Explained: July 1 Brings New Criminal Laws Into Effect

Explained: July 1 Brings New Criminal Laws Into Effect

The Indian Parliament has replaced three colonial-era laws...
New Criminal Laws
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The NCRB has launched a mobile app called "NCRB Sankalan of New Criminal Laws," available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The Indian Parliament has replaced three colonial-era laws including the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act,1872 with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023. This marks a shift from punitive measures to a justice-oriented approach rooted in Indian values. The revisions were led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, with consultations starting in 2019 and involving the judiciary, law universities, state officials, and the public. These changes symbolize a new era of a truly independent Indian justice system.

Justice system based on Indian thinking

  1. The new criminal laws will free people from a colonial mindset and decolonize our minds.
  2. These laws focus on justice rather than punishment.
  3. "Sab Ke Saath Samaan Vyavhar" (Equal treatment for all) is the key theme.
  4. They embody the real spirit of the original Indian Code of Justice.
  5. The laws are made in the spirit of the Indian Constitution.
  6. They guarantee personal freedom of expression.
  7. Human rights are at their core.
  8. They ensure victim-centric justice.
  9. The essence of the new laws is justice, equality, and impartiality (Nyaya, Samaanta aur Nishpakhata).

Citizen Centric Laws

  1. Section 173(1) BNSS: Citizens can file an FIR orally or electronically (e-FIR) from anywhere, regardless of where the crime occurred.
  2. Section 173(2) BNSS: Citizens are entitled to a free copy of their FIR from the police without delay.
  3. Section 193(3) BNSS: Police must inform the victim of investigation progress within 90 days.
  4. Section 184(1) BNSS: Victim’s medical examination must be conducted with consent within 24 hours of reporting the crime, and the medical report must be forwarded within 7 days (Section 184(6) BNSS).
  5. Section 18(8) BNSS: Citizens can hire their own legal representation to assist in prosecution.
  6. Section 230 BNSS: The criminal justice system is now more transparent, accountable, and accessible with the supply of documentation to citizens.
  7. Section 396 BNSS: Victims have the right to free medical treatment and compensation.
  8. Section 398 BNSS: There is a provision for a witness protection scheme.
  9. Section 360 BNSS: Courts must hear the victim before allowing withdrawal from prosecution, emphasizing a 'Nyaya Centric Approach.'
  10. Section 404 BNSS: Victims are entitled to a free copy of the judgment by applying to the Court.
  11. Section 530 BNSS: Investigations, inquiries, and trials can also be conducted electronically.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS): Some Key Features

  1. Offences against women and children are now consolidated in a single chapter.
  2. Section 69: Strict punishment for sexual intercourse based on false promises.
  3. Section 70(2): Death penalty for gang rape.

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS)

  1. Increased use of technology in investigations.
  2. Higher fines imposed by Magistrates.
  3. Streamlined FIR processes and victim protection: Section 173: Introduces Zero FIR and e-FIR provisions, Section 176(1): Allows audio-video recording of victim statements.

Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 (BSA)

  1. Electronic and digital records are recognized as primary evidence.
  2. A framework is provided to ensure the authenticity of digital evidence.
  3. Section 2(1)(d): The definition of documents is expanded.
  4. Section 61: Digital records are as admissible as other documents.
  5. Sections 62 & 63: Electronic records are acceptable in court.

Women and Children

The new criminal laws include 37 sections addressing crimes against women and children.

  1. Section 2 BNSS: Offences against women and children are now gender-neutral for both victims and perpetrators.
  2. Section 70 BNSS: Gang rape of a girl under 18 is punishable by life imprisonment or death.
  3. Section 69 BNSS: Sexual activity under false promises or disguised identity is now a criminal act.
  4. Section 51(3) BNSS: Medical practitioners must send the medical report of a rape victim to the investigating officer within seven days.

Redefined Offences & Punishments

  1. Section 304 BNS: Snatching is now a cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence.
  2. Section 113 BNS: The definition of a 'Terrorist Act' includes acts that threaten India's unity, integrity, sovereignty, security, economic security, or spread terror among any group.
  3. Section 152 BNS: The offence of 'Sedition' is removed and replaced with penalties for acts endangering India's unity and integrity. 'Rajdroh' is replaced by 'Deshdroh'.
  4. Section 103(2) BNS: 'Mob Lynching' is introduced as an offence with a maximum penalty of death.
  5. Section 111 BNS: Organized crime is clearly defined.

Timely and Speedy Justice

  1. Timeline requirements are now specified in 45 sections of BNSS.
  2. Section 251 BNSS: Charges must be framed within 60 days from the first hearing on the charge.
  3. Section 356 BNSS: Prosecution proceedings against declared offenders in absentia should start within 90 days of framing the charge.
  4. Sections 251, 258 BNSS: Timelines are set for sanctioning prosecution, document supply, committal proceedings, filing discharge petitions, framing charges, pronouncing judgment, and filing mercy petitions.
  5. Section 346 BNSS: Criminal proceedings allow no more than two adjournments.
  6. Section 530 BNSS: Technology is used for issuing summons and presenting evidence in court.

Transforming Criminal Justice System

  1. Magistrates can conduct quick trials for cases with sentences up to three years.
  2. Section 251, 258 BNSS: Charges must be framed within 60 days of the first hearing, and judgments must be pronounced within 45 days after trial concludes.
  3. Section 20 BNSS: Each state will establish a Directorate of Prosecution overseeing district units to expedite trials and advise on appeals.
  4. Section 530 BNSS: Electronic methods can be used for inquiries and trials.
  5. Section 479 BNSS: First-time offenders may be released if their under-trial detention equals one-third of their sentence.

Greater Accountability and Transparency of Police

  1. Section 105 BNSS: Search and seizure must be videographed.
  2. Section 35 (7) BNSS: No arrest can be made without permission from a Dy.SP if the offence is punishable by less than 3 years' imprisonment and the person is infirm or aged 60 or above.
  3. New sections enhance police accountability in arrest, search, seizure, and investigation.
  4. Section 174 (1) (ii) BNSS: In non-cognizable cases, a daily diary report must be sent to the Magistrate every fortnight.

NCRB Sankalan of New Criminal Laws

The NCRB has launched a mobile app called "NCRB Sankalan of New Criminal Laws," available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. This app serves as a comprehensive guide to the new criminal laws, offering an index linking all chapters and sections. It includes a chart for easy comparison between old and new laws, with a search feature for quick information retrieval. The app is designed to work offline, making it useful for everyone seeking detailed information on the latest legal reforms.


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