Chief Justice DY Chandrachud: Absence of Resources Renders Speedy Trial Provisions in New Criminal Codes Ineffective

CJI DY Chandrachud emphasizes that the effectiveness of speedy trial provisions in new criminal codes hinges on courts having adequate resources.

In a significant address during the inaugural session of a day-long conference organized by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud emphasized the critical need for courts to be equipped with adequate material resources to ensure the effective implementation of the new criminal codes, particularly in achieving the goal of expediting trials.

Highlighting the transformative nature of the new laws, CJI Chandrachud noted that they represent a pivotal moment in India's legal landscape, marking a transition towards a more efficient and just criminal justice system.

Regarding the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), CJI Chandrachud underscored its provision mandating the completion of criminal trials within three years, with judgments to be delivered within 45 days of being reserved. He hailed these stipulations as instrumental in addressing the longstanding issue of case backlog and in safeguarding the rights of both victims and accused individuals.

However, he cautioned that while statutory timelines are crucial, their effectiveness hinges on the availability of material resources for courts and prosecutors. Without adequate infrastructure and technological support, the guarantees offered by the new laws risk being rendered impractical and unenforceable.

"If the court infrastructure and the prosecution lack material resources to harness technology and conduct an efficient and speedy trial, then the guarantees of the BNSS may run the risk of becoming merely directory and unimplementable," remarked CJI Chandrachud.

Alongside the CJI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also lauded the introduction of the three new criminal laws—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam—scheduled to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, effective from July 1 of the current year.

Mehta commended the long-awaited reforms, attributing their realization to the decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. He emphasized the necessity of transitioning from archaic laws to a more modernized and equitable legal framework.

Furthermore, Mehta addressed criticisms surrounding Section 187 of the BNS, commonly known as staggered custody. He clarified that this provision aims to prevent the misuse of medical bail by accused individuals, particularly those with financial resources, by allowing for a segmented utilization of the 15-day custody period within a specified timeframe.

"It is not anti-people but anti-criminal, it will not harm common people," asserted Mehta, defending the provision as essential for maintaining the integrity of criminal proceedings and ensuring justice.

During his address, CJI Chandrachud also commended the BNSS for its promotion of electronic trial proceedings, emphasizing the need to safeguard the privacy rights of all parties involved. He stressed the importance of continuously evaluating and fortifying digital systems to prevent breaches of personal data and ensure the integrity of judicial processes in the digital age.

The conference, titled "India's Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System," witnessed participation from key figures in the legal and governmental spheres, including Union Minister of State for Law Arjun Ram Meghwal, Attorney General for India R Venkataramani, and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.