HC orders Goa Police to notify standing orders to curb ‘illegal’ arrests

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa has directed the Goa Director General of Police to formulate guidelines for the arrest of people as mandated by the Supreme Court in its 2014 verdict.

“In spite of several precedents by the Supreme Court… no such procedure has been adopted in the State of Goa till date. We, thus, are constrained to record our anguish and to direct the DGP of Goa Police to take steps in the matter and as directed by the Supreme Court and provide the necessary guidelines,” the bench of justices MS Sonak and Bharat Deshpande said.

The high court’s directive came during a hearing on a habeas corpus petition in the context of an allegedly illegal arrest of a person, Bonaventure D’Souza, who was picked up by the Special Enforcement Division, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh from his home in Margao, Goa at 1:30 am and taken without a transit remand to Nellore where he was produced before a Judicial Magistrate, which the D’Souza family said was in gross violation of not only the statutory provisions and central government instructions.

“The manner in which he was arrested from his house at around 1.30am is surprising.… We expect that Goa Police will formulate standing orders as early as possible and in any case, not later than 3 months from today. A compliance report must be filed by the DGP, Goa latest by 31 January 2023,” the high court said.

In its 2014 verdict, the Supreme Court laid down guidelines for arrest and to prevent its misuse, which have since come to be known as the Arnesh Kumar guidelines. The top court subsequently directed all states to issue standing orders on the procedure to be followed for arrest without a warrant.

The Andhra Pradesh Police sought to defend their action claiming that D’Souza was an accused in a case relating to the seizure of illicit liquor and that he couldn’t be produced before a local court because “some other persons came to the Margao Town Station (where he was initially taken) and tried to obstruct the officers in performing their duty”. This made obtaining transit remand from the magistrate “not feasible” and there was “every possibility that [he] would flee from the police station with the help of others.”

D’Souza’s is the second case in recent weeks where the family of an accused alleged that they have been illegally detained by officers from agencies outside the state.

Back in August, Priteesh Borkar, an alleged drug dealer from Anjuna in North Goa, was allegedly bundled into a car by undercover officers of the Hyderabad Police and shown as arrested only two weeks later.

His wife filed a missing complaint after he didn’t reach home and the local police discovered that he was in the custody of the Hyderabad Police, who showed him as being arrested while peddling narcotics within the jurisdiction of the Osmania University police station.