15 July 2019


Supreme Court

Surinderjit Singh Mand and anr. v. State of Punjab and anr.



Detaining suspect illegally outside ‘official duties’ of police

Police officials cannot be said to be acting “in the discharge of official duties” when they illegally detain a suspect longer than is claimed by them.

The matter before the Supreme Court raised questions about sanction from the relevant department before criminal proceedings could be commenced against the accused deputy superintendents of police. In the instant case, an initial sanction to investigate involvement of the police officers had turned up empty-handed. However, continued efforts of the mother of the suspect saw the police officers being summoned before trial court. They claimed the same was untenable as no sanction had been obtained by prosecution.

Under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prosecution must obtain sanction from the department overseeing the government employee’s duties to continue proceedings. The department deliberates within itself and only when it believes that a case is made out is approval granted to proceed with prosecution.

The Supreme Court concluded that formalities on the actual date of the suspect’s arrest had not been complied with and, in any case, the appellants claimed that he had not been arrested at all. As such, since the mandatory conditions of arrest and detention had not been followed, the police officers were not “acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties.”


Dr. Hori Ram Singh vs. Emperor MANU/FE/0001/1939
R. Balakrishna Pillai vs. State of Kerala MANU/SC/0237/1996
Section 197 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 Act

Tags : criminal police sanction illegal detention

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