Evidence Act Amendment: Cabinet okays it in principle
The Cabinet Division has approved the proposed Evidence (Amendment) Act 2022 in principle, keeping the provision that makes digital evidence admissible in court.
With this amendment, digital evidence will be acceptable in trial, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam during a briefing after the cabinet meeting at the Secretariat yesterday.
Maintaining decency while cross-examining a victim in the courtroom has also been incorporated in the proposed law. "The court can decide what kind of questions a victim should be asked," he said, replying to a query.
The Cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who joined it virtually from her official residence, the Gono Bhaban. Other Cabinet members were connected from the cabinet room at the Division.
The practice of submitting evidence online began with the inception of virtual courts amid the Covid pandemic. But there is nothing specific about "online or digital evidence" in the existing Evidence Act, said the cabinet secretary.
With the current law in place, legal complications might arise if any aggrieved person files a petition with the higher court, challenging the verdict of the lower court that had accepted such evidence during virtual trials, he explained.
The draft of the new law has kept a provision for forensic examination of digital evidence. "If the court finds it necessary, or any party of the case questions the authenticity of such evidence, there can be forensic examination," said the cabinet secretary.
He said sufficient laboratories are there in the country for forensic tests of digital evidence, and Bangladesh Computer Council is also equipped with modern technology required for this. The government might set up more such laboratories.
The secretary didn't say how the digital evidence was defined in the draft.
He noted the submission of false or manipulated evidence would be punishable as before. If anyone tampers with evidence, the person will be dealt with as per section 211 of the Penal Code or Digital Security Act.
The Cabinet approved the proposed law only in principle "since it is a tricky matter". It will be put before the Cabinet once again for final nod, he added.
Also yesterday, the Cabinet in principle approved the draft of Bangladesh Supreme Court Judges (Leave, Pension and Privileges) Act, 2022 with a provision for a monthly special allowance of Tk 70,000 for a retired chief justice.
The special allowance will be given to meet expenses of different purposes like hiring domestic help, car diver, security guard and maintenance of office-cum-residence, said Anwarul Islam.
"The draft was brought to formulate a law repealing an ordinance of the military regime as per a judgment of the High Court," he said.
The proposed law will replace the Supreme Court Judges (Leave, Pension and Privileges) Ordinance, 1982.
The Cabinet yesterday didn'taccept another proposal to incorporate a provision in the draft law that the state would provide security to a retired chief justice till a certain period.
It was argued that there is no such provision in other countries.
"If the government can provide such security to a retired chief justice through an executive order. So, the proposal was not accepted," said the cabinet secretary.