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New criminal rules of practice for Tamil Nadu, Puducherry from 2020 TAMIL NADU Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 20 DECEMBER 2019 01:36 ISTUPDATED: 20 DECEMBER 2019 01:36 IST Superior courts to communicate bail orders to lower courts through e-mail The year 2020 will mark a new beginning for the functioning of all criminal courts across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, as the Madras High Court has decided to do away with its age-old Criminal Rules of Practice — framed way back in 1948 — and implement new rules, which address contemporary needs and permit the use of new technologies, with effect from January 1. The new rules state that henceforth, orders granting bail or suspension of sentence shall be communicated officially by the High Court through e-mail to the trial courts, where the accused have to execute bonds and furnish sureties. They also permit Judicial Magistrates to record dying declarations using electronic devices, apart from the practice of recording them in writing. Further, the rules authorise the trial courts to accept chargesheets filed by the police electronically and insist that the mobile phone numbers and e-mail IDs of the complainants, the accused as well as the witnesses, should be furnished to the courts concerned by the police at the time of forwarding the FIRs and also while filing charge-sheets. The details would be used by the courts to issue summons through the electronic mode, apart from other conventional modes of service. The rules also give the judges concerned the liberty to permit witnesses to sit while recording their statements, and state that they “may, as far as practicable”, provide a seat for the accused too during the inquiry or trial. Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi credited a committee led by Justice P.N. Prakash for having made “painstaking efforts” to draft the rules, which cover almost all aspects, from the need for handling transgender prisoners with sensitiveness to permitting the use of technological advancements in the administration of justice. Though the Code of Criminal Procedure underwent a major overhaul in 1973, the High Court’s criminal rules of practice were not revised in tune with it for a long time, until a decision was taken a couple of years ago to come up with a completely new set of rules after eliciting the opinions of the governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and suggestions from stakeholders. The new rules state that every transperson arrested and produced before a Judicial Magistrate for remand should be subjected to a medical test by an officer not below the rank of District Medical Officer to ascertain his/her predominant sex orientation, and shall be detained in a men’s or women’s prison. They also mandate the Magistrates to issue specific directions to the prison authorities to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to transpersons by other inmates of a prison, and vice-versa. Until the determination of the sex orientation by medical officer, transpersons should be admitted to prisoners’ wards in government hospitals. While issuing summons, either to the complainants, the accused or the witnesses, the courts should add the prefix “Thiru/Tmt/Selvi/Thirunangai/Thirunambi”, as the case may be before the name of the person summoned. the rules state. Though the draft rules framed in 2018 did not contain the prefix Thirunambi, it has been added in the rules notified now. The rules elaborately deal with every aspect of criminal procedure and lay down the manner in which child victims should be examined and how evidence should be recorded through video-conferencing. They also require all criminal courts to maintain a register of long-pending cases so that special attention could be accorded for their disposal.