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New Criminal Laws Take Effect on July 1: What Are The Key Changes?

Starting Monday, July 1, India will see a transformative shift in its criminal justice system with the implementation of three new criminal laws that replace colonial-era legislations. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will supplant the old Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act. These […]

Gurgaon: File Complaints Anywhere, WhatsApp Included
Gurgaon: File Complaints Anywhere, WhatsApp Included

Starting Monday, July 1, India will see a transformative shift in its criminal justice system with the implementation of three new criminal laws that replace colonial-era legislations. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will supplant the old Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act. These reforms aim to modernize the judicial process, enhance victim protection, and ensure timely justice.

Key Highlights of the New Criminal Laws:

  1. Expedited Judgments and Charge Framing:
    • Criminal case judgments must be delivered within 45 days after the trial concludes.
    • Charges must be framed within 60 days of the first hearing.
    • State governments are required to implement witness protection schemes to ensure the safety and cooperation of witnesses.
  2. Support for Rape Victims:
    • Statements from rape victims will be recorded by a female police officer in the presence of the victim’s guardian or relative.
    • Medical reports must be completed within seven days.
  3. Enhanced Protection for Women and Children:
    • A new chapter addresses crimes against women and children, classifying buying or selling a child as a heinous crime with severe penalties.
    • Gangrape of a minor can result in a death sentence or life imprisonment.
  4. Addressing Abandonment and False Promises of Marriage:
    • The law now includes punishments for cases where women are abandoned after being misled by false promises of marriage.
  5. Rights and Support for Crime Victims:
    • Victims of crimes against women are entitled to regular updates on their cases within 90 days.
    • All hospitals are mandated to provide free first-aid or medical treatment to victims of crimes against women and children.
  6. Transparency and Documentation:
    • Both the accused and the victim are entitled to receive copies of the FIR, police report, charge sheet, statements, confessions, and other documents within 14 days.
    • Courts are allowed a maximum of two adjournments to prevent unnecessary delays in case hearings.
  7. Digital Reporting and Zero FIR:
    • Incidents can now be reported via electronic communication, eliminating the need to visit a police station.
    • The introduction of Zero FIR allows individuals to file a First Information Report at any police station, regardless of jurisdiction.
  8. Rights of the Arrested:
    • Arrested persons have the right to inform a person of their choice about their situation, ensuring they receive immediate support.
    • Arrest details will be prominently displayed in police stations and district headquarters for easy access by families and friends.
  9. Mandatory Forensic Involvement:
    • Forensic experts are now required to visit crime scenes for serious offences and collect evidence.
  10. Inclusive Definition of Gender and Victim Statements:
  • The definition of “gender” now includes transgender people.
  • For certain offences against women, victim statements should be recorded by a woman magistrate when possible.
  • If unavailable, a male magistrate must record the statement in the presence of a woman.
  • Statements related to rape must be recorded through audio-video means.

These comprehensive reforms mark a significant milestone in India’s commitment to modernizing its criminal justice system, enhancing victim protection, and ensuring the timely delivery of justice. The changes are expected to provide a more transparent, inclusive, and efficient judicial process, setting a new standard for legal proceedings in the country.

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