Explained: the difference between Police Custody and Judicial Custody




“Terror suspects arrested and sent to Police Custody.”


“XYZ sub-inspector, who was caught taking bribe sent to judicial custody.”


You must have read this kind of headline. Now, some of you must be wondering that what is the difference between Police and Judicial Custody? Firstly, let’s understand the meaning of the term “Custody”.


In simple words, Custody is apprehending someone for protective care. Like, a mother keeps her child in the room to not to cause discomfort to people outside! In the same way, in a legal manner, “Custody” refers to a person who is being held in captivity after being charged with a crime or convicted of an offence.


Now, we usually found the word “arrest” and “custody” as a synonym. In reality, they aren’t. In every arrest, there is custody but in every custody, there should not necessarily be an arrest.


Police Custody:


When an information/complaint is received by the police, an officer of police arrests the suspect involved in the crime, to prevent him from committing the crime further. When he (Police Officer) brings that suspect to the police station, it is called police custody. During this detention, the police officer in charge of a case, interrogate the suspect. Law says that this detention should not exceed 24 hours.


Judicial Custody:


It means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate. We may say that this is an extension of Police Custody, i.e. when the Police take a person into custody, the role of Cr. P.C. starts and they have to produce the person before the magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest.


As stated in the judgment of Central Bureau Of Investigation vs. Anupam J. Kulkarni, 1992 AIR 1768, 1992 SCR (3) 15 -In view of the fact that the Police could not take him into police custody all these days the investigating officer again applied to the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for police custody of Shri Kulkarni. The learned Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the C.B.I., contended that a combined reading of Section 167 and the proviso therein would make it clear that if for any reason the police custody cannot be obtained during the period of first fifteen days yet a remand to the police custody even later is not precluded and what all that is required is that such police custody in the whole should not exceed fifteen days. The Division Bench held that the words ~from time to time" occurring in the Section show that several orders can be passed under Section 167 and that the nature of the custody can be altered from judicial custody to police custody and vice-versa during the first period of fifteen days mentioned in Section 167 of the Code and that after fifteen days the accused could only be kept in judicial custody or any other custody as ordered by the magistrate but not in the custody of the police. We may, however, like to make it explicit that such re-arrest or second arrest and seeking police custody after the expiry of the period of first fifteen days should be with regard to the investigation of a different cause other than the specific one in respect of which the accused is already in custody. But such custody cannot further have held to be a bar for invoking a fresh remand to such custody like police custody in respect of an altogether different case involving the same accused.

(Apply coupon code "BEINGVAKIL" to get the e-infoletter free!)


Major differences between Police Custody and Judicial Custody:


1. Police custody refers to the accused being held in the custody of a police station or an investigating body that is looking into the situation, whereas judicial custody refers to the accused being held in jail and under the supervision of a Magistrate.

2. A person held in police custody must appear before the judicial Magistrate within 24 hours, whereas a person held in judicial custody is kept in prison until the Court issues a bail order.

3. Police custody begins when a police officer arrests a suspect after receiving a complaint or filing an FIR, whereas judicial custody begins when the public prosecutor persuades the court that the accused's custody is necessary for the investigation.

4. The maximum time period for detention in police custody is 24 hours, which can be extended to a total of 15 days by the appropriate Magistrate, whereas in judicial custody, the maximum time period for detention is 90 days in cases where the investigation is related to offences punishable with life imprisonment, death, or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, and detention is 60 days for crimes

5. The police provide security in police custody, whereas the judge/magistrate provides security in judicial detention.


This might help you to understand the differences: