Everything You Must Know About Search Warrants Under CRPC

Law
10-May-2024
blog-img

A search Warrant is a legal document that is issued when a particular search is required, mostly of houses or offices of a particular person, when the court is aware of suspicion that a particular individual might be hiding some important documentation or causing fraud or has done something illegal, and more. This article talks all about search warrants under Crp C, including the importance, sections under Crp C, why they may be issued, the roles and responsibilities of the law officials, and the landmark judgments.

Importance Of Search Warrants In Criminal Investigations

As it is a legal tool that strikes a balance between the protection of individual rights and the investigative demands of law enforcement, a search warrant is extremely important. It is a legally sanctioned document that gives the police the authority to carry out searches and seizures as long as they follow the law and are supported by probable cause. An impartial legal authority issuing search warrants to prevent excessive and irrational searches, which preserves people's privacy and dignity. The effectiveness arguments for a right against arbitrary searches are further supported by the fact that the evidentiary requirement for search warrants has a significant impact on both crime rates and the precision of police searches. Additionally, the warrant idea is used in enterprise search metadata design, highlighting the significance of rooting words and concepts in work domains when structuring data for effective retrieval.

Legal Framework Of Search Warrants Under Crp C

Sections 93, 94, 95, and 97 of the CrPC deal with the legal framework of the search warrants, scroll down to understand more.

Section 93: A search warrant can be issued under various circumstances. Firstly, if the court believes that the person summoned or ordered will not produce the necessary document or item, a warrant can be issued against that person. It can also be issued when the court doesn’t know who possesses the document. The court may specify the extent of the inspection and the person in charge of the inspection must follow these instructions. Only the District Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate can authorize the search of documents in the custody of postal or telegraph authorities.

Section 94: This section deals with searches at places suspected of containing stolen property or forged documents. If a District Magistrate, Sub-divisional Magistrate, or a Magistrate of the first class believes that a place is being used for storing stolen property or producing objectionable items as mentioned in this section, they can authorize a police officer (above the rank of constable) to enter the place with assistance if needed. The police must search as specified in the warrant, taking possession of objectionable or stolen property. They must report this to the Magistrate or safeguard it until the offender is brought before the Magistrate. If they find anyone involved in the storage, sale, or production of objectionable items or stolen property, they can detain the person and later present them before the Magistrate. Objects considered objectionable under Section 94 include Counterfeit coins, currency notes, or stamps. Forged documents. False seals. Pieces of metal prohibited under the Metal Tokens Act, 1889, or brought into India in violation of Section 11 of the Customs Act, 1962. Items considered obscene under Section 292 of the IPC. Instruments that may be used for producing the above-mentioned objectionable items.

Section 95: Section 95 empowers the court to declare certain publications as forfeited. If the State Government believes that an article, newspaper, document, or book may contain content punishable under specific sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), such as 124A, 153A, 153B, 292, 293, or 295A, it can declare all copies of that material forfeited to the Government. A magistrate can authorize a police officer, not below the rank of Sub-Inspector, to seize these documents. According to the warrant, the police can enter and search for these suspected documents on any premises. The terms “Newspaper” and “Book” have the same meanings as defined in the Press and Registration of Books Act, of 1867, and “Document” includes drawings, paintings, photographs, or other visible presentations. For example, in the case of Anand Chintamani Dighe v. The state of Maharashtra, the State Government seized a notice to forfeit the book titled “Mee Nathuram Godse Bolto ahe” (I am Nathuram Godse speaking) in all forms, including the Gujarati translation. The reason was that the publication of this book was believed to disrupt public peace, promote disharmony, or incite hatred among different groups or communities.

Section 97: Section 97 deals with the search for a person whose confinement constitutes an offense. If a District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, or first-class Magistrate has reasonable grounds to believe this, they can issue a search warrant. The person to whom the search warrant is addressed must search for the confined person and, if found, bring them immediately before the Magistrate for further legal proceedings.

When can a search warrant be issued?

Under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), a court may grant a search warrant if it has good grounds to suspect that someone failed to turn over a necessary document or item, or if the court is unsure about the person in possession of the essential document. If the court determines that a broad search or inspection is necessary for an investigation, trial, or other process, a warrant may also be granted.

Probable Cause Requirement

Police must submit an information to obtain (ITO) form to a court to get a warrant. This form must provide reasonable and probable grounds to think that an offense has been committed or is being committed, as well as the assurance that the requested authorization would provide proof of the offense.

Authority To Issue Search Warrants

According to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), only a judicial magistrate or court can issue a search warrant. This ensures that an independent authority reviews the request before authorizing the search.

Circumstances Necessitating The Issuance Of A Search Warrant

As per Section 93 of Crp C, if the court believes that the person summoned or ordered will not produce the necessary document or item, a warrant can be issued against that person. It can also be issued when the court doesn't know who possesses the document.

Roles And Responsibilities Of Law Enforcement Officials During Search Warrant Execution

The major responsibility of a law enforcement official during a search warrant execution is to be very respectful towards the personal rights of the individual while fulfilling the process of a search warrant. Here are a few actions that come under the ambit of roles and responsibilities of the officials during search warrant execution:

Protecting the Property

After carrying out a search warrant, the premises must be secured first. This might include only securing doors or, in the event of a forced entrance, fixing or barricading windows and doors that are broken. Any area of the property accessed during the search is subject to this obligation, including any cars that may have been forced open.

Notification of the Parties Who Are Targeted

When searching when the targeted persons are not present, law enforcement must notify them of the search. Unless the warrant was for a "sneak and peek" operation, in which case delayed communication is permitted to avoid jeopardizing current investigations, this notification is essential.

Acceptance of Seized Property

Any confiscated item must be given to the owner or occupant in a comprehensive receipt. This inventory list, which frequently comes along with the search notice, is essential for responsibility. Because it details precisely what was taken, record-keeping and transparency are made possible.

Giving the Warrant Back

The magistrate who granted the search warrant must get the executed search warrant back, along with a detailed inventory of the goods that were taken. This final stage completes the warrant procedure by informing the magistrate of the results of the search and the evidence that was gathered.

Ownership of Property Seized

Police retain control of confiscated property until it is ready to be used in court. To preserve such property's integrity as evidence, certain procedures must be followed while handling and storing it. Returning the property before the trial may occasionally necessitate a court order.

The Effects of Procedural Errors

The results of the search and the evidence gathered are not always void if certain post-search protocols are broken. The evidence may be excluded from court proceedings if specific errors are made, such as neglecting to notify the property owner without a valid cause, making the search unjustified.

Particulars Concerning "Sneak and Peek" Warrants

Law enforcement can conduct searches without providing timely notice when they obtain "sneak and peek" warrants, which are an exemption to the regular notification standards. Although the notice is being given later than usual, it still needs to be given within the warrant's stipulated reasonable time range to avoid interfering with current investigations.

Putting the Search Warrant into Action

The provisions of a search warrant, which specify the precise places to be searched and the objects to be seized, must be closely followed during its execution. This accuracy reduces the executing officers' discretion by guaranteeing that the search is carried out within the law.

Probable Cause and Issuance of a Warrant

A search warrant's fundamental component is probable cause, which is backed up by documentation like affidavits or testimonies. Since the magistrate's decision to grant the warrant is based on the trustworthiness of this evidence, it is extremely important. In a Franks hearing, challenges to the legitimacy of the warrant based on false information may be raised.

Timeline for Execution and "Knock and Announce" Theory

The warrant must be carried out within the allotted time after it is granted, and before entering, officials are usually expected to make their presence and intent known. "No-knock" warrants are an exception, allowed only in certain situations when disclosing one's presence may compromise the purpose of the search.

Landmark Judgements On Search Warrant

Here are a few landmark judgments on search warrants, where the rights of individuals subject to search warrants are discussed:

The procedural validity of search warrants was upheld in the case of V. S. Kuttan Pillai v. Ramakrishnan. The ruling stated that the accused was not coerced into providing evidence against himself during the search of the premises he occupied, and therefore, the search did not violate Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

In the case of Matajog Dobey v. H.C. Bhari, the court held that unless the defendant provides adequate justification for any non-compliance with the provisions, the credibility of the evidence supporting the search may be compromised and the evidence may be disregarded.

It was decided in the State of MP v. Paltan Mallah case that evidence gathered through an unlawful search is not excluded unless it seriously prejudices the accused. The authority to accept or reject such evidence has always rested with the courts.

It was decided in the case of Modan Singh v. The State of Rajasthan that if the prosecution's evidence of the lost objects being recovered is strong, it is not acceptable to reject the proof of recovery because the seizure witnesses disagree with the prosecution's narrative.

The State of Maharashtra vs. Tapas D. Neogy case established that a "bank account" is classified as property under Section 102 of the code and that a police officer has the authority to stop the bank account's operation if these properties are directly linked to the commission of the crime for which an investigation is being conducted.

A boy under his father's custody should not be kept or regarded as being in unlawful imprisonment, and as a result, no search warrant could be obtained for the same in the case of Ramesh v. Laxmi Bai.

Conclusion

Now that you know all about search warrants, it is important to understand that in case you feel any harassment in regard to search warrants, you need to stay calm, because any actions outside the ambit of law are punishable.

There have been many landmark cases proving where unlawful incidents occurred, and individuals seeking justice through the judiciary and faith in law. Make sure you are aware of your rights and are confident enough to raise a voice against the wrongs.