Police on-premises: Sanctity submerged?


Universities are centers brimming with knowledge and political opinions. With the literal energy to change the current scenario or overthrow the current regime, they draw too much attention towards themselves, making the state pull up its guard while dealing with them. They are double-edged swords; they are brimming with knowledge and political opinions filled with ignorance and often misguided fall into the traps that are intricately laid for them. These misguided beliefs that the parties create in the students’ minds often become why the media follows the route, thereby ignoring the possibly more important issues that are to be spread into the limelight.

The right to freedom of speech and expression as protected by the constitution is generally how people choose to express their opinions. However, when it comes to voicing opinions against the present government’s policies, they have significant results if done in groups. Interestingly if this right is exercised in groups, it is termed as a protest. 

Protest stands as one of the most effective and efficient means to attract the political personnel’s attention and the media that helps create awareness among the public regarding dissent’s existence. This dissent, if strong enough would call in for people from various sectors to join if they agree with the dissent. 

Such dissent plays a major role in a democracy. Dissent can change the political allegiance of the voters and destroy the vote banks that the parties carefully construct. They also act as a call for the opposition leaders to point out the same in the parliament. The protest, if strong enough, could call in criticism at an international level. 

Sometimes, these protests go out of hand to cause a nuisance to the public. Certain levels of aggression among groups lead so far as to the destruction of public property. Alternatively, sometimes the government tries to nip it in the bud. 

Police act as the medium of control that (is considered to act mostly under the ruling party’s guidance) makes sure that the public order stands respected while a protest is in place. As the protests usually have their origin in universities, we need to understand the police’s power to enter the universities and take necessary action.

The Entry of Police into Universities

The Code of Criminal Procedure does not distinguish the procedure to be followed from place to place, i.e., it is the same in either a university or a religious institution. It also does not differentiate between the treatment of a student or the public. The treatment stands to be the same irrespective of it being a public or a private body.

The Permission from the Head of the Institution

Sec 41 provides the police officer to arrest with or without a warrant from the magistrate. Moreover, it does not specify any requirement of permission from the institution’s head before arresting a person associated with it. In this context, the police do not need to inform the university officials regarding the arrest. The same is usually done with respect to courtesy. 

Sec 47 of CrPC states that:

“If any person acting under warrant of arrest, or any police officer having authority to arrest, has reason to believe that the person to be arrested has entered into, or is within, any place, any person residing in, or being in charge of, such place shall, on demand of such person acting as aforesaid or such police officer, allow him free ingress to that, and afford all reasonable facilities for a search therein.”

The law’s intent is clearly understood in the words “demand” and “shall … allow” used in the above section. Therefore, no permission needs to be taken from the person in charge in our case, the Vice-Chancellor to enter the university. It is usually done in courtesy. If such permission is denied, the person may be liable u/s 212 of IPC for the offence of harbouring the offender. Sec 48 puts an end to the question by stating that. 

A police officer may, to arrest without warrant any person whom he is authorized to arrest, pursue such person into any place in India.”

Obstruction of such entrance

Obstruction in the present case was taken to mean physical obstruction either by not opening the gates or shutting the hostel rooms’ doors. Sec 47(2) gives the police to break down such doors and enter the place to make the arrest.

Sec 47(2) – “If ingress to such place cannot be obtained under sub-section (1), it shall be lawful in any case for a person acting under a warrant and in any case in which a warrant may issue, but cannot be obtained without affording the person to be arrested an opportunity of escape, for a police officer to enter such place and search therein, and in order to effect an entrance into such place, to break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place, whether that of the person to be arrested or of any other person, if after notification of his authority and purpose, and demand of admittance duly made, he cannot otherwise obtain admittance.”

If such obstruction is caused by students or any other person the same shall be punishable for the obstruction of a public officer from doing his duty under Sec 186 of IPC as well as Sec 225 of IPC for resistance or obstruction to the lawful apprehension of any person or rescuing him from lawful custody which is cognizable.

Internal Rules

Every University usually has a set of internal rules and regulations either separately constituted or included in the statute that forms the university. It needs to be understood that the Code of Criminal Procedure overrides all of such rules. For example, the police have the power to pursue a criminal into the girl’s hostel, although the university rules strictly bar any male from entering the girl’s hostel. However, the procedure mentioned in CrPC must be followed, i.e., a female officer must accompany the female person’s arrest. 

Comparison with other countries

Indian laws are universal without any differential treatment; (following route with most countries) certain countries offer a different perspective about police control and procedure over universities. 

The Spanish constitution: Article 27.10, recognizes the autonomy of the universities.

Professor and author Víctor Alonso Rocafort explained that after the repression of the Franco dictatorship in Spain, “it was decided that university autonomy would protect the freedom of teachers to teach their subjects, but it would also leave university campuses free of police officers. Only the academic authorities could allow, under exceptional conditions, the police to enter the University” 

However, there is nothing prohibiting police from entering university grounds without the rector’s permission to apprehend a suspect or stop criminal activity from taking place.

Meanwhile, in Poland, Article 227.3 of the country’s law on universities states: “State services responsible for maintaining public order and internal security can enter a university only when called by the rector. However, those services can enter on their initiative in case of a direct threat to human life or a natural disaster, notifying the rector immediately about that.”

Nevertheless, the same approach cannot be taken in India because of Greece’s recent events, which has similar law-making universities a no-go-zone for police. This law had its origin in 1973 when a tank drove through the Athens Polytechnic gates, with 23 students killed in the violence. (Greece was under military rule during the said period). The law was abolished in August 2019 because the Prime Minister insisted that the old law regarded as sacrosanct in a country that had once known military rule – had turned campuses into dens of criminality and no-go zones police (while also stating that the basement is full of petrol bombs). The abolition has been regarded as a centerpiece of proposed plans to improve public safety.

The ruling party’s general opinion stands to be that the law was conceived as a safeguard against authoritarianism; the ban had outlived its usefulness and had helped breed a culture of violence that has frequently driven Greeks to seek higher education abroad at a great expense.


It needs to be understood that the Code of Criminal Procedure has been made with the prime purpose of controlling crime and ensuring justice to the individuals at large. The police, although misuse such powers, but the same cannot be a reason for such powers to be struck down as the same, may prove essential in controlling many other crimes. A single incident should not be a decisive factor, but the state can ensure the issuance of safeguards so that the innocent does not suffer from the wrath of misuse of police power.


This article is authored by Sadhu Samba Kailash, student at Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.

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