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An Insight of CrPc and The Proposed New Changes

What is CrPC

In a criminal procedure, we need rules and regulations. The said two can help make a better guidance system on running a criminal case. For example, if a person allegedly commits a crime, then he needs a trump card to stay out of jail. That is where bail comes in. However, bail won't come out from a tree. It has to come out of a rule book that provides a better system to conduct a criminal case. That rule book is the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, or CrPC in short.

By definition, CrPC is the judiciary of criminal law in India. It oversees the administration and procedure of all criminal laws in the country. It is the main base of:
  • Investigating a crime.
  • Detaining people of interest. In other words, people who are suspected by the police.
  • Collecting evidence.
  • To determine whether the person is guilty or innocent.
  • Ensures public nuisance does not happen.
  • It has the responsibility of preventing offenses.
  • It also highlights the maintenance of wife, child, and parents.

The latest example of CrPC is during the controversial protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act when the police forces invoked Section 144 of the CrPC to quell the said protests. The act was one of the most controversial and discussed acts in recent years.

Explanation of certain sections alongside case laws
Sections 125-128 of the CrPC handle the maintenance of wife, children, and parents. The first person to receive maintenance is the wife, followed by a minor child, the child (or adult) who has a disability either physical or mental, and lastly the parents.

In Savitaben Bhatia vs. the State of Gujarat, the upper echelons of the Supreme Court stated that to get a maintenance, the wife must be a legally wedded spouse. Furthermore, the marriage must have legal validity.

In Ram Bilas vs. Bhagwati Devi, the court highlights that the person's one-month imprisonment shall be the recovery of the one-year maintenance. The imprisonment will be one week for one month's accrued maintenance.

Sections 51 to 54 (58 and 59) of the CrPC highlight the arrest of a person. Section 51 gives power to a police officer or anyone who is authorized by the law when it comes to searching for any place if there is any evidential material. Section 52 gives power to the police officer to seize any weapon when they are arresting a person with suspicion. Section 53 allows the medical examination of the suspect, to see whether anything found in the said examination can be used in the court as evidence.

Section 54 allows the senior doctor or medical officer to conduct medical examinations if the suspect is suspected of interrogation or investigation. Section 58 ensures that a police officer sends all of his reports of the cases regarding the accused persons to the district magistrate. Lastly, in Section 59, if the accused was arrested then they can apply for bail for their bail. They cannot discharge themselves by their volition without the magistrate's orders.

The State of Bombay vs. Kathi Kalu Oghar:

The Bombay High Court declared that it relied upon the principles which are laid down by the Supreme Court. It said that Section 53 does not violate the principles of Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution. A person could not compel to be a witness against himself. Under Section 53 of the CrPC, he is required to undergo a medical examination.

Section 227 of the CrPC prohibits harassing a person for a long period without giving reasons. Longer means to assist the upper court in determining the correctness and sufficiency of reasons for acquittal under this clause. The Supreme Court outlined four principles that must be kept in mind when discharging the accused under Section 227 in Union of India vs. Prafulla Kumal Samal. The gist is that there is a prima facie case that the accused should be made. Its test will differ depending on the circumstances.

Section 91 of the CrPC faces the power of courts and police authorities, which revolves around the search and seizure of documents or anything. This is mentioned under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In M.P. Sharma vs. Satish Chandra, the Supreme Court held that to be a witness instead of appearing as a witness, the self-incrimination protection is not only extended to compelled testimony. It also includes pre-trials investigation and interrogation.

Sections 239 and 240 of the CrPC talk about the discharging of the accused. The court must frame charges. Thus the consideration of matter must be given by them. The magistrate has to record the reason for the discharging of the accused.

State of Himachal Pradesh vs. Krishan Lal:

The Supreme Court said that there was enough material on record. The judge had found the materialization of the prima facie of the case. The successor judge came and concluded that no charge can be made on the same material. Hence, they passed an order of discharge. Furthermore, the Supreme Court concluded that the successor judge cannot pass an order of discharge.

Proposal of Changes for CrPC (Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022)

An excerpt of News 18:
'The Ministry of Home Affairs has also sought suggestions from governors, chief ministers, Lt governors and administrators of union territories, chief justice of India, chief justices of various high courts, Bar Council of India, bar council of various states, and members of Parliament regarding comprehensive amendments in criminal laws, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a written reply. The minister also informed that a committee headed by the vice-chancellor, National Law University, Delhi, and four other members was constituted on March 2, 2020, by the MHA to suggest reforms in the criminal laws of the country.'

The excerpt is attempting to convey that the Ministry of Home Affairs is proposing new changes to India's three major criminal laws. The Indian Evidence Act, the Indian Penal Code, and the Code of Civil Procedure are the three laws in question.

The MHA believed that the three criminal laws in the country need to be people-centric. These laws are needed to be affordable-friendly and should provide speedy trials. They already set up the 111th and 128th Reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee that the criminal laws in India are needed to be rationalized and reformed. In its 146th Report, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju states that the criminal systems of the country need to be comprehensively reviewed.

Amit Shah, the Home Minister, introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022. On April 7, 2022, the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and notified to the Rajya Sabha.
The bill includes the following provisions:
  • It intends to improve and change the IPC and CrPC.
  • It will take the place of the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920.
  • It enables law enforcement to obtain biometric scanning reports for specific body parts.
  • It gathers behavioral information, handwriting, and any other information specified in CrPC Sections 53 and 54.
  • The police have the authority to take legal action if a person refuses to cooperate with the biometric scans.

Supporters claim that it can effectively convict criminals. It can also prioritize pieces of evidence given by technologies and forensic sciences. It can serve as a deterrent and decrease crimes like rape, murder, dacoity, crimes against children, and vice versa. It could modernize the country's criminal system. The Ministry claims that the bill will also protect the privacy and data of the suspected persons.

The bill also has its detractors. One minister states that there is no provision for narco, polygraphy, and brain mapping. There are also concerns about human rights. They suggested that the bill should have a balanced approach.

An except of Tribune India highlights the concerns:

'Responding to concerns raised by P Chidambaram (Congress), said that there is no provision to subject people under Narco and Polygraphy tests and brain mapping.

He said human rights should be viewed with a balanced approach with care for justice for the victims of crimes.'

Conclusion
It could be too soon to jump to conclusions. If the bill is passed, it can improve the criminal justice system in India. Many people are hoping for the reforms of the criminal laws that they now consider to be old and obsolete. Ever since Nirbhaya, people wanted new laws that could convict people in a faster yet more careful manner.

At the same time, the laws should not be violative of human rights and the fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution. It must ensure that the laws are well balanced. In the internet age, it is easier for someone's private data to be leaked. The bill must be strictly encrypted to protect a person's private data. The rich and powerful must not misuse the bill for their plaything. They must also be held accountable for their actions. That way, our criminal system will be hard yet progressively fair that could punish those who threaten the peace of the civil society.

References:
  • Parliament proceedings | Process initiated to amend IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informs Rajya Sabha
  • Govt Tells Rajya Sabha Process Initiated to Amend IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act
  • Govt aims to amend CrPC and IPC, says Amit Shah as Parliament clears Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022
  • Code of Criminal Procedure (India)
  • Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - UPSC Notes
  • Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on 10 March, 2005
  • Ram Bilas (In Jail) vs Smt. Bhagwati Devi Wife Of Ram ... on 6 February, 1990
  • The State Of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad And Others on 4 August, 1961
  • State Of Himachal Pradesh vs Krishan Lal Pardhan And Ors. on 5 February, 1987
  • M.P. Sharma & Ors. vs. Satish Chandra and Ors.
Written By Anish Bachchan

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