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The Supreme Court Bar Association is opposed to the amendments made in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) giving discretionary powers to police not to arrest a person who is involved in an offence having maximum sentence of seven years.

The bill, which was passed by Parliament on December 23 without any discussion as on that day eight bills were passed in 17 minutes and has also received Presidential assent, is likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court when it is notified by the government to enforce the amendments.

SCBA President P H Parekh told UNI that he was with the bar associations of the country, who are opposing the amendments.

SCBA Secretary K C Kaushik said it was wrong on the part of the government to introduce such a bill in Parliament without taking the legal fraternity and bar associations into confidence.

According to Mr Parekh, the SCBA has already passed a resolution opposing the amendments.

There is widespread belief among lawyers that these amendments would give a free hand to frauds, unscrupulous elements, extortionists, those demanding dowry and other offenders without any fear of being arrested, leaving law-abiding citizens at the mercy of anti-social elements, police and politicians with criminal track records.

Police would misuse its discretionary powers to shield the culprits, they contend.

The apex court is already seized of a PIL which raises the important and similar issue of whether police officers should be given discretionary powers in case of commission of a cognisable offence or not.

Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan had expressed the views that a person should not be arrested without verifying the veracity of allegations so that people are not implicated in false cases to settle personal and political scores while Justice B N Aggarwal, who is the next senior most judge in the Supreme Court, holds opposite views and had observed, ‘Discretion will amount to give the police a handle.’ The lawyers have already declared that they would observe a nationwide strike against the amendments on February 3.

According to the amendments, police would have to seek prior permission of the court before arresting a person and would be able to arrest people only involved in heinous crimes like murder, rape and dacoity.

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