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Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita 2023

Context:

The Lok Sabha approved three significant bills, namely the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, with the objective of comprehensively reforming India’s criminal laws. Union Home Minister, while introducing the bills, emphasized their purpose of replacing laws instituted during the British era with indigenous legislation.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 Overview
  2. Critique of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 Overview:

  • The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS2) aims to replace the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC).
  • CrPC outlines procedures for arrest, prosecution, and bail and was initially enacted in 1861 to address legal system complexities in India.
  • The BNSS2 proposes amendments to existing provisions, affecting trials, investigations, etc.
Key Provisions in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 Bill:

Detention of Undertrials:

  • CrPC allows release on personal bond if half the maximum imprisonment period is served (except for offenses punishable by death).
  • BNSS2 adds exceptions for offenses with life imprisonment penalties and cases pending for multiple offenses.

Medical Examination:

  • CrPC permits medical examination in specific cases, such as rape, by a registered medical practitioner upon a sub-inspector’s request.
  • BNSS2 broadens this to allow any police officer to request such examinations.

Forensic Investigation:

  • BNSS2 mandates forensic investigation for offenses with at least seven years of imprisonment.
  • Forensic experts will collect evidence, recording the process on electronic devices. States without facilities can utilize those in other states.

Signatures and Finger Impressions:

  • CrPC empowers a Magistrate to order specimen signatures or handwriting.
  • BNSS2 expands this to include finger impressions and voice samples, even from non-arrested individuals.

Timelines for Procedures:

  • BNSS2 sets timelines, requiring medical practitioners examining rape victims to submit reports within seven days, streamlining various procedures.

Critique of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023:

Extended Police Custody:

  • BNSS2 permits up to 15 days of police custody during the initial 40 or 60 days of the 60- or 90-day judicial custody period.
  • Concerns raised about potential denial of bail for the entire period if police custody is not fully utilized.

Property Attachment without Safeguards:

  • Power to attach property lacks safeguards outlined in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Restrictions on Bail for Multiple Charges:

  • While CrPC allows bail after half the maximum imprisonment, BNSS2 denies this for individuals facing multiple charges.
  • Potential limitations on bail in cases involving multiple sections.

Use of Handcuffs and Public Order Provisions:

  • BNSS2 allows the use of handcuffs in various cases, including organized crime, contrary to Supreme Court directives.
  • Retention of CrPC provisions related to maintaining public order raises questions about their inclusion in the same law.

Integration of Trial Procedure and Public Order:

  • The BNSS2 retains provisions related to public order alongside trial procedures, prompting discussions on whether these functions should be regulated under the same law or separately.

Omission of High-Level Committee Recommendations:

  • Recommendations from high-level committees, particularly those regarding changes to the CrPC, reforms in sentencing guidelines, and codifying accused rights, have not been incorporated into the BNSS2.

-Source: The Hindu


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