• Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

The two day Conference on the theme of ‘India’s Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System’ concludes

The two day-long Conference on the theme of ‘India’s Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System’ organized by the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice concluded on Sunday evening .

In his valedictory address the Hon’ble Governor of Assam Gulab Chand Kataria said that the learning and takeaways from the conference will have catalytic impact on effective implementation of these three new laws. They mark a tectonic shift from the earlier laws that were meant  to  subserve  the colonial interest and thus instills pride in the heart of every Indian by shedding of the vestiges of colonial legal legacy not only in Assam but also in the entire region.

He also emphasized how these laws have been made humane in their approach. He also made special mention about the provisions relating to hit and run cases, crimes against women and doing away with the provisions of sedition.

Addressing the gathering Justice Vijay Bishnoi, Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court mentioned that the new laws are a step in the right direction in modernizing and contemporizing our legal system.  Their effectiveness shall be tested over a period of time once they are implemented, any improvements that might be required could be considered as we go along. Law has to percolate to the last man on the street to be effective. In this context he appreciated the  outreach  initiatives made by the Ministry of Law  and Justice  through  conferences like this.   He also detailed the various steps taken by the Gauhati High Court in collaboration with Assam Judicial Academy for capacity building of judicial officers.

Justice Manas Ranjan Pathak,  Judge Gauhati High Court flagged the need for sensitizing the general public  and the training and orientation of all those involved in  implementation of these  new laws .

Justice (Rtd) Mir Alfaz Ali Vice Chancellor NLUJA, Assam in his speech highlighted that the new laws can be successfully implemented in the interest of the common man only if there is a change in the mindset of the implementing stakeholders, who must understand the philosophy and spirit of these new laws which mark a transition from the colonial to the nationalistic and citizen-centric approach.

 At the outset of the valedictory session Dr. Rajiv Mani, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs summed up the deliberations of the two day conference and highlighted the points that emerged the refrom.

  Earlier during the day,  three technical  sessions  were held, each  devoted to the three new laws.

The first Technical Session was  chaired by Justice Soumitra Saikia, Judge, Gauhati High Court. Other panelists included Ms. Sangita Pradhan, Deputy Solicitor General, Sikkim Government, Ms. Ipsita Borthakur, Special Judge (POCSO) Nagaon, Assam and  Amal Deo Chavan, Associate Professor, NLUJA, Assam. The session focused on several key elements of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS). It highlighted the evolution from a punitive approach (‘danda’) to a justice-oriented one (‘nyaya’) within the legal framework. Notably, the restructuring of offenses included a specific section dedicated to crimes against women and children, aiming to enhance the accessibility and comprehensibility of the law for all.

Justice Soumitra Saikia, elaborated on the provisions of Section 69, with a focus on cases where consent is obtained through deceit.

Sangita Pradhan, Deputy Solicitor General, Sikkim High Court elaborated on the new provisions such as the revised definition of movable property in the BNS, inclusion of terms such as “cybercrime”, “digital electronic records” and “digital fraud,” which are designed to assist investigators and lawmakers alike.

Ipshita Borthakur, Special Judge (POCSO), Nagaon, Assam presented a comparative analysis of the provisions of the special POCSO Act, and provisions made for protecting the women and children in BNS.

Amol Deo Chavhan, Associate Professor, NLUJA, called these new reforms as a transformative journey from breaking colonial chains and moving towards Swaraj, and then from Swaraj to justice.

The session also focused on the introduction of community service as a punitive measure which signals a shift towards a more equitable and reformative and restorative legal stance.

The second Technical Session was chaired by Justice Devashis Baruah, Judge, Gauhati High Court who delved into the ramifications of the procedural changes introduced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 (BNSS)  and how the judicial and police officers are to deal with them and its practical implications for the functioning of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. This session offered a thorough examination of India’s newly enacted Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) 2023, which provides provisions for artificial intelligence and data protection, and also modernizes evidence law by acknowledging electronic and digital records.

The other panelists included Ranjit Kumar Dev Choudhury, Deputy Solicitor General, Gauhati High Court, Dr Nitesh Mozika, Deputy Solicitor General, Meghalaya High Court, Roushan Lal, District & Sessions Judge, Karbi Anglong, Assam and Ms. Monika Sharma, Special Director (Enforcement), Directorate of Enforcement. Mr. Raktim Duarah, District & Sessions, Judge, Kamrup (M) Guwahati, Assam moderated the discussion.

Monika Sharma, Special Director, (Enforcement), Directorate of Enforcement highlighted that there was no standard process for certification related to the issue of data retrieval from online cloud storage, but BSA brings in a provision that a signature from a forensic expert will now become mandatory.

The third Technical session was chaired by Hon’ble  Justice Arun Dev Choudhury, Judge, Gauhati High Court and  Khomdram Samarjit Singh, Deputy Solicitor General, Manipur High Court, E. Chandrasekaran, Advocate, Madras High Court and Neeraj Tiwari, Assistant Professor, NLU Delhi as other panelists.

It focused on Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 and delved deep into the discussion of the ramifications of the procedural changes brought by the BNSS on judicial and police officers. The major changes include a timeline for speedy trials, zero FIR and integration of technology, which will now play a vital role in dispensation of justice, particularly in relation to electronic communication and audio-visual electronic means in the proceedings. Overall, BNSS is poised to initiate a transformative phase in India’s criminal justice system, fostering accountability, transparency, and the safeguarding of rights for all stakeholders.

The successful  conclusion of the Conference not only created a platform for fruitful exchange and collaboration among legal luminaries, practitioners, law enforcing agencies, policy makers, academicians, public prosecutors and other stakeholders from across the North Eastern states but also a spirit of enthusiasm by enriching the participants about the three new legal reforms.

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