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Report No. 48

42. Abolition of commitment proceedings.-

The previous Commission recommended the abolition of commitment proceedings. The reasons for recommending abolition, which weighed with the Commission, can be thus summarised:

(a) The main object of screening the material was not attained in practice1-2.

(b) Changes made in England by the Criminal Justice Act of 19673, absence of commitment proceedings in the Scottish procedure4, the procedure in Israel5, and the procedure in some Australian Provinces6, permitting proof by affidavits as a substitute for commitment, were noted. Committal proceedings were not essential for a fair trial7, as was shown by the limited abolition of commitment in the countries mentioned above.

(c) In India also, committal proceedings had been dispensed with by law, in certain cases8.

(d) There was no effective screening of flimsy cages9, even under the present Code.

(e) Committal proceedings were not essential for giving the accused a clear picture of the case10. Such a picture could be obtained in a fair measure from the copies of papers supplied to the accused also.

1. 41st Report, para. 18.19.

2. 41st Report, para. 18.2.

3. 41st Report, paras. 18.8 and 18.9.

4. 41st Report, para. 18.10.

5. 41st Report, para. 18.11.

6. 41st Report, para. 18.12.

7. 41st Report, para. 18.13.

8. 41st Report, para. 18.14.

9. 41st Report, para. 18.16.

10. 41st Report, para. 18.17.

43. This recommendation has been incorporated in the Bill. We wish to add that we agree with this recommendation. In addition to the reasons given by the previous Commission, we would like to add that in practice, as a result of judicial decisions on the subject, committing Magistrates do not and cannot judicially weigh the evidence produced before them, with the result that consideration of the question whether a prima facie case is made out for committing invariably tends to be mechanical rather than judicial.

We therefore express our concurrence with the recommendation to abolish commitment proceedings. We hope that as a result of this change the total period from the date of commencement of investigation to the completion of the trial before the Court of Session will not, ordinarily, exceed six months

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