Report No. 154
Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Proposed Changes
1. The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha for carrying out a number of changes in the Code. While the Bill is at present pending before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, the Government in February 1995 had made the reference to the Law Commission of India to undertake a comprehensive revision of the Code of 1973 and make necessary recommendations particularly from the point of view to have speedy trials. The Statement of Objects and Reasons for introducing the Bill shows that the recommendations already made by the Law Commission, Police Commission and the suggestions received from the State Governments and others in this regard have been taken into account.
2. The Law Commission has undertaken the study of the comprehensive revision of the Code so as to remove the germane problems relating to delays in the disposal of criminal case.
3. There are altogether forty-nine clauses in the Bill (Annexure). A detailed Questionnaire was issued and views of several authorities concerned with criminal justice delivery system were obtained. As mentioned already several Workshops were also held at several places and views of cross sections were gathered. Apart from the areas covered by the Bill, the Commission, in the background of the discussions held and the responses to the Questionnaire, has made an in-depth study of various other aspects and has made several recommendations which are incorporated in the earlier chapters and they have a bearing on some of the clauses of the Bill. We, therefore, feel that some of the clauses require to be considered and we propose to deal with them in this chapter.
4. Clauses 2, 3, 6, 9, 11 to 16, 23 to 27, 30, 31, 34 ,35, 45 to 48 of the Bill deal with minor changes which may be retained.
5.1. Clause 18: After section 144 a new section 144A is to be inserted in the Code to enable the District Magistrate to prohibit mass drill (or training) with the arms in public places. We are also of the view that in order to curb the militant activities of certain communal organisations there is a need to strengthen the hands of the State authority. For effectively checking communal tension, such a provision is necessary.
5.2 Clause 21: Under this clause section 176 is being amended to provide that in the case of death or disappearance of a person or a rape of a woman while in the custody of police, there shall be a mandatory judicial inquiry and in case of death, examination of the dead body shall be conducted within twenty-four hours of death. In view of the increase in the incidence of custodial crimes, such an amendment is a welcome measure.
5.3. Clause 22: This clause seeks to insert a proviso to sub-section (1) of section 190 of the Code to empower a magistrate to authorise further detention in custody of an accused person for a period not exceeding a week, after recording reasons, during the interim period of submission of the police report and before taking cognizance of the offence disclosed by the police report. Such a provision is necessary to enable the Magistrate to pass an order of remand where it is not possible for him to take cognizance of an offence under clause (b) of section 190.
5.4. Clause 29: Under this clause a new section 291A is sought to be inserted with a view to making a memorandum of identification prepared by the Magistrate admissible in evidence without formal proof of facts stated therein where they are not in dispute. But in case the court on an application deems fit to examine such Magistrate, it can do so. We also feel that dispensing with the examinant of the Magistrate would save time.
5.5. Clause 32: It is in respect of obtaining specimen signatures or handwriting of any person including accused. Section 311A is sought to be introduced pursuant to the observations made by the Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Balm, AIR 1980 SC 791 when the Magistrate is entrusted with such power, other proceedings would be more effective.
5.6. Clause 38: This clause adds two provisos to sub-section (1) of section 389 of the Code to the effect that the Appellate Court would give notice to the prosecution before releasing a convicted person on bail, if he was convicted of an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years. It also enables the prosecution to move an application for cancellation of such bail granted by the Appellate Court. However, regard to the fact that the convicted person after being released on bail by the Appellate Court continues to indulge in committing crimes, such a provision is necessary.
5.7. Clause 39: This clause adds a proviso to section 428 providing for a set off of the period of detention during investigation and trial against period of 14 years of actual imprisonment. This amendment is necessary so that the convicted accused can get a benefit of the period suffered by him as detention during the trial and investigation being set off against period of 14 years mentioned in section 433A.
5.8. Clause 40: In respect of bailable offences, there are instances where the person has to remain in jail for his inability to furnish bail, till the case is disposed of. The amendment of section 436(1) to make mandatory provision to release such indigent person on an execution of a bond without sureties, is a salutary provision.
5.9. Clause 43: Under this clause section 438 providing for anticipatory bail is sought to be amended by adding some more clauses regarding giving notice to the Public Prosecutor etc. We have already dealt with this aspect in Chapter V (Bail and Anticipatory Bail) and, therefore, some amendments on those lines are necessary.
5.10. Clause 44: Some of the persons have taken it as a profession to stand sureties for any number of accused which is a highly pernicious practice. This clause seeks to include section 441A which provides that a person standing surety for an accused person shall disclose as to in how many cases he has already stood surety for accused persons. Such an information may entail the rejection of the surety.
5.11. Clause 49: This clause provides for the addition of new sections 153AA, 174A and 229A to the Penal Code. Since the Bill for amendment of the Indian Penal Code is also likely to come up before the Parliament, relevant clauses in this context inserting these three new sections can be added. We shall give our recommendations of amendment to I.P.C. in this regard.