The Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that a proclamation under Section 82 of Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be issued without recording reasons of its belief that the accused has absconded or is concealing himself.

In this case, the Court observed that the trial court's declaration of the petitioner as a proclaimed person was not in accordance with Section 82 of the Cr.P.C., as it lacked the necessary recording of reasons.

The petitioner approached the Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking to quash the order where he was declared a proclaimed person by the Judicial Magistrate.

A Bench of Justice Harpreet Singh Brar held, “The sole purpose of issuance of non-bailable warrants or issuance of proclamation is to secure presence of the accused before the trial Court. The petitioner in the present case has himself come forward and has undertaken to appear before the trial Court on each and every date of hearing.

The Court added, “Any non-compliance therewith cannot be cured as an ‘irregularity’ and renders the proclamation and proceedings subsequent thereto a nullity.”

Advocate Rajesh Bhatheja appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Subhash Godara appeared for the Respondent.

The petitioner, after the registration of the FIR in February 2019, left India in November 2019 and only returned in July 2023. During his absence, the trial court declared him as a proclaimed person in April 2022.

The petitioner argued that he was unaware of any proceedings against him while abroad and that the trial court's declaration was erroneous. He emphasized that he was not served with any warrants or proclamations, and when he returned to India, he learned about his proclaimed status and subsequently applied for anticipatory bail, which was denied.

The petitioner's counsel contended that the trial court's order did not comply with Section 82 of Cr.P.C.

The Court emphasized the importance of balancing individual liberty with the legal procedures established by law. The Court added, “While the scheme of criminal justice system necessitates curtailment of personal liberty to some extent, it is of the utmost importance that the same is done in line with the procedure established by law to maintain a healthy balance between personal liberty of the individual-accused and interests of the society in promoting law and order. Such procedure must be compatible with Article 21 of the Constitution of India i.e. it must be fair, just and not suffer from the vice of arbitrariness or unreasonableness.”

The Court noted, “A perusal of the impugned order reveals that the trial Court issued proclamation without recording reasons of its belief that the petitioner has absconded or is concealing himself.” It highlighted previous judgments emphasizing the mandatory requirements under Section 82 Cr.P.C. for issuing proclamations.

Given the circumstances and the petitioner's commitment to attending all future court hearings, the Court allowed the petition. The order declaring the petitioner as a proclaimed person was set aside.

The petitioner was directed to appear before the trial court within four weeks and, upon doing so, would be granted bail upon furnishing adequate bonds. Additionally, the petitioner was directed to pay a cost of Rs.10,000 to the District Legal Services Authority, Moga, for the court's time.

Cause Title: Jaspreet Singh v. State of Punjab, [2024:PHHC:000416]

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