Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023

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In India, enacting and adopting the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 was a mold-breaking concept in the criminal justice system, changing the entire system regarding the admissibility of evidence in the Indian Courts of law. The law came into force, at a time when India was a part of the British Empire, on September 01, 1872. Recently, the Minister of Home Affairs introduced three new criminal laws with a motive to protect the rights of Indian citizens. He proposed the introduction of the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, and Bharatiya Nagarika Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 with an aim to replace the Indian Evidence Act (IEA) 1872, Indian Penal Code 1860, and Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 respectively. While introducing the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill 2023 in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister Amit Shah said, “It aims to consolidate and provide for general rules and principles of evidence for a fair trial.” This article delves into key provisions and changes in the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 proposed by the introduction of the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023. 

Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872, is a law that plays a significant role in determining the concept of admissibility of evidence in the Courts. Over the years, the Act underwent amendments in years 2000 and 2013 to align with the contemporary needs of the people. Moreover, multiple suggestions for the IEA were mentioned by the Law Commission on matters including admissibility of police confessions, custodial violence, government privilege in evidence, and cross-examination. To improve the justice delivery system, the Minister of Home Affairs on August 11, 2023, introduced the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 in the Lok Sabha. The same was withdrawn on December 12, 2023, and consecutively, the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 12 December 2023. Further, the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2023. Following this, the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 21, 2023, and was passed on the same day. Furthermore, on December 25, 2023, the bill received the assent of the President of India, Droupadi Murmu. After receiving the assent, the bill becomes an Act known as Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, or Bharatiya Sakshya Act, 2023.

Key Provisions and Changes

The new law, Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, consists of 170 Sections in total instead of 167 Sections as of IEA. This law modified 23 Sections, repealed 5 Sections, and added 1 new Section. The main focus of introducing this new law was to adapt to technological advancements and societal changes over the recent decades. The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, or BSA, 2023 retains various provisions of the IEA such as on burden of proof, confessions, and relevancy of facts. Some of the major changes are listed as follows:

  • Section 2 of the BSA, 2023, modified the definition of document by including electronic and digital records. It illustrated that “An electronic record on emails, server logs, documents on computers, laptop or smartphone, messages, websites, locational evidence, and voice mail messages stored on digital devices are documents.”
  • The BSA, 2023, allowed oral evidence to be given electronically whereas earlier IEA defined oral evidence as ‘all statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry”. 
  • Section 22 of the new law modified the need for confessional admission, “A confession made by an accused person is irrelevant in a criminal proceeding, if the making of the confession appears to the Court to have been caused by any inducement, threat, coercion, or promise having reference to the charge against the accused person, proceeding from a person in authority and sufficient, in the opinion of the Court, to give the accused person grounds which would appear to him reasonable for supposing that by making it he would gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature in reference to the proceedings against him.” 
  • Section 24 of the BSA, 2023, illustrated the provision, ‘consideration of proved confession affecting person making it and others jointly under trial for same offence’. 
  • The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, recognized digital and electronic records as primary evidence mentioned under Section 57
  • Section 58 of the BSA, 2023, ‘secondary evidence’, amended the earlier Section 63 of the IEA, 1872, and expanded the scope of secondary evidence. It included additional categories such as “oral admissions, written submissions, and evidence of a person who has examined a document, the original of which consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot conveniently be examined in Court, and who is skilled in the examination of such documents.”
  • Section 61 of the BSA, 2023, ensures that digital or electronic records will have the same legal effect, validity, and enforceability as other documents. Also, Section 63 expanded the types of digital or electronic records that can be used as evidence in a Court of law.

Various other noteworthy additions and modifications are made by the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 in the existing Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to provide for general rules and principles of evidence for fair trial.


The Indian Evidence Act plays a pivotal role in establishing truth during a trial. It is a critical part of the judicial process. Over the recent years, the Indian Evidence Act has undergone amendments to align with the contemporary needs of the people. Despite this, the existing IEA has not kept up with societal changes and technological advancements. Therefore, the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, looks forward to establish harmony with technology and expedition in the prosecution process. 

1. Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 will replace which existing criminal law?
2. How many Sections are there in the proposed law, Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023?