The mandatory video recording of search and seizure operations by police, and statutory timelines for trial in the government’s overhaul of colonial-era criminal laws will provide speedy justice and make police more accountable, said former Union minister for law and justice Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“The compulsory video recording makes the police more accountable. Deposing on video conferencing will expedite the trial. These are tweaks that bring positive changes in the process,” he told The Indian Express.
“Every police station has mountains of evidence like cars and other things which are kept as case property. Now, you keep a video recording for the judge and dispose of them (case property),” Prasad added. New Bills also prescribe timelines for judges, too, to ensure speedy trial. “Apart from timelines for police to file chargesheet in 90 days, now the court also has to give a judgement 30 days from the date on which the verdict is reserved. The perennial delays will be addressed through these statutory obligations,” he said.
Lauding Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in the Lok Sabha that the offence of sedition is repealed, Prasad said, “The law has to evolve and progress with time. Sedition is a classic example of continuing colonial legacy.”
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, tabled in the Lok Sabha on August 11 to replace the IPC, removes the word sedition but contains a provision that penalises “endangering sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”. Asked why a similar offence is prescribed , Prasad said: “We don’t have a law for ‘rajdroh’ but what we now have is a law for ‘deshdroh’.”
“Can we deny the threat of terrorism and separatism in India? This law is targeted at forces that attempt to bifurcate India,” he added. When asked about how the three Bills only tweak the existing penal laws while retaining the language and structure, Prasad said that even the rearranging of provisions is “important signalling”. “It categorises offences in terms of depravity…starts with rape and crimes against women, unlike in the IPC where crimes against state come first…124A (sedition) before 376 (rape).”