Supreme Court Questions Validity of Custody Beyond Initial 15 Days

Custody Prison Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 10 August 2023 at 11:21 IST

In two distinct hearings this year, The Supreme Court has raised concerns about the legality of police or investigative agencies seeking extended custody of an accused beyond the initial 15 days following their arrest.

During a recent hearing in the Senthil Balaji case, the Supreme Court expressed reservations regarding the interpretation of the CBI vs Anupam 1992 case verdict, which imposed restrictions on police or investigative agencies seeking custody beyond the first 15 days of arrest.

The Court suggested that the 15-day custody limit should encompass the entire investigation period, which may span either 60 or 90 days. Consequently, the matter was referred to a larger bench for deliberation.

The Court instructed the registry to present the issue to the Chief Justice of India for appropriate decisions on whether the 15-day custody period should be restricted to the initial remand or extended throughout the entire investigation duration.

Interestingly, earlier this year, another bench of the Supreme Court expressed a similar viewpoint in April. That bench proposed reconsidering its decision that prohibited custody beyond the initial 15 days following arrest.

In the case at hand, the accused was placed in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody for seven days, after which they were hospitalized and granted interim bail.

Later, the Supreme Court granted the CBI an additional four-day custody period, considering that actual interrogation time had been limited to merely two and a half days during the initial seven-day custody.

Justice MR Shah’s bench, recognizing the circumstances and the observations made by the Special Judge during the interim bail revocation, emphasized the need to re-evaluate the stance established in the Anupam J Kulkarni case.

The court stated, “It is true that in the case of Anupam J Kulkarni, this Court observed that there cannot be any police custody beyond 15 days from the date of arrest. In our opinion, the view taken by this Court in the case of Anupam J Kulkarni requires re-consideration.”

The Special Judge also highlighted that due to the accused’s lack of cooperation, the need for interrogation under judicial or police custody had arisen.

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