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This article is written by Ansruta Debnath, a student of National Law University Odisha. This article gives a brief overview of a recent Supreme Court order that explored whether a Magistrate could refuse a charge sheet if it was presented without taking the accused into custody.


In the recent 2021 case of Siddharth v. the State of Uttar Pradesh (2021), the Supreme Court of India gave a decision regarding whether a Magistrate could refuse to accept a charge sheet presented to it if it was presented without taking the accused into custody. This decision becomes important as it has implications on the rights of the accused in a criminal investigation and accused. In the article, first, the basics of a charge sheet have been discussed, which is followed by a brief overview of the relevant case. 

What is a charge sheet 

A charge sheet is a report that is filed by the police to the Magistrate after the investigation has been successfully done and the police believe that the accused is guilty. Section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states that if after investigation, the officer in charge of the police station (where First Information Report was first filed) believes there is sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds to arrest, they can do so and send a report to the Magistrate. This section also asks for forwarding the accused to the Magistrate for further processes. 

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According to Section 173(2)(i), the report must be filed immediately after the investigation is complete, in a form prescribed by the state government and must include the following-

  1. name of the parties
  2. nature of the information
  3. names of the persons who appear to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case
  4. whether any offence appears to have been committed and, if so, by whom
  5. whether the accused has been arrested
  6. whether he has been forwarded in custody under Section 170

The filing of a charge sheet signifies the conclusion of the first part of the criminal justice system which involves investigation after the F.I.R. is filed.

The current widespread practice employed by police while filing a charge sheet is doing so after the accused has been arrested. This was the point of issue in a recent case of Siddharth v. the State of Uttar Pradesh (2021) where the Magistrate refused to accept a charge sheet from the police who had still not arrested the accused. 

Siddharth v. the State of Uttar Pradesh


The appellant, in this case, Siddharth, along with 83 other private persons had an FIR filed against them seven years ago. The appellant was a supplier of sandstone and an FIR was filed against him for his involvement in a conspiracy and criminal breach of trust committed by former ministers and high-ranking officials in the state of UP, including Nasimuddin Siddiqui (Ex-Minister) and Babu Singh Khushawa (Ex-Minister), about a project initiated by the State Government in 2007 to build parks and museums, which allegedly resulted in a loss of Rs. 14,000 crores to the exchequer. 

The appellant’s counsel said that there was no need for the accused to be interrogated in custody because there was no fear of the appellant evading justice or tampering with evidence. It was further argued that the petitioner was only a supplier with no ties to the alleged offence. The State’s counsel contended that custodial interrogation of the accused was necessary as Section 170 mandates taking the accused into police custody before the report can be officially filed. 

The trial court had before refused to accept the charge sheet and took the view that unless the person is taken into custody the charge sheet will not be taken on record because of Section 170 of the Cr.P.C. Moreover, the Allahabad High Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to the accused. The decisions were thus appealed in the Supreme Court. 

Thus, the main issue of contention in front of the Supreme Court was whether the arrest was necessary under Section 170 while filing a charge sheet and whether appeal, to the rejection of anticipatory bail, should be allowed. 

Discussed precedents

The Court relied on various judgments while coming to its decision. 

  1. Court on its own motion v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2004): In this case, the Delhi High Court dealt with a similar case where the point of contention was whether Section 170 of the Cr.P.C. necessitated taking the accused into custody for submitting the report. The Court eventually observed that the word ‘custody’ did not mean judicial or police custody. It simply meant the presentation of the accused by the Investigating Officer before the Court at the time of filing of the charge sheet after which the role of the Court starts. The Court reasoned that had arrest and production of accused in front of Magistrate been mandatory, then the police would never have been granted with the powers to grant bail (in bailable offences). Instead, bail would have to be granted by the courts after the arrest had been done.
    1. The Court further observed that in case the police think it unnecessary to present the accused in custody for the reason that the accused would neither abscond nor would disobey the summons as he has been cooperating in investigation and investigation can be completed without arresting him, the officer is not obliged to produce such an accused in custody.
    2. The Court held that only in cases of utmost necessity should an accused be arrested, especially in cases where investigation cannot be done without taking the arrest in custody. Otherwise, in the ordinary course of action, the police should always avoid arresting a person and sending him to jail. 
  2. Court on its Motion v. State (2018): In this case, the Delhi High Court relied on its previous judgment (Court on its motion v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2004)) and held that it is not essential in every case involving a cognizable and non-bailable offence that an accused be taken into custody when the charge sheet/final report is filed. 
  3. Deendayal Kishanchand & Ors. v. State of Gujarat (1982): This was another case where the Gujarat High Court echoed the sentiments of the Delhi High Court. Here, it was held that the refusal by criminal courts either through the learned Magistrate or through their office staff to accept the charge-sheet without production of the accused persons is not justified by any provision of law. 
  4. Joginder Kumar v. State of UP & Ors. (1994): In this case, a distinction had been made between the existence of the power to arrest and the justification for the exercise of it. 


The Supreme Court of India held that it was not necessary to arrest the accused before a charge sheet can be produced to a trial court. Agreeing with all the above-mentioned High Court judgments, it was held that Section 170 of the Cr.P.C does not impose an obligation on the officer-in-charge to arrest every accused at the time of filing of the charge sheet. If the Investigating Officer does not believe that the accused will abscond or disobey summons he/she is not required to be produced in custody. ‘Custody’ in Section 170 merely denotes the presence of the accused by the Investigating Officer before the court while filing the charge sheet. 

The Apex Court noted that personal liberty was an important aspect of our constitutional mandate and steps should be taken to ensure it isn’t unnecessarily infringed upon. While arresting an accused during the investigation is completely lawful, it did not automatically imply an arrest had to be made. It was necessary only when there was a reasonable apprehension of the accused absconding, the crime was heinous or there is a substantial possibility that the accused would somehow try to manipulate and influence witnesses. 

Referring to Joginder Kumar v. State of UP & Ors. (1994), the Court said that if arrests are made routine, it can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. The Court further reiterated that, insisting on the arrest of an accused as a prerequisite formality went against the intention of Section 170 of the Cr.P.C.

All these were part of the Order that was given by the bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, wherein, an appeal to the rejection of anticipatory bail was allowed.


Thus, from the Order of Siddharth v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2021), it becomes unequivocally clear that a Magistrate cannot refuse a charge sheet if it is presented without taking the accused into custody. Section 170 never intended to mandate arrest of the accused by way of the word ‘custody’ and thus investigating officers or the police must ensure that they refrain from arresting the accused wherever possible.


  1. Order of Siddharth vs State Of U.P. on 7 April, 2021
  2. Arrest of accused not prerequisite at the time of filing chargesheet: SC
  3. Section 170 CrPC does not impose an obligation on Police Officer to arrest accused at the time of filing of chargesheet: Supreme Court

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