6 April 2023 11:00 AM GMT
The Union Government on Thursday informed the Apex Court that the Centre was actively considering amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala was hearing a plea challenging Section 64 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the ground that the said section discriminated against women by...
The Union Government on Thursday informed the Apex Court that the Centre was actively considering amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala was hearing a plea challenging Section 64 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the ground that the said section discriminated against women by treating female members of a family incapable of accepting summons on behalf of the person summoned.
Section 64 of CrPC reads as follows:
"Where the person summoned cannot, by the exercise of due diligence, be found, the summons may be served by leaving one of the duplicates for him with some adult male member of his family residing with him."
In today's hearings, the Attorney General for India R Venkatramani, at the very outset, informed the bench that Government is actively considering amendments to the criminal laws.
"Consultation has taken place. In fact, I've personally asked the government to take an active role in this. Some of this has to do with sedition laws", AG said.
When CJI DY Chandrachud asked what sedition law had to do with the matter, the AG clarified that the central government was actively looking at amending the whole of CrPC and IPC. Accordingly, he requested the bench to list the matter after the monsoon session of Parliament.
We are informed that CrPC and IPC are under active consideration for amendments, the bench noted in the order.
The matter is now listed in July 2023.
It may be noted in March 2020, the Central Government had constituted a Criminal Law Reforms Committee to make suggestions to revise IPC, CrPC and the Indian Evidence Act 1872. The Committee was headed by Professor Dr Ranbir Singh, the then VC of National Law University Delhi and consisted of Professor Dr.GS Bajpai, the then Registrar of NLU-D, Professor Dr.Balraj Chauhan the VC of DNLU, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani and GP Thareja, former District and Sessions Judge, Delhi.
In February 2022, the Committee submitted a report to the Government, after taking suggestions from the public. In April 2022, the Law Ministry had told the Rajya Sabha that the Government has undertaken a process of comprehensive review of the criminal laws.
In October 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that he was personally looking into the matter. "We will come with new CrPC, IPC drafts in the Parliament in a short time", he had said. However, Government did not move any bill in this regard in the subsequent Winter Session or the recent Budget Session of the Parliament.
What the PIL about?
As per the petition, while the Civil Procedure Code, enacted in 1908, required the summons to be served on any adult member of the defendant's family regardless of their gender, the CrPC, which was enacted after 65 years of CPC was "anarchic and dogmatic". It states that–
"Cr.P.C. does not consider an adult female member of the family capable and competent to receive summons."
As per the petition, the exclusion of female family members to receive summons on behalf of the summoned person violates the women's right to equality guaranteed to them under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India, the right to know guaranteed to them under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, and right to dignity guaranteed to them under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The petition adds that–
"In Madras High Court a petition was filed titled G. Kavitha v. Union of India, challenging the discrimination against women under section 64 Cr.P.C., wherein Ministry of Law and Justice, Union of India was impleaded as Respondent. Therein, the Ministry of Law and Justice, Union of India, supported the nonservice of summons on females to protect their privacy.The Ministry also justified non service of summons on females keeping in mind Pardanashin females."
It stated that the provision also jeopardises the victim's right to speedy trial guaranteed to him under Article 21 of the Constitution. As per the petition, apart from significantly delaying the proceedings, Section 64 CrPC creates hardships for all other relevant stakeholders as well.
Additionally, the petition states that the provision fails to account for the following situations:
A. When the person summoned resides only with the female family members or;
B. When the only person available at the time of service of summons is a female.
It stated that the possibility of such situations is particularly high in light of the stark gender gap in the workforce between the males and the females, i.e., only 22% of the Indian women are at work, which entails that the remaining 78% of women are at home.
Case Title: Kush Kalra v. UoI And Anr. WP(C) No. 958/2022
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