Centre notifies three new criminal laws; to come into force from July 1

07:44PM Sat 24 Feb, 2024

New Delhi: Three new criminal laws – Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and Bharatiya Saksha Adhiniyam (BSA) – which seek to replace the colonial era Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence act, will come into force from July 1 this year, the Centre announced on Saturday.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) notified the new laws through three separate notifications issued late Friday evening.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (45 of 2023), the Central Government hereby appoints the 1st day of July 2024 as the date on which the provisions of the said Sanhita, except the provision of sub-section (2) of section 106, shall come into force,” stated the notification for BNS. Identical notifications were issued for BNSS and BSA as well.

The ministry had last month informed that all the police stations across the country will start implementing the provisions in the legislation within a year. The laws will be first implemented in the Union territories like Chandigarh, Delhi etc.

To swiftly accustom the police across the country with the provisions of the new laws, which involve major use of technology and forensics, the government is also in the process of acquiring 900 forensic laboratories and providing trainers from different fields, officials aware of the development said.

In January, while addressing the annual director generals of police conference in Jaipur, Union home minister Amit Shah had asked the police chiefs to train the police officers from the director general of police (DGP) level to station house officer (SHO) rank and upgrade the technology from thana (police station) to police headquarters level for successful implementation of three criminal laws.

Shah had piloted the three laws which saw a heated debate in Parliament in December last year.

The draft legislation was first tabled in Parliament on August 11, 2023, and then sent to a parliamentary standing committee. Some of the suggestions of the panel were incorporated and a set of new bills (labelled as second) were tabled on December 12, 2023.

The three bills include key changes that deal with offences of terrorism and acts against the state, enable the registration of electronic first information reports (FIR), factor in corruption in election processes, and make electronic evidence a form of primary proof.

Crimes such as lynching have been separately defined for the first time, with detailed provisions and enhanced punishment for crimes against women and children.

As per the new laws, the generation and supply of records will be in electronic form like zero-FIR, e-FIR, and charge sheet and victims will be provided information in digital form.

A major provision has been added in the new laws for the Directorate of Prosecution and it defines the eligibility, functions and powers of various authorities under it.

The duties and responsibilities of different levels of prosecuting officers were laid down to ensure desired coordination. The provision of supervision by the prosecutor has been introduced during the investigation phase.