V S Kuttan Pillai Vs Ramakrishnan: Search And Seizure Violates Article 20(3) Of The Indian Constitution

Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
This judgment deals with the question that whether search and seizure violates the article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

Citation :

18th September 1979

Justice D.A. Desai, Justice O. Chinappa Reddy

V.S. Kuttan Pillai(Petitioner)
Ramakrishnan (Respondent)


In the following case, the Supreme Court has stated that a search of the premises which is occupied by the accused does not result to the compulsion on him to give an evidence against himself and therefore, it is not violating article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.


  1. The Magistrate had before him a grievance which was filed by Ramakrishnan against the petitioner for having committed offences under the sections 403, 409, 420 and 477A read with s. 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
  2. The complainant has made an application on 4th January 1977 in which he was requesting the Hon’ble Magistrate to issue a search warrant to search the office premises of the Sabha and seize all the books, documents, etc. as described in the application.
  3. On the same day the Hon’ble Magistrate issued a search warrant and it was executed and some books and papers were produced before the Court.
  4. The petitioner requested the Hon’ble Magistrate to recall the warrant and also to return the books and documents which are seized under the authority of the search warrant.


The issue analyzed by the court –Whether search and seizure violates the fundamental right under article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution?


  1. Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India: states that no person who is accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
  2. Section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Code: gives order to produce the document or other things.
  3. Section 93 of the Criminal Procedure Code: states when a search warrant may be issued.


  1. The Supreme Court observed that the High Court was correct in sustaining the general search warrant under the section 93(1) (c) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  2. The immunity given against self-incrimination extends to all the incriminating evidences which the accused maybe compelled to give but it does not extend to cover situations where the evidence which may have the tendency to incriminate the accused is collected without compelling the accused to be a party to the collection of evidences.
  3. The search of the premises which are occupied by the accused would not violate Art. 20(3) of the Constitution if the accused is a party to such search, without being compelled.
  4. A search and seizure which is pursuant to a search warrant under s. 93 (1) (c) of the Criminal Procedure Code would not have the farthest tendency to force an accused to incriminate himself. The accused is not obligatory to participate in the search. He may continue to be a passive spectator or he may even be absent.
  5. Just because the accused is occupying the premises to be searched it can't be said that by such search and consequent seizure of documents, including the document which can contain statements due to the private knowledge of the accused and which can have a bent to incriminate him, would violate the constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination because he's not compelled to do anything.
  6. Section 93(1)(c) comprehends a situation where a search warrant is issued because the court is unaware of not only the person but even the place where the documents could also be found for which a general search is important.
  7. Therefore, power of the court under this clause can't be hamper by importing a number of the requirements of clause (b) of the section 93(1) of CrPC.
  8. In the present case although the order of the magistrate was laconic certain important aspects couldn't be over-looked. The objects of the Sabha were of a general charitable nature. An earlier warrant was quashed by the Hon’ble High Court.
  9. When the complainant made more serious claims a search warrant was issued to conductan enquiry of the institution. The office premises, the books and other documents of the Sabha couldn't be said to be in possession of a person accused. They were within the possession of the institution.
  10. An enquiry of such a public place under the authority of a general warrant can easily be sustained under section 93(1) (c). In this way, there was no illegality in the Magistrate's order.


In the present case, it had been discussed that the immunity conferred to a charged individual against self- incrimination extends to any piece of inculpatory evidence which the individual could also be forced to overthrow. However, it fails to hide such a situation during which the knowledge capable of conferring an individual as an accused is obtained from himself without forcing him in any manner or telling him to be a significant part to the collection of such evidences. Accordingly it had been concluded that the search which is made of the premises which is occupied by the accused person without the accused being forced to be a part to such search, would fail to be in violation of the fundamental right conferred by Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

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Preksha Goyal
on 13 May 2021
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