India’s legal system has welcomed the new criminal law which are taking effect from July 1, 2024(today) replacing the decades old law enacted during British regime – Indian Penal Code (1860), Indian Evidence Act (1872) and Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) by Bhartiya Nyaya Sahita, Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam and Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita.

Numerous well-known legal experts, state bar councils, and bar associations have expressed their opposition to the new regulations, indicating that the legal community is very concerned about their potential effects.
The Indian Bar Council gave assurances to the legal community last week that it will communicate the bar’s apprehensions on the new laws to the union government. The Bar Council asked attorneys not to protest or argue against the new laws, instead suggesting that an expert committee be formed to examine their effects.

Although the government claimed that the new laws would modernize and decolonize the Indian legal system, some opponents contend that nothing notably new was added to the legislation because most of the previous laws’ features were still there under new numbers and labels. Therefore, the opponents claim that even while they provide no new innovations, they might potentially cause a lot of pain for judges, attorneys, and police since they would have to learn the new order of the same old rules.

It has been noted that the old laws will keep prevailing for two to three decades in the pending cases till July 1, 2024. Thus, there are concerns raised about for confusion and errors due to parallel working of laws.

Concerns are raised on new provisions expanding scope of police custody while with features like Zero FIR, online police complaint registration, electronic summons via SMS, and mandated crime scene recording for all serious offenses, the new legislation introduced a contemporary legal system.

According to official sources, the new laws aim to address some of the social realities and crimes of the present while providing a framework to deal with them in a way that upholds the principles of the Constitution.

Key Highlights –

  1. Judgment in criminal cases to come within 45 days of competition of trial and charges must be framed within 60 days of first hearing.
  2. Statement of Rape Victim to be recorded by women police officer in presence of her guardian or relative, and medical report to come within 7 days.
  3. Sedition has been replaced with Treason and video recoding of search and seizure made mandatory.
  4. Free first aid or medical treatment to victims of crimes against women and children at all hospitals.
  5. Summons to be served electronically for expediting legal processes, reducing paperwork and ensuring efficient communication against all parties.
  6. Court to grant maximum of two adjournments to avoid pendency of the case and ensure timely justice.
  7. Definition of “Gender” includes Transgender individuals, promoting inclusivity and equality.
  8. The statement of Rape Victim shall be recorded through audio-video means.
  9. Mandatory for forensic experts to visit crime scenes for serious offences and collect evidences to strengthen the case and investigation.

First FIR –

At the Kamla Market Police Station in Delhi, a first FIR (First Information Report) was filed on Monday against a street seller in accordance with the new criminal rules. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Section 285 was used to record the complaint, which was based on allegations of blocking a foot over bridge at the New Delhi Railway Station.

Posters informing citizens of the new legislation were up in the national capital’s police stations among other locations prior to its going into effect. The new criminal laws will repeal rules from the colonial era and drastically alter India’s criminal justice system.

Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita

There are 358 sections in the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, compared to 511 in the IPC. Twenty additional offenses have been added to the Sanhita, and the penalty for thirty-three offenses has been enhanced to jail.

For 83 offenses, there is now a greater fine, and for 23 crimes, there is now an obligatory minimum sentence.
Six offenses now carry a community service punishment, while the Act includes 19 sections that have been eliminated or deleted.

Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita

There are 531 sections in the Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita, compared to 484 in the CrPC.

The Sanhita has undergone changes to 177 provisions in total. Additionally, it has gained nine new sections and 39 new sub-sections.

44 new provisions and clarifications have been added to the Act. Timelines have been added to 35 sections and audio-visual provision has been added at 35 places.

A total of 14 sections have been repealed and removed.

Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam

There have been changes to 24 provisions in Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, which now has 170 provisions instead of the original 167.

In the Adhiniyam, six provisions have been removed or abolished, while two new provisions and six sub provisions have been introduced.

With the recent criminal justice reform in India, crimes against women, children, and the country are now given priority. This represents a dramatic change in priorities.


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