Case in Question: Delhi High Court in Sunil Tyagi vs Government of NCT
The case highlights the infirmities in criminal law and the criminal justice system with respect to proclaimed offenders.
Though the process under sections 82 and 83 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Code) was being issued routinely, it was found that the State was unable to furnish the complete address of the accused and the notices weren’t sent to the correct address.
Why it happens:
Because of the incomplete or incorrect identification of the arrested person.
The first point of identification of the accused is the point at which the person is arrested for investigation, it is obvious that the recording of the identity documents and other paperwork of the accused and their verification must also be conducted at this stage. In practice, however, such verification exercises are conducted only in their absence.
As per the NCRB’s “Crime in India, 2019”, for the 2.67 crore processes (for summons, bailable warrants, non-bailable warrants and other processes) received by the police throughout the year, nearly 28.5 lakh remained unserved.
Once a person is proclaimed as an offender, the case is usually consigned to the record room attached with the Court and forgotten.
That in such a scenario the State must make all reasonable efforts to arrest the proclaimed offender, attach his properties and open a prosecution under section 174A of the Indian Penal Code.
1- A plethora of such cases across the country adds unnecessarily to the already huge list of pending cases.
2- This also leads to a situation where the issue leads to a violation of the right to speedy trial which has been read into the right to life by the Supreme Court in a plethora of cases.
3- Currently, our laws do not provide for any mechanism requiring the courts to review such cases periodically and nor is any time limit imposed for the completion of the process of proclamation or the attachment of properties.
4- There is a need to reconsider the country’s legal position regarding the insertion of trial-in-absentia provisions in the Criminal Procedures Code. The insertion of the trial-in-absentia provisions can significantly deter the accused from abusing the processes of law as tactics to delay the trial.
5- various practical difficulties in the process pertaining to the attachment of property under section 83.
a) Lack of manpower to physical verification of residential addresses,
b) Inadequate witness protection;
c) Difficulty in attachment of movable property;
d) Difficulty in the transportation of movable property;
e) Lack of cooperation from neighbours, friends and relatives of the accused.