TRIAL WITHOUT ACCUSED
The new criminal law will ensure justice for all by boosting quick disposal of cases by scrapping the need for a trial to commence in the presence of the accused.
Hence, if an accused like Nirav Modi has absconded, the trial can commence in his absence and he can join it any time online using his laptop. What is more, such absconders can be served notices or the charge-sheet through WhatsApp or email or recorded phone calls which will be admissible in court. These trials will be video-recorded to protect the rights of the absconding accused.
Precise definitions will supplant the vague and imprecise law in the old IPC, so that only if a person is found in possession of weapons to be used against the state will he be prosecuted for armed rebellion. This is a marked departure from the old sedition law which the police misused to charge-sheet journalists and dissenters for sedition.
Hence, merely having hatred or disaffection for a government established by law in India will no longer be an offence. This will ensure dissenters are not prosecuted.
DECEIT AND SEDUCTION
A new chapter will elaborately spell out offences against women and children. This will include jail up to 10 years for seducing any woman with false promises of marriage (‘deceitful means’) to have sexual intercourse. Since "suppressing identity" has been included within the definition of "deceitful means", a man lying about his religious identity to indulge in sexual intercourse with a woman would also be brought under the purview of the law. Likewise, a man who rapes a child below 12 years can attract the death sentence.
DEATH FOR GANG RAPE
Gang rape of women will attract life imprisonment and in serious cases even the death penalty. The maximum punishment for rape has been increased up to 20 years. The present law has no provision for death sentence in cases of rape unless it is rape coupled with murder in the rarest of rare cases.
A new definition of “terrorism” has been proposed and included in the new law which has never been attempted before.
Service of processes under the revamped procedural code will be done through WhatsApp or email or other electronic devices and made admissible as proof of service so that a trial can proceed against absconding accused.
Zero FIRs have been codified for the first time to ensure that when a crime is committed, it can be registered in any police station and transferred to the police station which has jurisdiction to investigate the crime without making the complainant run from one police station to another.
VIDEO FOOTAGE MUST
Videography has been made compulsory during search-and-seizure in the house or office of the accused to ensure that false evidence is not planted on the premises of the accused or on his person.
Olav Albuquerque holds a Ph.D in law and is a senior journalist-cum-advocate of the Bombay high court.