A police officer cannot summon a person for investigation from outside the boundaries of his police station or the neighboring police station: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has ruled that under Section 160 CrPC, for the purpose of investigation, a police officer cannot summon a person who is outside the territorial boundaries of his police station or at most the territorial boundaries of his nearby police station.

This provision empowers police officers to compel the appearance of witnesses.

A single bench of judges composed of Judge Poonam A. Bamba observed,

From a simple reading of subsection (1) of section 160 Cr.PC, it appears that for the purposes of an investigation, a police officer may require the presence of a person located within the limits of his own police station or that of the adjoining police station and not someone who is located beyond the said territorial limits.

Briefly, the facts of the case are that the petitioner, an investigative journalist, published a report on the adoption of orphaned children during COVID-19 for a fee and also published an article titled “The Ruthless Record of the pandemic – Covid orphans for sale” on the same issue. Following this, the Chairman of the Child Protection Committee, Pulwama, forwarded a written complaint for the registration of a formal case in the matter. Based on the said complaint, the Pampore Subdivisional Police Officer‘s Office issued a subpoena under Section 91 of the CrPC to the News Director, India Today Group, ordering the News Director to provide a original / unedited footage of the video and full details. of the undercover operation team for the recording of their statements. The petitioners then received a CPRC Section 91 notice from the Pampore Subdivision Police Office summoning them to the Pampore Subdivision Police Officer’s office, within 2 days.

The petitioners argued that the notice under s. 160(1) of the Cr.PC can only be issued to a person who is within the local jurisdiction of that police station or in the neighboring police station. . Therefore, a police station in Jammu and Kashmir could not have notified petitioners who reside in Delhi and fall outside the jurisdiction of their office.

On the contrary, the respondents argue that nothing prevents the investigating body from requiring the presence of a person familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case.

Initially, the High Court referred to Ravinder Singh V. State and Anr., in which a co-ordinated panel held that:

Section 160 Cr.PC can be issued by an investigating officer or the police officer concerned to a person residing in his jurisdiction and at most in the police station adjoining this police station. There can be 10 police stations attached to this police station. The section does not need the help of dictionaries or other judgments to understand its meaning when there is no ambiguity and it is so clearly written either within its own office or in the nearby police station. I therefore consider that the summons issued to the applicant under section 160 Cr.P. C in Delhi. which is not adjoining Rewari Police Station is without jurisdiction and notice is. So. canceled.

The court also cited the judgment of the Directorate of Enforcement & Ors. v. State of West Bengal & Ors., where the court held that–

A simple reading of the said provisions, it appears that the power of the Police Officer to require the appearance of a witness is circumscribed by the words “within the limits of his own police station or of any neighboring police station”. It should be noted that if the said power was of the nature of an all-India power, as the respondents attempted to argue, there was no reason for the legislature to use the terminology quoted above. On the contrary, if it was the same intention of the legislature, the legislature would have made that clear and conferred unlimited jurisdiction on the police officer using terminology such as “anywhere in the country” or even “anywhere in the state”. . The clear departure of the Legislature and the use of the words “within the limits of its own station or of any adjacent station” indicate a legislative intention to limit jurisdiction in this regard…

In view of the above, the court held that the petitioners, being residents of Delhi and having their office addresses in Noida, UP, could not have been summoned under Section 160 Cr.PC by the Sub Divisional Police Officer, Pampore, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The court further declared that the summonses issued to them were without jurisdiction and were therefore quashed. Further, the court said that this would not prevent the investigative body from interviewing the petitioners under Delhi law, if necessary.


Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 662

Click here to read the order

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