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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC

New Provisions for Police Officers in India

Syllabus: Polity and Governance [GS Paper-2]

Context

The Indian government has recently introduced several new provisions for police officers as part of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), a new criminal law that came into effect on July 1, 2024. These changes aim to enhance the powers and responsibilities of the police force, while also introducing measures to improve accountability and protect the rights of citizens.

Mandatory Videography

One of the key new provisions is the mandatory requirement for police officers to conduct videography during various law enforcement activities. This includes:

  • Searches: Police officers must now record video during all searches conducted under Section 185 of the BNSS.
  • Crime Scenes: Videography is mandatory at all crime scenes, as per Section 176 of the BNSS.
  • Property Seizures: Police officers must also record video during the seizure of any property, as per the new provisions.

The purpose of these mandatory videography requirements is to enhance transparency and accountability in police operations, providing a record of the proceedings that can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. 

Detention and Arrest Provisions

The BNSS has also introduced new provisions related to the detention and arrest of individuals by the police:

  • Detaining Persons Resisting Lawful Directions: Under Section 172 of the BNSS, police officers can now detain individuals who resist or disregard lawful directions issued by the police to prevent the commission of a cognizable offence. These individuals can be produced before a magistrate or, in minor cases, released within 24 hours. 
  • Immunity for Police Officers: The BNSS provides a layer of immunity to police officers in cases where they have acted on the orders of an executive magistrate to disperse an unlawful assembly. In such cases, police officers cannot be prosecuted without the sanction of the government. 
  • Expanded Jurisdiction for Producing Arrestees: Under Section 58 of the BNSS, police officers can now produce an arrestee before any magistrate, even if the judicial officer does not have jurisdiction over the case. This is intended to streamline the legal process and reduce delays. 
  • Additional Medical Examinations: The BNSS has introduced a provision (Section 53) that allows a medical practitioner to conduct an additional medical examination of an arrested person if they deem it necessary. This is aimed at ensuring the well-being of the arrestee and providing a more comprehensive record of their physical condition. 

Strengthening Arrest Reporting and Transparency

To address concerns about the misuse of arrest provisions by the police, the BNSS has introduced several measures to enhance transparency and accountability:

  • Designated Police Officer for Arrest Information: Under Section 37/B, state governments are required to designate a police officer responsible for maintaining information about all arrests and arrestees. This information must be prominently displayed in every police station and at the district headquarters. 
  • Expanded Notification of Arrests: The BNSS has expanded the category of persons who can be informed about an arrest, beyond just relatives or friends. Now, the information can be provided to “any other person” as well. 
  • Mandatory Record of Arrest Notification: Section 48/3 of the BNSS mandates that the police station must maintain a record of who has been informed about the arrest of an individual. 

Provisions for Vulnerable Individuals

The BNSS also includes specific provisions aimed at protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals:

  • Permission for Arrests of the Elderly and Infirm: In cases where the accused is infirm or above 60 years of age, and the offence is punishable with imprisonment of less than three years, the police officer must obtain permission from an officer ranked Deputy Superintendent of Police or above before making the arrest. 
  • Gender Inclusivity: The new criminal laws introduced under the BNSS prioritize gender inclusivity, ensuring that the rights and concerns of women and other marginalized groups are adequately addressed in the criminal justice system. 

Implementation and Awareness Efforts

To ensure the effective implementation of the new provisions, the Indian government is undertaking several measures:

  • Training of Grassroots Functionaries: The Union Home Ministry is training over 40 lakh grassroots functionaries, including police officers, to ensure that people are aware of the new criminal laws and their impact, particularly on women and children. 
  • Nationwide Awareness Campaign: All police stations, higher education institutions, and other government entities are organizing day-long activities on July 1, 2024, to educate the public about the key provisions of the new criminal laws through discussions, workshops, and seminars. 
  • Technological Advancements: The new criminal laws also introduce provisions for the use of technology, such as the ability to file police complaints online and receive summons through electronic modes, further enhancing the efficiency of the criminal justice system. 

Conclusion 

Overall, the new provisions for police officers in India aim to strike a balance between enhancing the powers and responsibilities of the police force and ensuring greater accountability and protection of citizens’ rights. As the implementation of these changes progresses, it will be crucial to monitor their impact and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the effective and equitable functioning of the criminal justice system.

Source: The Hindu

UPSC Mains Practice Question

Q. Discuss the recent new provisions introduced for police officers in India. How do these changes aim to improve the functioning of the police force, and what could be their potential impact on law enforcement and public trust?

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