Difference between revisions of "Historical background of CrPC"

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INTRODUCTION:- The Code of Criminal Procedure commonly called Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is the main legislation on procedure for administration of substantive criminal law in India. It was enacted in 1973 and came into force on 1 April 1974. It provides the machinery for the investigation of crime, apprehension of suspected criminals, collection of evidence, determination of guilt or innocence of the accused person and the determination of punishment of the guilty. It also deals with public nuisance, prevention of offences and maintenance of wife, child and parents. The Criminal Procedure Code is applicable in the whole of India. The Parliament's power to legislate in respect of Jammu & Kashmir was curtailed by Article 370 of the Constitution of India. But now the Parliament has revoked Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. Thus CrPC is applicable to whole India Provided that the provisions of this Code, other than those relating to Chapters VIII, X and XI thereof, shall not apply- (a) to the State of Nagaland, (b) to the tribal areas, However the concerned State Government may, by notification apply any or all of these provisions in these areas. Moreover, the Supreme Court of India has also ruled that even in these areas, the authorities are to be governed by the substance of these rules

At present, the act contains 484 sections , 2 schedules and 56 forms. The sections are divided into 37 chapters.

What is the Code of Criminal Procedure Act all about?

Barring Jammu & Kashmir and parts of northeast, CrPC applies to the whole of India and to all persons irrespective of their religion or nationality. It lays down the procedure for investigation, inquiry and trial of all offences that fall under the Indian Penal Code 1860 and other criminal laws. It lays down the parameters for exercising draconian powers of arrest, summons, warrants and search and seizure. It creates the entire hierarchy of criminal justice system, complete with investigators, prosecutors, magistrates and separate trial courts for minor and heinous offences. It prescribes the offences that police can take cognizance of and effect arrests without a warrant. Since the police cannot register FIRs in connection with non-cognizable offences (such as defamation), CrPC provides the remedies that are available in such cases. It also enlists safeguards like the stipulations that an arrested person has to be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours and that a seizure is valid only if it is made in the presence of independent witnesses.   In medieval India, subsequent to the law set by the Muslims, the Mohammedan Criminal Law came into prevalence. The British rulers passed the Regulating Act of 1773 under which a Supreme Court was established in Calcutta and later on at Madras and in Bombay. The Supreme Court was to apply British procedural law while deciding the cases of the Crown's subjects.After the Rebellion of 1857, the crown took over the administration in India. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1861 was passed by the British parliament. The CrPC was created for the first time ever in 1882 and then amended in 1898, then according to the 41st Law Commission report in 1973. In the olden days, there was no uniform law relating to criminal procedure for the whole of India. There were separate Acts, mostly rudimentary in their character, for the Courts within and outside the Presidency-towns. Later on, the Acts in force in the Presidency-towns were consolidated into the Criminal Procedure Supreme Court Act, 1852, subsequently replaced by the High Court Criminal Procedure Act, 1865.

During the initial years of colonial rule, East India Company did not have its own courts. Civil and criminal justice was under the rulers of different provinces. Some Indian states even had different courts for different religions, but after the British conquest of Bengal the system started becoming more uniform.

In the last decade of the 18th century, Lord Cornwallis made changes in the criminal justice system and British judges replaced their Indian counterparts in Fauzdari Adalats. As the Raj expanded, courts were established in different parts of India.

The code of criminal procedure was enacted for the first time in 1861 as part of a series of criminal law reforms undertaken by the Raj in the wake of the 1857 mutiny.

That the 1861 CrPC was designed to rein in rebellious natives was evident from the immunity it conferred on whites from the criminal jurisdiction of district courts. Only high courts could then try European British subjects.

In an incremental reform, the next version of CrPC enacted in 1872 provided that a magistrate could try a European British subject if he was himself one.

The next landmark in codification was the 1882 CrPC which empowered Indian magistrates too to exercise jurisdiction over whites but they could do so only in presidency towns.

The CrPC of 1898 contained further reforms towards providing a uniform law of criminal procedure for the whole of India. The British legacy in this respect was carried on by independent India till CrPC was recast again in 1973, yielding the present code. There have since been at least seven major amendments to the code. The numerous Acts prevailing in the mofussils were all absorbed in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1861, which was subsequently replaced by the Code of 1871. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1882, gave a uniform law of procedure for the whole of India, both in the Presidency-towns and in the mofussils, and it was supplemented by the Code of 1898. The last mentioned Code was amended several times, with major amendments in 1923 and 1955. The Law Commission, set up in 1955, studied the old Code extensively, and made various recommendations and suggestions in its detailed report submitted in September 1969. These suggestions were incorporated in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, which came into force on 1st April 1974, and which has since been amended several times thereafter. While drafting the Code, the following three basic considerations have been kept in mind, viz.— (a) That an accused person should get a fair trial in accordance with the accepted principles of natural justice; (b) That every effort should be made to avoid delay in investigation and trial, which is harmful, not only to the individual involved, but also to the society; (c) That the procedure should not be complicated, and should, to the utmost extent possible, ensure a fair deal to the poorer sections of the community.