test/medical examination, the witness is not required to be kept in custody yet this practice is commonly followed.There being no established procedure of law, the present practice is required to be discouraged and stopped.”

‘DO NOT CONFINE WITNESSES FOR PURPOSE OF INVESTIGATION OF CRIME’

The bench directed the authorities not to confine witnesses for the purpose of investigation of a crime and added “confining is when a person is enclosed within bounds; limit or restrict; to prevent from leaving a place.Even if the movement of a person is limited or restricted to his ownhouse, it would tantamount to his confinement”.

Read the Judgment here.