Highlights of the Bill

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2006 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • The Bill makes it mandatory for a witness to sign statements made to the police.  Material witnesses in heinous offences are to be produced before a magistrate for recording of statement. 
  • A witness who deviates from his statement given before a magistrate may be tried by a fast-track procedure.
  • The Bill defines a "victim" and provides for a victim compensation scheme.  The victim may be permitted to appoint a lawyer to "coordinate" with the prosecution.
  • The Bill increases the number of minor offences which can be tried under a fast track procedure.  It provides for speedy investigation and trial of sexual offences against women.
  • A police officer has to specify in writing the reasons for making an arrest in cases of offence punishable with imprisonment up to seven years.  In certain cases, the police can also issue a "notice of arrest" rather than arresting a person.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Bill introduces provisions related to hostile witnesses which are similar to those contained in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2003.  These provisions were dropped during the passing of Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2003 in December 2005.
  • The provisions regarding signing of statements by witnesses may not reduce the chances of a witness turning hostile as there is no change in the evidential value.
  • The timeline specified in the Bill for investigation and trial of a sexual offence against women is not mandatory in nature.
  • The role of the lawyer appointed by the victim to "coordinate" with the prosecution is not clear.  The mechanism for computing the compensation scheme for victims is not specified.
  • A girl under 18 years of age may be detained during investigation in a remand home or a recognised social institution only.  This is already provided in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.

Read the complete analysis here