VYETH Student Magazine

Method of Police Interrogation

Sheikh Inam-ul-Mansoor

B.A. LLB 6th Semester

Roll No: 14

In the matter of police interrogation the first question that arises is whether the police can visit the house at any time. The answer to this question is that the police has no authority to visit the house at odd hours. Normally the police should not visit any house after sunset and before sunrise if there is no male member in the house. The police has to be more careful and has to give the lady reasonable time to dress properly i.e. wearing of Burqa etc, before entering that house especially in case of Pardanishin women. Besides, the proviso to Section 160 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, as a safeguard to the rights of women and children, states that no male under the age of fifteen years or women shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such male person or women reside. 

Right to Silence

    As per the decision of the Supreme Court in Nandini Satpathy V. P. L. Dani 1978 (3) SCR 608 where the petitioner refused to answer certain questions on plea that she had the right to silence under Article 21 (3) of the constitution and Section 161 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and consequently a complaint was filed under section 171 of the Indian Penal Code. Further the petitioner (Mrs. Satpathy) challenged the validity of the magisterial proceedings but the High Court rejected her plea. She ultimately came to the Supreme Court. The following observations of the Apex Court are significant.     

At the outset, the Supreme Court took note of the fact that accused Nandini was directed to appear at a police station for interrogation in flagrant contravention of the wholesome provisions of section 160 (1) of Code of Criminal Procedure. The Supreme Court strongly felt that such deviance on the part of police must be visited with prompt punishment, since policemen may not be a law unto themselves expecting others to obey law.”

The Supreme Court in this landmark judgment has held that the police cannot force the accused person to answer each and every question, which they put to him on the principle that no, person can be compelled to be witness against himself (Article 21(3) of the constitution of India). The apprehension of incrimination from the answer must be substantial and real, as distinguished from the danger of remote possibilities as fanciful flow of inference. The real test is. Could the witness (accused) have reasonably sensed the peril of prosecution from his answer in the conspectus of circumstances. The perception of the peculiarities of the case cannot be irrelevant in proper appraisal of self-incriminatory potentiality. The Apex Court laid down certain guidelines for the observance of the principles discussed as follows:

  • The police should permit the advocate, if there be one, to be present at the time the accused is examined.
  • The police should invariably warn and record the facts about the right to silence against self incrimination, and where the accused is literate take his written acknowledgement. 
  • After an examination of the accused where a lawyer of his choice is not available the police must take him to a magistrate, doctor or other willing and non-partisan official or non-official and allow a scheduled audience where he may unburden himself beyond the view of the police and tell whether he has suffered duress which should be followed by judicial or some other custody for him, where the police can not reach him. The collector may briefly record the relevant conversation and communicate it not to the police but the nearest magistrate.

Assistance of an Advocate

    Peeping into the question whether the person can take assistance of an advocate when summoned at the police station the answer comes out to be affirmative i.e., every accused person who had been arrested or is summoned at the police station has the right to get assistance of an advocate of his choice as it is the fundamental right to consult an advocate under article 22 (I) of the constitution of India.