Modi’s Decades: The New Bharatiya Criminal Laws of 2023

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Modi’s Decades: The New Bharatiya Criminal Laws of 2023

A New Era of Justice-India’s Three justice oriented Criminal Laws

End of the Colonial Era: India’s New Bharatiya Criminal Laws of 2023

By Dr. Nowhera Shaik

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) have replaced the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and Indian Evidence Act, becoming effective from July 1, 2024. These new laws introduce offences like terrorism, mob lynching, and organized crime, and impose stricter punishments for crimes against women and children.

The three new criminal laws are designed to be justice-oriented and victim-centric, focusing on delivering justice rather than merely administering punishment. They prioritize swift trials and justice, ensuring the protection of victims’ rights. Despite some misconceptions being spread to confuse the public, the Government of India has extensively discussed every aspect of these laws with various stakeholders over four years, making it one of the most thoroughly deliberated laws in Independent India. After 77 years of independence, India’s criminal justice system is now fully indigenous. On July , 2024 these new laws were implemented in every police station across the country, emphasizing justice over punishment, and expediting trials and justice. Unlike previous laws that primarily protected police rights, the new laws include provisions to safeguard the rights of victims and complainants. The three new laws embody the Indian spirit throughout our country’s criminal justice system. They include numerous provisions that will benefit the people. Many contentious provisions from the British era that caused problems have been removed, and new, relevant sections have been added. These new criminal laws represent a paradigm shift in how justice is conceptualized and delivered in India. By prioritizing justice over mere punishment, the laws signal a departure from punitive approaches towards a more rehabilitative and rights-based framework. This approach is essential for developing a society where the rule of law is upheld, and every individual’s rights are respected and protected.

In these new laws, the prioritization of sections and chapters aligns with the spirit of the Indian Constitution. Crimes against women and children are given top priority, with a new chapter dedicated to these offenses, containing 35 sections and 13 provisions, making the laws more sensitive to these issues. Unlike the previous laws, the new laws include a definition and severe punishment for mob lynching. Additionally, the British-era sedition law has been abolished and replaced with a new section addressing anti-national activities, which imposes strict penalties on those who threaten India’s unity and integrity.

The full implementation of the three new laws will establish a highly modern judicial system. These laws not only incorporate current technology but also allow for the integration of future technologies over the next 50 years. With 99.9% of police stations nationwide already computerized and e-record generation started in 2019, features like Zero-FIR, e-FIR, and digital charge sheets are included in the new laws. A deadline is set for completing all procedures, aiming to eliminate the prolonged wait for justice. These changes ensure that justice, including appeals up to the Supreme Court, can be achieved within three years from the filing of an FIR.

The new laws mandate forensic investigation for offenses punishable by seven years or more, which will expedite justice and increase the conviction rate to 90%. Anticipating this need, the government established the National Forensic Science Laboratory in 2020. To support this, over 40,000 trained professionals will be available in the country within three years. Additionally, the Union Cabinet has recently decided to establish campuses of the Forensic Science University and set up six Central Forensic Laboratories in nine more states.

The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023 has made significant strides in leveraging technology for evidence. Several provisions have been included to enhance the credibility of electronic evidence. Now, server logs, location data, and voice messages are admissible as evidence. These three laws will be available in all the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, and court proceedings will also be conducted in those languages.

The new laws have been updated to include relevant sections for today’s context, while many contentious sections that previously caused problems for the people have been removed. In preparation for these changes, the government aimed to train 12,000 Master Trainers to educate approximately 22.5 lakh policemen on the new laws. Remarkably, over 23,000 Master Trainers have been trained with the assistance of authorized institutions. Additionally, 21,000 subordinate judiciary officials and 20,000 public prosecutors have been trained on the new laws.

The legislative process for these laws was thorough and involved significant discussion. In the Lok Sabha, the laws were debated for a total of 9 hours and 29 minutes, with 34 members contributing their views. In the Rajya Sabha, the discussion lasted for 6 hours and 17 minutes, with 40 members participating. Contrary to some claims, the laws were not passed after the expulsion of members of Parliament. The expelled members had the option to return to the House and participate in the discussions to express their views, but none chose to do so. Extensive discussions and consultations with stakeholders, including lawmakers, legal experts, and civil society, ensure that the laws reflect diverse perspectives and address concerns comprehensively. Such inclusivity strengthens the laws’ acceptance and implementation across different segments of society.

Furthermore, the integration of technology in evidence collection and judicial procedures is a game-changer for the Indian legal system. Digitalization not only enhances efficiency but also promotes transparency and accountability in legal proceedings. It empowers law enforcement agencies and courts to handle cases more effectively, leveraging technological advancements to deliver fair and equitable outcomes. The emphasis on training a skilled workforce, including Master Trainers, police officers, judicial officials, and public prosecutors, is pivotal for the successful implementation of these reforms. Proper training ensures that stakeholders are well-equipped to understand and apply the new laws effectively, thereby minimizing potential implementation challenges and ensuring uniformity in enforcement.

The introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) represents a watershed moment in India’s legal history. These laws  modernize the criminal justice system and also uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and accountability.

Dr. Nowhera Shaik
Dr. Nowhera Shaik

The author is the Founder Chairperson & Custodian of Heera Law Associates (HLA), Hyderabad. Email: [email protected] )

Dr Nowhera Shaik, Founder Chairperson & Custodian, Heera Law Associates (HLA), C -12, Basement,  Nizamuddin West, New Delhi – 110013

*** Published under freedom expression and IBG NEWS neither agree nor disagree with the view expressed by the author***

About Post Author

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Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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