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Report No. 33

54. Need for confining section 44, Code of Criminal Procedure within certain limits - (Observations of Criminal Law Commissioners).-

Finally, the need for confining provisions in the nature of section 44, Code of Criminal Procedure, within certain limits should not be lost sight of. We cannot, in this connection, do better than to quote the observations of the Criminal Law Commissioners1:-

"To require everyone, without distinction, as to the nature and degree of the offence, to become an accuser, would be productive of inconvenience in exposing numbers to penal prosecutions, multiplying criminal charges, and encouraging private dissension. It may sometimes be more convenient that offences should be passed over, than that all should indiscriminately be made the subject of prosecution; and a law would be considered to be harsh and impolitic, if not unjust, which compelled every party injured by a criminal act, and, still more so, to compel everyone who happened to know that another had been so injured, to make a public disclosure of the circumstances. Here, therefore, there is reason for limiting the law against mere misprisions to the concealment of such crimes as are of an aggravated complexion."

A very wide provision would tend to become what was described by the Court of Appeal (though in a slightly different context) as "a mere charter for gossip2."

1. Fifth Report of the Criminal Law Commissioners (1840), Parliamentary Papers XX 36, cited in Glanville Williams, Criminal Law, the General part, (1961), p. 423, para. 141.

2. See Greenlands v. Wilmshurst, (1913) 3 KB 507 (541) (CA) (per Hamilton LJ.).

Section 44, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 Back

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