January 4, 2024
symbolizing the legal focus

Search is an essential tool for law enforcement agencies to gather evidence and ensure justice is served. In India, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) provides the legal framework for conducting searches in criminal investigations. The CrPC distinguishes between searches conducted with a warrant and those conducted without a warrant each with its own set of rules and procedures. This article aims to explore the search warrant under Crpc, what is search warrant crpc, search with and without under Crpc, important case laws, and the purpose of search under the CrPC in India, while also highlighting the differences between searches with and without a warrant.

In short, article discusses all you need to know about the provisions of search under the Crpc.

Why Search is conducted under the Crpc?

The primary purpose of conducting a search in criminal investigations is to

  • Gather evidence that can be presented before a court to establish the guilt or innocence of an accused person.
  • Searches play a crucial role in uncovering material objects, documents, or other items that may be relevant to an offense, thereby aiding in the process of truth-seeking and ensuring that justice is served.
  • By uncovering evidence and seizing contraband or illicit goods, searches contribute to maintaining law and order within society.

A. Search with Warrant (Search warrant under Section 93)

Section 93 of the CrPC 1973 empowers a Magistrate to issue a search warrant upon the application of a police officer or any other person. The warrant authorizes the police to conduct a search of a specific place for the purpose of seizing any property or evidence related to an offense. The issuance of a search warrant is subject to certain conditions, such as the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that the items sought are in the place to be searched.

  1. Purpose of search with warrant

The purpose of a search with a warrant is to ensure that the investigation is conducted in a lawful manner, respecting the rights of individuals and preventing unauthorized intrusion into private property. The requirement of obtaining a warrant acts as a safeguard against arbitrary or unwarranted searches, thereby upholding the principles of due process and protection of individual liberties.

  • Case law (Search with warrant)

In the case of State of Punjab v. Baldev Singh (1999), the Supreme Court held that a search warrant should be issued only when there are sufficient grounds to believe that the items sought are likely to be found at the place to be searched. The Court emphasized that the issuance of a warrant must be based on credible information and not on mere suspicion or conjecture.

B. Search without Warrant

Section 165 of the CrPC provides for searches to be conducted without a warrant by a police officer. However, such searches can only be carried out under specific circumstances, such as when immediate action is necessary to prevent the commission of an offense or to apprehend a person suspected of committing an offense. Additionally, a search without a warrant can be conducted if there are reasonable grounds for believing that evidence or property related to an offense is likely to be found in a particular place.

  1. Purpose of searches without a warrant

The purpose of allowing searches without a warrant is to enable law enforcement agencies to act swiftly in situations where obtaining a warrant may not be feasible or where delay could result in the loss or destruction of crucial evidence. However, it is essential that searches without a warrant are carried out in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC and are not used as a means of unchecked intrusion into private spaces.

  • Case law (Search without a warrant)

In the case of D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997), the Supreme Court emphasized that searches without a warrant should be conducted with utmost caution and only when there are compelling reasons for doing so. The Court laid down guidelines to ensure that such searches are not abused and do not infringe upon the fundamental rights of individuals.

C. Provisions and Safeguards (common to both with or without warrant)

The CrPC lays down several provisions and safeguards to regulate searches, whether with or without a warrant. Section 100 of the CrPC outlines the procedures to be followed during a search with a warrant, including the manner in which the search should be conducted, the presence of witnesses, and the preparation of a search list. This ensures transparency and accountability in the search process.

Similarly, Section 165(7) of the CrPC imposes certain restrictions on searches without a warrant, requiring the police officer conducting the search to make a record of the grounds on which it was made, as well as the particulars of any property seized during the search. These provisions are aimed at preventing abuse of power and ensuring that searches are carried out in a fair and lawful manner.

D. Whether provisions of search are unconstitutional?

The Supreme Court has made it clear that provisions of search don’t violate right against self-incrimination under Article 21(3) of the Constitution. However, has laid down a caution that search should be conducted in such a manner that constitutional rights of the accused are not violated.

In the case of Pooran Mal v. Director of Inspection (1974), the Supreme Court held that the power to search and seize should be exercised strictly in accordance with the provisions of the law and should not be used as a means to compel a person to incriminate himself. The Court emphasized that searches should not be conducted in a manner that violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, including the right against self-incrimination.

Furthermore, in the case of State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad (1961), the Supreme Court emphasized that the right against self-incrimination is a vital safeguard against coerced confessions or compelled disclosures that could lead to self-incrimination. The Court underscored the importance of ensuring that searches are conducted without infringing upon this fundamental right.

In conclusion, search under the CrPC in India is governed by specific provisions that distinguish between searches with and without a warrant. While searches with a warrant require judicial authorization based on reasonable grounds, searches without a warrant are permitted under certain circumstances where immediate action is necessary. Both types of searches are subject to procedural safeguards aimed at protecting the rights of individuals and ensuring that law enforcement agencies act within the bounds of law.

Leave a Comment