How New CrPC is Different from Old CrPC?

28 Jun 2024  Read 769 Views

Understanding the criminal justice system can often be tricky, especially when the rules change. The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS), aims to modernise and improve the old Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). This new law seeks to make the justice system faster, more transparent, and more focused on victims.

The CrPC, which has been around since 1861 and was updated in 1973, sets the rules for investigating crimes, making arrests, prosecuting offenders, and granting bail. Over the years, it has been amended and interpreted by the Supreme Court to address various issues, such as registering FIRs, the right to bail, and the need for speedy trials. 

Despite these changes, the system still faces problems like long delays and unfair treatment. The BNSS aims to fix these issues with new measures. Keep reading this blog, to understand how the BNSS aims to make the system better, and also we will see loopholes in this Act. 

Major Highlights of the BNSS

1. Detention Provisions:

As per the CrPC, if an accused has spent half of the maximum period of imprisonment in detention, they must be released on personal bond. This rule doesn't apply to offences punishable by death. 

The BNSS specifies that this provision also does not apply to (i) offences punishable by life imprisonment or (ii) to individuals facing proceedings in more than one offence.

Read more about bail provisions under BNSS.

2. Zero-FIR & E-FIR:

The BNSS allows FIR registration at any police station for serious crimes, regardless of where they occurred (Zero FIR). Previously, victims couldn't file complaints unless they visited the right station, which was often difficult. To fix this gap, the Supreme Court introduced 'Zero FIR', now part of BNSS law. After filing, the initial police station transfers the FIR to the right station for investigation.

Moreover, BNSS accepts electronic reports of crimes. However, for them to count as FIRs, the informant must sign within 3 days.

3. Attachment of Property During Investigation:

When the court seizes criminals' property, which is believed to be money obtained from crime, it can be attached. This seized money is then distributed to the victims of the crime. This serves as a strong deterrent against crime and provides financial relief to those affected by criminal activities.

4. Medical Examination:

Under the CrPC, medical examinations of accused persons, including in cases of rape, are conducted upon the request of a sub-inspector-level police officer by a registered medical practitioner.

The BNSS expands this authority, allowing any police officer to request such examinations.

5. Transparency in Recording for Searching:

To prevent illegal searches, evidence tampering, and transparency, BNSS requires audio and video recordings during searches and seizures. This is best done with a mobile phone. This includes recording the list of seized items being made and signed by witnesses. Recordings must be sent to the Magistrate within 48 hours of the search or seizure for review.

6. Technology Friendly:

Besides using electronic methods to record searches and seizures, the BNSS allows for electronic service of summons, warrants, reports, and even conducting inquiries and trials. This tech-friendly approach is great news as it can speed up the handling of cases, making the process faster and more efficient.

7. Forensic Investigation:

The BNSS mandates forensic investigation for offences punishable with at least 7 years of imprisonment. Forensic experts are required to visit crime scenes, collect forensic evidence, and document the process using mobile phones or other electronic devices. 

If a state lacks forensic facilities, it must use facilities from another state.

8. Samples and Impressions Collection:

The CrPC authorises a Magistrate to order specimen signatures or handwriting from any person. 

The BNSS extends this provision to include finger impressions and voice samples, which can be collected even from individuals not under arrest.

9. Procedure Timelines:

The BNSS sets specific timelines for various procedures. 

(i) For instance, it mandates that medical practitioners examining rape victims must submit their reports to the investigating officer within 7 days. 

(ii) Delivering judgments within 30 days of completing arguments (extendable to 45 days), updating victims on investigation progress within 90 days

(iii) Framing charges in session courts within 60 days from the first hearing on such charges.

10. Court Hierarchy:

The CrPC establishes a hierarchical structure for the adjudication of criminal matters in India. 

Court  Responsibilities
Magistrate's Courts (Subordinate courts) Handle most criminal trials

Sessions Courts (Presided over by a Sessions Judge)

Handle appeals from Magistrate's Courts
High Courts Have inherent jurisdiction to hear and decide criminal cases and appeals

Supreme Court

Hear appeals from High Courts and exercise its original jurisdiction in certain matters

The CrPC allows state governments to designate cities with a population exceeding 10 lakhs as metropolitan areas with Metropolitan Magistrates. 

The BNSS completely removes the classification of metropolitan areas by government and the concept of Metropolitan Magistrates.

Do you know the Hierarchy of Courts in India? Click on the link to read about it.

Loopholes in the The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023

A. Extended Police Custody: The BNSS allows police to keep someone in custody for up to 15 days, spread out over the first 40 or 60 days of the 60 or 90 days of judicial custody. This could mean bail is denied for the entire period if the police haven't used up the 15 days.

B. Property Attachment Without Safeguards: When it comes to attaching property from proceeds of crime, the BNSS lacks the safeguards that are in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

C. Denial of Bail for Multiple Charges: Under the CrPC, an accused person who has been detained for half the maximum sentence for their offence is eligible for bail. However, BNSS does not allow this if the person is facing multiple charges. Since many cases involve multiple charges, this might limit bail opportunities.

D. Use of Handcuffs: BNSS also permits the use of handcuffs in various cases, including organized crime, which goes against Supreme Court directions.

E. Public Order Provisions: The BNSS keeps the CrPC provisions related to maintaining public order. However, trial procedures and maintaining public order are different functions, raising the question of whether they should be regulated under the same law or separately.

F. Exclusion of Key Recommendations: Lastly, high-level committees recommended changes to the CrPC, such as reforms in sentencing guidelines and codifying the rights of the accused, but these have not been included in the BNSS.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our exploration of how the new Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita differs from the old Code of Criminal Procedure, it's clear the BNSS aims to make our justice system faster, fairer, and more focused on helping victims. It introduces important updates like allowing FIRs to be filed at any police station and requiring video recordings of searches. These changes promise to improve how crimes are investigated and ensure transparency.

However, the BNSS isn't without its challenges. Issues like extended police custody and property attachment rules need careful attention to prevent potential misuse. Despite these concerns, the BNSS marks a positive step towards a more efficient and just legal system.

About the Author: Anirudh Nikhare | 66 Post(s)

Anirudh did his Bachelor's in Law and has practical experience in IPR, Contracts, and Corporate. He is your go-to legal content writer turning head-scratching legal topics into easy-to-understand gems of wisdom. Through his blog, he aims to empower readers with knowledge, making legal concepts digestible and applicable to everyday life.

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