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New criminal laws 'significant step' towards modernising justice system, says CJI Chandrachud

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Monday praised the new criminal laws passed the government that seeks to replace the British era laws, calling them a "significant step" towards modernising the justice system.

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Delivering keynote address on 20th DP Kohli memorial lecture in the memory of founding director of the CBI, Chandrachud said Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) provide a comprehensive approach ensuring a seamless flow of information. They are intended to facilitate better coordination and collaboration among the stakeholders involved in the investigative and adjudicatory processes.

The new laws will come into force on July 1, replacing the colonial era Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Indian Evidence Act.

The new criminal laws enacted by Parliament encompass substantive crime, procedure and evidence, he said.

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"These laws aim at digitising various aspects of criminal procedure. This is a significant step towards modernising the justice system. From the initial registration of a first information report (FIR) to the final delivery of judgment, every stage of a criminal investigation is slated to be recorded digitally under the purview of the proposed legislation," he said.

Justice Chandrachud said under the new laws, summons can now be issued electronically, and testimonies from the witnesses, experts, accused individuals and other parties may also be presented virtually.

He said, "This innovation eliminates the need for physical documentation and enables swift communication between law enforcement agencies, courts and individuals involved in legal proceedings. It will obviate the delay in bail orders reaching the jail authorities and in recording witness depositions.

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"Similarly, the authorisation for presenting testimonies virtually opens up new avenues for participation in legal proceedings, allowing contributions to the process from remote locations," he said.

The chief justice of India had a word of caution as well.

"However, as we embark on a digital transformation, two significant concerns come to light. Firstly, while complete digitisation promises increased efficiency and accessibility, it also runs the risk of excluding individuals without internet access or technological proficiency, which remains a significant portion of India's population," he said.

There is a pressing need to ensure that the benefits of digitisation are equitably distributed and that mechanisms are in place to address the digital divide, he said.

"Secondly, particular attention must be paid to the digitalisation of foundational processes such as the filing of FIRs to streamline and trace back the sequence of events and enhance transparency from the outset," he said. PTI ABS KSS KSS

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