Bangladesh Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed the much talked about "The Evidence (Amendment) Bill, 2022" incorporating the admissibility of digital evidences by the court.
Law Minister Anisul Huq placed the bill in the House, which was passed by a voice vote.
As per the law, in a prosecution for an offence of rape or attempt to rape, no question can be asked in the cross-examination as to general immoral character or previous sexual behaviour of the victim. But such question can only be asked with the permission of the court necessary for the ends of justice.
Opposition Jatiya Party and BNP lawmakers thanked the government for placing the bill saying the humiliating provision for women as mentioned in the Evidence Act has been repealed.
Terming the bill "historic and time fitting," the opposition lawmakers said the demand of rights activists has been fulfilled.
While placing the bill, the law minister said there is a tendency of raising questions about a victim's character through obnoxious questions. Restriction has been imposed on it. No such question can be asked straightway without the permission of a court.
Rights activists have welcomed the government's move for amending the Evidence Act as the so-called "immoral" character of survivors of sexual violence can no longer be brought into question, digital evidence can be produced in courts, and questions on the character of witnesses in general can be raised only with the permission of the court.
Activists have long argued that defence lawyers attacking survivors with demeaning and obscene questions during cross-examinations is a huge deterrent in the process of justice that has only contributed to normalising sexual violence.
Legal experts and rights activists said they had long been demanding inclusion of digital evidence in the act.
The passed law will give both the prosecution and defence the opportunity to produce digital evidence before the court. Such evidence is not taken into cognisance at present.
According to the proposed law, digital record or electronic record means any record or information generated, prepared, sent, received or stored in magnetic, electro-magnetic, optical or micro films, computer memory, computer-generated microfiche including audio, video, DVD, CCTV footage, drone data and records from cell phone, hardware, software or any other digital device as defined in Digital Security Act, 2018.
Besides, finger, palm and iris impressions and digital footprints, signatures and certificates will also be admissible as evidence before a court.
Evidence, documents and such other things were coming online after the inception of digital or online trials of cases amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the existing law, many legal complications might appear if any aggrieved person files a petition with the higher court, challenging the verdict of the lower court in case of acceptance of digital evidence or documents.
In the law, a provision was kept for making forensic examination of digital evidence.
If the court thinks necessary or any party of the case doubts about the authenticity of such evidence, these can be gone through forensic examination.
The submission of false or manipulated evidence would be punished as per the laws concerned.
If anyone twists (tampers) evidence, the persons will be dealt with as per the section 211 of the Penal Code or the section 57 of the Digital Act.