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Arrest And Remand Would Be Illegal If Accused Is Not Informed Of Grounds Of Arrest; Filing Of Chargesheet Will Not Cure Defect

Raya Banerjee ,
  20 May 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
Criminal Appeal No. 42896 of 2023

CASE TITLE:  

Prabir Purkayastha vs. State (NCT of Delhi)

DATE OF ORDER:  

May 15, 2024

BENCH:

Hon’ble Mr. Justice B. R. Gavai

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sandeep Mehta 

PARTIES:

Appellant: Prabir Purkayastha 

Respondent: State (NCT of Delhi)

SUBJECT: 

The case concerned accusations made under different provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against the appellant and their company, M/s. PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd. Legal challenges and judicial examination of the processes were prompted by the appellant’s adamant contestation of both their arrest and the court’s subsequent remand.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967:

  • Section 13:  It deals with punishments for persons involved in certain unlawful activities
  • Section 16: It pertains to the punishment for terrorist acts
  • Section 17:  It addresses punishments for raising funds for terrorist acts 
  • Section 18: It concerns conspiracy for committing terrorist acts 
  • Section 22c: It relates to the admissibility of evidence collected through interception of wire, electronic or oral communication 
  • Section 43A: It deals with compensations for wrongful arrest, detention, etc
  • Section 43B: It pertains to the procedure for authorising interception of wire, electronic or oral communication 
  • Section 43C: It relates to the procedure for inception of wire, electronic or oral communication 

Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002:

  • Section 3: It defines money laundering and it’s penalties 
  • Section 4: It imposes obligations on reporting entities to maintain transaction records, verify client identity, and report suspicious activities.
  • Section 19: It grants powers to authorities for summoning individuals, taking oaths, and compelling document production.

Indian Penal Code:

  • Section 153A: It prohibits acts promoting enmity between groups based on religion, race, etc
  • Section 120B: It deals with criminal  conspiracy, involving an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act or a legal act by illegal means

Code of Criminal Procedure:

  • Section 50: It deals with police officer’s power to arrest without a warrant based on reasonable suspicion of a cognizable offence.
  • Section 57: It outlines the procedure for arresting without a warrant, limiting detention to 24 hours without a Magistrate’s order.
  • Section 167: It specifies the procedure for detention when investigation cannot be completed within 24hours allowing up to 15 days detention with Magistrate’s permission.

OVERVIEW:

  • In relation to FIR No. 224 of 2023, the PS Special Cell in New Delhi conducted a raid on the appellant, who is the director of M/s. PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd.
  • On October 3, 2023, the appellant was taken into custody after the raids resulted in the confiscation of documents and digital devices.
  • The absence of information regarding the circumstances for the arrest in the arrest note became a major source of disagreement.
  • On October 4, 2023, the appellant was brought before the Remand Judge and was given a seven-day police custody order. 
  • The appellant’s senior attorney brought up allegations of manipulation during the remand proceedings.
  • On October 13, 2023, the Delhi High Court dismissed the appellant’s challenge to their arrest and remand.
  • The appellant subsequently filed an appeal challenging the ruling of the High Court.

ISSUE RAISED:

What was the primary concern that had been highlighted in the case regarding the appellant’s rights?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT:

It was given that the FIR in question was a duplicate of FIR No. 116 of 2020, the charges may not have been new.

  • By failing to give the appellant a copy of the FIR and notify them of the reason for their arrest, the Indian Constitution’s fundamental rights (Article 20,21, and 22) were infringed.
  • The remand judge was presented with a secret presentation of the FIR without notifying the appellant’s attorney, among other procedural violations.
  • The appellant claimed that the investigating officer had deceived them into being wrongfully deprived of their freedom and that their conduct were dishonest. 
  • The appellant’s earlier protection from arrest in connection with the previous FIR seemed to be the driving force behind the registration of the current FIR and the subsequent arrest.
  • The appellant contended that the false accusations in the FIR lacked adequate proof to back them up.
  • The appellant’s right to a fair trial was violated by the FIR’s delayed provision and by the refusal to disclose the grounds for the arrest.
  • The appellant claimed that because they were not promptly informed of the proceedings, they were not afforded a reasonable chance to challenge the detention.
  • Because the appellant’s advocate was unaware of the proceedings, the appellant was without legal assistance at a critical juncture in the proceedings.
  • The appellant contended that the absence of prompt information and counsel tainted the remand judge’s ruling.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:

  • The Pankaj Bansal ruling in the Ram Kishore Arora case was emphasised for its future nature.
  • Emphasised the disparity in timing between the judgement’s public release and the remand, implying that the arresting officer’s compliance with its orders could not have been expected.
  • Highlighted the appellant’s own filing, which said the remand was legal because it happened after 7:00a.m. claimed that the need to provide written notice of arrest grounds was not expressly required by the constitution.
  • It was claimed that speaking with a relative satisfied the appellant’s right to legal advice.
  • It was noted that the appellant’s attorney used WhatsApp to submit objections to the remand, which the remand judge acknowledged, so disproving any allegations of illegality.
  • It was argued that using the Pankaj Bansal precedent to challenge the remand order was prohibited because to variations in the legal language of the relevant portions.
  • It was appealed to the court to reject the appeal and sustain the ruling of the lower court, citing the presumption of correctness in judicial acts.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS:

  • According to the court’s interpretation of the PMLA, the phrase “inform him of the grounds for such arrest” applies equally to accused individuals detained under the UAPA and Pankaj Bansal.
  • The grounds of the arrest must be given in writing to the person who has been arrested, as required by both Section 43B(1) of the UAPA and Section 19(1) of the PMLA.
  • It was considered sacrosanct and impossible to violate the statute’s and the Constitution’s demand that the accused be informed in writing of the reasons for the arrest.
  • The arrest and any ensuing remand orders were unlawful and unconstitutional since the grounds for the arrest were not given in writing at the earliest possible moment.
  • Any departure from the need that accused individuals be given a fair chance to contest the reasons behind their arrest in court was seen as a violation of their fundamental rights and a threat to the justice system.
  • The arrest, the remand order that followed on October 4, 2023, and the order from the High Court dated October 13, 2023, were all ruled to be void and invalidated.
  • The ruling in the Pankaj Bansal case gave the appellant the right to be released from detention.
  • After providing bail and bonds that satisfied the trial court, the appellant was freed.
  • Not a single observation was taken into consideration regarding the case’s merits.
  • As a result, the appeal was granted.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, the Pankaj Bansal case highlighted how crucial it is to follow the law, especially when it comes to alerting the accused of the reason for their detention. If this condition was not met, it was declared unconstitutional and arrest and remand orders were revoked. Maintaining justice continued to depend critically on upholding fundamental rights.
 

 
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