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New law on CrPC: HM, MPs express concern over police powers
NEW DELHI, AUG 27 (PTI/AGENCIES):
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Published on 28 Aug. 2010 12:17 AM IST
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Members in the Rajya Sabha, including from the ruling Congress, on Friday expressed grave concern over “dangerous powers” being given to the police through an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act.
Participating in a debate on the bill, members across different parties, said the new law would give excessive and arbitrary powers to the police.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010 is aimed at making it compulsory for the police to record the reasons for making as well as not making an arrest in respect of a cognizable offence for which the maximum punishment is up to seven years.
The Lok Sabha has already approved the bill.
“I feel very very dangerous powers are given to the police,” EM Sudarasana Natchiappan (Congress) said. He said provisions in the proposed law would leave scope for “plea bargaining” by the police.
Natchiappan, an eminent lawyer, said the Constitution provides citizens a right of silence which should be protected. Police would take away this right, he said.
Agreeing with the Congress member, KN Balagopal (CPI-M) said though the proposed amendment in the CrPC is “technically good and correct”, it can work only in “laboratory conditions”. It would give arbitrary powers to the police, he said.
Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP) said though the intention behind the amendment bill is good, there were practical difficulties to avoid misuse of powers given to the police. Similar concerns were expressed by Narendra Kumar Kashyap (BSP).
A comprehensive law on Code of Criminal Procedure will be brought within a year as the Code had become “very old”, home minister P Chidambaram said in the Rajya Sabha today.
“I agree that there should not be a piecemeal approach. I have written to the Law Minister to have a comprehensive legislation on this. The report of the Law Commission (on the Code) should come in a year,” he said. Chidambaram was replying to a debate on the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010 which was passed by the House by voice vote.
The Home Minister said the present legislation came in 1973 and has become “very old”. The bill is aimed at making it compulsory for the police to record the reasons for making as well as not making an arrest in respect of a cognizable offence for which the maximum punishment is up to 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. 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 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 the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been amended but was not notified as some Bar councils had made a representation in this regard. The Home Minister said he met representatives of Bar Councils and wrote to the Chairman of the Law Commission in this context.
“It is not an expansion of discretion (of police officials) but a restriction on discretion,” he said. He also said a person arrested can go to court and say that the reason of arrest is absurd and get bail. Chidambaram said if a person fails to comply with the notice (of the investigating agency) or is unwilling to identify himself and give his name and address, he will be arrested on the spot.

 
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