India Introduces New Criminal Laws to Replace Outdated Colonial-Era Legislation

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, replaces the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Sedition is removed, but a new provision penalizes secessionism and acts against India

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The Indian government announced on Saturday that three new criminal laws will come into effect starting July 1, replacing the country’s outdated colonial-era legislations. The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, are set to replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. These laws received approval from the Parliament, and President Droupadi Murmu granted her assent to them last December.

The journey of these three bills began during the Monsoon session of Parliament in August 2023. After extensive deliberations and recommendations from the Standing Committee on Home Affairs, revised editions were tabled during the subsequent winter session. Union Home Minister Amit Shah affirmed that the bills were carefully crafted through broad consultations, with his personal scrutiny extending to every detail of the drafts.

According to the Home Minister, the new legislations prioritize Indianness, adherence to the Indian Constitution, and the welfare of the populace. He expressed confidence that with the implementation of these laws, the Indian criminal justice system will evolve into the world’s most advanced within five years.

In December 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated the approval of the three criminal justice bills as a significant milestone in India’s history. He stated that this event signals the onset of a new era characterized by laws focused on public service and welfare, replacing outdated colonial-era acts.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, replaces the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Sedition is removed, but a new provision penalizes secessionism and acts against India’s sovereignty. Death penalty for gang rape of minors and mob lynching is introduced, along with community service as punishment.

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, replaces the CrPC, 1973, ensuring time-bound investigation and trial within 30 days. Video recording of victims’ statements is mandatory. Bharatiya Sakshya, 2023, replaces the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, admitting electronic evidence and requiring digitization of all records.

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