BNSS heralds transformative era in criminal justice, promotes transparency: Delhi HC

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (PTI) Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), the new law that replaced the CrPC, heralds a transformative era in criminal justice and promotes a system which is transparent, accountable and fundamentally aligned with the principles of fairness and justice, the Delhi High Court has observed.

The court's observations came while granting bail to an accused in a drugs case registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

It said under the BNSS, the practice of photography and videography, which are universally accepted as the best practices for better erudition and appreciation of the evidence, has been made mandatory.

"Realising the need of changing time, the legislature has now passed the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS). The practice of photography and videography has now been made mandatory," Justice Amit Mahajan said.

The high court further said, "This legislative enhancement is designed to ensure a more transparent and accountable approach in investigation. BNSS, with its comprehensive emphasis on technological integration, heralds a transformative era in criminal justice, promoting a system that is not only transparent and accountable but also fundamentally aligned with the principles of fairness and justice." BNSS, along with the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) and Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita (BSS), came into force from July 1.

In the present case, the crime branch of Delhi Police had received an information in December 2019 that accused Bantu, who allegedly used to supply 'charas' in the city after procuring it from Himachal Pradesh, would come to supply the contraband drug to someone near Majnu ka Tila here.

It was alleged that the accused was caught and during the search, one bag was recovered from him containing 1.1 kg charas, concealed in two packs of 550 gram each.

Seeking bail in the case, the counsel for Bantu said even though the applicant was apprehended during daytime, and the seizure in the present case was made on the basis of secret information, the police officials made no endeavour to arrange for videography of the raid and recovery of the contraband from him.

The high court said even though it is contended that at the relevant time videography and photography were not mandatory, it cannot be denied that the courts have time and again discarded the prosecution's story and emphasised on the importance of independent witnesses and additional evidence in the form of audiography and videography when it can easily be obtained due to advancement of technology.

It said BNSS stipulates that the proceedings of search and seizure shall be recorded through any audio - video means preferably through a mobile phone and added that these days mobile phones are handy with almost everyone especially, in a metropolitan city like Delhi.

The judge said the court has come across a number of cases where the investigating authority has done photography and videography of the recovery.

The court said it is peculiar that the investigating authorities, understanding the importance of such additional evidence, make efforts to belie allegations of false implication and endorse the recovery of contraband by photography and videography in some cases, but fail to undertake any steps to do the same in other cases.

"It is not the case of the prosecution that the police team was not carrying any instrument (mobile phone) at the time of the raid. The same even though, is not fatal to the case of the prosecution, however, at this stage, the benefit cannot be denied to the accused," the high court said while granting bail to Bantu.

The court said the accused has made out a prima facie case for grant of bail on the grounds of absence of independent witnesses and prolonged delay in the trial and that he is stated to be of clean antecedents.

"Therefore, I am satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the applicant is not likely to commit any offence while on bail," the judge said. PTI SKV ZMN

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