Section 160 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) – Explained!

But a male under the age of fifteen years or a woman cannot be required to attend at any place other than the place where he or she resides. An order directing a woman to appear in police station is violative of Section 160 (1) of the Code.The Supreme Court in Nandini Satpathy v. P. L. Dani and another, with respect to this provision observed:

“A higher level police officer, ignorantly insisting on a woman appearing at the police station in flagrant contravention of the wholesome proviso to Section 160 (1) of the Cr. P. C. Such deviance must be visited with prompt punishment since policemen may not be a law unto themselves expecting others to obey the law….. There is public policy, not complimentary to the police personnel, behind this legislative prescription which keeps juveniles and females from police company except at the former’s safe residence.

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Any person required by the investigating police officer to attend in connection with the investigation of a cognizable offence is under a legal duty to comply with the order issued under Section 160 (1). A person willfully or intentionally omitting to attend is liable to be punished under Section 174 IPC. But the police officer has no authority to use force to compel attendance of such person, nor can he arrest or detain such witness. So also, a Magistrate has no power to issue any process compelling a person to appear before a police officer.

The Delhi High Court in Asinita Agarwal v. The Enforcement Directorate, has held that FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act) even though a special enactment, nowhere provides as to where the investigation of woman is to be carried out. Therefore, in absence of any provision available in this special enactment, the proviso of Section 160 (1) of CrPC would apply as laid down in Section 4 (2) of the Code and a woman cannot be ordered to attend any place other than her residence for the purpose of investigation.

In Kamalanantha v. State of Tamil Nadu, the Godman was charged of raping girl inmates of his Ashram. The accused was in dominion control of the Ashram and had threatened victims with dire consequences in the event of disclosure. The Apex Court held that in such circumstances Ashram could not be place for the purpose of Section 160, Cr. P.C. Therefore, the victim girls were rightly examined and interrogated in the women police stations. They were removed from the Ashram to erase fear psychosis from their minds.

The Bombay High Court in Anirudha S. Bhagat v. Ramniwas Meena, observed that Section 160 empowers the Investigation Officer to issue summons for attendance of witnesses residing beyond the territorial limits of the concerned police station if he is convinced that such witness is acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case in respect of which investigation was being carried out.

Thus nothing prevents a police officer to summon the person even though at the time of issuance of the summons, the person was found to be either residing or carrying on business at a place beyond the territorial limits of the police station to which the Investigating Officer was attached to.

In the instant case, F.I.R. was registered on account of collapse of a bridge. Investigation in that regard was in progress. The bridge was constructed by a company of which the petitioner was Chairman and Managing Director. Summons was issued to him by the Investigation Officer requiring him to remain present along-with the structural design and other details.

That by itself would not amount to harassment to the petitioner on assumption that the designs with the Government of Goa. If the Investigation Officer requires necessary co-operation from the petitioner in matter of collecting information pertaining to structural design which was used for the purpose of construction of the collapsed bridge, it could not be said that the Investigation Officer was acting beyond his powers or authority in any manner or harassing the petitioner.

The High Court of Bombay in Arun Gulab Gavali v. State of Maharashtra, held that investigating machinery could require even a witness to appear at different places where investigation is required to be carried out and the persons called upon to assist investigation machinery could not refuse to go to such place on ground that it amounted to denial of his right of personal liberty.

The proviso to Section 160 (1) also applies to Army officers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and therefore, an Army official cannot take the woman offender to the Army camp for interrogation and she can be interrogated only at the place of her residence as provided under Section 160 (1) of the Code.

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