Who is a Proclaimed Offender?
A proclaimed offender is a person against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by a court of law. Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with the provisions relating to proclaimed offenders.
If the court has ground to believe that the offender is trying to evade his arrest or is absconding and deceiving from the proceedings, the court can publish a written proclamation against him. This proclamation by the court is essential to declare a person as a “proclaimed offender”. The court may specify the date, time and place for the person to present himself which is not less than 30 days from the date of publication of the proclamation.
It is important to note that a proclaimed offender (or a PO) can be arrested by any citizen of the country. The court also has the authority to confiscate the passport of such PO so that he/she doesn’t flea the country.
Who can be declared as a Proclaimed Offender?
Any person committing a crime recorded in the Indian Penal Code can be declared as a PO if he/she tries to escape from the police or the court of law.
A person can also be declared as a PO if he is absconding charges filed under the NDPS act as well.
PO proceedings can also be initiated if the accused stops appearing in the trial court proceedings after issuance of Bailable, Non-Bailable warrants and proclamations.
Once a person is declared as a PO, he/she can be arrested by the authorities at any hour irrespective of any other rules and provisions.
Where should the written publication be published?
The publication can be published in the following places :
- Any prominent place in the town or village of the PO.
- Any prominent place in or around the house of the PO.
- The courthouse.
- If the court deems appropriate, it can also publish the publication in the newspaper.
What is the sentence for a PO?
After a PO is in the custody of the law, he can be served with a fine or a 3-year jail sentence or both. However, it can also be extended to 7-year imprisonment if the offense is registered under section 147 of the Indian Penal Code. Nevertheless, it must be noted that supplementary charge-sheet under section 174-A can’t be added by police before declaring accused as PO (Deepak Kumar Saha versus the State of Delhi)
It should be noted that suppressing a PO is also penalized under section 216 of the Indian Penal Code with imprisonment up to 7 years in certain cases.
Can NRI’s be declared as PO’s?
A large number of Non-resident Indian’s (or NRI’s) still retain some property in the country. It happens so often that a number of false and fictitious cases are embroiled against them. When the NRI’s are not able to pursue these cases due to geographical constraints, they are frequently declared as PO’s by the officials.
What are the remedies that the PO’s possess?
A proclaimed offender has been given certain remedies that assist him to get out of a situation where he has been falsely accused as a PO.
According to the Supreme Court, no anticipatory bail can be given to a proclaimed offender. This was laid down in an order of the Supreme Court in State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Pradeep Sharma. [ (Crl) Appeal No. 2049 of 2013, Arising out of SLP (Crl) no. 4102 of 2013 ]
However, a proclaimed offender can be granted the benefit of a regular bail. (Vivek Gaur vs. Naresh Kumar, Delhi High Court)
What is the quashing of a proclaimed offender order?
Quashing of an order literally means to overthrow or annul an order. It means to nullify, void or to declare an order invalid. Quashing of an order can be proceeded with by a legal procedure.
A PO order passed by a trial court can be quashed by the high court or any other superior court. It is advisable to apply for a quashing order instead of an anticipatory bail in case of PO order. This is because anticipatory bails are rarely granted in cases like these.
Strict compliance to section 82 and 83 of the Criminal Procedure Code is to be adhered to while demanding a quashing.
This post is written by Ahana Kurande of Mumbai University (Law). For more info on subject, please dial 99888-17966.