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Report No. 87

III. Taking of specimen signature and possible legislative devices for making an amendment

5.7. Legislative device considered.-

Before dealing with the content of the operative provision, we would like to address ourselves to a consideration of the legislative device best fitted to implement the suggestion made by the Supreme Court in the judgment1 to which we have already made a reference.2 Holding that section 73 of the Evidence Act cannot be invoked for requiring a person to furnish a specimen of his handwriting at the stage of investigation, the Supreme Court added that "suitable legislation" (on the analogy of section 5 of the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920) should be enacted, investing Magistrates with powers to require a person to furnish specimen writing or signature during investigation.

There can hardly be any doubt about the need to amend the law on the point suggested by the Supreme Court. The question that requires to be considered is about the legislative device to be adopted for achieving the objects in question. The object of investing Magistrates with the power in question could be achieved by adopting one of several alternatives:

(i) amending3 the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973;

(ii) amending4 the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920;

(iii) framing5 a separate law for the purpose.

Amendment of section 73 of the Evidence Act would, of course, be out of question, as the Act is not concerned with the stage of investigation. The Supreme Court did not, of course, make any observations implying that the amendment or addition to be made for this purpose should be made to the Act of 1920, or, for the matter, to any particular enactment. The words "suitable legislation" (in the judgment)1 leave the matter elastic. In this connection, we have, as stated above, considered several possible alternatives. Our examination of the present statutory framework has satisfied us that most convenient course would be to make the necessary amendment in the Act of 1920. The position with reference to the merits of each alternative, briefly discussed below, would seem to support our conclusion.

1. State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Babu Misra, (1980), Vol. 2, Part 3, SCC 343 (346) (May 1, 1980).

2. Para. 1.1, supra.

3. Para. 5.8, infra.

4. Para. 5.9, infra.

5. Para. 5.10, infra.

6. Paras. 1.1 and 5.5, supra.

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Back

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