Q: Does a police officer, conducting investigation in a cognizable offence, have power to summon, for appearing before him, a witness under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C., who is residing in a different district or is in a different state, or simply who is an outside witness?
Answer: Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. is reproduced below:
“160. Police officer’s power to require attendance of witnesses.— (1) Any police officer making an investigation under this Chapter may, by order in writing, require the attendance before himself of any person being within the limits of his own or any adjoining station who, from the information given or otherwise, appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case; and such person shall attend as so required:
Provided that no male person under the age of fifteen years or above the age of sixty-five years or a woman or a mentally or physically disabled person shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such male person or woman resides.
(2) The State Government may, by rules made in this behalf, provide for the payment by the police officer of the reasonable expenses of every person, attending under sub-section (1) at any place other than his residence.”
It is quite clear from the language used in Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code, that a police officer making an investigation has the power to summon only a person who is within the limits of his own police station or within the limits of any adjoining police station. A police officer has no power to summon a witness who is not within the aforesaid limits of the same police station or any adjoining police station.
Therefore, if a witness is residing in a different state or in a different district or is an outside witness, he cannot be summoned by the police officer conducting the investigation, to appear before him. However, if the area, within which such witness is, comes within the limits of the adjoining police station, even if that are may be in some other state or district, such witness may be summoned by the police officer.
In this regard, it is pertinent to point out that in the case of Krishan Bans Bhadur v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 1975 Cri LJ 620 (H.P.), an order was issued under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure requiring the petitioners to present themselves at Police Station Chhota Simla, District Simla in connection with the investigation of a case. The order was served on them at New Delhi. The petitioners were unable to attend at the Police Station in compliance with the order. Consequently a charge sheet was submitted against the petitioners for an offence under Section 174 of the Indian Penial Code. In the circumstances, the Himachal Pradesh High Court held as under:
“Clearly the petitioners are not guilty of any non-compliance with the orders issued under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 160 empowers a police officer making an investigation to require the attendance before himself of any person “being within the limits of his own or any adjoining station” who from the information given or otherwise appears to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case and Section 160 adds, such person must attend as so required. From the record of the present case it is apparent that when the orders under S. 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were issued the petitioners were not within the limits of the police Station of the police officer issuing the order, nor of any adjoining station. The address of the petitioners mentioned in the order indicates that they were present at New Delhi. There is no evidence whatever to show that they were in Simla at all. Ex facie, the order under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is without jurisdiction. The order did not proceed from a public servant legally competent as such public servant to issue it. Accordingly no offence can be said to have been committed within the purview of Section 174 of the Indian Penal Code.”
Thus, the legal position is quite clear. A police officer conducting investigation has the power to summon a witness under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. only if such witness is within the limits of his own police station or within the limits of an adjoining police station.