The president has given his assent to two legislations of Karnataka and Jharkhand under which audio and video-recordings of evidence in criminal matters would be allowed, besides paving the way for courts to hold trials against absconding accused and punish them in their absence, officials said.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2021 allows evidence to be recorded through audio and video means in the presence of the accused and his lawyers.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Jharkhand Amendment) Bill, 2020 facilitates courts to run trials against absconding accused and punish them in their absence.
The presidential assent has been received for the two bills, a home ministry official said.
The statement of the object of the Karnataka bill says: “Provided that, evidence of a witness under this sub-section may also be recorded by audio-video electronic means in the presence of the advocate of the person accused of the offence in such manner as may be prescribed.” The Code of Criminal Procedure (Jharkhand Amendment) Bill, 2020 allows the courts to hold trials against absconding accused and punish them in their absence.
Under the existing provisions, the court could examine the witnesses and record their depositions only so that the trial may be conducted on the basis of it when the accused, who are on the run, are arrested.
According to the existing provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973: “If it is proved that an accused person has absconded, and that there is no immediate prospect of arresting him, the court competent to try or commit for trial such person for the offence complained of may, in his absence, examine the witnesses (if any) produced on behalf of the prosecution, and record their depositions and any such deposition may, on the arrest of such person, be given in evidence against him on the inquiry into, or trial for, the offence with which he is charged, if the deponent is dead or incapable of giving evidence or cannot be found or his presence cannot be procured without an amount of delay, expense or inconvenience which, under the circumstances of the case, would be unreasonable.”