The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs on November 10 released its report on the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023, which is the proposed replacement law for the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. Concerning the digital aspects of the bill, the Committee has advised the government to implement robust safeguards before increasing the use of technology in legal proceedings. The proposed law will require digitization of the complete process starting from registration of the first information report (FIR) to filing of the charge sheet and delivery of judgment. The bill also permits the appearance of witnesses, accused, experts, and victims and the issuing of summons through electronic means. Any search and seizure operation by the police must also be recorded on audio-video electronic devices. Key points raised in the committee report: Establish robust safeguards to ensure the secure use and authentication of electronically available data: "The Committee notes the enhanced technological integration in the Sanhita, emphasizing increased utilization of technology in legal proceedings, and considers it as a welcome change," but the Committee "also notes that while the increased utilization of technology offers numerous advantages, it also creates opportunities for manipulation and misuse. The collection and storage of electronic evidence raise concerns about data security and the possibility of unauthorized access or breaches. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the adoption of electronic means for communication and trials should proceed only after the establishment of robust safeguards to ensure the secure usage and authentication of electronically available data. This…
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