The Supreme Court observed that personal liberty is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate and said that the police must not arrest someone just because it is lawful to do so, reported Live Law.

“The occasion to arrest an accused during investigation arises when the custodial investigation becomes necessary or it is a heinous crime or where there is a possibility of influencing the witnesses or accused may abscond,” a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said in an order passed on Monday.

The court said that the police must make a distinction between having the power to arrest and the justification to exercise it. “If arrest is made routine, it can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person,” it said.

The petitioner had challenged an Allahabad High Court order rejecting his anticipatory bail application in a case in which the First Information Report was filed in 2014. The petitioner, along with 83 others, were charged with cheating and forgery, reported the Hindustan Times.

The petitioner told the court he has joined the investigation in the case and the chargesheet was ready to be filed. He said that since an arrest memo was issued, he moved the Allahabad High Court seeking anticipatory bail but it was turned down. The petitioner said that he then approached the Supreme Court.

The Uttar Pradesh government counsel told the court that the arrest memo was issued as the trial court, which was hearing the case, wanted the accused in custody before a charge sheet can be filed under Section 170 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The section says that the police should produce the accused in a case “under custody” for trial at the time of filing a charge sheet. If the accused has secured bail, a day can be fixed for the appearance of the accused before the magistrate, the section adds.

To the UP counsel’s submission, the Supreme Court said that Section 170 does not impose an obligation to the police to arrest every accused at the time of filing the charge sheet.

The court also referred to verdicts delivered by High Courts on the matter that said that criminal courts cannot refuse to accept a charge sheet just because the accused was not arrested and produced before it, reported PTI.

“We have, in fact, come across cases where the accused has cooperated with the investigation throughout and yet on the charge sheet being filed, non-bailable warrants have been issued for his production premised on the requirement that there is an obligation to arrest the accused and produce him before the court,” the court said.

The bench added that there is no reason that the accused should be arrested for the purpose of filing a charge sheet.