According to Section 41(1) the Criminal Procedure Code, Any Police-officer may, without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person. Before we see when police may arrest without warrant let's see What is the meaning of arrest and warrant -

Meaning of arrest -


    The term Arrest is not defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C) or in the various substantive Acts. In the ordinary sense, an arrest is a restraint of the liberty of the person.  The word arrest is derived from the French word after which means to stop or stay.

Meaning of warrant -


 The warrant is an order addressed to a certain person directing him to arrest the accused and to produce him before the court.   A  warrant may be issued by the Magistrate after taking cognizance of any offense whether it is cognizable or non-cognizable.

Arrest without warrant -


 Special types of circumstances where Prompt and immediate arrest is needed to prevent a dangerous person who has committed a serious Crime from absconding to avert the danger of sudden outbreak of crime. Under such circumstances, there will be no time to approach a Magistrate and obtain a warrant from him to arrest.

See also...Safeguards against Arbitrary Arrest and Detention (Article 22) | Constitutional Law

When police may arrest without warrant - 


Section 41 (1)of the Code of Criminal Procedure Provides that Any police officer may without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person -

(a) Who commits, in the presence of a police officer, a cognizable offense;

(b) Against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed a cognizable offense punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years whether with or without fine, if the following conditions are satisfied, namely -

           (i) The police officer has reason to believe on the basis of such complaint, information, or suspicion that such person has committed the said offense;

          (ii) The police officer is satisfied that such arrest is necessary

              (a) To prevent such person from committing any further offense; or

              (b) For proper investigation of the offense; or

              (c) To prevent such person from causing the evidence of the offense to disappear or tampering with such evidence in any manner; or

              (d) To prevent such person from making any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or to the police officer; or

               (e) As unless such person is arrested, his presence in the Court whenever required cannot be ensured, and the police officer shall record while making such arrest, his reasons in writing:

Provided that a police officer shall, in all cases where the arrest of a person is not required under the provisions of this sub-section, record the reasons in writing for not making the arrest;

              (ba) Against whom credible information has been received that he has committed a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to more than seven years whether with or without fine or with death sentence and the police officer has reason to believe on the basis of that information that such person has committed the said offense; or

                 (c) Who has been proclaimed as an offender either under this Code or by order of the State Government; or

                 (d) In whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property and who may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offense with reference to such thing; or

               (e) Who obstructs a police officer while in the execution of his duty, or who has escaped, or attempts to escape, from lawful custody; or \

               (f) Who is reasonably suspected of being a deserter from any of the Armed Forces of the Union; or

              (g) Who has been concerned in, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists, of his having been concerned in, any act committed at any place out of India which, if committed in India, would have been punishable as an offence, and for which he is, under any law relating to extradition, or otherwise, liable to be apprehended or detained in custody in India; or

                (h) who, being a released convict, commits a breach of any rule made under sub-section (5) of section 356; or

                (I) for whose arrest any requisition, whether written or oral, has been received from another police officer, provided that the requisition specifies the person to be arrested and the offense or other cause for which the arrest is to be made and it appears therefrom that the person might lawfully be arrested without a warrant by the officer who issued the requisition.

          (2) Subject to the provisions of Section 42, no person concerned in a non-cognizable offense or against whom a complaint has been made or credible information has been received or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having so concerned, shall be arrested except under a warrant or order of a Magistrate.

       The power to arrest under Section 41 shall not be exercised arbitrarily violating the dignity and liberty of an individual.


See also...


1. Legal Functions of Police | Law of Crime

2. Kidnapping and Abduction | Law of Crime

3. Distinction Between Assault and Affray | Law of Crime

4. Criminal Administration of Justice | Jurisprudence

5. What is Mens Rea and what are exceptions to the Doctrine Mens Rea?


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