Resource bank

Arnesh Kumar v The State of Bihar (India)

Geographic relevance: India

Language: Inglés

Data type: Legal citations

Author(s): Indian Kanoon

About this resource:

It was alleged that the claimant demanded a dowry payment from his future wife’s family and drove his future wife out of his home when she refused. He was then arrested for requesting a dowry payment. After not being granted bail, the claimant brought a challenge to the Indian Supreme Court.

The court noted that these types of arrests were regularly being brought without sufficient evidence and had a very low success rate in court. It highlighted the need for police to exercise caution when making an arrest. They ruled that arrests must be necessary and based on a reasonable suspicion instead of being made automatically because of an allegation.

The court found the arrest in the claimant’s case was unlawful (ultra vires) and ordered his release. Noting the widespread issue that the case raised, the court went further and made the following general orders:

  • All the State Governments must instruct police officers not to automatically arrest before satisfying themselves about the necessity for arrest under the law;
  • All police officers must be provided with a checklist of the legal requirements;
  • The police officer shall forward the checklist and reasons for the arrest to a court after the arrest;
  • The court must assess the police report before authorising detention;
  • Failure to follow these directions shall make the police officers concerned liable for departmental action and punishment for contempt of court.

This case shows that a public law challenge in one case can lead to widespread changes to the law for everyone.

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