Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 15 August 2023

Key provisions of Bill to replace CrPC

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 proposes several important changes to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which guides the criminal justice system. From technological changes to allow trials via video-conferencing to allowing handcuffs for the arrest of persons in some cases including murderrape, and counterfeit currency — these are some of the main changes proposed in the CrPC.

Greater use of technology

  • Trials, appeal proceedings, recording of depositions including those of public servants and police officers, may be held in electronic mode.
  • The statement of the accused too can be recorded through video-conferencing. Summons, warrants, documents, police reports, statements of evidence can be done in electronic form.
  • The search and seizure of articles and properties, the visit to a crime scene by a forensic expert, and the recording of the victim’s statement shall be audio-videographed, preferably on a mobile phone.
  • The name and address of an arrested accused and the nature of the offence will be maintained by a designated officer in each police station and district, and shall be “prominently displayed” including in digital mode in every police station and district headquarters.
  • Information to police too can be sent electronically, and it shall be taken on record on being signed by the person sending it, within three days.

Communication devices

  • The Bill adds electronic communication including “communication devices” to the provision on summons to produce a document.
  • On the directions of a court or police officer, a person is required to produce any document — and now devices — that is likely to contain digital evidence for the purpose of an inquiry.
  • Electronic communication is defined as “the communication of any written, verbal, pictorial information or video content transmitted (whether from one person to another, from one device to another or from a person to a device or from a device to a person).”

Specific safeguards

  • Section 41A of CrPC — which has a prominent safeguard against arrests — will get a new number, Section 35.
  • It has an additional provision: no person can be arrested without prior permission of an officer, not below the rank of a deputy SP, in cases where the offence is punishable with less than three years, or if the person is infirm above 60 years of age.
  • On receiving information in cognizable cases where the offence attracts 3-7 years, the police officer will conduct a preliminary inquiry to ascertain whether there exists a prima facie case to proceed within 14 days.

Mercy petitions

  • There is a provision on procedures for the timeframe to file mercy petitions in death sentence cases.
  • After being informed by jail authorities about the disposal of the petition of a convict sentenced to death, he, or his legal heir or relative can submit a mercy petition within 30 days to the Governor.
  • If rejected, the person can petition the President within 60 days. No appeal against the order of the President shall lie in any court.

Arms in procession

  • Section 144A of the CrPC gives the district magistrate the power to prohibit the carrying of arms in any procession, mass drill or mass training, to preserve the public peace.
  • While the provisions granting powers to the DM to pass orders in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger remain as they are in Section 144 of the CrPC, the provision to prohibit carrying arms does not find a mention.


High rainfall termed as a ‘cloudburst’

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Following heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on 14 August 2023, landslides have occurred in the state with at least 22 people dead. Of those who have died, nine people got buried underneath the rubble of a collapsed temple and some houses in Shimla. Uttarakhand has also witnessed high rainfall.

What is a cloudburst?

  • cloudburst is a localised but intense rainfall activity. While it can also occur in plains, the phenomenon is most common in hilly regions.
  • Not all instances of very heavy rainfall, however, are cloudbursts. A cloudburst has a very specific definition: Rainfall of 10 cm or more in an hour over a roughly 10 km x 10 km area is classified as a cloudburst event.
  • By this definition, 5 cm of rainfall in a half-hour period over the same area would also be categorised as a cloudburst.
  • To put this in perspective, in a normal year, India, as a whole, receives about 116 cm of rainfall over the entire year.
  • This means if the entire rainfall everywhere in India during a year was spread evenly over its area, the total accumulated water would be 116 cm high.
  • There are, of course, huge geographical variations in rainfall within the country, and some areas receive over 10 times more than that amount in a year. But on average, any place in India can be expected to receive about 116 cm of rain in a year.

How common are cloudbursts?

  • Cloudbursts are not uncommon events, particularly during the monsoon months. Most of these happen in the Himalayan states where the local topologywind systems, and temperature gradients between the lower and upper atmosphere facilitate the occurrence of such events.
  • However, not every event that is described as a cloudburst is actually, by definition, a cloudburst.
  • That is because these events are highly localized. They take place in very small areas which are often devoid of rainfall-measuring instruments. The consequences of these events, however, are not confined to small areas.
  • Because of the nature of the terrain, the heavy rainfall events often trigger landslides and flash floods, causing extensive destruction downstream.
  • This is the reason why every sudden downpour that leads to the destruction of life and property in the hilly areas gets described as a “cloudburst”, irrespective of whether the amount of rainfall meets the defining criteria.
  • At the same time, it is also possible that actual cloudburst events in remote locations aren’t recorded.

Book A Free Counseling Session