In India, the right to privacy is a fundamental right for every Indian citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the police cannot search the house of any suspected person without a search warrant or any other valid legal authority. But let’s first understand what is a search warrant.
The search warrant is a court order, issued by a judicial magistrate or a judge and it authorizes the police to enter and search the premises for specific items or evidence related to a specific crime. To get the search warrant the police need to convince the judge regarding the evidence of a crime at the respective place. The judge shall issue the warrant if he or she gets convinced with clear specifications that where exactly the search should take place including time and date.
However, there are certain exceptional circumstances under which the police can search a house without a warrant. These circumstances are laid down in Section 165 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and include:
- When the occupant of the house gives consent for the search.
- When the police officer has reason to believe that a person to be arrested for a cognizable offense is present in the house.
- When the police officer has reason to believe that any article or thing which is the subject matter of a criminal investigation may be found in the house.
- When there is an urgent need to prevent the commission of a cognizable offense.
- However, even in such exceptional circumstances, the police officer must have a reasonable suspicion or belief that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, and the search must be conducted in a reasonable manner.
It is important to note that any evidence obtained through an illegal search or seizure is not admissible as evidence in a court of law. Hence, it is always advisable to insist on a search warrant before allowing the police to search your house.
The police cannot search the house of any suspected person without a search warrant or any other valid legal authority, except under exceptional circumstances laid down in Section 165 of the CrPC. It is always advisable to insist on a search warrant and to cooperate with the police during the search, as long as it is conducted in a reasonable manner.