Analysing Section 164 of CrPC vis-a-vis Smt. Seema Devi vs. State of U.P., 2016
Case Name- Smt. Seema Devi vs. State of U.P.
Citation- Habeas Corpus No. 10006 of 2016
Name of the court- Allahabad High Court
Hon'ble Judges- Justice Ajai Lamba & Justice Ravindra Nath Mishra
Decided on- May 25, 2016
Life and liberty are the most prized possession of an individual and liberty of a person should be respected. Numerous issues arise when liberty is denied without any justifiable cause for the denial.
This critical essay deals with Section 164 of CrPCand it is based on the analysis of the aforementioned judgement of Allahabad HC. The judgement in the present case elucidates at length the importance of personal liberty, and how it receives a setback when police authorities detain a person in custody while producing in front of magistrate.
This essay is structured as follows. Firstpart will lay out the relevant legal issues. Second part will construct analysis of Section 164 . The third part provides recommendations. Lastly, the fourth part will be the conclusion.
In the present case, Smt. Seema Devi was illegally detained by the Station House Officer for 15 days despite directions of the court. Subsequently, she has approached the court for issuance of a writ in the nature of habeas corpus for her release from wrongful and illegal detention.
Under section 164 the confession of the accused is recorded, so also the statements of the witnesses.This section specifically provides for two things viz., the statement of the witnessesandconfession of a person accused of an offence.Therefore, Section 64 provides that recording of confessions and the statements is an exclusive domain of the judiciary and the executive is kept outside its ambit.More so, no police officer shall record any confession on whom any power of a Magistrate has been conferred under any law .
The series of events happened in the case depicts a shady picture of everything that has happened with Seema Devi. First, the police authorities failed to provide any legally tenable reason for her detention, or for that matter any provision in CrPC under which witness could be taken in custody and detained for the purpose of investigation.
In order to carry out Seema's medical examination u/s 164 she shouldn't have been kept in confinement for 15 days as it is not contemplated by law.However, the police still kept her in custody  indicating that they were totally oblivious about her liberty being compromised by their act.
Furthermore, the police officers when asked to pay Rs. 150,000 were present ready with cash on the day of judement in order to compensate the victim. This also makes it suspicious as to how they were in possession of such a huge amount which they gave it directly to the Smt. Seema instead of submitting it to the court.
Moreover, Seema Devi herself was not keen on pursuing the case to prosecute the police officers for illegally depriving her of her liberty. It could possibly have two reasons, viz., either should would've been pressurized by the mighty police officers or the compensation paid blinded her courage to fight against the wrong she was subjected to even after it was established by the court that her right of libertywas violated as guaranteed under Article 21. Thus, the paradigmatic problem reflects the dismal condition of criminal justice system in the country.
In addition, this case is an exemplar of how sometimes common man resort to abuse of process of law. It is a noticeable point that since Smt. Seema Devi's father was unhappy with his daughter's marriage, therefore, he'd initiated impugned criminal proceedings against Seema's husband out of animosity. He'd claimed that Seema was a minor but the documents further proved that she was a major. It was upon this false allegation, Seema's husband was put behind bars.
It is pertinent to note that the practice of taking the witness in custody for recording confessions and statements under Section 164 is not contemplated and warranted by law.Thus, there being no established procedure of law, a new legislation should be made in this regard to avoid abuse of law. The law should make it illegal to detain any person without any procedure established by law. Penal provisions and strict actions against police authorities should be mandated to regulate the practice.
Therefore, until a new legislation is made, the practice of taking witness in custody should be discouraged. It should be completely stopped as it is against the law.
From the above analysis it is apposite to note that the liberty of an individual is placed at a high pedestal and any encroachment upon its domain entails wrath of law. Nothing could be more dangerous than liberty without restraints as it would imply liberty won by one and lost by another. Any unwarranted detention by police authorities violates the trust implicitly placed in the police by the citizens of the country.
Although, police did not had any solid convincing reasons in justifying their position, this researcher favours the view prevalent in CrPC i.e., to assure the witness that he is no longer in the hands of the police. The reason for favouring the said view is that it ensures that the confession is voluntary and the person is completely free from any possible police influence.
Therefore, the provisions of Section 164 is a safety valve meant to muzzle involuntary confessions.
1. R. V. Kelkar, Criminal Procedure, Eastern Book Company, (5th ed. 2014).
2. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, The Code of Criminal Procedure, Lexis Nexis, (22nd ed. 2017).
1. Sushant Pandey, Examination of Witness under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure, Journal of Law and Legal Jurisprudence Studies:ISSN:2338-8212:Volume 4 Issue 3..
1. Bhukin v. Emperor, AIR 1942 Pat 90.
2. Gurubaru Praja v. King, AIR 1949, Ori 67.
3. Nika Ram v. State of H.P., AIR 1972 SC 2077.
4. Punia Mallah v. Emperor, AIR 1948 Nag 344.
5. Sarwan Singh Ratan v. State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 637.
6. Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra and Others, (2011) 1 SCC 694.
7. Kuthua Goala v. State of Assam, 1981 Cri LJ 424.
1. The Constitution of India, 1950.
1. Appreciation of Evidence in Sessions Cases, Madras High Court, (March 15, 2020), http://www.tnsja.tn.nic.in/article/App%20of%20Evi%20by%20DMJ.pdf.
2. Bharat Chugh, Role of a Magistrate in a Criminal Investigation, (August 11, 2018), http://www.livelaw.in/role-magistrate-criminal-investigation/.
3. G.Satya Prabhakara Rao, Delhi Investigation Process - Role of Courts And Scope and Relevance of Statements Recorded U/Sec. 161 & 164 Cr.P.C., (March 15, 2020), https://districts.ecourts.gov.in/sites/default/files/WORKSHOP%20-I%20.pdf.
4. M. HARI NARAYANA, Criminal Miscellaneous Petitions, (August 12, 2018), http://ecourts.gov.in/sites/default/files/Workshop_1.pdf.
5. Smt. B. Sobha Kumari, Scope and Relevance of Statements Recorded Under Section 161 and 164 of Cr.P.C. (March 15, 2020),
 The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Sec 164. G.Satya Prabhakara Rao, Delhi Investigation Process - Role of Courts And Scope and Relevance of Statements Recorded U/Sec. 161 &164 Cr.P.C.,(March 15, 2020), https://districts.ecourts.gov.in/sites/default/files/WORKSHOP%20-I%20.pdf.  Punia Mallah v. Emperor, AIR 1948 Nag 344.  Gurubaru Praja v. King, AIR 1949, Ori 67. Examination of Witness under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure, Judicial District Beed, Third Workshop, , (March 15, 2020), http://mja.gov.in/Site/Upload/GR/Summary%20criminal%20side164%20cri.p.c._3rd%20workshop.pdf.  Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, The Code of Criminal Procedure, Lexis Nexis, at 324, (22nd ed. 2017).  Supra note 2, at 2.  Nika Ram v. State of H.P., AIR 1972 SC 2077.  R. V. Kelkar, Criminal Procedure, Eastern Book Company, at 158, (5th ed. 2014).  Sarwan Singh Ratan v. State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 637.  Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra and Others, (2011) 1 SCC 694.  Bhukin v. Emperor, AIR 1942 Pat 90.  Supra note 6, at 2.  The Constitution of India, Art 21.  Joint Committee Report, p. xvi.
Author Details: Shaheen Banoo (Symbiosis Law School, Pune)
The views are personal only, if any.