Powers of Police Officer Regarding Search & Seizure
Chapter VII, containing sections 91-100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973, deal with the provisions related to summons to produce things, provisions related to search warrants and other general laws relating to searches. The provisions of this chapter relate to summons and warrants, their issue, the way they are served and executed and summons and warrants of arrests.
For a better understanding of the topic let us understand the meaning of the following terms:
- Summons– A summon is an order from the court to an individual to appear before it at a specified time and place. A summon can be issued in both criminal and civil cases.
- Warrants– A warrant is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate, empowering a police officer to make an arrest, search or seize premises or undertake any action, concerning the administration of justice.
- Search– The term ‘search’ denotes the action of government machinery which includes looking through or examining carefully a place, area, person, object etc. in order to find something concealed or for the purpose of discovering evidence of a crime. Such search of a person or vehicle or premises or of any other thing can only be done by taking proper and valid permission of law.
- Seizure– The act of seizing is well known as a seizure. It is a forceful action in which an object or person is suddenly taken over, grabbed, removed, or overwhelmed.
As regards to English approach in previous days, in Miller v. the United States, it was stated that “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. His cottage may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it, the storms may enter, the rain may enter but the king of England cannot enter. No matter the nature of forces, they dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.”
And henceforth the fourth amendment came about. The Fourth Amendment was only to protect the interests of the people and was directed against unreasonable searches and was intended to provide safeguards for issuing warrants, namely, that they may be issued only on probable cause which must be shown by oath or affirmation and the warrants must be shown by oath or affirmation and the warrants must clearly and explicitly describe the place, person or thing to be searched or seized.
Gradually, it came to be recognized that the power of search and seizure was a necessary power in the interest of the community and without it, the process of law enforcement might suffer to the detriment of public interest and therefore, subsequent legislation in England started conferring such power on the police and various other officers from time to time. In India too, the power of search and seizure for prevention and investigation of offences was for the first time conferred under the Code of Criminal Procedure and since search and seizure is a process exceedingly arbitrary in character, stringent statutory conditions were imposed on the exercise of the power.
The Madras High Court in the R.S. Jhaver v. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, case elucidates the point: “All that is necessary therefore, is that there should be a balance struck, just and equitable, in all the circumstances between the sanctity of the property or individual rights and the interest of the community in law enforcement either in regard to tax collection or suppression of crimes or any other by the insistence upon proper safeguard against oppression or violation of guaranteed basic rights under the Constitution”.
General Provision relating to search proceedings
Section 91- Summons to produce document or other thing and Section 92 –Procedure as to letters and telegram-
It has been provided under these sections that in cases where any Court or any Officer-in-charge of any police station considers the production of any document or other thing to be crucial for the purpose of investigation, then in such situation the person in whose possession or power such document or thing is believed to be, is summoned i.e. a summon is issued to him which requires him to attend and produce that important thing at the said time and place as ,mentioned in the summon.