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Report No. 200

Why the Joint Committee in its Report 1111(1969-70) is not correct in stating that the word 'imminent' used by Sanyal Committee ink the Bill of 1963 is 'vague':

The reasoning of the Joint Committee (1969-70) that the word 'imminent' criminal proceeding used by the Sanyal Committee in its draft Bill of 1963 is "vague" and is likely to lead to uncertainty is no longer acceptable. In fact, by the date the Committee submitted its Report, Supreme Court had decided in A.K. Gopalan v. Noorudin AIR 1970 SC 1694: (1969(2) SCC 734) that the word 'imminent' meant the time when a person was arrested, though pendency was not to be reckoned from the time when a first information report was filed.

That starting point was fixed by the Supreme Court for the purpose of balancing the freedom of speech and expression in Article 19(1)(a) (read with Article 19(2)) on the one hand and liberty of the person under Article 21 which guarantees due process. There is express reference to the freedom of speech and expression in that judgment. Therefore, the argument of the Joint Committee as to 'vagueness' is no longer available and perhaps the attention of the Committee was not invited to the judgment of the Supreme Court which was already there by the date of its Report. It appears that the last sitting of the Committee was on 5 th October, 1969 while the Report was submitted on 20 th February, 1970. The judgment in Gopalan's case was delivered on 15th September, 1969.

Further, the fact that the word 'imminent' is not vague is clear from what has been done in other countries. In several countries, date of arrest which may be anterior to first information report, is treated as the starting point for treating a criminal proceeding as 'pendency' even if no charge sheet or challan is filed by the police in the court.

Trial by Media free speech and fair trial under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Back

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