India Introduces Comprehensive Overhaul of Criminal Laws


In a historic move to modernize and make the criminal justice system more accessible, accountable, and transparent, the Indian government has introduced three new major criminal laws: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023. These laws, set to come into force on July 1, 2024, aim to provide a robust framework to address contemporary challenges in the criminal justice system and ensure swift and fair justice.

Key Highlights and Objectives

The primary focus of these new laws is to shift from a punitive approach to a justice-centric model. By incorporating over 600 amendments, additions, and deletions, the new laws promise to deliver justice within a fixed timeframe, breaking away from the prolonged delays that have historically plagued the system. Here are some significant changes introduced:

  1. Justice on Time:
    • Fixed Time Frame: The goal is to deliver justice within three years, ensuring freedom from the cycle of repeated adjournments.
    • Registration of FIR: Complaints can now be filed electronically, with the FIR being registered within three days.
    • Investigation Timeline: In cases of sexual harassment, investigation reports must be submitted within seven days.
    • Charge Framing and Case Filing: Charges must be framed within 60 days of the first hearing, and cases filed within 90 days in the absence of proclaimed offenders.
    • Judgement: Courts are required to deliver judgments within 45 days of the conclusion of hearings in criminal cases.
  2. Accessibility and Modernization:
    • Electronic FIR (E-FIR): Victims can now file FIRs electronically from any police station, eliminating the need to visit in person. This is especially beneficial for women, who can have FIRs registered by a female officer.
    • Victim and Witness Focus: The new laws prioritize the protection and rights of victims and witnesses. Measures include enabling victims to file FIRs regardless of jurisdiction and ensuring investigations are not delayed due to procedural lapses.
  3. Accountability and Transparency:
    • Direct Investigation: Victims have the right to approach higher authorities if an FIR is not registered. Superintendents of Police or magistrates can direct investigations to ensure no crime goes uninvestigated.
    • Forensic Investigation: Offenses punishable with more than seven years of imprisonment will require thorough forensic investigation, ensuring comprehensive evidence collection.
  4. Protection and Compensation for Victims:
    • Free Medical Treatment: Victims of heinous crimes are entitled to free medical treatment and compensation for injuries sustained.
    • Witness Protection: A statutory witness protection scheme has been established to safeguard witnesses from harassment and threats, encouraging their participation in criminal proceedings without fear.

Implementation and Impact

The new criminal laws mark a significant departure from the old laws, which prioritized the safety of the British crown and often neglected the needs of victims and the public. By focusing on justice rather than punishment, the new laws aim to create a more humane and effective criminal justice system. The entire process, from FIR registration to court judgments, will be conducted online, leveraging modern technology to expedite justice and reduce the burden on the judicial system.

These changes reflect India’s commitment to a fair and efficient judicial process, resonating with the principles of the Indian philosophy of law. The reforms are expected to enhance public trust in the legal system and ensure that justice is served promptly and equitabl

News Report: Enhancing Credibility and Accountability in the Justice System

In a significant move towards empowering victims and fostering a more inclusive justice system, new legislative measures have been introduced. These reforms emphasize the importance of hearing victims before decisions are made and ensure that victims have timely access to free copies of judgments. This approach aims to create a more balanced and responsive legal process.

One of the standout provisions is the increased support for elderly citizens and individuals with disabilities. Citizens over the age of 60 and persons with disabilities are now exempt from the necessity of presenting themselves at police stations for investigations. Moreover, parents are no longer bound by the requirement to initiate maintenance proceedings from the place of residence of their son.

Strengthening Evidence Credibility with Technology

The integration of technology into the criminal justice system is a cornerstone of the new legislation. Law enforcement agencies are now tasked with using advanced technology to enhance evidence collection and preservation. Key elements include:

  • Electronic FIRs and Summons: Offences committed using electronic means can now be registered through E-FIRs. The system also supports the electronic servicing of summons and the supply of case-related documents to all parties involved.
  • Audio-Video Conferencing: This technology will be used extensively for investigations and court proceedings, allowing for more efficient and comprehensive hearings.
  • Forensic Evidence Collection: The introduction of forensic experts in evidence collection is mandated, ensuring a higher standard of accuracy and reliability in the handling of evidence.

Expanding Evidentiary Law

The legislation also broadens the scope of evidentiary law by incorporating various forms of electronic data, such as temporary files, cloud storage documents, emails, and locational data. These are now explicitly recognized as admissible evidence. There is a strong emphasis on safeguarding electronic data and ensuring its proper custody to prevent tampering. The meticulous documentation of electronic devices and expert certification are now required to authenticate electronic records in court.

Transparent and Accountable Police System

To address potential loopholes, every police station and district must now have a designated police officer, at least of the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), responsible for displaying information about arrested individuals. This measure is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the police force.

These legislative changes mark a significant step forward in making the justice system more responsive, inclusive, and technologically adept, ensuring that the rights and needs of victims and vulnerable populations are better addressed.


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