Sub: Condemning the decision of non-notification of CrPC Amendment Bill 2008
Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), an NGO dedicated to promote the cause of Gender Equality and Family Harmony, wishes to express its views on the recent decision of the Govt. of India via the Ministry of Home Affairs, to notify the CrPC Amendment Bill 2008 after some modifications in the amended Sec 41-1(A) pertaining to powers of arrest by police.
After a lot of deliberation and studies done by various committees like the Malimath Committee, the National Police Commission, various landmark judgments by the Honorable Supreme Court, etc. the CrPC Amendment Bill was proposed in 2006 and a public debate was also invited on the same. The same was notified via various media reports.
Some of the key points which led to introduction of ‘Accountability, checks and balances on the powers to arrest by the police’ in the proposed CrPC Amendment Bill 2008 are:-
- As per the third report of the National Police Commission, 60% of the arrests carried out by the police are thoroughly unnecessary and unjustified. If arrest data provided by the National Crime Record Bureau for the year 2007 is anything to go by then in 2007 alone 40 lakh innocent people have been arrested unnecessarily out of the total 68 lakh arrested since 60% of the arrests were unnecessary.
- Such arrests have congested the jails with unwarranted under trials to such an extent that it contributes to 43.2% of jail expenditure – a burden on the public exchequer.
- Unjustified arrest of a person, not only violates his right to liberty as mandated by article 21 of the Indian Constitution, but also leads to serious ignominy and fatal degradation of his social reputation. This has been highlighted in the landmark Supreme Court judgment Joginder Kumar vs. Union of India.
- The same judgment also lays emphasis on the thin line between the power to arrest and the need to arrest.
- The Malimath Committee in its report, titled “Reforms of Criminal Justice System” dated March 2003, had suggested that the non-bailable nature of Section 498A (Cruelty by husband and/or relatives on married woman) of the IPC makes it mandatory for police to arrest the accused and this severely degrades the chances of a re-union, if the case is false and as per Govt. records 98% of such cases are false. Thus the committee had suggested making the Section 498A bailable.
- Several incidences of police atrocities insides lock-ups and misuse of powers of arrest by police in connivance with lawyers had come to light and various State HRCs as well as NHRC had recommended strong curbing of the power to arrest. Various media reports corroborate the fact.
Keeping in mind all these points, the 154th report of the Law Commission of India, drafted the CrPC Amendment Bill, the USP of which was,
Section 41-1(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), wherein, if notified, the police shall not arrest a person, accused for an offense punishable for less than seven years, unless a ‘Notice of Appearance‘ is issued to the accused person and the accused person fails to comply with the notice along with other rights of the accused like hiring a lawyer, a medical check-up, provision of FIR copy, etc. Also, the reasons for arresting the person have to be recorded by the police in the court diary.
However, various lobby lawyers all over India resorted to hooliganism, illegal strikes and violent road shows in various parts of India demanding the repealing of Section 41-1(a) as it was directly affecting their business. If people won’t fear an immediate arbitrary arrest by the police, they won’t be panicky if police calls them and the lawyers will not be in a position to extort money from accused persons in the name of providing relief from arrest, and other bail proceedings etc.
The protests by lawyers were condemned by SIFF and its allied NGOs and the decision of the Govt. of India to notify the CrPC Amendment Bill was welcomed by the NGO groups. Various memorandums were also sent to the Govt. of India and to The Honorable President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to this effect.
However, it is interesting to note that while these official correspondences failed to make any mark on the Govt. of India, it chose to be held hostage by lobbying, protesting and egg-pelting lawyers who are co-incidentally supposed to be the Custodians of Constitution as well.
As per various media reports last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified that the CrPC Amendment will not be notified till the next Govt. formation and not without further amendments keeping in mind the interest of the ‘potentially degradable business’ of lobby lawyers.
It is a very sad state of affairs that where the life and liberty of 40 lakh innocent citizens is at stake, the Govt. of India chose to ignore their plight and rolled back one of the best decisions taken hitherto giving in to hooliganism by groups with vested interests.
Looks like as if the 2 houses of the Parliament viz. the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, and the Office of the President of India have been reduced to dummies in front of protests and road shows by certain groups. Decisions taken inside the houses are potentially delicate and politically non-immunized, to be over-ruled by protests and road shows. In such an event the 2 houses and the Office of the President of India, might as well be closed down to drastically reduce the burden on the public exchequer since now lawyers have gained prominence to decide the course of action of laws and related amendments by their road shows, protests, hooliganism, egg-pelting or talibanism in short.
To this effect, even SIFF and its allied NGOs have been protesting against the misuse of dowry laws, Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act, treatment of husbands as FREE ATM MACHINES etc. for the past 5 years either on internet or on ground, however the Govt. of India chose to ignore them conveniently and Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt. Renuka Choudhary also went to the extent of making a mockery of their cause and talking rudely to them.
If the Govt. of India can put the life and liberty of 4 Million people at stake in order to appease a handful of lawyers, then why are the demands made by SIFF and its allied NGOs falling on deaf ears when it is affecting an estimated 15 Million people. Some of the demands of SIFF are:-
- Ministry of Men’s Welfare and National Commission for men.
- All laws to be made Gender neutral.
- Check ongoing misuse of gender biased laws till gender neutral laws come in place
- The present situation clearly shows a hijack of the entire Govt. machinery by lobby lawyers for their commercial interest and the inability of the Govt. machinery to prevent the hijack and only showcases the rampant level of deeply embedded corruption. The system is totally broken and a common man has no say in it. The interests of a common man have no place in policy decisions which are taken to appease various lobbying groups to extract political mileage.
- If things are going to go on at this pace then the day is not far when jungle raj will descend upon India which is already on its way to become a functioning anarchy.
- Today, in this press conference, and with the help of our esteemed media friends, SIFF appeals the society to raise its voice against the injustice going on in the name of “Criminal Justice System” to protect the rights of certain lobby groups. Criminal Justice System is not meant to be used as a tool to either settle personal scores or mint money.
- But unfortunately the way it is functioning currently in the area of martial laws and domestic violence, the criminal justice system has lent itself to be used a tool to harass husband’s family to treat him as a FREE ATM MACHINE. This practice is being aided by lobbying lawyers who fear that with the regularization of the powers of arrest, their illegitimate income will be adversely affected and hence they have hijacked the Govt. machinery for their own vested interests.
SIFF feels the way things are going on in the Criminal Justice System; it is nothing less than fascism and needs to be stopped with immediate effect. Once again it is a choice with the society to either ignore the warning or heed to it seriously.
Thanks and Regards
Public Relations Officer
Save Indian Family Foundation