The criminal justice process has to deal with the citizen at several stages. Arrest is the first stage. At this stage the freedom of the citizen is restrained to safeguard public interest. Different purposes are served by arresting a person. Sometimes, it saves him/her from retaliatory assault from the public. Sometimes, he/she is prevented from committing further crimes. And surely arrest helps him/her to be presented before the appropriate court to stand trial. It is to serve the third purpose that usually a suspect is arrested by the police.
Even during an arrest where the accused is a Woman, her safety is a priority for fair trial of the accused and to ensure that, an amendment in 2005 to the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 made a very significant point related to the safety of woman.
According to Section 46(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which governs the arrest of women, It is specifically mentioned that “Save in exceptional circumstances, no woman can be arrested after sunset and before sunrise, and where such exceptional circumstances exist, the woman police officer shall, by making a written report, obtain the prior permission of the Judicial Magistrate of the first class within whose local jurisdiction the offence is committed or the arrest is to be made.
Woman is prone to crime be it anywhere. Here the emphasis is given to protect woman while making an arrest. Protection is given so that Police misdeeds can be prevented. There are many ambiguities to this insertion out of which the most important one being the confusion of arrest by a male police officer during day. The apex court of the country has made efforts to come clean on the situation but there is a lot more to do.
Apart from the points mentioned above a woman who is being arrested for an offence has following rights (Women’s Rights)
- Right to be informed of grounds of arrest which has been made. Section 50(1)of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.(Cr.P.C)
- Right to inform the relatives/ friends – Police officer making arrest has to immediately give the information regarding such arrest and the place where the arrested person is being held to any of his/her friends, relatives or such other persons as may be disclosed or nominated by the arrested person. Section 50A of Cr.P.C.
- It is also the duty of the police officer to inform the person arrested of his/her rights.
- Right to be informed of right to bail. Section 50(2) of Cr.P.C.
- Right to be produced before a magistrate without delay – It is illegal to keep a person in detention for more than 24 hours without the orders of the Magistrate. Section 56 of Cr.P.C.
- Right of not being detained for more than twenty-four hours. Section 76 of Cr.P.C.
- Right to consult a legal practitioner – This right begins from the moment the arrest is made.
- Manhandling and Handcuffing – It is illegal to manhandle a person at the time of arrest.
- Search of arrested person – Only a female police can search another female. The search should be carried out in a decent manner.
- A male police officer cannot search a female offender. He can however search a woman’s house.
- Also there exists a right to be examined by a medical practitioner.
Arrested person has a right to legal aid and fair trial.
If the police officer fails to abide by rules which are laid down while arresting a woman, she should immediately contact her lawyer. She should remind the police officer about her rights and his/her duties. Also she can complain the same to the Station House Officer who is in-charge of the Police Station.
The complaint should be addressed to the Magistrate also so that he can take adequate action against the Police Officers involved. Also in such a case points should be made and designation of officers and their names should be noted down to bring clarity to the problem faced by the woman. The offence committed by the accused cannot be simply declared void because the accused was mistreated but remuneration can be provided for the same.