ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Piecemeal Changes in Criminal Code

The 2008 amendments do not make a systematic overhaul of the criminal justice system.

The reform of India’s criminal justice system has for long exercised a number of Law Commissions and committees and many of t hem have advocated changes in t he Cr iminal Procedure Code (CrPC). However, the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendments) Act 2008, which recently received presidential assent, has been greeted with widespread strikes by lawyers across the country and trenchant criticism by the police, though certain amendments have been welcomed by women and human rights activists.

The manner in which the bill was passed in Parliament has only added to the indignation. On 23 December 2008, it was among the eight bills that were passed in 17 minutes, leaving no time for the detailed discussion that such an important legislation merited. The Act has made several changes and additions. A few of them are: every state government in coordination with the central government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for compensation to the victim of a crime or his/her dependants and victims will also be entitled to compensation if the offender is not arrested and tried, and the victim can now file an appeal against a court order acquitting the accused or convicting him/her of a lesser offence without having to seek permission of any law enforcement or prosecuting agency as was earlier the case. Rape cases shall be tried “as far as practicable” by a woman judge, the recording of the victim’s statement shall be done at the victim’s residence or place of choice and “as far as practicable” by a woman police officer, and the inquiry or trial relating to these offences should “as far as possible” be completed within two months of the commencement of the examination of witnesses.

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