Revolutionizing Criminal Justice: Understanding the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill 2023

Share this News:

New Delhi, 13th August 2023: The government has introduced three bills in 2023: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill 2023, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill 2023. These bills have been designed to substitute for the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Criminal Procedure Act of 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, respectively. The aim is to establish a legal framework that offers swift justice and aligns with the contemporary needs and aspirations of the population.


The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which is set to replace the IPC, encompasses a wide array of issues such as serious crimes, prevention of crimes against women, mob lynching, and child trafficking, among other offences. The intended Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, aimed at substituting the CrPC, encompasses various clauses such as absentia trials, the application of technology, appeals for clemency, and additional protective measures.


The Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill is composed of 533 sections, with 160 sections from the old law being modified, 9 new sections being introduced, and 9 sections being repealed. The bill brings about significant changes to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which is the guiding framework for the criminal justice system.


**1. Trial in Absentia:** The right of an accused to participate fully in the trial and present a defence is a fundamental aspect of the legal process. However, the current Criminal Procedure Code does not allow for trials in absentia; it only permits the recording of evidence in the absence of the accused. The proposed legislation, however, allows the court to proceed with the trial even if the accused is absent, 90 days after charges are framed. This new provision allows for trial and judgment to proceed in the absence of the accused, under certain circumstances.


**2. Greater Use of Technology:** The bill introduces provisions allowing trials, appeal proceedings, and deposition recordings, including those of public servants and police officers, to be conducted electronically. Accused individuals can provide statements through video-conferencing, while summonses, warrants, documents, police reports, and statements of evidence can be presented in electronic form. The bill also facilitates the use of technology in recording crime scenes, victim statements, and other aspects of the legal process.


**3. Communication Devices:** The bill expands the definition of “summons to produce a document” to include electronic communication, which encompasses communication devices like mobile phones, wireless telecommunication devices, and computers. The bill recognizes digital evidence contained in communication devices and allows its presentation in investigations, inquiries, and trial proceedings.


**4. Use of Handcuffs:** The bill permits the use of handcuffs by police officers during the arrest of individuals who are habitual or repeat offenders, escape from custody, commit an organized crime, engage in terrorist activities, drug-related crimes, illegal possession of arms and ammunition, murder, rape, acid attacks, counterfeiting, human trafficking, sexual offences against children, and offences against the state.


**5. Mercy Petitions:** The bill outlines procedures for convicts to file mercy petitions in cases of death sentences. Convicts must submit these petitions within thirty days of being informed by the Jail Superintendent about the confirmation date of the death sentence.


**6. Detention by Police:** The bill empowers the police to detain or remove individuals who resist or refuse directives during preventive actions. It also establishes provisions for preventive detention and the detention of individuals with mental illnesses.