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Report No. 29

Proposal to include certain Social and Economic

Forward to the Union Minister of Law and Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India by Mr. Justice J.L. Kapur, Chairman, Law Commission of India, on March 25, 1966.

1. Genesis of the Report.-The circumstances in which the preparation of this Report was undertaken may be briefly stated. The Government of India appointed in 1962 a Committee to review the problem of corruption and to make suggestions1 on various matters connected therewith. One of the terms of reference of the Committee was, "To suggest changes in the law which would ensure speedy trial of cases of bribery, corruption and criminal misconduct and make the law otherwise more effective2."

Dealing with this, the Committee3 made the following observations:-

"7.2. The substantive law relating to bribery, corruption and criminal misconduct is contained in the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, the procedural law in the Criminal Procedure Code, Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1958 and some special rules of evidence relating to such cases in the Prevention of Corruption Act. The working of the relevant provisions of these enactments in prosecutions in courts and also at the stage of investigation have disclosed that certain changes in the law are required in order to ensure speedy trials and more effective results. We have examined the existing provisions in the light of experience gained in numerous cases, and also in the context of social changes and economic objectives which have created new problems.

"7.3. Amendments to the Indian Penal Code:

The Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, and though it has been amended here and there, its main structure has continued intact during the last 100 years and more. It is an admirable compilation of substantive criminal law, and most of its provisions are as suitable today as they were when they were formulated. But the social and economic structure of India has changed to such a large extent, especially during the last 17 years of freedom that in many respects the Code does not truly reflect the needs of the present day. It is dominated by the notion that almost all major crimes consist of offences against person, property or State. However, the Penal Code does not deal in any satisfactory manner with acts which may be described as social offences having regard to the special circumstances under which they are committed, and which have now become a dominant feature of certain powerful sections of modern society."

1. See the Report of the Committee on the Prevention of Corruption, (1964), p. 1, para. 1.1. (The Committee is hereafter referred to as the Santhanam Committee).

2. See the Report of the Santhanam Committee, p. 2, para. 1.2 and p. 53, para. 7.1.

3. Report of the Santhanam Committee, p. 53, paras 7.2 and 7.3.

2. The Report1 of the Santhanam Committee broadly categorised the offences as follows:-

"(1) Offences calculated to prevent or obstruct the economic development of the country and endanger its economic health;

(2) Evasion and avoidance of taxes lawfully imposed;

(3) Misuse of their position by public servants in making of contracts and disposal of public property, issue of licences and permits and similar other matters;

(4) Delivery by individuals and industrial and commercial undertaking of goods not in accordance with agreed specifications in fulfillment of contracts entered into with public authorities;

(5) Profiteering, black-marketing and hoarding,

(6) Adulteration of foodstuffs and drugs;

(7) Theft and misappropriation of public property and funds; and

(8) Trafficking in licences, permits, etc."

1. Report of the Santhanam Committee, pp. 53, 54, paras 7.3.

3. The Committee then went on to observe1:-

"Some of these offences have been made punishable by special enactments. We are of the opinion that it is desirable to add a new chapter to the Indian Penal Code bringing together all the offences in such special enactments and supplementing them with new provisions so that all social offences will find a prominent place in the general criminal law of the country. It is a matter for the Government to consider whether this work should be undertaken by a special legal committee or referred to the Law Commission."

1. Report of the Santhanam Committee, p. 54, para 7.4.

Proposal to include certain Social and Economic Offences in the Indian Penal Code Back

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