Sunday, September 24, 2023

“Police have power to probe, not harass”: Madras High Court issues guidelines for summoning witnesses, accused for investigation

The Madras High Court recently issued a set of guidelines to be followed by the police while summoning witnesses or accused persons for investigation. The court emphasised that the power to investigate cannot be misused to harass the citizens of the country.

The guidelines were laid down in response to a petition filed by an advocate who was summoned several times by the police for investigation in a case filed against his clients.

The advocate alleged that the police were harassing him by repeatedly summoning him without any justification and sought directions from the court to prevent such harassment.

The Madras High Court acknowledged that the power to investigate is an important tool in the hands of the police to solve crimes and bring the culprits to justice.

However, the court also emphasised that the power to investigate should not be used to harass individuals who are not even remotely connected with the crime and that the right to privacy and dignity of such individuals must be respected.

As a result, the court established the following rules for the police to follow when summoning witnesses or accused people for an investigation:

1. The notice of summons must be sent to the person concerned well in advance, and the person has the right to seek reasonable time to appear before the investigating officer.

2. The police must ensure that the summons is not issued to a person who is not remotely connected to the case.

3. The police must ensure that the person is not being summoned repeatedly without sufficient justification.

4. The police must ensure that the person is not being subjected to any kind of verbal or physical harassment during the course of the investigation.

5. The person being summoned must have the right to have legal counsel present during the investigation.

The Madras High Court has highlighted the importance of balancing the power to investigate with respect for the rights of citizens.

It is hoped that these guidelines will be followed by the police and will prevent any undue harassment of citizens during the course of investigations.


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