LAWYERS PROTEST CHANGES IN CRPC

Lawyers across north India on January 19 went on a day-long strike in the district courts demanding withdrawal of the proposed changes in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) that allow police to go by discretion to arrest the accused in an offence punishable up to seven-year jail term. Lawyers’ bodies observed this strike for the…

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Lawyers across north India on January 19 went on a day-long strike in the district courts demanding withdrawal of the proposed changes in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) that allow police to go by discretion to arrest the accused in an offence punishable up to seven-year jail term. Lawyers’ bodies observed this strike for the third time within two weeks. “There is a complete strike in all of the northern states including Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh,” said Rajiv Khosla, spokesperson of the Co-ordination Committee of All Bar Associations of Delhi.

“Lawyers abstained from appearing in the courts while the cases listed for hearing were being adjourned,” Khosla said. A Federation of Bar Associations formed to launch a “unified protest” against the changes in the statute has already announced the nationwide strikes on February 3 and 18 to press for their demands.

The bar leaders fear that the proposed amendments doing away with the mandatory arrest provisions in the offences punishable up to seven years would remove fear from minds of criminals who would misuse the provisions under the garb of personal liberty.

According to the proposed amendments in the Act, which received the President of India’s assent recently, no arrest would be required for cognizable offences such as molestation, dowry harassment and attempt to robbery, prescribing maximum punishment of seven years’ jail term. While describing the legislation as ‘anti-people’ and ‘anti-social’, Khosla said that even if the bill bringing the changes in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) had got the President’s nod, the Government could still stall the legislation by not enacting it.