Report No. 47
We have now come to the end of our Report, and shall mention a few miscellaneous matters.
18.2. Sentencing conferences.-
Suggestions are often made that in order that the lower Magistracy may realise the seriousness of some of the social and economic offences, some method should be evolved of making the judiciary conscious of the grave damage caused to the country's economy and health by such anti-social crimes. The frequency and emphasis with which these suggestions have been made, and the support which they have received from very high officers has caused some anxiety to us. But we hope that the higher courts are fully alive to the harm, and we have no doubt that on appropriate occasions, such as, judicial conferences, the subject will receive attention. It is of utmost importance that all State instrumentalities involved in the investigation, prosecution and trial of these offences must be oriented to the philosophy which treats these economic offences as a source of grave challenge to the material wealth of the nation.
18.3. We hope we shall not be misunderstood if we suggest that even the holding of periodical meetings on sentencing may be beneficial, not in the context of economic offences only, but in the evolution of a rational and consistent policy of sentencing. Experience of England is, by now, familiar to those interested in the subject.
A meeting of over 100 judges was held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on January 7-8, 1965 to take part in exercises designed to increase the uniformity of sentencing. The Lord Chief Justice expressed the hope that the meeting would be a model for similar ones throughout the country1.
Conferences between judges, magistrates and penal administrators are, in England, organised with increasing frequency in many parts of the country with an annual conference in London for judges of the Supreme Courts2.
1. Graham Parker Education of the Sentencing Judge, (1965) 15 ICLQ 206, 251.
2. Mclean and Wood Criminal Justice and the Treatment of Offenders, (1969), p. 90.
18.4. Besides holding councils on sentencing, it may be worthwhile to hold 'workshops' which would be less formal but equally useful and likely to give concrete results. Such workshops could, for example, be attended by all Special Judges or other officers concerned with economic offences.
18.5. We need not emphasise that ultimately, the success of enforcement depends on the integrity and efficiency of the staff employed for the purpose. In making these observations we are stating the obvious. But we have gathered an impression that the number of officers in charge of enforcement of some of the laws in question is not adequate. Financial considerations, no doubt, come in the way, but increased expenditure in the direction of augmentation of the quality and number of the staff is likely to repay itself, if not likely to bring greater returns. In any case, as an experimental measure, it is worth trying in selected areas where the enforcement staff is found to be inadequate. Besides, for detecting offences of smuggling, particularly in the coastal areas and border areas, the Administration must employ more efficient and modern methods.
18.6. Since some of the amendments which we are proposing (e.g., the amendment in relation to recovery of penalties under the Foreign Exchange Act)1 will involve additional administrative work, it is desirable that the strength of the staff at the appropriate level should be augmented, so that the reforms in the law may be adequately implemented.
1. Para. 15.274, supra.
Publicity is also of importance. To quote from the Report of a Working Groups1 -
"apart from the integrity of officials entrusted with the responsibility of taking decisions in such matters as the grant of a permit to travel etc., the best safeguard against harassment, patronage and corruption, we feel, is adequate publicity being given to the rules, regulations and procedure as also to the decisions taken both to grant and to reject. It is not enough to give fair decisions but it is equally necessary that the fairness of the decisions should be made well known and acknowledged. We recommend therefore, that a satisfactory scheme for the publicity to the general rules and procedures and to individual decisions in this field should be worked out and adopted."
1. Report of the Working Group of the Administration Reforms Commission on Customs & Excise Administration, (1968), (October), para. 12.14.
18.8. Other sister Acts.-
Our recommendations and discussions have been confined to the major Acts, and we have not dealt with sister Acts relating to subjects allied to these major Acts. It is needless to say that much of what we have said above could apply to them. We do not consider it necessary how far the other Acts could be amended on the lines of the amendments suggested by us in the major Acts. Wherever necessary, that question can be dealt with by the Ministry concerned.
18.9. Appendices.- The Appendices to this Report contain detailed data on various aspects1.
1. One of the Appendices shows our recommendations in the form of draft amendments. These are very tentative.