A direction issued by the court to the police to defer from harassing an individual does not mean that the latter are prevented even from exercising the power of investigation and authority vested on them under Section 160 (power to summon witnesses) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.), the Madras High Court Bench here has clarified.

Justice K.K. Sasidharan made the clarification while disposing of a petition filed by Tirumangalam Taluk police inspector seeking a direction to a woman to cooperate in locating her house at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh as her husband was a suspect in a case related to an attempt on the life of former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani by planting a pipe bomb under a causeway at Alampatti near here on October 28.

The woman had filed a writ petition earlier and obtained certain directions to the police with regard to summoning her for interrogation. However, claiming that she was not divulging the details about her residence, the inspector had filed the present petition seeking a direction to the woman to accompany a Special Investigation Team to Chittoor.

Clarifying his earlier order, the judge said: “It is true that this Court has issued certain directions to safeguard the interest of the respondent. However, that does not mean that the Investigating Officer is deprived of his right to conduct an investigation and for the said purpose, to require the attendance of persons who are acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.”

“The directions were issued to protect the life and liberty of the respondent. But at the same time, the power of the Investigating Officer to conduct a fair investigation in the matter was preserved. The police are given a free hand in the matter of investigation. Even the Courts cannot direct the police to conduct investigation in a particular manner. The investigation is a prerogative of police.”

“The Cr.P.C., therefore, deals with the authority of the police to investigate a cognizable offence and at the same time, it protects the right of witnesses and the accused. There is no dispute that the freedom of individuals must give way to larger public interest and the security of our country.”

The judge also recorded the submission of the woman's counsel that she would cooperate with the investigating officer.

More In: Madurai