Report No. 142
Objections to the Application of the Concept in Indian Legal System Answered
8.1. Reference has already been made to quite a substantial number of persons agreeing to the introduction of such a scheme in our criminal jurisprudence with the rider-(1) that socio-economic offences are excluded, (2) that its application should be limited only to "less serious offences."
8.2. Non-application of the Scheme to certain offences.-
The Commission has carefully considered the aforesaid suggestions. In regard to the suggestion that the scheme should not be made applicable to offences involving moral turpitude and socio-economic offences, the scheme envisages exclusion of such offences from the purview of the scheme in the first phase. The scheme also envisages extension thereof with the rider that in any event a substantive sentence of imprisonment of a minimum specified term, say, one year is imposed. It is also envisaged that it may be so extended after assessing the results of the working of the pilot scheme, and after a public debate.
8.3. It may be pointed out that in the present statutes relating to economic offences there are several technical offences which are liable for punishment. Failure to file certain statutory returns within time, failure to furnish required information to the designated authorities within time, etc. are some of the technical offences which are liable for punishment with imprisonment as well as fine. Whether or not to extend the scheme with a similar rider in the light of the experience gathered during the first phase will have to be considered in the light of a public debate at an appropriate time.
8.4. As regards the suggestion from several quarters that the scheme should be made applicable only to "less serious offences", the Commission is of the opinion that the scheme as framed may encompass all offences subject to the rider that in the first instance, the scheme may be made applicable only to offences under all Central Acts, which are liable to imprisonment for less than seven years.
The extension of the scheme to offences liable for imprisonment under the respective statutes to more than seven years may be considered after careful assessment of the results of the scheme as applied to defences liable for imprisonment for less than seven years. If after such assessment of the results, it is felt that the scheme deserves to be extended to other offences, it may be so extended in the light of the experience gathered and in the light of the public opinion generated in the context of the experience so gathered.
8.5. As regards the application of the concept to offences under various laws enacted by the States, the Commission feels that it should be left to the respective state Governments to take a decision in this behalf having regard to the fact that the State Governments of each State may have its own perception in regard to this matter.
8.6. As regards the category of serious offences it can be further sub-divided for the purpose of phased application. The sub-category comprising of offences punishable with death or imprisonment for life may be excluded in the first phase initially and the application of the scheme may be extended to this sub-category only later on, in the light of the experience gathered in the working of the other sub-category and the public debate generated in its wake.
8.7. It is proposed to now proceed to evolve the scheme in the afoiesaid perspective.