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Privacy of stakeholders needs to be protected under new criminal laws: CJI D Y Chandrachud

The newly enacted laws have transitioned India's legal framework on criminal justice into a new age, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Chandrachud said.
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 07:29 IST
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 07:29 IST

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New Delhi: Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud on Saturday expressed concern about the challenges posed by data leaks in courts, which may compromise the privacy of stakeholders, affect the safety of a person, result in stigma attached to an accused, and create the perception of threat for a witness.

"We must inspire public confidence in securing the privacy of our citizens to gain an overall efficiency and trust in the criminal justice system. Technology holds the key to a futuristic court system," he said.

The CJI was speaking in a programme on 'India's Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System'.

He said the new criminal laws have transitioned India's legal framework on criminal justice into the new age and have introduced much needed improvements to protect victims' interests and carry out investigations and prosecution of offences efficiently.

"The BNSS encompasses a holistic approach to deal with crimes in the digital age. It prescribes audio visual recording of search and seizures and the presence of a forensic expert at the crime scene for offences punishable with more than seven years imprisonment," he said.

"The audio-visual recording of search and seizures is an important tool for the prosecution as well as for protecting the civil liberties of citizens. The judicial scrutiny would safeguard the rights of citizens against procedural impropriety during search and seizures," he added.

CJI Chandrachud said we must continuously introspect and protect the privacy of the accused as well as the victim when dealing with digitisation of proceedings and creating digital evidence.

"In the digital age, the data and sensitive information of persons has gained paramount importance. This data can allow us to gain unparalleled efficiency and ease. However, the power which comes with personal data puts a corresponding duty to make systems which are immune to penetration and leakage of the data," he said.

The CJI said while the new criminal laws create provisions which are synchronised to our times, we must also ensure that the infrastructure accompanying these procedures are developed adequately for the country to reap the benefits of the new laws.

"This naturally means that we must heavily invest in capacity building of our forensic experts, conduct training of investigating officers, and invest in our court system. Key provisions of the new criminal law would only produce a positive impact if these investments are made as soon as possible," he said.

He also said our attention must be focused on improving investigations by allowing for multi-disciplinary investigating teams with law enforcement officers, and domain experts in the field of cyber-crime, and pattern recognition.

"I expect that with the implementation of the new criminal laws, we will discover loopholes and areas which need to be addressed. Such debates would be helpful in enhancing the efficiency of our criminal justice systems. However, the ideological framework at the heart of our analysis must be justice oriented with a civil liberty centric approach which balances the interests of the victim and the accused," he said.

The CJI said with the enactment of the new criminal justice laws as a watershed moment for society, India is set for a significant overhaul of its criminal justice system.

He said the new laws would be successful if those, who are in charge of implementing them, adapt to them.

These new laws have transitioned India's legal framework on criminal justice into a new age. The much-needed improvements have been introduced to protect the interests of victims and carry out investigation and prosecution of offences efficiently, he said.

"India is set for a significant overhaul of its criminal justice system with the upcoming implementation of three new criminal laws...These laws signify a watershed moment for our society because no law affects the day-to-day conduct of our society like the criminal law," he added.

Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Attorney General R Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta were also present at the conference.

The new laws—the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Act—to completely overhaul the country's criminal justice system will come into effect from July 1. However, the provision related to cases of hit-and-run by vehicle drivers would not be implemented immediately.

The three laws were passed Parliament on December 21, 2023 and President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent on December 25, 2023.

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Published 20 April 2024, 07:29 IST

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