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Who Is A Proclaimed Offender: Effect Of Declaring A Person A Proclaimed Offender

When a person accused of an offence do not appear before a police officer during investigation or when he does not appear before the trial court during trial, a Warrant of Arrest may be issued by the the court itself or on the request of the police officer.

Thereafter, under section 82 CrPC, if any Court has reason to believe that any person against whom a warrant has been issued by it has absconded or is concealing himself so that such warrant cannot be executed, such Court may publish a written proclamation requiring him to appear at a specified place and at a specified time not less than 30 days from the date of publishing such proclamation.

Procedure for the publication of proclamation will be as under:
  1. it shall be publicly read in some conspicuous place of the town or village in which such person ordinarily resides
  2. 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;
  3. a copy thereof shall be affixed to some conspicuous part of the Court-house;
  4. 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.

Thereafter, a statement in writing by the Court issuing the proclamation to the effect that the proclamation was duly published on a specified day, in the manner specified shall be conclusive evidence that the requirements of this section have been complied with, and that the proclamation was published on such day.

Declaring a person a proclaimed offender
Section 82(4) CrPC states that where a proclamation published under sub-section (1) is in respect of a person accused of an offence punishable under section 302, 304, 364, 367, 382, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 400, 402, 436, 449, 459 or 460 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), 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.

What about the other persons
In Deeksha Puri vs State Of Haryana CRM M-359 of 2012 Punjab and Haryana High Court held that -

Proclaimed Offender would be any offender who has suffered declaration after proclamation under Section 82 (1) or Section 82 (4) Cr.P.C. according to Section 82 (2), (3) and Section 82 (5) Cr.P.C…

…In view of above, it is held that provisions of Section 82 (4) Cr.P.C. incorporated by amendment of Act No.25 of 2005 do not lay down that the persons accused of having committed offences mentioned under Section 82 (4) Cr.P.C. can only be declared a proclaimed offender. It is further held that any person who has been declared a proclaimed person under Section 82 (1) Cr.P.C. or under Section 82 (4) Cr.P.C. will be at par for the purpose of all the liabilities and consequences attached to a person declared proclaimed offender.
It is further clarified that order of declaring a persons a proclaimed offender cannot be challenged solely on the ground that the offence alleged to have been committed by him is not included in the sections mentioned in Section 82 (4) Cr.P.C

However, a contrary view was taken by Delhi High Court in Sanjay Bhandari vs State (NCT of Delhi) CRL.REV.P. 223/2018. The accused was declared a 'Proclaimed Offender' by the trial court since he absconded and did not appear before the court despite issuance of Non-Bailable Warrant and Proclamation u/s 82 CrPC. The accused filed an application against this order stating that the offences alleged against him were not enumerated u/s 82 (4) of the CrPC. The High Court held that -

I am thus of the view that a person who is accused of offences other than the ones enumerated in section 82(4) and qua whom a proclamation has been published under section 82(1) would be a Proclaimed person' and not a deemed 'Proclaimed Offender.

How does declaring 'Proclaimed Offender' affect the accused:
174A of Indian Penal Code prescribes punishment for non-appearance in response to a proclamation under section 82 of CrPC. It states that whoever fails to appear at the specified place and the specified time
  1. When proclamation is issued under sub-section (1) of section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both,
  2. and where a declaration has been made under sub-section (4) of that section pronouncing him as a proclaimed offender, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

Thus when a person is declared a 'Proclaimed Offender' u/s 82 (4) CrPC he is liable for greater punishment up to 7 years whereas if he is declared 'absconder' or 'proclaimed person' u/s 82(1) CrPC he is liable for lesser punishment up to for 3 years.

Written By: Prem Chandra Khanduri - BSc ( Hons) L.LB, MBA, MA( Psychology) , Diploma in Human Rights, Presently working in Delhi Police as Inspector, He has worked in NCB, Narcotic and Crime Branch of Delhi Police and has vast experience of investigation of variety of cases.

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