Suspects in heinous crimes have no right to be heard before arrest: SC

Arming investigators in case of serious crimes, the Supreme Court has ruled that police were empowered to straightaway take in custody such suspects after registration of an FIR and that granting them an opportunity to be heard or put forth a defence was not required.

A Bench led by Justice Swatanter Kumar held that no such right existed at the time of an FIR and hence a police officer could immediately detain a person when informed about commission of a cognisable offence.

"Absence of specific provision requiring grant of hearing to a suspect and the fact that the very purpose and object of fair investigation is bound to be adversely affected if hearing is insisted upon at that stage, clearly supports the view that hearing is not any right... at that stage," noted the court.

Reminding the police officers that it was their "statutory" duty to promptly lodge an FIR in serious criminal cases, the Bench said the "very purpose of fair and just investigation shall stand frustrated if pre-registration hearing is required to be granted to a suspect... There would be the pre-dominant possibility of a suspect escaping the process of law".

Having examined the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code, the Bench said the scheme of the laws too did not provide for any right of hearing at the time of registration of the FIR and that an accused can exercise all his legal remedies after his detention.

The Bench explained the legal position while dismissing an appeal by former Gorakhpur mayor Anju Chaudhary. Chaudhary, a BJP leader, had moved the apex court against a Allahabad High Court order directing registration of an FIR against her and four other BJP leaders, including MP Yogi Adityanath, over their alleged role in instigating riots in Gorakhpur and nearby areas in Uttar Pradesh in January 2007.

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