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Upholding Constitutional Rights: Prabir v. State (NCT of Delhi)


The case of Prabir Purkayastha v. State (NCT of Delhi)[i] revolves around the arrest and subsequent remand of the Appellant, filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (‘UAPA’) and the Indian Penal Code (‘IPC’). This case brings to the forefront critical issues that arise as a result of procedural lapses, thus violating the constitutional and fundamental rights of the arrested person. The Hon’ble Supreme Court (‘SC’) has, in the aforementioned matter, also elucidated the difference between grounds of arrest and reason for arrest, vis-à-vis, reiterating the importance of ensuring that arrests do not violate a person’s civil liberties and following the due process of law.


  • The residential and office premises of the Appellant, who is a director at M/s. PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd. were searched in connection with the first information report (‘FIR’) registered against him for several offenses punishable under the UAPA and IPC.

  • The Special Cell officers recovered and seized several documents and digital devices during the course of the search and seizure proceedings. Subsequently, the Appellant was arrested by the officers of Special Cell on 03.10.2023, and an arrest memo was issued to the same effect. However, the computerized arrest memo did not contain any column delineating the ‘grounds of arrest.’

  • The Appellant, subsequent to the arrest, was remanded to seven days police custody. Aggrieved by such arrest and remand, the Appellant approached the High Court of Delhi (‘HC’), challenging his arrest and remand, which was rejected by the HC, and consequentially, the Appellant filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.


  • The SC, while quashing the order passed by the High Court, declared the remand, and arrest of the Appellant as invalid, and passed directions to release him from police custody. The said order was passed in light of the ratio of the judgment rendered in the Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India[ii] case.

  • The SC reinstated the principles established in the Pankaj Bansal case (supra) and made the following noteworthy observations: -

i.  It is mandatory for the Investigating officer to convey the grounds of arrest. in writing, to the person being arrested, and at no instance can the arrested person be deprived of such sacrosanct information at the hands of the Investigating officer.

ii. The right to be informed about the grounds of arrest is a fundamental right under a. 22(1) of the Constitution. Such information is essential for the arrested person to seek further legal consultation, oppose the police custody and the remand, and/or seek bail.

iii.  The difference between ‘reasons for arrest’ and ‘grounds for arrest’ was detailed by the SC, whereby it was pointed out that reasons for arrest were formal parameters, mentioned to prevent the accused from either tampering with the evidence or influencing witnesses, and/or from escaping etc., while, on the contrary, the grounds of arrest, ought to provide the arrested person with any/all facts that would be needed by him to defend his arrest and seek bail thereafter. The reasons for arrest are more generic in nature and may be common in most cases, however, grounds for arrest, are specific to each case and person, and thus, they cannot be equated.

Our Analysis

The aforementioned decision reaffirms the fundamental and constitutional of an arrested individual. Informing the arrested person of the grounds of arrest in writing is a mandate that cannot, at any instance, be done away with. An intentional and/or unintentional lapse in ensuring procedural compliance, the importance of which has been reiterated by the Courts in numerous instances, could cause a person to liberty and life.

The reaffirmation of rights guaranteed under a. 22(1) of the Constitution, and its uniform and mandatory application to statutes like the PMLA, UAPA etc., would surely enhance the protection of civil liberties. This ruling, while addressing the critical procedural lapses, strictly bars the authorities from bypassing the established procedure, thus ensuring that the accused has the necessary information to effectively take legal consultations, oppose custody, and seek bail. This decision reinforces the integrity of the legal system by mandating strict adherence to constitutional safeguards, thereby safeguarding individual freedoms against arbitrary detention.

End Notes

[i] 2024 SCC Online SC 934.

[ii] 2023 SCC Online SC 1244.

Authored by Pranav Dabas, Advocate at Metalegal Advocates. The views expressed are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.


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