News Brief

As Three New Criminal Laws Come Into Effect From Today, Here Are Changes Set To Be Witnessed

Bhuvan Krishna

Jul 01, 2024, 02:39 PM | Updated 02:39 PM IST

Representative image of a gavel and law books
Representative image of a gavel and law books

From midnight on 1 July, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) took effect across India, compelling over 650 district courts and 16,000 police stations nationwide to transition to the new legal system.

Union government officials have stated that states are free to amend certain provisions of the BNSS. The BNSS outlines procedures and conditions for arrest, bail, and custody, among other matters and replaces the erstwhile Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The BNS which replaces the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, may soon be amended by the union government to address a missing section on sexual crimes against men and transgender persons.

The BSA, replacing the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, is the third law being introduced, marking a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s criminal justice legal framework.

From now onwards, cognisable offences will be registered under Section 173 of the BNSS, instead of Section 154 of the CrPC.

However, the IPC and CrPC will still run concurrently with the new laws since many cases are pending in courts, and crimes committed before 1 July but reported later will need to be registered under the IPC.

An important upgrade to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS) under the new laws allows for the filing of e-FIRs without visiting a police station, and zero FIRs, which can be filed regardless of the jurisdiction of the crime location.

The BNSS mandates compulsory audio-video recording of search and seizure operations in all criminal cases, including the preparation of a list of seized items and witness signatures, and mandatory forensic examinations in cases where the offence carries a punishment of seven years imprisonment or more. These recordings must be submitted to the court electronically “without delay.”

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is also testing eSakshya, a mobile-based application to assist police in recording crime scenes and search and seizure operations, with the files uploaded to a cloud-based platform.

Depending on their capabilities, several states have developed their own systems.

For instance, the Delhi Police has created an 'e-pramaan' application to help investigators record crime scenes and generate a hash value with a certificate under Section 62 of the Bharatiya Sakshya.

The Uttarakhand Police has provided tablets to each police station for audio-video recording while the Uttar Pradesh Police has allocated a separate budget for police stations to procure tablets, pen drives, mobile phones, printers, and other hardware to comply with the new law's provisions.

However, the BNSS allows states until June 2029 to enhance their forensic capabilities.

Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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