NEW DELHI: Justice Rajesh Bindal of the Supreme Court on Saturday welcomed the move of the government to bring three new bills replacing the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and the Evidence Act, asserting that the change is always better.
Speaking at the Legal Conclave 2023 organised by Adhivakta Parishad, Delhi, Justice Rajesh Bindal appreciated the introduction of community services as punishment in the new bill.
"Three new bills are introduced. For us, it's a learning process. Many provisions would be the same, and there are some changes. Many provisions are deleted. Change is always better. If we want to grow further, change is required," Justice Bindal said.
The Centre had proposed the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023; and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, to replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860; the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898; and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.
Justice Bindal said that it will take some time to settle down. When the provisions in the Act are implemented, there will be some issues initially.
He cited examples where new laws were introduced, and initially discussions were going on against their introduction. Justice Bindal said the GST Act came in 2017, which was not well received initially, but gradually people became used to it.
"If you want to make major changes, it can't be done through amendments because many acts are interrelated," said Justice Bindal on the need to introduce new bills and added that amendments were not made to existing laws.
He said many countries have been regularly revising their criminal laws. The United Kingdom, Canada, etc. have, from time to time, brought about changes in their criminal laws, he added.
"When new laws come, we should accept them," said the Supreme Court judge.
He further said, "Laws can't be static; they have to be dynamic, and anything has to be left to the courts," Justice Bindal said at the gathering.
"I would say it's a very difficult task, but how important is this? If you go to the national judicial data grid, which has information about all the courts, it reveals that 44.5 lakh cases are pending in the high courts. Of which, 11 lakh are criminal cases and 30 lakh are civil cases. In district courts, 4.45 crore cases are pending, and out of these, 3.35 crore cases are criminal," he added.
Justice Bindal said jails across India are overcrowded. He said the proposed law also aims to decongest Indian jails by allowing bail to undertrials who have already served more than half of their maximum sentence.
First-time offenders will be eligible for bail once they have completed one-third of their sentence while the trial is still pending, Justice Bindal added.
"The system in jails should be robust. There is a need for improvement in jails," Justice Bindal further said.
At the event, Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee said that the last major change in the criminal justice laws happened 50 years ago.
"It was necessary. Criminal laws keep changing in many countries. In our country, it has not happened for so long," he said.
ASG lauded the government for incorporating technology through new bills in infrastructure evidence and investigation.
The event was also attended by Justice Hari Shankar of the Delhi High Court, and he said that the new bills are focused on speedy trial and incorporating technological advancements.
He also pointed out that emails, phones, computers, messages, maps, etc. have all been included in the definition of evidence in the Bhartiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.
Justice Shankar said, "There can be absolutely no doubt about the fact that these bills were a necessity. It is surprising that it took 75 years for these bills to come. If one sees the general thought behind the bill, the idea is to expedite trial." (ANI)