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Report No. 156

Annexure VI

Proceedings of the Workshop on Criminal Law Under the Auspices of the Law Commission of India and the Government of Goa Held on 18th January, 1997 at Goa

The work shop on criminal law was held at Panjim, Goa under the auspices of the Law Commission of India and the State Government of Goa. The workshop was chaired by Justice K. Jayachandra Reddy, Chairman, Law Commission of India. The workshop was organised to make a thorough study and ascertain views of the cross-section of the society lawyers, police officials, law officers and public prosecutors to make suggestions for amendment and improvement in the Indian Penal Code.

The Goa Minister said that as society progresses, changes in the law were required to meet changing needs. Law cannot be static, he said, and added that it needs to adapt to change.

Referring to the heavy backlog of pending cases before the courts, Mr. Fernandes said both the governments, at the State and Centre, were "endeavouring to bring about reforms in the judiciary'.

Mr. Fernandas expressed the need to review the Portuguese laws in Goa, as also laws enacted after liberalisation.

Justice Jayachandra Reddy emphasised the need to evolve a separate system for investigating of criminal cases and the work presently faced by the police. He said the police are loaded with many duties besides the maintaining of law and order.

Justice Reddy said the Law Commission has suggested many steps and measures for speedy justice. He mooted that witnesses should be properly taken care of as they often have to come in from distant places and risk the loss of their daily earnings. He called for the State to take due care of the victims of criminal cases.

Justice Reddy strongly felt that the NDPS Act should be reviewed by experts. Goa High Court Bench's Justice Chandrasekhar Das stressed the need to change the image of the police. He said that police should consider themselves as friends of the people and this called for the need of introspection on the part of police.

Later at the workshop most of the participants expressed displeasure over the public censure of the criminal and to some extent making him to pay the compensation. But there was a general consensus over the punishments like community service and disqualification from holding any office.

The workshop strongly felt that organised crimes should be dealt with a firm hand while criticizing the tendency of issuing false medical certificates to the accused which results in adjournment of cases and delay in bringing the culprit to book.

Some participants at the workshop pointed out that sexual crimes pertaining to children do not figure in the I.P.C. (Amendment) Bill, 1973.

Justice Reddy was of the opinion that a separate cadre for prosecution officers could be created as very often every government that comes in power appoints its own nominees as prosecution officers. This, he said, hamperes the prosecution work.

He further said that the new agency could be termed as the Directorate of Prosecuting Agencies.

Referring to the police force, he said that they worked under tremendous pressure and due to which at times they cannot devote the necessary time to investigate crimes successfully. He said that there was a need on the part of the people to change their attitude towards the police force in the country.

Highlighting the importance of witnesses in the courts, Justice Reddy said that they have to be protected. According to Justice Reddy frequent adjournments granted in any case caused inconvenience to witnesses who travel from far off places to attend the court case. He remarked that the state authorities should take into cognisance the work done by witnesses.

He said if no attention is paid to this, the witnesses who are so vital in the proceedings of a case will lose their faith in the government agencies.

Speaking to journalists Justice T.K. Chandrashekhar Das supported the thought of setting up independent investigating and prosecuting agencies. He said that while the amendments were important, more important was the sustaining of these amendments. He opined that a thorough debate was required before bringing about any amendments in the I.P.C. as all lacunae which may be hidden in the proposed amendments had to be overcome. Justice Ranjthkuram Batta, R.M.S. Khandeparkar, the District and Sessions Judges, Law Minister Domnick Fernandes, Law Secretary Subanna, besides others, were also present for the workshop.

Main topics which were placed for discussion pertained to insertion of new forms of punishment in the I.P.C. in addition or as alternatives to imprisonment in case of organised crimes, constructive liability of companies, issuing of and signing of false medical certificates, unsafe driving or over-loading vehicles on public way, blackmailing including or scurrilous matter intended for blackmailing, hijacking of any air-craft, bus, taxi, car or any other vehicle, causing death due to rash and negligent driving in hit and run cases, offences against privacy, penal action for refusal to record FIR, sexual offences including change in the definition of rape, scams including bank frauds and kidnapping for ransom.

Many of the speakers suggested that punishment should be made harsh and should necessarily include imprisonment in cases of deaths caused due to rash and negligent driving and overloading of vehicles, especially since deaths on roads due to accidents had increased in the country. The present provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act as well as for rape, they opined served no deterrent effect on the accused.

Penal provisions were also suggested for refusal of registering of FIR by police officials.

* The entire list is not being printed for unavoidable reasons.

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