The Supreme Court has ruled that arrest should be the last option used by police as unnecessary incarceration of a person violates the fundamental right to personal liberty.
"The arrest should be the last option and it should be restricted to those exceptional cases where arresting the accused is imperative in the facts and circumstances of that case," the apex court said in a judgement.
"Personal liberty is a very precious fundamental right and it should be curtailed only when it becomes imperative according to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case," the court said.
A Bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and K S Radhakrishnan also said that anticipatory bail granted to a person should continue till the conclusion of the trial and no conditions should be imposed for the accused to surrender for obtaining a regular bail.
"A great ignominy, humiliation and disgrace is attached to arrest. Arrest leads to many serious consequences not only for the accused but for the entire family and at times for the entire community. Most people do not make any distinction between arrest at a pre-conviction stage or post-conviction stage," they said.
"The proper course of action ought to be that after evaluating the averments and accusation available on the record, if the court is inclined to grant anticipatory bail, then an interim bail be granted and notice be issued to the public prosecutor," Justice Bhandari said.
The bench said the tendency of courts to grant anticipatory bail with conditions like asking the person to surrender before a court for regular bail was contrary to the statute and ruling set by a Constitution Bench.
"The court would certainly be entitled to impose conditions for the grant of bail. The public prosecutor or complainant would be at liberty to move the same court for cancellation or modifying the conditions of bail any time if liberty granted by the court is misused," the apex court said.
"The bail granted by the court should ordinarily be continued till the trial of the case. The order granting anticipatory bail for a limited duration and thereafter directing the accused to surrender and apply before a regular bail is contrary to the legislative intention and judgement of the Constitution Bench in Sibbia’s case," the Bench said.
The apex court made the remarks while granting anticipatory bail to Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre, a Congress leader allegedly involved in the killing of a BJP worker on September 26, 2009, in Maharashtra.
Mhetre had moved the apex court after the Bombay High Court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea.