Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lok Sabha clears Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010 curbing police powers

Lok Sabha clears Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010 curbing police powers


IANS, Aug 12, 2010, 07.53pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha Thursday approved the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010, that makes policing more transparent. Under it a police officer will compulsorily have to keep a written record justifying the arrest or freeing an accused wanted in a crime that carries imprisonment up to seven years.

The bill was passed by a voice vote after home minister P Chidambaram introduced it in the Lok Sabha.

"The amendment increases the transparency of a policeman's action as he has to justify arresting or not arresting an accused and keep a written record of it," Chidambaram told the house.

The amendment once enacted would mean that the police cannot make needless arrests or, under pressure or duress, let go people who may be wanted in crimes punishable with imprisonment for a term seven years or more.

The legislation is aimed to curb arbitrariness of police arrests. Since the reasons have to be recorded in writing, the legislation fixes the responsibility and makes a police officer justify the arrest or letting go of an accused.

The written record would be subjected to judicial scrutiny and recording an arbitrary reason would be difficult for police. It lays a large emphasis on investigation before the arrest is made.

The bill has to go to Rajya Sabha now before being enacted into law.

The home minster said the bill also carries a clause according to which if "a person, at any time, fails to comply with the terms of police notice or is unwilling to identify himself, the police officer may, subject to such orders as may have been passed by a competent court in this behalf, arrest him for the offence mentioned in the notice".

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NEW DELHI: A bill, seeking to amend a section of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) with regard to arrest of a person, was passed by the Lok Sabha with the government asserting that it would reduce "arbitrariness" in apprehension of people and bring about transparency.

The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010, passed by voice vote after a debate, provides for mandatory recording of reasons in the case of arrest or non-arrest of a person suspected in a cognizable offence for which the jail term is less than seven years.

Prior to the amendment to Section 41 of the CrPC Act, the law said a police officer "may" record reasons of arrest or non-arrest of a person, Home Minister P Chidambaram said while replying to the debate.

According to the amended bill, if a person is not arrested in a non-cognizable offence, police will have to issue notice to him to join investigations.

The prevailing law says a police officer "may" issue a notice to a person, who is not arrested, for joining investigation. The amendment, making it mandatory to issue notice for joining the investigation, is to ensure that the person does not delay the probe by not cooperating, Chidambaram said.

If anybody, on whom a notice is served, refuses to identify himself, he will be arrested forthwith, he said. Justifying the amendments, Chidambaram said, "This is to ensure that "arbitrariness" is reduced or "at least the scope of arbitrariness is reduced."

Rejecting suggestions that the amendments could enable police to misuse powers, he said it would bring about transparency in the system of arrests. "Give it a fair trial of six months or so," the Home Minister said while seeking endorsement of the House to the amendment Bill. On the recording of reasons in case of arrest, he said the arrested person would have a right to approach a court to challenge the action if he is not convinced.

Similarly, in case of non-arrest, the complainant can approach a court to question the police action, he said. Talking about overall police system in the country, he said the Centre had framed a Model Police Act in 2006 but states were "not forthcoming" to bring their police laws in tune with it despite being repeatedly asked to. "It is my intention to continue pressing the states," he said.

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