Overhauling IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act
- 14 Aug 2023
- 6 min read
Why in News?
Recently, the Union Home Minister introduced three bills in the Lok Sabha that aim to repeal and replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, which were enacted during the British rule in India. The bills are:
- The Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill, 2023, which will replace the IPC, 1860
- The Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, which will replace the CrPC, 1898
- The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, which will replace the Evidence Act, 1872
- Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the official criminal code of India drafted in 1860 in the wake of the first law commission established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833.
- Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provides procedures for administering criminal law in India. It was enacted in 1973 and became effective on 1 April 1974.
- The Indian Evidence Act, originally passed in India by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1872, during the British Raj, contains a set of rules and allied issues governing admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law.
What are the Main Features of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill, 2023?
- The bill defines terrorism and offenses such as separatism, armed rebellion against the government, challenging the sovereignty of the country, which were earlier mentioned under different provisions of law.
- It repeals the offense of sedition, which was widely criticized as a colonial relic that curbed free speech and dissent.
- It prescribes capital punishment as the maximum sentence for mob lynching, which has been a menace in recent years.
- It proposes 10 years imprisonment for sexual intercourse with women on false promise of marriage, which is a common form of deception and exploitation.
- The bill introduces community service as a form of punishment for specific crimes, which can help in reforming offenders and reducing overcrowding in prisons.
- The bill fixes a maximum limit of 180 days to file a charge sheet, which can speed up the trial process and prevent indefinite delays.
What are the Main Features of the Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023?
- It promotes the use of technology for trials, appeals, and recording depositions, allowing video-conferencing for proceedings.
- The bill makes video-recording of statement of survivors of sexual violence compulsory, which can help in preserving evidence and preventing coercion or manipulation.
- The bill mandates that police must inform about the status of a complaint in 90 days, which can enhance accountability and transparency.
- 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.
- 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 allows absconding criminals to be tried in-absentia by court and sentenced too, which can deter fugitives from escaping justice.
- 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.
What are the Main Features of Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023?
- 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.