Any private person can arrest proclaimed offender, says HC

Any private person can arrest a “proclaimed offender” and hand him over without unnecessary delay to a police officer or nearest police station, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

Justice J.R. Midha laid down the guidelines to be followed by the courts before declaring a person as a “proclaimed offender” and the follow-up action needed to be taken by the law enforcement agencies.

The High Court also directed the Delhi Police and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to create a Special Cell for tracing out the “proclaimed offenders” for attaching their movable or immovable properties and for their prosecution. This Special Cell be created within a period of four weeks, the court ordered.

While the law with respect to the declaration of a person as a “proclaimed offender” is well settled, the court noted: “There appears to be the tendency of the Court as well as the Police to close the matter after the person is declared as a Proclaimed Person/Offender and the file is consigned to Record Room”.

“This is a serious lapse considering that the criminal law, which sets into motion with the filing of an FIR, comes to an abrupt end which is against the most basic tenets of justice and causes an irreparable injury to the entire society including victims,” it said.

As per latest status report submitted by the Delhi Police, there are 26,532 ‘proclaimed offenders’ as on September 31, 2019, of which 3,826 have been arrested, the prosecution has been launched against 1,601 and properties of 28 have been attached.

The High Court said all the courts are directed not to close the matter after declaring a person as a “proclaimed offender”. “Rather, the courts shall direct the police to file the status report with respect to the efforts made to trace the Proclaimed Persons/Offenders; efforts made to trace or attach their movable/ immovable assets/properties and their prosecution in accordance with law,” it said. The High Court added that the courts concerned have to monitor the action taken by the police. “Whoever knowingly harbours a Proclaimed Offender to prevent his apprehension is liable to be punished under Section 216 IPC with imprisonment up to 7 years in certain cases,” the HC cautioned.

Justice Midha said the names, addresses and pictures of the “proclaimed offenders” be made public on different government websites such as Delhi Police, NCRB, CBI and other States Police.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 9:40:13 PM |

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