This article on ‘Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill 2023: All You Need to Know’ was written by Mahek Mishra, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The Indian Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 (BS Bill) in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) on August 11, 2023, with the intention of replacing the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is currently examining the bill.
It is uncertain if the BS Bill will become law due to the fact that it is still in its formulation stages. However, it is a crucial piece of legislation that might have a substantial effect on the criminal justice system in India. This article aims to explore the key provisions of the bill, its advantages and disadvantages, and its likely effects on India’s criminal justice system.
The BS Bill’s Significant Provisions
The Indian Evidence Act is being modernized and brought into accordance with 21st-century technological advancements by a number of important provisions mentioned in the BS Bill. These provisions consist of:
- The admission of electronic or digital documents as evidence:
The BS Bill makes it plain that such records are admissible in court as evidence, provided that they have been legally authenticated. Compared to the current Evidence Act, which only permits paper documents to be entered as evidence, this is a substantial change.
- The use of uniform regulations to accumulate evidence:
The BS Bill establishes consistent guidelines for gathering evidence throughout India. This is done to guarantee that, regardless of where the trial takes place, evidence will be gathered fairly and consistently.
- Expanding the Scope of Secondary Evidence:
The bill expands the boundaries of secondary evidence by enabling the use of mechanically made copies, document counterparts, and oral accounts of document contents.
- The introduction of new presumptions:
A variety of new presumptions, which are guidelines the court might use to determine whether or not the evidence is admissible, are introduced by the BS Bill. For instance, the BS Bill establishes a presumption that electronic documents made in the normal course of business are legitimate.
- Rule changes affecting the admission of expert testimony:
The BS Bill adjusts the rules governing the admissibility of expert testimony. This is done to make it simpler for experts to testify in court and to guarantee the validity of their evidence.
- The rules governing the admission of confessions have changed:
The BS Bill modifies the requirements for confessional admission. This is done to guarantee that confessions are trustworthy and voluntary and to make it more difficult for them to be acknowledged as evidence.
- Modifications to the character evidence admissible rules:
The BS Bill modifies the character evidence admissibility rules. Character evidence will now have a harder time being accepted as evidence, and this will assure that it is.
The Effects of the BS Bill, 2023
The modifications it suggests could make it simpler for prosecutors to prosecute cases and get convictions. Concerns have been raised about the BS Bill’s potential use to silence dissent or single out minority groups, though.
Different people have had different opinions about the BS Bill. In order to put India’s laws in step with the 21st century’s technological advancements, several legal professionals have praised the proposed reforms whereas some have expressed worry for the same. What the BS Bill’s actual implications will be can only be determined with time. The Indian criminal justice system will undoubtedly be significantly impacted by this important piece of legislation for some time to come.
Pros and Cons of the BS Bill, 2023
BS Bill is a complicated piece of legislation with both possible benefits and drawbacks. Before the BS Bill becomes a legal document, it is crucial to thoroughly analyse all of its ramifications.
- By making it simpler for prosecutors to prosecute cases and get convictions, the BS Bill might improve the effectiveness and fairness of the Indian criminal justice system.
- By accepting electronic or digital recordings as evidence and adopting universal criteria for evidence gathering, the BS Bill might bring the Indian criminal justice system more in line with the technological advancements of the twenty-first century.
- By making it simpler for victims to receive justice, the BS Bill may contribute to the protection of victims of crime.
- By making it more challenging for defendants to defend themselves in court, the BS Bill might be used to suppress dissent or target minority groups.
- The BS Bill might be used to condemn innocent individuals by making it simpler for prosecutors to present shaky evidence.
- The BS Bill could be too complicated and challenging for regular people to comprehend.
Thus, it is concluded that the government’s reasoning for drafting the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill is based on the realization that the Indian Evidence Act as it is now insufficient to take into account the technical improvements and sociological changes that have taken place over the previous several decades. The government seeks to guarantee that evidence-related rules are in accordance with modern standards by repealing the out-of-date statute and replacing it with a comprehensive and modern measure.
- Piyush, “The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023: Revamping India’s Criminal Justice System”, Current Affairs, 12 August 2023, available at: https://currentaffairs.adda247.com/the-bharatiya-sakshya-bill-2023-revamping-indias-criminal-justice-system/
- Rahul Tripathi, “Amit Shah introduces three bills to replace IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act”, The Economic Times, 14 August 2023, available at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/amit-shah-introduces-three-bills-to-replace-ipc-crpc-evidence-act/articleshow/102659477.cms?from=mdr