The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023

News: Recently, The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Home Minister Amit Shah. It aims to repeal and replace the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which is the law that governs the procedure for arrest, prosecution, and bail for offences under various Acts including the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

What are the key provisions of the Bill?

Speedy Trials

• Trial expedited, Summary trial for petty offences.
• Fixing the 90-day window for investigation after filing of chargesheet
• Witness protection scheme to be made by states

Undertrials

• The bill provides that first-time offenders will be released on bail if they have completed detention for one-third of the maximum imprisonment which can be imposed for the offence. The superintendent of the jail where the accused is detained must make the application seeking the release of such undertrials on bail.
• The bill also excludes offences punishable by life imprisonment and persons against whom proceedings are pending in more than one offence from the provision that allows release on personal bond after half of the maximum imprisonment period is completed.

Section 41A of the CrPC will be renumbered as Section 35

• This change includes an added safeguard, stipulating that no arrest can be made without prior approval from an officer at least at the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), especially for offenses punishable by less than 3 years or for individuals above 60 years.

Trials in electronic mode

• The bill allows all trials, inquiries, and proceedings to be held in electronic mode. It also provides for the production of electronic communication devices, such as mobiles, computers, or telephone, for investigation, inquiry, or trial. Electronic communication includes communication through devices such as mobiles, computers, or telephone.

Trials in absence of offender

• The Bill provides for conduct of trial and pronouncement of judgement in the absence of a proclaimed offender. This shall be done when such a person has absconded to evade trial and there is no immediate prospect of arresting him.

Timelines for Procedures

• The Bill prescribes timelines for various procedures. For instance, it requires medical practitioners who examine rape victims to submit their reports to the investigating officer within seven days.

Medical examination of accused

• The bill empowers any police officer to request for a medical examination of the accused in certain cases, such as cases of rape. Such examination is carried out by a registered medical practitioner.

Forensic Investigation

• The bill mandates forensic investigation for offences punishable with at least seven years of imprisonment. In such cases, forensic experts will visit crime scenes to collect forensic evidence and record the process on mobile phone or any other electronic device. If a state does not have forensics facility, it shall utilise such facility in another state.

Power to Prohibit carrying arms

• The bill omits the provision that empowers the District Magistrate to prohibit the carrying of arms in any procession, mass drills, or mass training with arms in public places. This provision was not notified under the Code.

Signatures and Finger impressions

• The Code empowers a Metropolitan/Judicial Magistrate to order any person to provide specimen signatures or handwriting. Such an order can be given for any investigation or proceeding under the Code.
However, such specimen cannot be collected from a person who has not been arrested under the investigation.
• The Bill expands this to include finger impressions and voice samples. These samples may also be taken from a person who has not been arrested.

What are the other changes recommended?
• The bill requires that police consult the victim before withdrawing a case punishable by seven years or more, which can ensure that justice is not compromised or denied.
• It empowers magistrates to take cognizance of offenses based on electronic records such as emails, SMSs, WhatsApp messages etc., which can facilitate evidence collection and verification.
• Mercy petitions in death sentence cases to be filed within 30 days to the Governor and within 60 days to the President. No appeal shall lie against the President's decision in any court. 

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