18 Aug Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “ Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023”. The topic “ Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023″ has relevance in the Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.
About Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023?
GS 2: Governance
Significance and Implications?
Concerns and Limitations?
Why in the news:
The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 is set to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
About Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC):
The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), enacted in 1973 and effective from 1 April 1974, serves as the primary legislation governing the procedural aspects of administering substantive criminal law in India. It encompasses various functions, including:
- Facilitating the investigation of crimes,
- Apprehending suspected individuals,
- Gathering evidence,
- Deciding the culpability or innocence of the accused,
- Determining appropriate punishments for those found guilty.
Furthermore, the CrPC addresses matters such as public disturbance, prevention of offenses, and the welfare of spouses, children, and parents.
In this context, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 aims to replace the CrPC, marking a shift in India’s approach towards criminal justice procedures.
About Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023
The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 is poised to replace the existing Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in India. This momentous legislation is conceived with the primary objective of embracing India’s sovereignty and fundamentally reshaping the criminal justice system to resonate with the nation’s spirit of self-determination and progress.
- Culmination of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav: As Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav concludes on August 15, 2023, India embarks on the journey from 75 to 100 years of independence, marking the commencement of a new era.
- Panch Pran: In his address on August 15, 2022, the Prime Minister laid out the Panch Pran (Five Vows), wherein one significant vow was to eliminate any lingering remnants of colonial subjugation.
- Overcoming Colonial Legacy: The Indian criminal justice system has functioned under laws inherited from the British Parliament since 1860, necessitating a comprehensive overhaul in line with contemporary Indian values.
Alignment with National Goals:
- Nurturing a Sovereign Spirit: The proposed legislation aligns perfectly with India’s commitment to shedding colonial remnants and ushering in a phase of robust self-sovereignty.
- Reinforcing Criminal Justice: By initiating these comprehensive changes, the legislation addresses historical imbalances and infuses the Indian ethos into the very fabric of the criminal justice system.
Key Changes Proposed:
- Leveraging Technology:
- Proceedings in Electronic Mode: Trials, appeal proceedings, and recording of depositions, including those of public servants and police officers, may be held electronically.
- Digital Evidence Collection: The bill recognizes the significance of digital evidence collected through various communication devices, bolstering comprehensive investigations. Upon the instructions of a court or a law enforcement officer, an individual is obligated to present any document or device that is potentially harboring digital evidence, with the aim of facilitating an inquiry.
- Modernizing Procedures:
- Electronic Communication: The bill incorporates provisions for electronic issuance of summons, warrants, documents, and statements, streamlining communication processes.
- Handcuff Regulations: The legislation permits the use of handcuffs in arresting repeat offenders, escapees, and individuals involved in organized crime, enhancing law enforcement capabilities.
- Enhanced Safeguards:
- Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), known for its significant protection against unwarranted arrests, will be renumbered as Section 35. It says that no person can be arrested without prior permission of an officer, not below the rank of a DSP, in situations where the offense carries a penalty of fewer than 3 years or if the individual is aged 60 years or above.
- Mercy Petitions and Sentencing:
- The bill introduces a provision specifying the timeframe for submitting mercy petitions in cases where death sentences are involved.
- Upon receiving information from prison authorities regarding the outcome of a death row convict’s petition, the convict, their legal heir, or a relative can lodge a mercy petition with the Governor within a period of 30 days.
- If the Governor’s decision is unfavorable, there is an allowance for the individual to appeal to the President within a subsequent timeframe of 60 days.
- Importantly, the bill establishes that there shall be no scope for further appeal against the President’s decision in any court.
- Sanction to Prosecute:
- Time-Bound Sanction: The government is mandated to decide on the grant or rejection of sanction within 120 days, ensuring a time-bound process. Failure to do so will be deemed as sanction accorded.
- Exemption Cases: Importantly, certain cases, including those related to sexual offenses and trafficking, won’t require the sanction for prosecution, expediting legal proceedings.
- Public Peace Maintenance:
- Arms in Procession: The provision under Section 144A empowers district magistrates to regulate the carrying of arms during processions, safeguarding public peace.
- Effective Evidence Collection:
- Non-Arrest Sample Collection: The bill empowers magistrates to order the collection of samples such as signatures, handwriting, and more for investigation purposes without resorting to arrest.
- Preventive Action and Detention:
- Police Detention: The bill introduces provisions empowering the police to detain or remove individuals resisting, refusing, ignoring, or disregarding directions issued as part of preventive action.
- Trial in Absentia:
- Applicability to Anti-Terror Laws: The legislation prescribes trial in absentia as a stringent provision, primarily applying to anti-terror laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). This reverses the burden of proof, placing the onus on the accused to prove innocence, ensuring the effective application of law.
Significance and Implications:
- Speedy Justice Delivery: The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 endeavors to guarantee time-bound investigations, trials, and judgments, fostering the swift dispensation of justice.
- Embracing Digital India: The legislation exemplifies India’s digitalization thrust by recognizing the admissibility of digital or electronic records as evidence, conferring them with legal validity and enforceability akin to paper records.
- Citizen-Centric Approach: The legislation embodies a citizen-centric approach by offering digital FIRs and regular updates to victims, enhancing transparency and engagement.
- Pragmatic Reforms: The bill introduces pragmatic reforms such as summary trials for minor offenses and ‘Zero FIR’ provisions that simplify procedures and improve accessibility.
- Jurisdictional Flexibility: Notably, the introduction of ‘Zero FIR’ allows for the filing of an FIR in any police station regardless of whether the offense falls under its jurisdiction, promoting wider accessibility and swift action.
Concerns and Limitations
While the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 proposes significant changes to the criminal justice system, it is essential to consider certain concerns and limitations that may arise:
- Implementation Challenges: The practical implementation of the proposed changes could face obstacles, such as capacity constraints, technological gaps, and varying levels of readiness among law enforcement agencies and courts.
- Balancing Speed and Fairness: The emphasis on expediting trials and verdicts might inadvertently compromise due process and the right to a fair trial, raising questions about the quality and depth of justice delivered.
- Digital Divide: The reliance on technology for electronic proceedings, evidence collection, and communication may exclude segments of society lacking access to digital resources, potentially creating disparities in justice delivery.
- Misuse of Power: The provisions allowing handcuffs, preventive detention, and trial in absentia could be susceptible to misuse by law enforcement agencies, leading to potential human rights violations and abuse of power.
- Data Security and Privacy: The digitalization of evidence and communication introduces concerns about data security, hacking, and unauthorized access to sensitive information, undermining the confidentiality of legal proceedings.
- Erosion of Judicial Authority: Empowering magistrates to order non-arrest sampling and adopting trial procedures from anti-terror laws might weaken the traditional role of the judiciary as an impartial arbiter.
- Subjectivity in Sanctioning: The requirement for government sanction to prosecute public servants within a specific timeframe could potentially be influenced by political considerations, affecting the impartiality of justice.
- Limited Judicial Review: The provision that appeals against the President’s order shall not be entertained in any court could restrict the avenues for seeking justice and judicial review in certain cases.
- Loss of Regional Autonomy: Centralizing certain procedures and protocols could potentially diminish the role of state and district-level authorities in criminal justice administration, impacting local autonomy.
- Accountability and Transparency: The Bill might need to address mechanisms for ensuring accountability and transparency in cases of misuse of electronic evidence, arbitrary preventive detention, and non-compliance with digital procedures.
- Legislative Overhaul: While the Bill aims to rectify historical imbalances, a comprehensive overhaul of the criminal justice system involves complexities beyond procedural changes, potentially necessitating broader legislative reforms.
- Robust Implementation Strategy:
- Develop a comprehensive implementation plan that outlines timelines, responsibilities, and resources required for each aspect of the bill.
- Establish specialized training programs for law enforcement officers, judges, and legal practitioners to ensure proper understanding and adherence to the new procedures.
- Public Consultation:
- Conduct widespread public consultations involving legal experts, stakeholders, civil society, and the general public to identify potential pitfalls and refine the bill’s provisions.
- Technology Access Equity:
- Bridge the digital divide by ensuring accessibility to technology for all segments of the population, especially in remote and marginalized areas.
- Safeguarding Rights:
- Institute clear guidelines for the use of technology in trials and investigations to ensure that rights of accused persons are protected.
- Strengthen safeguards against misuse of power by law enforcement agencies, particularly in arrest procedures and evidence collection.
- Strengthening Judiciary:
- Simultaneously focus on strengthening the judicial infrastructure to handle the increased workload resulting from expedited trials.
- Flexibility for Regional Variations:
- Consider regional and cultural variations when implementing the bill’s provisions to ensure that justice remains contextually relevant.
- Education and Awareness:
- Launch educational campaigns to inform citizens about their rights under the new bill and the procedures involved in the criminal justice system.
- Adaptive Approach:
- Be prepared to make necessary amendments based on feedback and emerging challenges to ensure that the bill evolves with changing circumstances.
- Transparency and Accountability:
- Establish mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the bill’s provisions, preventing any abuse of power.
In Conclusion the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 presents a significant opportunity to modernize India’s criminal justice system and align it with the nation’s values and aspirations. A careful, holistic, and adaptable approach, taking into account concerns and limitations, will ensure that the bill achieves its intended objectives of delivering swift, fair, and just outcomes for all citizens.
Q.1 What does the term “Zero FIR” refer to in the context of criminal procedures in India?
(A) A FIR that involves zero criminal charges.
(B) A FIR filed for a minor offense.
(C) A FIR filed in any police station regardless of jurisdiction.
(D) A FIR filed without any evidence.
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023:
- It is being introduced to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- It prohibits the use of electronic devices to be used as evidence.
- It sets a time limit of 60 days after receiving a request to grant or reject sanction to prosecute a public servant.
How many of the above statement/s is/are NOT correct?
(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) All three
Q.3 Discuss the key provisions and significance of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 in transforming India’s criminal justice system. Analyze the potential impact of the proposed changes on ensuring speedy justice delivery.