Legacy of the past laws: The age-old draconian laws which were passed to end the conclusive reminisces of slavery which existed till date. Removal of these laws and replacing them with new laws would be to end the focus to ‘justice’ from the concept of ‘punishments.’ The same laws which were repealed are –
Indian Penal Code, 1860
Criminal Procedure Code, 1898
Indian Evidence Act, 1872
These above 3 laws were passed by the British Parliament, to protect the British rule in India and have been accepted and followed from the time the country was under the rule of the British and were subsequently followed by Independent India and the successive governments which ruled India.
New Laws against the old ones:
Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 – which replaced by repealing the Indian Penal Code, 1860 - will have 356 sections instead of the earlier 511 sections, 175 sections have been changed, 8 new sections have been added and 22 sections have been repealed.
Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 – Criminal Procedure Code, (1898), 1973 - 533 sections, 160 sections of old law have been changed, 9 new sections have been added and 9 sections have been repealed.
Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 - Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 - will now have 170 sections instead of the earlier 167, 23 sections have been changed, 1 new section has been added and 5 have been repealed.
Coverage: A total of 475 places were covered which includes 18 States, 6 Union Territories, the Supreme Court, 16 High Courts, 5 Judicial Academies, 22 Law Universities, 142 Members of Parliament, around 270 Members of the Legislative Assembly and with the feedback from the public after having for 4 years intense discussions which were held on these laws. The Prime Minister of India were present in 158 consultation meetings on this topic.
Objective: All the laws which were in existence since the time of British India desperately needed changes which would serve the purpose and interest of the Indian society and the benefit of the Indian population.
The essence of these 3 new laws will be to protect the rights of the Indian citizens by the constitution and to uphold the rule of justice based on the thought process of the Indians. These three laws made with Indian excogitation will bring a huge change in our criminal justice system.
Notable Changes in brief
The bill defines electronic evidence as any information generated or transmitted by any device or system that is capable of being stored or retrieved by any means.
It lays down specific criteria for admissibility of electronic evidence such as authenticity, integrity, reliability etc., which can prevent misuse or tampering of digital data.
It provides for special provisions for admissibility of DNA evidence such as consent, chain of custody etc., which can enhance accuracy and reliability of biological evidence.
It recognises expert opinion as a form of evidence such as medical opinion, handwriting analysis etc., which can assist in establishing facts or circumstances relevant to a case.
It introduces the presumption of innocence as a fundamental principle of criminal justice system, which means that every person accused of an offence is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Documentation & FIR: The documentation part will include electronic/digital records, e-mails, server logs, computers, smartphones, laptops, SMS, websites, locational evidences, mails, messages on all compatible devices.
Digitization process – FIR to Case Diary – Case Diary - Charge Sheet – Judgement
The citizens can lodge a complaint outside the Police Station location. Provision of e-FIR, with every Police Station in all the districts will have a designated Police Officer who will inform the family of the arrested person about his arrest and in person.
Search & Seizure: Videography has been made compulsory at the time of search and seizure which will be part of the case and will not implicate innocent citizens, without such recording by the police no charge sheet will be valid.
Forensic Science/Application: National Forensic Science University to be set up for the studies related to forensic science in a bid to increase the conviction ratio. After three years, the target is set to have every year 33,000 forensic science experts and scientists in India so that the law can take the conviction ratio above 90%. In the crimes scene the visit of the Forensic expert team has been made compulsory under the new law, having provision for punishment of 7 years or more, through this, the police will have a scientific evidence, after which the chances of acquittal of the culprits in the court will be very less.
A time limit of 90 days is fixed for filing the charge sheet and depending on the situation, the court can further give permission for 90 more days, the investigation will have to be completed within 180 days and trial should begin.
Courts will now be bound to give notice of framing of charge to the accused person within 60 days, within 30 days after the completion of arguments, the Hon'ble Judge will have to give verdict, this will not keep the decision pending for years and the order will have to be made available online, within 7 days.
There were many cases of using pardon for political gains, now the death penalty can only be changed to life imprisonment, life imprisonment to a minimum of 7 years and 7 years to a minimum of 3 years, no culprit will be freed.
A provision has been brought for attachment of property of declared offenders, a new provision of harsh punishment against inter-state gangs and organized crimes is also being added to this law.
The statement of the victim has been made compulsory in the cases of sexual violence and the video recording of the statement has also been made compulsory in the cases of sexual harassment.
It will be compulsory for the Police to give the status of the complaint in 90 days and thereafter every 15 days, to the complainant.
No government will be able to withdraw a case of imprisonment of 7 years or more without listening to the victim, this will protect the rights of the citizens.
Scope of summary trial has been increased in petty cases, now crimes punishable up to 3 years will be included in summary trial, with this provision alone, over 40% of cases in sessions courts will end.
Recourse of law in case of crime against women and children
Sex on the pretext of false promise of marriage, employment, promotion, and false identity has been made a crime for the first time, 20 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment in all cases of gang rape.
Provision of death penalty has also been made in case of crime with girls below 18 years of age, for mob lynching also, all three provisions of 7 years in jail, life imprisonment and capital punishment have been made.
There was no provision for snatching of mobile phone or chain from women, but now a provision has been made for the same.
Punishment increased from 7 to 10 years for a person committing crime with children, provision has been made to increase the amount of fine in many crime.
In this law, special care has been taken of women and children, it has been ensured that criminals are punished and the police cannot misuse their powers.
The statement of the victim has been made compulsory in the case of sexual violence and video recording of the statement has also been made compulsory in the case of sexual harassment.
Imprisonment in case of permanent disability or being brain dead
Provision has been made for imprisonment for 10 years or life imprisonment in case of permanent disability or being brain dead.
IPC defines sedition as bringing or attempting to bring hatred or contempt, or exciting disaffection towards the government. It is punishable with imprisonment term between three years and life imprisonment, and/or a fine.
The Bill removes this offence. The sedition law in the country is repealed completely as everyone has got the right to speak in a country like India which is a democracy and the ‘right to speech and freedom of expression’ forms one of the basic rights under the Constitution of India.
It instead penalises the following:
Exciting or attempting to excite secession, armed rebellion, or subversive activities,
Encouraging feelings of separatist activities, or
Endangering sovereignty or unity and integrity of India. These offences may involve exchange of words or signs, electronic communication, or use of financial means. These will be punishable with imprisonment of up to seven years or life imprisonment, and a fine.
Hi Tech Courts and Mobile FSL
Computerization of all the courts in the country before the year 2027.
Mobile forensic vans have also been experienced. In Delhi, we have done a successful experiment that the FSL team visits the scene of any crime with a provision of punishment of more than 7 years.
There will be 3 mobile FSLs in every district and will go to crime scene.
Trials and cases against Government Officials
Government must decide on permission within 120 days for trial against a civil servant or a police officer else it will be treated as deemed permission and trial will be started.
The SP who is currently working, will testify after seeing the same file, the earlier concerned officer was not required to come, which will provide quick testimony and justice will also be delivered soon.
A historic decision regarding trial in absentia has been taken, a person declared fugitive by a Sessions Court judge will be tried and sentenced in his absence, no matter where in the world he may be hiding, if the fugitive must appeal against punishment, he will have to follow Indian law.
A provision for attachment of the property of declared criminals. adding a new provision of different type of harsh punishment against inter-state gangs and organized crimes in this law.
Terrorism/Secession/Armed Insurgency/Subversive Activities/Separatism
Earlier there was no definition of terrorism, but now crimes like secession, armed insurgency, subversive activities, separatism, crimes like challenging the unity, sovereignty and integrity of India have been defined in this law for the first time and the rights have been given to confiscate the properties of those related to these crimes.
The Bill defines terrorism as an act that intends to threaten the unity, integrity, and security of the country, to intimidate the general public or disturb public order. Terrorist acts include:
Using firearms, bombs, or hazardous substances (biological or chemical) to cause death, danger to life, or spread a message of fear,
destroying property or disrupting essential services, and (iii) activities included in the treaties listed in the Second Schedule of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 such as unlawful seizure of aircraft or taking of hostages. Punishment for attempting or committing terrorism includes:
Death or life imprisonment, where the offence has resulted in death of any person,
Imprisonment term between five years and life in other cases. An offender will also be liable to a fine of at least five lakh rupees.
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