Criminal law is the system of law concerned with the punishment of offences. An offence in simple terms means and act or omission punishable under law. For example, murder, robbery, theft etc. Whenever an offence is committed it is either reported to the police by way of a FIR or by way of a complaint to the Magistrate. Once an offence has been reported the police either investigates the matter or an inquiry is conducted by the court depending on the nature of the offence. Subsequently the charge sheet is framed and if the case is made out the trial before the Criminal Court commences.
What is a proclaimed Offender?
In the due course of trial summons and warrants may be issued against the accused person by the court, in order to ensure his appearance. The court may issue Bailable or Non-Bailable Warrants depending on the nature of the offence. Further, the court may also first issue Bailable Warrants and then subsequently upon non-appearance by the accused the court may issue Non-Bailable Warrants. If even after issuance of Non-Bailable Warrants the accused does not care to appear in court, then the court may publish a written proclamation requiring the accused to appear at a specific place at a specific time.
The court may publish a written proclamation requiring a person against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued, but he has absconded or concealed himself so that such warrant can not be executed, to appear at a specific place at a specific time not less than thirty days from the date of publishing such proclamation. The proclamation shall be published as follows:
It shall be publicly read in some conspicuous place of the town or village in which such person ordinarily resides.
It shall be affixed to some conspicuous part of the house or homestead in which such person ordinarily resides or to some conspicuous place of such town or village.
A copy thereof shall be affixed to some conspicuous part of the Courthouse.
The court may also, if it thinks fit, direct a copy of the proclamation to be published in a daily newspaper circulating in the place in which such person ordinarily resides.
Where a proclamation is and such person fails to appear at the specified place and time required by the proclamation, the Court may, after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, pronounce him a proclaimed offender and make a declaration to that effect.
The court may also at any time after the issue of the proclamation, order the attachment of any property, movable or immovable, or both, belonging to the proclaimed person subject to relevant provisions as mentioned.
It is a settled proposition of law that before declaring an accused as an absconder the court has to be satisfied that accused has left his permanent residence or he is avoiding arrest or that there is no chance of arrest in the near future. In no other instance can a person be declared as a proclaimed offender.
Once a person has been declared a proclaimed offender, the remedy available is filing of a quashing petition of the order declaring the accused person as a proclaimed offender directly in High Court having the jurisdiction. In case the Proclaimed offender is a NRI and was not present in India at the time he was declared as a proclaimed, he can make an application to the High Court asking for quashing of the order declaring him as a Proclaimed Offender. Further, he would have to surrender before the court in which the case is pending. Also another relief that can be sought in such quashing petition is that in case the accused person surrenders before the court, he should not be arrested and should be released on bail immediately upon surrender as the accused is willing to face trial.
Thus, the ordinary process to compel attendance is issuance of summons. When summons so issued are not served then the court can issue a warrant. When the warrant issued is not executed then the court may issue a proclamation requiring the accused to appear at a specific place at a specific time and may also attach the property. And even after that if the accused does not appear he can be declared as a proclaimed offender. However, the court must ensure that the accused is absconding or concealing himself in order to evade arrest. Once a person is declared as a proclaimed offender, he can file a quashing petition against such proclamation in the High Court.