Know About Major Changes To New Criminal Laws Effective July 1

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New Delhi, 2nd July 2024: As of July 1, India has witnessed a major overhaul in its criminal justice system with the introduction of three new laws: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bhartiya Sakshya Sanhita (BSS), replacing the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively. These new laws have brought significant changes to how crimes are categorized and prosecuted in the country.

Key Changes Introduced in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS)

New Additions:
Sexual Exploitation: Promising marriage for sexual exploitation is now a crime.
Mob Lynching: A separate law has been enacted to address mob lynching.
Terrorism: Terrorism is now explicitly included in criminal laws.
Organized Crime: Separate provisions for crimes like robbery, theft, smuggling, cybercrime, and extortion.
Preventing Officials from Duty: Obstructing a government official from performing duties and attempting suicide are now criminal offences.
Gangrape of a Minor: Punishable by death.
Marital Rape of Minors: Forcibly having sex with a minor wife is considered rape.
Community Service: Introduced as a punishment for minor offences.

Significant Changes in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)

Display of Accused’s Details: Section 37 mandates a designated officer in each police station to display the names and details of arrested individuals, including in digital formats.

Community Service: Introduced as a punishment, where convicts can be ordered to perform work beneficial to society.

Trial in Absentia: Section 355(1) allows for the prosecution and conviction of accused persons in their absence.

Preliminary Enquiry Before FIR: Preliminary investigation before filing an FIR for cognizable offences punishable by 3 to 7 years.

Time Limit for Investigations: Section 193 sets a two-month deadline for completing investigations in serious crimes against women and children.

Digital Integration in Law Enforcement

Online FIR Registration: Section 173 allows for the registration of FIRs online for serious crimes, including murder and rape, across all police stations nationwide.

Zero FIR Provision: Enables FIRs to be filed in any police station regardless of jurisdiction.

Case Updates via SMS: Section 193 provides that complainants will receive SMS updates on their cases within 90 days.

Rights of the Arrested: Section 36 ensures that arrested individuals can inform someone of their arrest, facilitating legal assistance.

Mandatory Forensic Investigations

Forensic Requirement: Section 176 mandates forensic investigations for serious crimes punishable by more than seven years. Evidence must be collected by forensic experts, and police must video-record searches of premises.

These comprehensive reforms aim to modernize India’s criminal justice system, making it more efficient and responsive to contemporary issues. However, the removal of legal provisions for certain crimes and the increased power given to police authorities have sparked debates on their potential impact on civil liberties and human rights.