In the realm of criminal law, the term “Proclaimed Offender” might sound intriguing and raises several questions. In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of Proclaimed Offenders in India, discussing the legal framework, their offenses, arrest procedures, penalties, and related aspects.
Who is a Proclaimed Offender?
A Proclaimed Offender, commonly referred to as a “PO,” is an individual against whom a court has issued an arrest warrant but who is absconding or concealing themselves to avoid arrest. To initiate the process, the court publishes a written proclamation, requiring the accused to appear at a specified place and time, usually not less than 30 days from the proclamation’s date. Failure to comply with this order can lead to the declaration of the accused as a Proclaimed Offender under Section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Offenses Leading to Proclamation
The court can declare an absconder as a Proclaimed Offender if they are accused of certain heinous offenses, including but not limited to:
Language of the Proclamation
A proclamation issued by the court must adhere to a specific format, including details such as the accused’s name, description, the offense, and the place and time of appearance. This proclamation is an essential step in the process of declaring someone as a Proclaimed Offender.
Publication of the Proclamation
The court ensures that the proclamation reaches the public by:
Arrest of a Proclaimed Offender
The responsibility for apprehending a Proclaimed Offender primarily rests with the police station in the area of the accused’s residence. Any police officer can arrest a Proclaimed Offender without a warrant or magistrate’s order. Additionally, private individuals can arrest a Proclaimed Offender and must promptly hand them over to the nearest police officer or police station.
Penalties for Non-Appearance
Failure to appear in response to a proclamation can lead to severe consequences. The penalties include:
Duties of the Village Panchayat
Members of the village panchayat, chowkidaar, numberdaar, or officers employed in village affairs must report any information about the Proclaimed Offender’s presence or movements to the nearest magistrate or police station.
Attachment of a Proclaimed Offender’s Property
The court issuing the proclamation can order the attachment of the Proclaimed Offender’s property to compel their appearance before the court. This measure can be instrumental in ensuring compliance with the court’s orders.
Harbouring a Proclaimed Offender
Knowingly harboring a Proclaimed Offender to prevent their apprehension is a punishable offense under Section 216 of the Indian Penal Code, carrying imprisonment of up to seven years in certain cases.
Display of Names
Lists of Proclaimed Offenders are displayed in police stations and on notice boards to keep the public informed. These lists are updated regularly, and names are removed when a Proclaimed Offender is arrested or passes away.
Understanding the concept of Proclaimed Offenders and the legal procedures associated with them is essential for both legal practitioners and the general public. The process of declaring someone as a Proclaimed Offender serves as a crucial tool in the criminal justice system, ensuring that individuals accused of serious offenses cannot evade the law indefinitely.