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Non-bailable warrant should be issued to bring a person to court only when summons or bailable warrants would fail to do the same: High Court of Delhi

Execution of a non-bailable warrant directly involves curtailment of liberty of a person. Warrant of arrest cannot be issued mechanically but only after recording satisfactory facts and circumstances of the case. Non-bailable warrant should be issued to bring a person to court when summons or bailable warrants would be unlikely to have the desired result and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri in the case of SANJAY BHAKTA MATHEMA vs. VIPIN KUMAR SHARMA & ORS. [CRL.REV. P. 14/2022] on 10.02.2022.

The facts of the case are that the petitioners were not residents of Delhi and the country was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and thus, travelling between states even if not completely prohibited, was subject to fulfilment of certain criteria as a preventive measure. It was held as a non-justifiable ground from exemption of personal appearance by the Trial Court.

Separate applications seeking exemption from personal appearance were moved before the Trial Court on behalf of the petitioners stating that they resided outside Delhi and it would be difficult for them to travel to Delhi and appear before the Court under the circumstances. Thereafter, non-bailable were issued against the petitioners. The present petition has been filed under Section 401 read with Section 482 Cr.P.C. on behalf of the petitioners assailing the order.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the absence of the petitioners before the Trial Court was unintentional. It is further submitted that the petitioners filed their respective undertakings by way of affidavits before this Court, in terms of which they have undertaken to appear before the Trial Court on the next date of hearing. The counsel further submitted that the petitioners were not residents of Delhi. Therefore, exemption from personal appearance filed before the concerned Trial Court shall be dealt with in accordance with law.

The respondent’s counsel submitted that in view of the undertakings given on behalf of the petitioners, respondent has no objection with the cancelled NBWs issued against them.

According to the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court disposed of the present petition as the mere fact that the petitioners were not residents of Delhi was not a justifiable ground to exempt them from personal appearance.

The Court observed that “execution of a non-bailable warrant directly involves curtailment of liberty of a person, warrant of arrest cannot be issued mechanically but only after recording satisfactory facts and circumstances of the case. Non-bailable warrant should be issued to bring a person to court when summons or bailable warrants would be unlikely to have the desired result.” This could be when firstly it is reasonable to believe that the person will not voluntarily appear in court or secondly that the police authorities are unable to find the person to serve him with a summon and thirdly if it is considered that the person could harm someone if not placed into custody immediately.

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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