Judicial Reforms

New criminal laws in effect; amendments soon


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Provisions of the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) that replaces the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC.)


Why in the news? 

Despite objections from the Opposition-ruled States, three new criminal laws took effect nationwide. Union officials emphasized States’ autonomy to amend certain provisions of the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)

New Laws Introduced:

  • Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) replaces the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) replaces the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) replaces the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

Procedural and Evidence Reforms:

  • Cognisable Offences: From July 1, cognisable offences will be registered under Section 173 of BNSS instead of Section 154 of CrPC.
  • Audio-Video Recording: Mandatory audio-video recording of search and seizure operations and compulsory forensic examinations for offences with punishments of seven years or more, with electronic submission of evidence to the court.

Some provisions of the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) that replace the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC.)

  • Procedure for Arrest and Custody: BNSS prescribes new procedures and conditions for arrest, including bail provisions and custody arrangements.
  • Evidence Handling: Mandatory audio-video recording of search and seizure operations in all criminal cases, ensuring transparency and accountability. Compulsory forensic examinations in cases where the offence attracts a punishment of seven years or more.
  • Electronic Submission: All recordings and forensic evidence must be submitted electronically to the court without delay, enhancing efficiency and reducing paperwork.

About handholding and electronic evidence

  • Training and Support: The Union government has provided comprehensive training and hand-holding for all States to facilitate the transition to the new criminal justice system under BNSS, BNS, and BS.
  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS): Upgrades to CCTNS enable the filing of e-FIRs and zero FIRs, allowing for remote registration of complaints without the need to visit a police station. CCTNS software has been modified to support FIR registrations in languages other than English and Hindi, ensuring accessibility across linguistic barriers.
  • eSakshya Mobile Application: Under testing, the eSakshya app assists police in recording crime scenes, search operations, and gathering evidence. It facilitates the secure uploading of recorded data to a cloud-based platform hosted by the National Informatics Centre, ensuring data integrity and accessibility.
  • State-Level Preparations: States like Delhi have developed specific applications, such as e-pramaan, to aid in the recording of crime scenes and the generation of digital certificates under the new laws. Some states have distributed necessary equipment like tablets and mobile devices to police stations to ensure compliance with recording and evidence collection requirements.
  • Forensic Capability Timeline: While the BNSS mandates forensic examinations for offences punishable by over seven years imprisonment, states have been given until June 2029 to enhance their forensic capabilities. This includes training police officials in proper evidence collection methods and the use of available resources until full upgrades are completed.

Way Forward: 

  • Continued Collaboration and Feedback Mechanism: Establish a structured feedback mechanism between the Union government and States to address implementation challenges and refine the new criminal laws, ensuring effective collaboration.
  • Enhanced Public Awareness and Training: Conduct extensive public awareness campaigns and provide ongoing training sessions for law enforcement personnel on the use of new technologies and procedures introduced under BNSS, BNS, and BS.

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