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Report No. 156

Clause 19

12.14. Under this clause sections 54, 55 and 55A of the Penal Code are sought to be omitted. Section 54 provides for commutation of sentence of death and lays down that in every case in which sentence of death has been passed, the appropriate government may without the consent of the offender commute the punishment for any other punishment provided by I.P.C.. Section 55 provides for commutation of sentence of Imprisonment for life by the appropriate government for a term of imprisonment of fourteen years.

Section 55A defines appropriate government that can exercise the powers under sections 54 and 55, namely, the Central and State Governments. The Law Commission in its 41st Report on the Code of Criminal Procedure having examined section 402(1) of Cr. P.C. 1898 as well as sections 54, 55 and 55A of the Penal Code noticed that the appropriate government as mentioned in section 402(3), Cr. P.C., 1898, is somewhat ambiguous.

However, the Law Commission noticed that the provisions regarding commutation in sections 54, 55 and 55A are mostly repeated in section 402, Cr. P.C., 1898 and recommended that this duplication should be removed and the law should be stated at one place, namely, Cr. P.C. In this view of the matter in 42nd Report, the Law Commission recommended deletion of these three sections. On that basis clause 19 is incorporated in the Bill.

In the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure this recommendation has been taken care of and incorporated in the newly numbered sections, namely, 432 and 433. It can be noticed that the Law Commission in its 41st Report on Cr. P.C., 1898 mentioned that section 402 should be revised incorporating some of the provisions of sections 54, 55 and 55A to remove the ambiguity particularly in respect of the definition of appropriate government.

In section 432(7) the meaning of the expression "appropriate government" is given and the ambiguity which is noticed by the Law Commission in the language in section 55A has been removed. So for as the commutation is concerned the provisions in sections 54 and 55, I.P.C. have been duly incorporated in section 433, Cr. P.C., 1973. Therefore, clause 19 under which sections 54, 55 and 55A are sought to be omitted is very appropriate in view of the changes in the Cr. P.C. as noticed above.

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