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Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023

Context:

Three new bills to revamp India’s criminal laws were introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Union Home Minister with the focus on justice instead of punishment.

  • The Indian Evidence Act, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will be replaced by the BharatiyaSakshya Bill, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023; and Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 respectively.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC
  2. Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023
  3. Key Proposed Changes in CrPC
  4. Significance of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill

Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was enacted in 1973, and its enforcement began on April 1, 1974.
  • It serves as the primary legislation governing procedural aspects of administering substantive criminal law in India.
CrPC’s Functionality:
  • Investigation Machinery: Outlines procedures for crime investigation.
  • Apprehension: Establishes methods for apprehending suspected criminals.
  • Evidence Collection: Provides guidelines for collecting evidence.
  • Determination of Guilt: Deals with establishing guilt or innocence of the accused.
  • Punishment Determination: Specifies procedures for determining punishment for the guilty.
  • Additional Aspects: Addresses public nuisance, crime prevention, and support for family members.

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023:

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 aims to replace the existing CrPC.

Reason for the Introduction of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill:
  • The conclusion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav on August 15, 2023, marks the beginning of India’s journey from 75 to 100 years of independence, representing the nation’s evolution.
  • In his August 15, 2022 address from the Red Fort, the Indian Prime Minister presented five vows to the nation, including the end of any vestiges of subjugation.
  • The criminal justice system in India has been governed by laws created by the British Parliament from 1860 to 2023.
  • The introduction of these three bills, including the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, aligns with the vow to infuse Indian values into the criminal justice system, thus bringing about a substantial transformation.

Key Proposed Changes in CrPC

Embracing Technology:
  • Emphasis on Electronic Proceedings: Trials, appeals, depositions (including those of public servants and police officers) may be conducted electronically.
  • Video-Conferencing for Accused: Accused individuals can have their statements recorded through video-conferencing.
  • Electronic Documentation: Summons, warrants, documents, police reports, and statements of evidence can be created in electronic form.
Digital Communication Inclusion:
  • Addition of Electronic Communication: “Communication devices” are introduced. People can be required to produce digital evidence-containing devices/documents for inquiries, guided by court or police orders.
Handcuff Usage Rules:
  • Permitted Handcuff Usage: Police can employ handcuffs while arresting a repeat offender who escaped custody or committed organized crimes, terrorism, or state offenses.
Strengthened Safeguards:
  • Revised Safeguard Section: Prominent safeguard Section 41A becomes Section 35, with an additional clause. Arrests need a higher officer’s permission (not below DSP rank) if the offense is punishable under 3 years or if the accused is over 60.
Mercy Petitions Framework:
  • Mercy Petitions Timeframe: Mercy petition filing timeframes in death penalty cases are defined.
  • Process Outline: Jail authorities’ information about a convict’s petition disposal leads to a submission by the convict, legal heir, or relative within 30 days to the Governor.
  • Presidential Petition: If rejected, the President can be petitioned within 60 days, and the President’s decision is final without appeal.
Streamlined Prosecution Sanction:
  • Prosecution Sanction Decision: Government must decide on sanction or rejection within 120 days of request receipt.
  • Default Sanction: Inaction by the government within the stipulated time results in deemed sanction.
  • Exemption from Sanction: Sexual offenses, trafficking, etc., don’t require sanction for prosecution.
  • Arms Regulation in Processions:
  • District Magistrate’s Power: Section 144A empowers the District Magistrate to prevent arms carrying in processions, mass drills, or training to maintain public peace.
Samples without Arrest:
  • Magistrate-Authorized Samples: Magistrates can order individuals to provide signature, handwriting, voice, or finger impression samples for investigation without arrests.
Police Detention Provisions:
  • Preventive Action: Police can detain or remove individuals who resist, refuse, ignore, or disregard given directions.
Trial in Absentia:
  • Applicable in Stringent Laws: Prescribed in anti-terror laws like UAPA, where the burden of proof shifts to the accused to prove innocence, altering the traditional burden on the state.

Significance of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill:

  • Consolidating and Amending Criminal Procedure: The bill aims to streamline and modify criminal procedure laws, establishing clear timelines for time-bound investigations, trials, and judgments.
  • Ensuring Swift Justice: Its implementation promises to expedite the delivery of justice, addressing delays in legal processes and providing timely resolution.
  • Alignment with Digital India Initiative: The legislation aligns with the government’s Digital India initiative, embracing technology to enhance the efficiency and accessibility of legal proceedings.
  • Admissibility of Digital Evidence: The bill allows digital or electronic records to be admissible as evidence, with the same legal standing and enforceability as traditional paper records.
  • Citizen-Centric Approach: It adopts a people-focused approach, enabling victims to receive updates on their cases, including through digital means, promoting transparency and responsiveness.
  • Swift Resolution for Petty Offenses: The proposal introduces summary trials for minor offenses, expediting the handling of such cases for more efficient resolution.
  • Empowering “Zero FIR”: It empowers individuals to file a “Zero FIR” at any police station, enabling the immediate lodging of a complaint, which can later be transferred to the relevant jurisdiction.

-Source: Indian Express


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