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From FIR to hearing and verdict... these 10 major changes are going to happen in the judicial system of the country

Pankaj Prasad
Change in judicial system
Change in judicial system

The central government has proposed several changes to reform the criminal justice system, including adding new provisions for mob lynching, changing bail rules for undertrial prisoners and fixing accountability in hit-and-run cases.

The central government has proposed several changes to reform the criminal justice system, including adding new provisions for mob lynching, changing bail rules for undertrial prisoners and fixing accountability in hit-and-run cases.

old vs new

Indian Civil Defense Code will have 533 sections instead of 478 sections of CrPC. Meanwhile, 160 sections have been amended and 9 new sections have been added besides repealing 9 sections.

At the same time, instead of 511 sections of IPC, there will be 356 sections in the Indian Judicial Code. A total of 175 sections have been amended, while 8 new sections have been added and 22 sections have been repealed/deleted. The Indian Evidence Act will have 170 sections in place of the original 167 sections. A total of 23 sections have been amended, one new section has been added and 5 sections have been cancelled/deleted.

New provision for mob lynching

A new provision has been included for offenses related to murder on the basis of race, caste, community etc., for which a provision of imprisonment of at least seven years, life imprisonment or death has been made. As per the new provision for snatching, serious injury causing near incapacitation or permanent disability will attract more severe punishment.

There is also a provision for a minimum of seven to 10 years of imprisonment for those who commit crimes by children – this fine was very low earlier, between Rs 10 and Rs 500. The new code has now rationalized fines and punishments for various offences.

crime against women

A new offense has been included in this new law, which can lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years for marrying a woman by hiding her real identity or having sex under the guise of false promise of marriage, promotion and employment. The government has also introduced a provision of 20 years imprisonment or life imprisonment in all gang rape cases. At the same time, provision has been made for life imprisonment or death penalty in case of rape with girls below 18 years of age.

confiscation of property linked to the proceeds of crime

A new section has been added regarding attachment and confiscation of property made from the proceeds of crime. The investigating police officer can make an application to the court to take cognizance that the property has been obtained as a result of criminal activities. If the person possessing the property fails to give concrete explanation regarding the same then such property can be confiscated by the court.

Trial will continue even in the absence of fugitive accused

With this, a new provision has been included to prosecute fugitive accused in their absence. This means that absconding accused, including those who fled abroad after siphoning off people's money, will face trial and be punished, even if they refuse to participate in the investigation or judicial process.

search and seizure

The government aims to take the conviction rate above 90 percent and for this mandatory use of forensics has been introduced in all states/UTs. The use of forensic experts will be mandatory in all cases of offenses punishable with punishment of 7 years or more. For this, the necessary infrastructure in the States/Union Territories will be prepared within five years.

Zero and E-FIR

In order to ensure the safety and convenience of the citizens, the government is bringing a system of 'Zero FIR', under which crime can be lodged anywhere in the country, from the top of the Himalayas to the ocean of Kanyakumari. Along with this, the system of e-First Information Report (E-FIR) will be started. For this, now the state government will nominate a police officer in every district and every police station, who will inform his family about the arrest of any person. The police officer shall inform the victim about the progress of the investigation within 90 days, including through digital means.

sexual violence

In the case of sexual violence, the statement of the victim will be recorded by the woman judicial magistrate. It would also be desirable to record the statement of the victim at her residence in the presence of a lady police officer. The parents or guardian of the victim can be present while recording such a statement. Apart from this, no government will be able to withdraw the case without hearing the victim's side in the case of a crime punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or more.

simplification of procedures

The government is claiming that the procedures will be simplified. In cases where the punishment is up to three years (earlier two years), the Magistrate may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, conduct summary trials in such cases. If further investigation is required after the charge sheet is filed, it will be completed within 90 days. Any extension beyond 90 days will be granted only with the permission of the court.

In the case of warrants, a provision has been made that a time limit of 60 days has been fixed from the date of the first hearing by the court to frame the charges. The accused person can appeal for release within a period of 60 days from the date of intimation of framing of charges.

After the completion of the arguments in the court, the judge will give the decision as soon as possible within a period of 30 days, which can be extended up to a period of 60 days for certain reasons. After hearing the objections of the other party and recording specific reasons in writing, the court can grant a maximum of two adjournments.

first time offender and undertrial

According to the bill introduced by the government, first-time offenders can be released early. A person who is a first time offender and has served 'one-third of the imprisonment' shall be released on bail by the court. Where the undertrial prisoner has completed 'one-half or one-third of the sentence', the jail superintendent shall forthwith make an application in writing to the court. However, pardon of an undertrial prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment or death sentence will not be considered.