Courts Can Order House Arrest U/s 167 CrPC In Appropriate Cases: Supreme Court

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Case: Gautam Navlakha vs. National Investigation Agency

Coram: Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph

Case No: [CrA 510 OF 2021]

Court Observation: “There is one aspect which stands out. Custody under Section 167 has been understood hitherto as police custody and judicial 204 custody, with judicial custody being conflated to jail custody ordinarily.”

“The concept of house arrest as part of custody under Section 167 has not engaged the courts including this Court. However, when the issue has come into focus and noticing its ingredients we have formed the view that it involves custody which falls under Section 167.”

“We observe that under Section 167 in appropriate cases it will be open to courts to order house arrest. As to its employment, without being exhaustive, we may indicate criteria like age, health condition and the antecedents of the accused, the nature of the crime, the need for other forms of custody, and the ability to enforce the terms of the house arrest. We would also indicate under Section 309 also that judicial custody being custody ordered, subject to following the criteria, the 205 courts will be free to employ it in deserving and suitable cases.”

“Among the advantages which have been perceived in promoting the house arrest, have been the avoidance of overcrowding of the prisons and also cost-saving. However, concerns have also emerged in regard to the issues arising out of the proper supervision of house arrest [ refers to the article “House Arrest”, a critical analysis of an intermediate level penal sanction by Jeffrey N. Hurwitz]

“There is a tremendous amount of overcrowding in jails in India. Secondly, a very large sum (Rs. 6818.1 crores) was the budget on prisons. Both aspects are relevant in the context of the possibilities that house arrest offer”

“Thus ‘house arrests’ have been resorted to in India, in the context of law relating to ‘preventive detention’. What is however relevant is that preventive detention is also a form of forced detention. House arrest is also custody and forced detention.”


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