Meaning: A search warrant is a written authority given to the police or other person by a court or a Magistrate for search of any place. This search can be a general search or search of a specified thing, document or persons.
Before issuing search warrant the court must have reason to believe that person to whom summons have been issued under Section 91 would not produce documents or things. There must be some justifiable ground for the court to form such opinion.
Since the search warrant involves intrusion of privacy hence it should be exercised with great care and caution.
Circumstances under which a search warrant is issued
Section 93 to 98 of the Code lays down the circumstances under which a search warrant may be issued by the court.
1. Search of document or thing necessary for investigation, trial etc. [Section 93] : Section 93 provides that where any document or thing is required by the court which is necessary for investigation, or inquiry, trial or other proceeding under the Code, the court may issue search-warrant for the same if:
(a) The person in whose power of possession such document or thing is placed refuses to produce the same even after issue of summons under Sections 91 or 92.
(b) Where such document or thing is not known to the court to be in possession of any person.
(c) Where court considers that purpose will only be served by general inspection.
If thing to be searched is in custody of postal or telegraph authority, only District Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate can issue a search warrant.
2. Search for stolen property, forged documents, etc. [Section 94] : Where any District Magistrate, Sub-divisional District Magistrate or Magistrate of first class has reason to believe that any place is used for the sale or deposit of any stolen property or other objectionable articles mentioned under Section 94 (2), he may authorize any police officer by way of warrant to enter upon such place and conduct search therein.
3. Search for any seditious or obscene document [Section 95]: Where any matter contained in any newspaper or book or any document is punishable under Section 124 A, 153A, 153B, or Section 292 or Section 293 or 295A of Indian Penal Code and such matter is declared by State Government to be forfeited, the Magistrate may issue warrant authorizing any police officer to search any premises where such book or document may be reasonably suspected to be.
4. Search for persons wrongfully confined [Section 97]: This section empowers District Magistrate, Sub-divisional Magistrate and Magistrate of first class to issue search warrant in case he has reason to believe that any person is confined under such circumstances that confinement amounts to an offences.