Monday, March 15, 2010

Bill to amend CrPC introduced in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The government on Monday introduced in Lok Sabha a CrPC amendment Bill, seeking to “make it compulsory for the police” to record “reasons” for making an arrest or not making an arrest in respect of a cognizable offence for which the maximum punishment is up to seven years.

Seven years or less is the maximum penalty for a host of offences, including attempt to commit culpable homicide, robbery, attempt to suicide, kidnapping, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, cheating, outraging a woman’s modesty and death caused by negligence. The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, introduced by home minister P Chidambaram, will also make it compulsory for the police to “issue a notice” in all such cases where arrest is not required to be made under the relevant section (41) of CrPC.
The amendment followed a suggestion of the Law Commission, which had recommended that if a person, to whom notice under the law had been issued, was not identifying himself or herself, then it could be a ground for the police to arrest that person.
Earlier in 2008, the government had brought an amendment in Section 41 of CrPC, divesting the police of the usual arrest powers in all cases where the maximum possible sentence is seven years or less. As a result, the police, instead of arresting the accused, was supposed to issue him a “notice of appearance” for any offence punishable with imprisonment up to seven years. Under Section 41, as it originally stood before the 2008 amendment, a police officer may, without an order of a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person who has been concerned in any cognizabale offence.
The radical change in CrPC had, however, drawn a lot of flak from a number of bar associations across the country. The lawyers apprehended that the amendment (in Section 41) doing away with the mandatory arrest provisions in offences punishable up to seven years would remove fear from the minds of criminals who would misuse the provisions under the garb of personal liberty.

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