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Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA), 2023, Check Details

The new criminal laws, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam(BSA) are taking effect from July 1, 2024. These laws repeal and replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act respectively.

New law passed

The new law was passed by Parliament last December, with Home Minister Amit Shah, who had piloted the change, saying that the legislations would give priority to providing justice, unlike the British-era laws that gave primacy to penal action. “These laws are made by Indians, for Indians and by an Indian Parliament and marks the end of colonial criminal justice laws,” he said.

All about Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam

The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) replaces the Indian Evidence Act and introduces changes in the way evidence is processed. The BSA allows for “electronic and digital records”. This covers a wide range of electronic records, which includes emails, server logs, files stored on computers, laptops, or smartphones, website content, location data, and text messages, among others. The BSA also allows for oral evidence to be taken electronically. Additionally, to provide more protection to the victim and enforce transparency in investigation related to an offence of rape, the statement of the victim shall be recorded through audio-video means.

Expanded secondary evidence

The BSA has also expanded “secondary evidence” to include oral and written admissions. It states that secondary evidence will include “evidence of a person who has examined a document, the original of which consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot conveniently be examined in Court, and who is skilled in the examination of such documents”.

Difference between Old Law and New Law

Aspect Old Law (Indian Evidence Act, 1872) New Law (Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023)
Introduction Date 1872 2023
Colonial Influence Drafted during British colonial rule Drafted to reflect post-independence and modern Indian values
Language and Terminology Archaic English Simplified and modernized language
Structure Structured with 167 sections Revised structure, includes new sections
Admissibility of Evidence Detailed rules on admissibility Updated rules considering technological advancements
Electronic Evidence Basic recognition in amendments Comprehensive provisions for electronic and digital evidence
Hearsay Rule Strict adherence to hearsay rule Modified to accommodate modern communication methods
Witness Testimony Traditional procedures Enhanced procedures including video conferencing for testimony
Relevance of Evidence Defined under Sections 5-55 Expanded to include modern types of evidence
Documentary Evidence Sections 61-90 Updated to include electronic documents
Presumption Various presumptions detailed New presumptions reflecting modern societal norms
Confessions Sections 24-30 cover confessions Revised provisions on confessions, especially digital confessions
Privileged Communication Detailed in Sections 122-132 Expanded to cover modern professional communications
Expert Testimony Sections 45-51 Broadened scope to include digital forensic experts
Burden of Proof Sections 101-114 cover burden of proof Updated rules considering new types of evidence
Character Evidence Sections 52-55 Revised to reflect current societal values
Presumption of Innocence Strongly upheld Continued emphasis with additional safeguards
Alibi Specific provisions More detailed provisions on proving alibi
Sexual Offenses Evidence Limited recognition of victims’ rights Enhanced protections and considerations for victims
Corroboration Requirement for corroboration in certain cases Updated requirements, especially in cases of digital evidence
Chain of Custody Basic principles Detailed procedures for maintaining chain of custody for digital evidence
In-camera Proceedings Limited provisions Expanded scope for in-camera proceedings, especially in sensitive cases
Forensic Evidence Basic inclusion Extensive provisions for forensic evidence, including DNA
Hostile Witnesses Provisions for dealing with hostile witnesses Updated rules considering the impact of digital threats
Adverse Inference Sections on adverse inference from silence or non-production of evidence Updated to reflect modern legal standards
Reforms Focus Admissibility and relevance primarily Emphasis on efficiency, technology, and victim rights


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