Search of Place Entered by Person Sought to be Arrested

SearchChapter V of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with the powers of arrest of a person and the safeguards which are required to be followed by the police to protect the interest of the accused persons.

The Police Officer intending to arrest a person is empowered to conduct search of any place entered by person sought to be arrested.

Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code applies to all those cases where the person to be arrested has entered into or is within any place particularly a house.

Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code has tried to achieve a happy balance between the necessity of effecting arrest of the offenders by conferring on the police officers and other persons empowered to arrest, the authority to enter the houses and other places, where the person to be arrested has taken refuge or is residing and the necessity of protecting the dignity lives, personal liberty and properties of the people, lest they may be invaded by persons possessing the authority to arrest, at any hours of day or night without paying any heed to decency, propriety, dignity etc.

Search of place entered by person sought to be arrested

Section 47 authorises for the search of a place entered by persons sought to be arrested. If any person acting under a warrant of arrest, or any police officer having authority to arrest, has reason to believe that the person to be arrested has entered into, or is within, any place, any person residing in, or being in charge of, such place shall, on demand of such person acting as aforesaid or such police officer, allow him free ingress thereto, and afford all reasonable facilities for a search therein. [S. 47 (1)]

If ingress to such place cannot be obtained under subsection (1), it shall be lawful in any case for a person acting under a warrant and in any case in which a warrant may issue, but cannot be obtained without affording the person to be arrested an opportunity of escape, for a police officer to enter such place and search therein, and in order to effect an entrance into such place, to break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place, whether that of the person to be arrested or of any other person, if after notification of his authority and purpose, and demand of admittance duly made, he cannot otherwise obtain admittance. [S. 47 (2)]

If any such place is an apartment in the actual occupancy of a female (not being the person to be arrested) who, according to custom, does not appear in public, such person or police officer shall, before entering such apartment, give notice to such female that she is at liberty to withdraw and shall afford her every reasonable facility for withdrawing, and may then break open the apartment and enter it. [S. 47 (2) Proviso]

The provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 47 are very important. Sub-section (2) makes it obligatory on the part of the Officer who executes the warrant of arrest or makes attempt to arrest, to notify his authority and purpose and demand admittance into the house or in that place in which search is to be made for the purpose of effecting the arrest.

The proviso given below Sub-section (2) of Section 47 makes it clear that if the apartment is in the actual occupancy of a female, who according to custom, does not appear in public such person or police officer, shall, before entering such apartment, give notice to such female that she is at liberty to withdraw and shall afford her every reasonable facility for withdrawing, and may then break open the apartment and enter it.

Sub-section (2) of Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code required four things:

  • 1. That the officer intending to arrest will notify his authority;
  • 2. That such person or officer will notify his purpose;
  • 3. That such person or officer will demand admittance in accordance with Sub-section (1);
  • 4. If the house is inhabited by female other than one, who is to be arrested such person or officer shall before entering such apartment give notice to such female that she is at liberty to withdraw and it is further obligatory to afford her any reasonable opportunity of withdrawing.

Above four things must be observed before any force is used by the person or officer desiring to make arrest of a person, who has entered in a house or apartment or is residing therein.

The object of Section 47 being to protect the lives, liberties, dignity of all the people of the country, it is necessary that persons and officers, whose authority to effect arrest is limited and subject to the conditions imposed by law must strictly abide by the safeguards enumerated in Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

If these safeguards are violated, may be, the search conducted by them or the arrest made by them may not be called illegal, but if for non-compliance of the provisions of Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code any resistance is offered or those whose lives, liberties and privacy is disturbed by the action of the person or officer by entering the house, then in each case, the Court will have to consider whether the resistance offered and the action taken by the inmates of the house was or was not in accordance with law and whether the action of the police officers was or was not justified in view of the non-compliance of Section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

See Also : Chiman Lal v. Datar Singh, 1998 CriLJ 267 : 1997 (1) WLN 396 [Rajasthan High Court]

Any police officer or other person authorised to make an arrest may break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place in order to liberate himself or any other person who, having lawfully entered for the purpose of making an arrest, is detained therein. [S. 47 (3)]