This article examines the way in which legal codification, the scrutiny of the high courts, and the expansion of the ‘native Bar’ restructured colonial ‘preventive policing’. Habitual Offender legislation in England targeted the ex-convict, but in India the bad-livelihood sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC sections 109–110) permitted a far more flexible construction of ‘habituality’. They illustrate the degree to which summary judicial powers wielded by the executive head of the district were incorporated into the code, not excised from it. Educated Indians critiqued this combination of executive and judicial powers in the hands of the district magistrate, yet CrPC ‘preventive sections’ proliferated. Furthermore, in 1918 the Punjab province passed a Habitual Offender Act which, drawing upon the pattern of the Criminal Tribes Act (Act XXVII of 1871), permitted CrPC section 110 to be used to restrict the suspected ‘habitual’ to a certain area as well. Hitherto amendments to the CrPC were supposed to be matters for central not provincial legislation. The Punjab Act inaugurated an era of provincial enactments to intern or release ‘habituals’, structured around essentialist contrasts between urban and rural space. Under the surface of drives to codify colonial law a striated jurisdictional topography continued to re-form.