Executive magistrates: India

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Police officers as executive magistrates

2017: SC disagrees

Dhananjay Mahapatra, SC: Cops can't act as executive magistrates, October 24, 2017: The Times of India

 `They Can't Be Allowed To Reject Bonds'

The Supreme Court expressed surprise that police officers have been assigned the task of executive magistrates under criminal procedure code to ensure peace and empowered to accept or reject bonds from people for maintaining order.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said: “Can police officers act as executive magistrate? Certainly not.“ Petitioner Aldanish Rein cited an example from Delhi where an executive magistrate had refused to accept the bond given by a person in a case relating to public nuisance and was sent to judicial custody .

He had challenged the powers exercised by executive magistrates under Chapter VII of the CrPC, especially the power under Sections 107, 111 and 116 whereby they arbitrarily reject bonds given by persons, involved in cases relating to public scuffle or nuisance, promising to keep peace. He had said that such rejection violated the persons' right to life as they were sent behind bars without any remedy .

Amicus curiae and additional solicitor general Maninder Singh has submitted a detailed note on this issue and said the provisions under Chapter VII of CrPC were in the form of `preventive justice'. However, he clarified that before ordering detention of a person, the executive magistrate must record a definite finding based on information received requiring immediate steps. “But, in most cases, the exercise of detention power is arbitrary ,“ Singh said.

The amicus curiae said many high courts have frowned at the manner in which police offices, acting as executive magistrates, were functioning and commented that most of them have had no training in how to conduct judicial proceedings. The HCs had suggested imparting of training to such executive magistrates, Singh said.

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