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Report No. 154

Issue No. 11-Appointment of Special/Honorary Magistrates under sections 13 and 18 of the Code

Views of Judges

Majority of the Judges of the High Courts as well as the Judges of the District Courts and other subordinate courts are of the view that Honorary/Special Magistrates should be appointed to try certain petty offences for expeditious disposal of such cases. In this connection, it may be relevant to point out that 11 Judges of the different High Courts a few of them retired, have expressed their views on this issue in addition to 45 Judges of the District Courts and other subordinate courts.

It has been found that majority (6 out of 7) of the Judges of the High Courts have lent their support in favour of appointment of Honorary/Special Magistrates whereas it has been opposed by Justice M. Karpaga Vinayagam of the Madras High Court. However, 4 High Court Judges have not made any comment on this point. Further, out of 45 Judges of the District Courts and other subordinate Courts, 28 are in favour of such appointments as against 5 who are opposed to this proposal and 12 of them are silent in this regard.

It may also be pointed out that a committee consisting of Hon'ble Judges of Andhra Pradesh High Court with Hon'ble Justice D. Reddeppa Reddy, Justice B.S. Raikote and Justice A.S. Srivastava has suggested that appointment of Special Judicial Magistrates of Second Class and Special Metropolitan Magistrates may be made under sections 13 and 18 of the Code for the trial of cases coming under offences which are triable by Magistrates of the Second Class.

On the other hand, Hon'ble Justice M. Karpaga Vinayagam observed that the proposal of appointment of government servants under sections 13 and 18 of the Code as Judicial Magistrates of Second Class to try particular cases and that too, for a period of one year, is not useful and proper. Instead, he has suggested that the post of Judicial Magistrates by selection on regular basis should be increased.

Views of Advocates/Government Pleaders/Bar Associations

Favouring the proposal of appointment of Honorary/Special Judicial Magistrates, Shri K.T.S. Tulsi, Additional Solicitor-General of India, comments that this could be a significant step whereby public involvement can be ensured in the process of criminal justice. He further observes that there are a large number of citizens in all parts of the country with adequate experience and educational qualifications, who enjoy wide respect in different sections of society.

Their involvement in the criminal justice system would not only reduce the burden on the criminal justice machinery but would also lead to a wider acceptability of the system and generate confidence amongst the public, but this should be done with regard to minor offences only. In all, fourteen advocates including Additional Solicitor-General of India and High Court Bar Associations of Bombay and Madras, who sent their replies, have supported this proposal.

Views of Academicians

The Commission received the views of Professor H.C. Dholakia, a former Member of the Law Commission of India on the subject. He is also of the view that more special/ honorary judicial magistrates should be appointed in order to deal with minor offences by including metropolitan areas also. On the other hand, Professor Dr. K.N. Chandrasekharan Pillai does not support the proposal. However, Professor B.B. Pandey and Professor A.K. Saxena have made no comment on this issue.

Views of Police Officers

The Police Officers are divided on this issue. Whereas the appointment of special/ honorary Magistrates is favoured by Shri H.J. Dora, Additional DGP (CID) and C.A. Reddy, D.G. (Vig and Enforcement), Hyderabad, for summary trial of cases and offences punishable with fine only, Shri C. Dinkar, DGP (CID), Bangalore, is of the view that such appointments are not desirable under section 18 of the Code, though appointment under section 18 may be continued.

On the other hand, Shri S. Sripall, DGP, Tamil Nadu, questions the rationale behind the proposed abolition of second class Magistrates contemplated in the Code. He is, however, of the view that a large number of offences which are required to be tried in the courts of First Class Judicial Magistrates should be transferred to the Second Class Judicial Magistrates as these offences are less serious in nature.

Views of the State Law Commissions

While agreeing with the proposed amendment, the Himachal Pradesh Law Commission is in favour of amendment of sections 13 and 18 of the Code to the extent that in section 13(1) the word "or advocate" after the word "Government" and before the word "all" be added whereas section 18 be retained as it is except that from sub-section (3), the words "State Government-as the case may be"-may be deleted.

Thus, the Commission has recommended the appointment of an advocate also in addition to that of a government servant under section 13 of the Code while under section 18 the State Government should be deprived of its authority to empower any Special Metropolitan Magistrate to exercise, in any local area, outside the metropolitan area, the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of First Class, as is the provision in the Code at present. Besides, the Tamil Nadu State Law Commission has intimated with reference to the questionnaire on the Code of Criminal Procedure that a detailed note will be sent shortly by it and the same is yet to be received.

Views of the State Governments

No comments were received on this issue/though the State Governments of Karnataka and Gujarat have conveyed their responses on the questionnaire.

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 Back

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