Taking note of several cases where persons were arrested or taken into preventive custody as there were “no guidelines”, the Delhi High Court has decided to examine the issue saying such instances curtailed the liberty of an individual.
Considering that liberty of the detained persons was being curtailed through the use of statutory powers by special executive magistrates (SEM), the court raised another question about the provision of legal aid to such people to make them aware of their rights.
“The court proposes to examine the larger issues that arise because it appears that there are large number of similar cases where the powers under sections 107/151 CrPC are being invoked to preventively detain/arrest persons with there being no guidelines as such as to the procedure that has to be followed and the period for which such persons are to be detained,” a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said.
It directed the Principal Secretary of Delhi government’s Department of Home to place on affidavit the “figures of the number of persons who have been arrested in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in the past one year invoking the powers under Sections 107/ 151 CrPC and the number of persons who have been actually sent to judicial custody on the same day.”
The court passed the order while hearing a habeas corpus plea by an advocate seeking direction to the police to produce one Narender, who was confined in the Tihar Jail here.
The advocate, Aldanish Rein, said in his plea that on July 6, the man was picked up from Swaroop Nagar area here by a Delhi Police official and booked under sections 107 and 151 (preventive custody) of the CrPC.
He was produced before the SEM who remanded him to judicial custody without supplying any document or order copy and his relatives were also not informed.
The bench said there also “appears to be no basis to determine the amount of surety that the detenue is asked to furnish.”
It said it needed to examine whether such people were being served with notices, being heard and whether their near relatives or friends were being informed about their arrest as required by law.
The court also directed that a sampling of such orders be placed before it to enable it to formulate guidelines regarding the exercise powers under these provisions.
Rein, who was appointed a jail visiting advocate on the panel of the High Court’s Legal Services Committee, got to know about the case when he visited prison no. 8/9 of Tihar Jail and was informed that Narender has been languishing there for five days.
The court was informed by Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra that Narender was released from the jail on July 11, following an order of the SEM.