Interstate arrest refers to the situation where officers from one state arrest a suspect or criminal in another state without the proper legal authority to do so. In the United States, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, including arrests, by law enforcement officers. As such, police officers may only arrest or investigate a suspect within their own state’s borders, absent certain limited circumstances such as the pursuit of a fleeing felon.
For example, if a criminal commits a crime in Delhi and is located in Delhi, only the Delhi Police officials have the authority to arrest the criminal, not police from other states. In order for a state’s police force to arrest a suspect in another state, they must work with the police department of that state to coordinate the arrest or obtain a warrant from a court in the state where the suspect is located.
It is important for law enforcement officers to adhere to the proper legal procedures when making an arrest, including following jurisdictional limitations. Failure to do so could result in the suppression of evidence or other legal consequences.
Arrest – Interstate Arrest – Authorization for Arrest
The term “arrest” is defined by Farlex legal dictionary as “the taking or keeping of a person in possession by legal authority, particularly in response to a criminal complaint.”
However, when a person is detained by police from one state for a crime committed in another state, it is referred to as an “interstate arrest by police.” This type of investigation or arrest is generally considered unconstitutional unless authorized by law.
Under Indian law, the police have the power to arrest or examine an accused who is within their state’s borders. This authority is granted to police officers, magistrates, or any other person authorized by law, including private individuals.
According to section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, a police officer may arrest a person both with and without a warrant. Additionally, if a person who committed a non-cognizable offence refuses to reveal their name and address of residence, they can be arrested. Judges, whether executive or judiciary, may also arrest a person if a crime occurs in their sight within their local jurisdiction.
It is important to note that the power of arrest must be exercised lawfully, and any arrest made outside of the legal framework can be challenged by the accused in court. The arrestee has the right to be informed of the grounds of arrest, the right to legal representation, and the right to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.
Inter-State Arrest Guidelines
The police must obtain prior authorization or approval from higher or superior officials to leave their state or UT to conduct an investigation. This approval should be documented in writing or via phone communication. When making an arrest, the police officer must rely on factual evidence and provide written documentation of the reasons for the detention, demonstrating that it is necessary for the investigation. In situations where there is a risk of the accused escaping or implicating evidence disappearing, the police officer should seek authorization from the jurisdictional Judge to issue an arrest or court order. The reasons for travelling to another state without an arrest or court order should be documented.
If the potential arrestee is a woman, a female officer must be included in the team. All officers in the team should be in uniform and wear identification with their precise, clear and readily visible designations. The police should also make an effort to obtain independent witnesses from the local community.
Before being transported out of the state, the detained person should be given the opportunity to speak with their lawyer. The police should stop at a nearby police station on their way back to make a diary entry describing the details of the people and items confiscated during the investigation. Upon returning to their home state, the police team should also document their return.
After presenting the arrested person before the magistrate within 24 hours, the police should attempt to obtain a travel remand, unless exigencies of the situation require otherwise.
- In the case of Disha A. Ravi vs State (NCT of Delhi) & Ors., AIR 2021, the accused was granted bail by the Patiala House Court, a local court in India’s capital, New Delhi, in an interim decision. The accused was involved in the fabrication and sharing of ‘Toolkit’ records via online media. The Court noted the relevance of the statute of subversion and observed important facts while allowing the candidate’s bail plea. There was no substantial explanation or proof to the contrary.
- Sandeep Kumar v. The State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), AIR 2019, is a case that establishes a reasonable basis for a police agency in one state to arrest a suspect in another union area. The legitimate grounding for this case was the removal of his wife from their home by the U.P police, after which he had filed a Habeas Corpus Petition in the Supreme Court of Delhi asking for her return. The woman had changed her religion from Muslim to Hinduism before being married to a Hindu and was the target of the action. Her family opposed the union, and her sibling reported her sister missing in a police complaint to Ghaziabad. The lady was returned to her family after the High Court of Delhi questioned the circumstances surrounding her “handover” to them. The court took notice of the lady’s adulthood and the fact that she entered into her marriage voluntarily. The High Court clarified that the Delhi police were not required to visit the U.P police in this case.
Responsibilities of Magistrates
The officer before whom an arrested person is produced should consider the facts of the case and not automatically grant a transit remand. It is imperative that the officer ensures that the investigation diary contains relevant material to support the request for a transit remand. A judicial decision is usually taken when the charge is presented for remand, and the judge must ensure that the requirements of Criminal Procedure Code Section 41(l)(b) are met.
Furthermore, Article 22(1) of the Indian Constitution outlines another mandatory procedural requirement for the Magistrate to follow when deciding a travel remand application. The Magistrate must ensure that the detained person has the right to legal representation and is assisted by a competent guardian of their choosing. The Magistrate must also inquire of the person brought before the court whether they are aware of the circumstances surrounding their arrest and whether they require legal representation.
In order to make an interstate arrest, it is required that the police inform the police of the other state of the situation. It should be noted that strict adherence to predetermined laws and regulations is required when making such an arrest. It is possible to initiate an interstate investigation and arrest the accused individual, but it must be done in accordance with the law.
Police personnel and magistrates are expected to follow the guidelines set forth in the case of Sandeep Kumar v. The State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), AIR 2019. This case established a reasonable basis for one state’s police agency to arrest a suspect in another union area, provided that the arrest is made in accordance with the law.
It is important to note that the laws and regulations governing interstate arrests may differ from state to state, and it is crucial to understand and comply with the laws of the state in which the arrest is being made. Failure to do so may result in the arrest being deemed illegal, and the individual arrested may be released without charges.
o Meera Emmanuel, Cannot condone “lawlessness by police”: Delhi HC Orders execution of guidelines on inter-state investigation and arrest, Bar and Bench – Indian Legal news, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/cannot-condone-lawlessness-by-police-delhi-hc-orders-execution-of-guidelines-on-inter-state-investigation-and-arrest-read-guidelines
o Revisit inter-state arrest procedure: HC Return to frontpage (2018), https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/revisit-inter-state-arrest-procedure-hc/article24796023.ece
o Anonymous User, Is inter-state arrest possible in India Legistify (2019), https://www.legistify.com/qna/answer/is-inter-state-arrest-possible-in-india/
o Radhika Roy, Explainer: Inter-state arrest, Transit Remand & right to legal representation Live Law (2021), https://www.livelaw.in/know-the-law/inter-state-arrest-transit-remand-right-to-legal-representation-170188?infinitescroll=1
o Prabhash K Dutta, Disha Ravi Case: Did Delhi police violate inter-state arrest guidelines? India Today (2021), https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/disha-ravi-arrest-delhi-police-inter-state-police-action-guidelines-1769700-2021-02-16
o What is inter-state arrest and its Guidelines, Writing Law (2022), https://www.writinglaw.com/inter-state-arrest-and-guidelines/
o Explainer: Inter-state police arrest procedures, cooperation: India News – Times of India, the Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/explainer-inter-state-police-arrest-procedures-cooperation/articleshow/91378510.cms
Authored by Dhruv Kaushik, Legal Intern, LawDiktat.
Edited by Sahid, Team Member, LawDiktat.