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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Days of third-degree over, Centre in talks for radical changes to criminal laws: Shah

He also proposed that forensic investigation be made compulsory for any crime that entails a punishment of six or more years.

Written by Vaibhav Jha , Parimal A Dabhi | Gandhinagar |
Updated: July 13, 2021 7:14:22 am
Union Home Minister Amit Shah. (File Photo)

Saying “the days of third-degree torture are over” and calling for scientific evidence to be the basis of police investigation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Centre plans to bring about “radical changes” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act to make them modern and relevant to the needs of present times.

He also proposed that forensic investigation be made compulsory for any crime that entails a punishment of six or more years.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Centre for Excellence for Research and Analysis of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances at the National Forensic Science University (NFSU) in Gandhinagar on Monday, Shah said, “Bharat sarkar ek bahut bada abhi samvad kar rahi hai… ki hum CRPC, IPC aur Evidence Act… teeno mein aamul chool parivartan karna chahte hain, aaj ke samay ki zarooraton ke hisaab se usko hum aadhunik banana chahte hai aur jo kaalbaahiyan ho gayi hai, un cheezon ko nikaal kar jo aaj ke challenges ko meet karne ke liye hum nayi dharayein jodna chahte hai… Mera bahut purana suggestion hai ki 6 saal ke upar saza wale sabhi apradho me forensic science ka visit compuslory karna hai. Dikhne me toh bahut sunerha sapna hai lekin manpower kahan hai (The Indian government is in talks… to bring about radical changes in the IPC, CrPC and the Evidence Act. We want to make them modern as per the needs of the times and remove outdated elements and meet today’s challenges by adding new sections. I have had a suggestion for long that for all crimes in which the punishment is above six years, the visit of the forensics team should be compulsory. The prospect sounds great but do we have the manpower for it)?”

“I have reiterated many times that the days of third-degree are over… By interrogating… using scientific evidence, even a hard-hearted person can be broken down and convicted if forensic work is carried out properly,” Shah said, adding that there should be “at least one FSL mobile van in every district of India or in every police range… For that, we need capable students and it can only be possible if NFSU opens its colleges in every state. We need not wait any longer for this,” said Shah.

On the need for investigations to be done scientifically, he said, “I was recently speaking to IPS trainees and I told them that our police face two kinds of accusations — one, of no action; and the other, of extreme action… We want just, natural action, and it is possible only when we make scientific evidence a major base of our investigation. The days of third-degree are over, we can try to ensure conviction and investigation only on the basis of scientific research and technique.”

Article 20(3) of the Constitution guarantees the right against self-incrimination, which means that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against herself. The Supreme Court has held in several rulings that while collection of thumb impression, specimen signature, blood, hair, semen etc will not violate Article 20(3) of an accused, she cannot be subject to involuntary administration of forensic techniques for improving investigation efforts in criminal cases. These techniques include brain finger-printing, lie-detector tests and the use of truth serum or narco-analysis.

On the new centre at NFSU, Shah said, “It was extremely necessary to set up such a centre to strengthen the criminal justice system of this country… There are many challenges ahead of India in the 21st century and to overcome them, we have to systematise our criminal justice system.”

NFSU officials said the state-of-the-art centre offers testing, research, consultancy and a database of narcotics seized by investigation agencies across India.

At another event, in Nardipur village in his Lok Sabha constituency of Gandhinagar, Shah, while asking people to get vaccinated, said, “During the second wave, corona spread so fast that it was not humanly possible to control it. But even in those circumstances, the Prime Minister of the country, Narendrabhai (Modi), attempted to make arrangements to provide 10-fold oxygen to villages and cities in 6-7 days.”

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