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Report No. 47

Chapter 2

Scope of The Inquiry

2.1. Introductory.-

Before we proceed to indicate our broad approach in respect of social and economic offences, and our views as to the detailed amendments needed in the existing laws on the subject, we would like to say a few words about the scope of the present inquiry.

Although we started with the broad object of discussing the question of trial and punishment of the offences in question, we felt that justice could not be done to the subject without also entering into some consideration of the stages of investigation and prosecution. These stages are vitally linked up with trial. It is the material gathered during investigation that forms the basis of the prosecution. It is obvious, therefore, that defects in the law affecting the efficiency of the stages preceding trial would affect the quality of the trial.

Moreover, having regard to the importance of these offences, it appeared advisable to broaden the scope of our inquiry, so as to include steps prior to the judicial process. Accordingly, we have kept before us the entire subject of criminal process, in relation to the enforcement of the laws in question.

This has enabled us to consider various criticisms in relation to the enforcement of social and economic legislation, such as, that the investigation into the commission of such offences is not prompt or efficient; that the presentation of the case against the offender in Court is not effective; that, for lack of proper and adequate evidence, or owing to purely technical objections, convictions are often not recorded, and that, in some cases, where convictions are recorded, the sentences imposed are inadequate.

2.2. Scope of the inquiry.-

At the same time, certain limitations as to the scope of the present inquiry have also to be emphasised. These limitations flow from the fact that this Report is primarily concerned with the narrow question of dealing effectively with the specified offences through the criminal process. In the first place, therefore, questions of the content of the substantive provisions of the various Acts are outside the ambit of this Report. Secondly, since the emphasis is on the process of a criminal prosecution, an examination of the imposition of penalties by administrative adjudication has not been undertaken, except where some point of importance arose during our oral discussions and appeared to require special consideration.

Thirdly, even as regards the penal provisions which properly fall within the subjed-matter of the Report, we have dealt with only such matters as appeared to be of importance from the broad angle of effective implementation of the laws concerned. Therefore the fact that we have not made recommendations for amendment in the penal' provisions in certain points of detail, should not be taken as implying that they are not capable of improvement in their form or content, whether on independent considerations of merit or on considerations of uniformity.

2.3. Major Acts dealt with.-

Another limitation which should be pointed out is that this Report will not go into all the Acts concerning social and economic offences. For convenience, we shall deal only with the following major Acts:-

(1) The Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944.

(2) The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.

(3) The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.

(4) The Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

(5) The Wealth Tax Act, 1957.

(6) The Income-Tax Act, 1961.

(7) The Customs Act, 1962.

(8) The Gold Control Act, 1968.

[On one or two points, we have, however, recommended amendments in some other Acts1.]

This limitation was unavoidable if the inquiry was not to become cumbersome.

1. E.g. (a) the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1947;

(b) the Drugs Act;

(c) the Criminal Procedure Code;

(d) the Indian Penal Code;

(e) the Passports Act;

(f) the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1952.

2.4. Scope of the recommendation as to direct taxation laws.-

Having regard to what we state later1, our recommendations in respect of the direct tax laws (Income-Tax Act and Wealth Tax Act) are confined to certain points which were specially forwarded to us at Ministerial level.

1. Paras. 3.35 and 3.36, infra.

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