In the 10th Kohli Memorial Lecture on ‘Criminal Justice System – growing responsibilities in light of contemporary challenges’, delivered on 2 April 2009, the Chief Justice of India defended the recent amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure thus:
The legislative intent behind giving this discretionary power to the police is to reduce the high incidence of arbitrary and unnecessary arrests that take place in our criminal justice system. Some critics of this proposed change have argued that the deterrent value of penal provisions will be weakened since arrests will not be made in cases where the suspected persons use their money or muscle-power.
This criticism is unfounded because the proposed change does not take away the power to arrest in its entirety. Instead it requires arrests to be made in a reasonable and proportionate manner. The Investigating Officer (I.O.) is required to record reasons in writing for making an arrest, thereby creating a reliable basis for subsequent judicial scrutiny. In instances of exigency, such reasons can of course be recorded after the actual act of arrest. Such a requirement is in conformity with ‘due process’ norms and it will create a measure of accountability in police behaviour apart from providing material for consideration during bail proceedings. Furthermore an Investigating Officer is also to be given the power to issue a ‘notice of arrest’ to the person sought to be apprehended. To my mind, these changes proposed to the law of arrest are well-intentioned and are being unfairly criticised by some.