In India, the power of arrest without a warrant is an essential tool provided to law enforcement agencies, including the police, to maintain public order, ensure prompt action in serious offenses, and protect the interests of justice. The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) outlines specific circumstances under which the police may make arrests without a warrant. This article aims to provide detailed insights into these situations, explaining when and why the police may exercise this authority.

1. Cognizable Offenses:

One of the primary reasons for an arrest without a warrant is when the offense committed is categorized as “cognizable.” Cognizable offenses are serious crimes for which the police can initiate investigations and make arrests without a court order. Examples of cognizable offenses include murder, rape, robbery, and offenses punishable with imprisonment.

2. Preventing Obstruction of Justice:

The police may arrest without a warrant if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person may interfere with the course of justice. This includes tampering with evidence, intimidating witnesses, or obstructing the investigation process.

3. Preventing Escapes and Repeat Offenses:

When the police have credible information suggesting that the accused is likely to escape or commit further offenses, they can make an arrest without a warrant. This preventive measure aims to safeguard the interests of justice and protect potential victims.

4. Public Nuisance and Breach of Peace:

If an individual’s actions cause public disturbances, disrupt public order, or create a public nuisance, the police may make an arrest without a warrant to restore peace and ensure community safety.

5. Violence or Threat to Public Safety:

The police may arrest without a warrant when they have reasonable grounds to believe that an individual poses a threat to public safety or is involved in acts of violence that endanger others.

6. Arrest under Special Laws:

Certain special laws, such as the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act or the Prevention of Corruption Act, grant the police the authority to make arrests without a warrant under specific circumstances outlined in those laws.

7. Disobeying Court Orders:

In cases where an individual disobeys court orders, fails to appear in court as required, or violates bail conditions, the police may arrest them without a warrant to enforce the court’s authority.

8. Preventive Arrests:

Under exceptional circumstances, the police may exercise the power of preventive arrest. This means apprehending an individual to prevent potential harm to themselves or others, or to maintain public order in situations where there is an imminent threat.


The power of arrest without a warrant is a crucial tool provided to law enforcement agencies to ensure effective maintenance of law and order, protect the interests of justice, and promptly respond to serious offenses. While exercising this authority, the police must act responsibly, adhering to the principles of fairness, respect for individual rights, and the rule of law. Understanding the circumstances under which the police may make arrests without a warrant helps citizens appreciate the delicate balance between public safety and individual liberties. It is essential to ensure that these powers are used judiciously and responsibly to maintain public trust in the legal system and law enforcement agencies.

Written by Adv Rohit Yadav

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