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Sunday, 16 March 2014

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Obey summons if not 'Mr. Warrant' will catch you

Being good citizens of Sri Lanka our main concern is to live in a community where there is peace and good order. There should be ways and means of safeguarding the freedom of the just man. Thus social security becomes important.

The disturbing factor in this scenario is the crime doer. The laws of the country will not allow the law abiding citizens to be preyed upon by the perpetrators of crime.

Fundamental Rights

Our Constitution has in its wisdom grafted enshrined provisions into Chapter III dealing with Fundamental Rights for the establishment of a just and free society where people can live as' children of one mother'.

Nevertheless even in utopian society humans by their nature are prone to commission of crimes against their fellow humans and on the other hand getting involved in civil disputes. In dealing with crimes the State has an important role to play so as to provide social security to its citizens. For this purpose it entrusts its police force with powers to make use of their good office to prevent crime before it happens and if it does happen to detect it, apprehend the perpetrator and bring him before justice.

All the processes are supervised by the courts to see that the law enforcement officers obey the rules of right conduct as required by the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure Act.

The writer will concentrate on the procedure governing crime only for in respect of civil disputes the procedure is looked after to by their counsel because each party to a dispute is expected to bring his own witnesses and documents to court to establish his case on a balance of probability.

Police

The police have a vital role to play in the preservation of a just and free society. In England they are called 'the guardians of the peace'.

To the Englishmen police are the friends of the people. The policemen in Sri Lanka have a long way to go to get into the trust of the people. From their childhood days the parents paint a wrong picture in their children's minds as to who a policeman is. When a child misbehaves over a slightest thing they scare the child by saying 'I am going to call the police'. The child grows up with this mindset.

It is the bounden duty of every responsible citizen to support the police and to recognise that they are the front line of defence against violence and intimidation.

Duties of a police officer are enumerated in section 56 of the Police Ordinance. It is his duty to use his best endeavours and ability to prevent all crimes, offences and public nuisances to preserve the peace.

It is his duty to detect and bring offenders to justice. On the other hand, the law requires him to promptly obey and execute all orders and warrants issued and directed to him by any court.

Powers

Such powers of arrest are given to them by section 32 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act which specifies and enumerates the offences where the police may arrest a person without a warrant. It also permits the operation of any enactment empowering a police officer to arrest without a warrant. In the statute book such offences are referred to as cognizable offences and are commonly called arrestable offences. There is the other group of offences where a policeman may not arrest without a warrant. They are referred to as non cognizable offences.

Making an arrest

To prevent any abuse of power the legislature in its wisdom have brought in section 23 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act which lays down the mode of making an arrest. Common Law in England in this regard is explained by Lord Denning as follows. 'When a police constable says to a man, 'come along with me. I am taking you to the police station'.

That is an arrest'. In the same way our law says 'that the person making the arrest shall actually touch the body of the person to be arrested or confine the body of the person to be arrested unless there is a submission to custody either by word or action'. In arresting a person without a warrant the police cannot act on a suspicion founded on a mere suspicion or vague surmise.

The information must give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the suspect was concerned in the commission of the crime.

It was so held in the case of Kalansuriya v Iddamalgoda, Inspector of Police. This case is reported in the [1998] Bar Council Law Journal 113.

To be continued

 

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