Catching up with the technology era, authorities used a cell phone to communicate to a relative and a friend about the arrest of two persons who were detained under the Goondas Act; but the Madras High Court has declined to recognise the mode of communication. It has ruled that as there was no proof of the intimation of the arrest, the detention order would be vitiated.

The court has now evolved guidelines for consideration for implementation in order to streamline the procedure for effective communication of arrest intimation owing to discontinuation of telegraphic services from July 15 this year.

A Division Bench comprising Justices V. Dhanapalan and C.T. Selvam was quashing the detention orders under the Goondas Act by the Krishnagiri District Collector on March 12 this year against two persons, Shanmugam (51) and Manjunath (39.) The two had been branded ‘bootleggers’.

The ground case against them was registered in February this year. They were later detained under the Goondas Act.

A contention of the petitioners was that there was no proof to show that the arrest intimation was given as the arrest was communicated though cell phone to the detenu’s wife and a friend.

The prosecution said a cell phone was used because it was an effective and speedy way of communication. There was nothing illegal in it.

Writing the order for the Bench, Justice Dhanapalan held that the detaining authority had acted as per law in concluding that there was likelihood of the detenus coming out on bail and indulging in activities which may be prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

He said the intimation of arrest should be communicated to relatives or friends of the persons concerned through any one of the legally recognised modes that would ensure the detenus’ rights. If such intimation had not been made effectively, the arrestee could challenge the arrest. In the present case, the arrest intimation was through cell phone, but there was no proof to show that the communication was sent to the detenus’ family members. On the failure of the same, the detention order would be vitiated on grounds of deprivation of Constitutional right under Article 22 (1.)

Mr. Justice Dhanapalan said that in February last year, the State government had given clear instructions to the police authorities and others that arrest intimation over cell phone/land line phone should be avoided. Despite clear instructions, the officer who arrested the detenus had informed the wife and a friend of the two. The date of arrest being a Sunday, no telegraph service was available, the officer had contended which showed his ignorance, as the service was available even on Sundays, the judge observed.

Issuing the guidelines, the court said the officer making the arrest should intimate the same to the detenus relatives/friends through e-post. As regards intimation through cell phone/land line, the Bench suggested to the State government that it should invite BSNL officials for consultation to device a mechanism to frame an effective method of communication, including receipt of acknowledgement for proof of service of the communication through BSNL. The fax facility could also be used.

  • “Communication through cell phone is no proof of intimation of arrest”

  • State had given clear instructions to the police in 2012 against cell phone communication