HC junks pleas on 'arbitrary powers' of police, tells govt to consider issues

India on 18 November 2013
Location : New Delhi | Source : The Indian Express. Flickr user Kevin Deen

"It is always better to get public opinion and wide publicity before passing any legislation but it is not always done," Delhi High Court Chief Justice N V Ramana observed on Wednesday, while hearing a PIL regarding "arbitrary powers" given to police under the Delhi Police Act (DPA).

Disposing off a set of PILs filed by advocate A K Biswas, the High Court has directed the government to consider the issues raised in the pleas during the deliberations on proposed amendments of the Delhi Police Act.

"The writ petitions are to be treated as a representation by the government," the court of Chief Justice Ramana and Justice Manmohan said.

Meanwhile, Delhi government counsel Dayan Krishnan informed the court that the government was looking into considerations to completely overhaul the DPA instead of merely amending the act.

"There is a proposal to bring in a new Delhi Police Act. Consultation with the Law Ministry is on," Krishnan said.

The pleas filed by Biswas had alleged that DPA provisions extended the powers of police beyond the boundaries prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code.

He had challenged the validity of Section 59 of the Act, which allows officers to arrest petty offenders for offences such as loitering and parking rehris (small shops) on the roads. Such offences usually call for fines as small as Rs 100.

Biswas had alleged that many of these were non-cognisable offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Biswas claimed that police officers could not have been allowed to arrest or detain any person for such offences without the cognisance by a magistrate.

"Under CrPC, Delhi Police has no power to investigate any non-cognisable offence," Biswas had said.

In its reply to the court, the government had said the provisions of the Government Act were only invoked in case of petty offences to "regulate minor disruptions in everyday life", which did not require the long procedure of investigation and filing of chargesheets.

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