Report No. 43
Under our existing law, the- only inducement for an accomplice to betray his colleagues is the tender of pardon under section 337 and the succeeding sections of the Criminal Procedure Code. But this pardon cannot be claimed as of right; and it is within the discretion of the appropriate court [See sub-section (1) of section 337] to tender pardon to an accomplice who is ready and willing to betray his colleagues by making a full disclosure.
Though the section has been very usefully employed in a few instances, nevertheless, it cannot be said to be a sufficient inducement. On the other hand, if the law itself confers absolute immunity from punishment on a person who discloses the commission of the crime (subject to certain conditions and restrictions), it may be a greater inducement for accomplices to betray their colleagues even in the earlier stages of the commission of the crime (such as the preparatory stage or the stage of attempt), and thereby either prevent the completion of the crime altogether, or facilitate the detection of arch-criminals.
Conspiracy to commit the crime of treason is generally hatched in great secrecy, and a study of the history of treason trials all over the world shows that such offences are detected mainly on the basis of the evidence of the accomplice. This is an additional reason why, for offences involving national security, a special provision giving complete immunity from either prosecution or punishment, as the case may be, is highly desirable. I would not recommend such a provision for all the offences under the Penal Code.
It will be useful to compare the provisions found in some of the foreign Codes:s