India Was Craving Transition From Punitive to A Justice Oriented System For 70 Years : SG Tushar Mehta

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“This is a landmark change which we as a nation could achieve,” said SG Mehta about the three new criminal laws

Speaking at the conference titled "India’s Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System," Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, shed light on the transformative reforms reshaping the India's legal landscape. He said, “Country was craving, demanding and expecting an Indianised version from the regime of punishment to a regime of justice.”

The Conference, held in New Delhi aimed to create awareness about the three new criminal laws namely the the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023.

SG Mehta highlighted that the new legislations were long awaited stating that “This change that was ready to happen for 70 years. It is that change that parliament brought and shifted the regime…For the citizens of India, who have given to themselves the constitution of India.”

Drawing on the historical context, SG Mehta emphasised the transition from archaic punitive measures to a justice-centric framework stating that “In history of any nation a time comes when you have to shift from old to new. Before independence we were governed by laws meant to rule us and not to give justice.”

SG Mehta highlighted the judiciary's embrace of digitalisation, enabling remote testimonies and electronic proceedings.This move, he said, “is a revolutionary change which was waiting to happen,”  which not only boosts efficiency but also expands access to justice, transcending geographical barriers.

Commending the Chief Justice of India's leadership, SG Mehta stated “Digitisation as a concept for being  implemented in the delivery of justice in the dispensation of Justice is inspired almost completely by the CJI Chandrachud, who is the karta of our larger judicial and legal HUF.”

Central to the discussion was the empowerment of courts to act against absconders, a longstanding challenge in criminal proceedings. Mehta lauded the provision enabling courts to pronounce convictions in absentia.

Addressing jurisdictional hurdles, Mehta lauded the introduction of mandatory zero FIRs, obligating police to register complaints irrespective of the jurisdiction. SG Mehta said, “For the first time by a statutory mechanism of a mandatory requirement of a zero FIR. Police is now responsible to register FIR and send it to the police station having jurisdiction.”

SG Mehta underscored the convergence of factors propelling this paradigm shift, citing the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister, assertive Home Minister, and proactive Law Minister, alongside the collective will of the populace. He lauded the pivotal role of Parliament in enacting reforms that realigned the focus from subjugation to empowerment, aligning with the ethos of the Indian Constitution.

“This is a landmark change which we as a nation could achieve,” said SG Mehta, concluding his address.