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Polity & Governance
Mahesh

09/07/24 12:20 PM IST

New provisions for police officers

In News
  • The new criminal laws have become effective from July 1.
  • SOPs have been issued by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) to guide police officers in implementing the new provisions. 
Rules for registration of FIRs
  • The officer in-charge of a police station cannot refuse to register an FIR on the basis of lack of jurisdiction or disputed jurisdiction.
  • He is legally bound to register (popularly known as a zero FIR) and transfer such a case to the respective police station.
  • Though this practice was followed earlier too, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) now has a direct provision under Section 173; non-registration of FIRs may attract penal action under various sections.
  • Additionally, while information can be given orally or in writing as before, it may also be given by electronic means which is to be taken on record by the officer in-charge if it is signed within three days by the person giving it.
  • While no one can stop a police officer from enquiring into the information immediately if it is of a sensitive nature, the electronic mode by which information may be given must be decided by the agencies, such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) portal, the police website or officially published email IDs. 
About Videography
  • The BNSS mandates videography during a search conducted by the police under Section 185; of the scene of crime (Section 176); and of the process of conducting a search of a place or taking possession of any property (Section 105).
  • Since these are mandatory provisions, any negligence on the part of the police may benefit the accused persons.
  • Therefore, investigating officers (IOs) must be provided electronic devices and proper training to discharge such functions. 
  • A cloud-based mobile app, ‘eSakshya’ has been designed by the National Informatics Centre for enforcement agencies, which allows capturing multiple photos and videos.
  • The photographs of witnesses and selfies of IOs may be captured using this app. Each item is geo-tagged and time-stamped to ensure the integrity of data.
  • Since eSakshya is an initiative under the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS), this data will be available to other agencies such as the judiciary, prosecution and cyber forensic experts. 
Provisions for Arrest
  • Information about arrested persons is to be mandatorily displayed in police stations.
  • Section 37 of the BNSS requires a police officer in every police station, not below the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector, to be responsible for maintaining and prominently displaying information about the arrested persons.
  • Therefore, boards (including in digital mode) containing names, addresses and the nature of the offence must be put up outside police stations and district control rooms.
  • Some restriction has been imposed on the arrest of frail or sick and elderly persons.
  • Section 35(7) states that the permission of an officer not below the rank of DySP is mandatory for arresting a person charged with an offence punishable for imprisonment of less than three years if such person is infirm or is above 60 years of age.
  • Similarly, though the law now provides for the use of handcuffs in certain cases, the IOs must use them cautiously.
  • The Supreme Court has laid down that handcuffing may be done only when there is a possibility of escaping from custody or causing harm to himself or others. 
Timelines
  • In case of medical examination of a victim of rape, the registered medical practitioner is mandated under Section 184 (6) of the BNSS to forward the medical report to the IO within seven days, who shall forward it to the magistrate concerned.
  • Therefore, doctors must be sensitised about the new law.
  • The investigation of POCSO cases is required to be completed within two months of recording the information of the offence. Earlier, this time limit was only for rape cases under the Indian Penal Code.
  • A new provision under Section 193(3)(h) requires the IO to maintain the sequence of custody of an electronic device.
  • Though maintaining a chain of custody is important for every seizure, emphasis is laid on electronic devices because they are sensitive pieces of evidence and more vulnerable to tampering.
  • While every police officer is required to upgrade his skills about maintaining integrity of electronic records, the task of the (cyber) expert is likely to increase with many of the mandatory provisions coming into effect.
  • This sub-section also imposes a duty to inform the progress of the investigation within 90 days to the informant or victim. 
  • Section 113 introduced in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) defines what is a ‘terrorist act’ and imposes the duty on an officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP), to decide whether to register a case under this Section or the UAPA.
  • Since, no guidelines are given to exercise this discretion, the SP may inter-alia consider factors such as whether the terrorist organisation is notified under the UAPA, approximate time needed to complete investigation, the rank of the IO and the level of scrutiny required, and how dangerous the accused person is. 
Source- The Hindu

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