The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs on November 10 released its report on the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill (BSS), 2023, the proposed replacement for the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. The report advises the government to include provisions in the Bill that ensure secure handling and proper chain of custody of digital evidence. The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, allows electronic records such as emails, server logs, websites, locational evidence, voice mail messages stored on devices, and documents on computers, laptops, or smartphones, as documents to be used as evidence. Clause 57 specifically allows electronic and digital records as primary evidence. However, "it was submitted before the Committee that the Bill has no mention about ensuring the maintenance of a proper chain of custody of digital and electronic records acquired during investigations. The provision of maintaining a proper chain of custody has already been incorporated within the ambit of criminal laws in developed countries such as the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK)," the Committee noted in its report. In light of the above feedback, the Committee recommended that provisions should be included to "mandate that all electronic and digital records acquired as evidence during the course of investigation are securely handled and processed through the proper chain of custody." "Safeguarding the authenticity and integrity of electronic and digital records acquired during the course of investigation is crucial due to the fact that such evidences are prone to tampering," the Committee opined. The Committee also recommended improving…
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