What is the difference between judicial custody and police custody?

Difference Between Judicial Custody and Police Custody

Understanding the difference between judicial custody and police custody is crucial for anyone interested in the legal processes. Both terms refer to the detention of an accused individual, but they serve different purposes and have distinct legal implications.

What is Police Custody?

Police Custody refers to the detention of an accused person by the police during the initial phase of an investigation. Here are the key points:

  1. Purpose of police custody: The primary goal is to facilitate the investigation by allowing the police to interrogate the accused and gather evidence.
  2. Duration of police custody: According to Indian law, police custody can last up to 15 days from the date of the first remand, though this duration can vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific case.
  3. Legal Framework: Police custody is governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in India. Under Section 167 of the CrPC, a magistrate can authorize police custody.
  4. Rights of the Accused: The accused has the right to legal counsel and must be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.

What is Judicial Custody?

Judicial Custody refers to the detention of an accused in a jail under the orders of a judicial magistrate. This usually happens after the initial period of police custody or if police custody is deemed unnecessary. Here are the essential aspects:

  1. Purpose: Judicial custody is intended to prevent the accused from tampering with evidence, influencing witnesses, or absconding. It ensures that the accused remains available for trial.
  2. Duration: Judicial custody can extend up to 60 or 90 days, depending on the nature of the offense, after which the accused is eligible for bail if the investigation is not completed.
  3. Legal Framework: Judicial custody is also regulated under Section 167 of the CrPC in India. The custody order is issued by a judicial magistrate.
  4. Conditions: Unlike police custody, in judicial custody, the accused is held in prison and not under the direct control of the police. The conditions of detention are regulated to ensure the protection of the accused’s rights.

Police Custody vs Judicial Custody

1. Authority:

  • Police Custody: Under the supervision of the police.
  • Judicial Custody: Under the supervision of the judiciary, typically in a jail.

2. Control:

  • Police Custody: The police have direct access to the accused for interrogation purposes.
  • Judicial Custody: The accused is placed in a prison, and any interrogation requires special permission from the court.

3. Purpose of judicial and police custody:

  • Police Custody: Facilitates immediate investigation needs.
  • Judicial Custody: Ensures judicial oversight and prevents interference with the investigation process.

4. Duration of police custody and Judicial custody:

  • Duration of Police Custody: Limited to a shorter duration (up to 15 days in India).
  • Duration of Judicial Custody: This can last longer, depending on the case requirements (up to 60 or 90 days).


Both police custody and judicial custody are integral parts of the criminal justice system, serving distinct roles in the investigation and judicial process. While police custody focuses on aiding the investigation through interrogation, judicial custody ensures that the accused is kept under lawful detention, preventing any potential tampering with the investigation. Understanding these differences is essential for comprehending the procedural safeguards and rights accorded to the accused within the legal framework.

For more detailed insights into the legal processes and your rights, stay tuned to our blog. Remember, staying informed is the first step towards safeguarding your legal rights.

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