The amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure passed by Parliament in the just-concluded session have not received the attention they deserve. A quick read seems to indicate the following, among other, far-reaching changes:
1. The new section 41 appears to drastically reduce the power of the police to arrest without warrant. The main difference appears to be that mere suspicion as a ground for arrest has been done away with, and there seems to be an emphasis on the ‘credibility’ of information received which will justify arrests. There are also some reason-recording obligations while making arrests. To what extent will these new obligations be judicially enforceable?
2. The list of offences compoundable without requiring judicial permission appears to have been significantly enlarged in the new section 320.
3. Many other provisions, including video-recording of statements appear to be far-reaching.
Of course, given the institutional set-up of the police, what difference these changes will make in practice in the absence of wider police reforms at the state level is questionable. But it is interesting to note at least some transparency measures (recording of reasons, video-recording etc) being mandated by Parliament through criminal procedure.