Does Police Need Search Warrant? Here’s What the Law Says

Written By: Bharat Sharma

Introduction: –

A warrant is a legal document authorizing a police officer by a judge or magistrate to arrest, search, seize property or take action relating to the administration of the justice system. The term ‘search’ in the context of government machinery refers to the observation of undisclosed pieces of an offence, which are hidden behind some place, area, person, object.  So that the invisible things may be shown, for the sake of justice.

The search of any premises, place, person, things can be conducted only by taking consideration of law. It means that under the proper and authorized Authority the search can be done, a random search cannot be done, there must be some lawful or Authority who Direct to police officer to do the same.

Provisions: –

In Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974 CrPC, there can be two types of Search. First one is Search with Warrant and it is contained in the sections 93, 94, 95, 97 of Cr.P.C. and second one is Search without warrant which is covered in section 103, 153, 165 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974.

  • Search with Warrant

Section 93(1) provide three conditions in which court may issue the Searching warrant: – First when any person is summoned by the magistrate under section 91 to produce any documents and court believe that, that person will not produce such documents in the court, magistrate can order for search warrant. Second when court don’t know that document was in possession of any person, court can issue a warrant for that same. Third when Court feels that the inquiry, trial, other proceedings will serve by the general search in that situation as well court may issue the search warrant.

V S Kuttan Pillai Vs. Ram Krishna and others 1

Court held that matter of Issuing of a search warrant under CrPC is a very serious by nature. It is discretionary power of Magistrate but it cannot be arbitrary.

Section 94 talks about Search of the Places. In this section any District Magistrate, Sub division Magistrate and Judicial Magistrate of First class may issue the search warrant. They issue a search warrant for any place if they have reason to believe that: any stolen property may be found from that particular place. Second that any article can be found from that place which is objectionable. Third that any article is hidden in that place, and that article which is related to any case.

Vikas Book Agency Vs. State of UP -1992 2

Court held that issuing a warrant is a judicial process. While issuing a warrant court must use it discretionary powers but not an arbitrary manner.

Section 95 is related to Seize any publication. State government have authority to seize any publication which is:- any publication content which is Punishable offence under section 124A(Sedition) or section 153A( attacks upon the religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. of any particular group or class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion) or  section 153B or section 292 or section 293(obscene or indecent advertisement) or section 295A( intended to outrage religious feelings) of Indian Penal code, 1860, State government can issue search warrant for the same.

  • Search without Warrant: –

Section 103 of code of Criminal Procedure Code, talks about that any Magistrate who has the authority to issue a search warrant can direct a search of any place, any time if he thinks fit.

Section 153 of the Code of Criminal Procedure give power to officer in charge of a police station, that the officer may without warrant inspect or search any Shop any place of his locality, where the false weights and measures are carried on.

Section 165 gives power to any police officer for the purpose of investigation may inspect or search any place. It provides the power of search any place without warrant to any police officer.

State of Rajasthan Vs. Rehman 3

Supreme court held that recording of reasons is an important step in the matter of search and to ignore it is to ignore the material part of the provisions governing searches. If that can be ignored it cannot be said that search is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the code, it would be a search made in the contravention of the provisions of the code. The reason must be written in writing by the police officer.

Conclusion: –

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1975 (Cr.P.C.) lays down various provisions related to the Search with Warrant and Search without warrant. While executing this provision of this Code the Magistrate and the Police office need to be very careful. The search should be in accordance with the law provisions that are provided by the code, and one of the main ingredient Justice must be served or taken into consideration while interpreting these provisions as well as while executing these provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1975.


  1. Supreme Court of India, 1980 AIR 185, 1980 SCR (1) 673
  2. Allahabad High Court, April 27,1992 (case no. Civil Misc. Writ No. 9549 of 1992)
  3. Supreme Court of India, AIR 1960 SC 210, 1960 CriLJ 286, 1978 (2) ELT 294 SC, 1960 1 SCR 991

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