India implements 3 new laws to replace colonial laws

Source: AI-DALLE-3

India has replaced its existing colonial-era criminal laws with new criminal laws.

The implementation of these laws begins on July 1, 2024, as part of efforts to revamp the country’s justice system.

The three new criminal laws - the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will replace the British-era Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act respectively.

The laws aim to promote justice and fairness rather than just punishment, according to Interior Minister, Amit Shah. They would also help India “become the world’s most modern justice delivery system,” he said.

The laws among other things strengthen rules against sexual assault and remove the old law that criminalised sodomy.

The top judge commended the move but critics and opposition members have raised concerns with the introduction of the new laws which they say will further slow down justice.

Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud called the changes a “watershed moment for our society.”

One big change is that police can now hold a suspect for up to 60 days, or in some cases, up to 90 days, instead of the previous 15 days. Also, police now have more power to decide if a case can go to trial, a job that used to be done by judges.

 Supreme Court lawyer Nipun Saxena criticised this, saying, “Judicial functions cannot be transferred to police.”

The updated laws also require video recordings at serious crime scenes and allow more types of digital evidence.

According to critics, the changes could cause confusion because the old and new laws will run at the same time in some cases. India’s justice system is already very slow, with millions of cases pending.

Saxena warned the changes could also increase the number of pending cases by “30-40 percent.”

However, the government said that due procedure has been undertaken to ensure a smooth implementation of the new criminal laws across the country.

The new laws were passed in 2023 by the National Democratic Alliance but are now being implemented.

The Times of India reported that the first person charged under the new laws was a street vendor blocking a footbridge in New Delhi.

Here are some provisions in the new laws

Zero First Information Report (FIR): Allowing people to file an FIR at any police station, regardless of jurisdiction, to eliminate delays in initiating legal proceedings.

Online registration of police complaints and electronic service of summons.

Mandatory videography of crime scenes for all heinous crimes to strengthen investigations.

Summonses can be served electronically, expediting legal processes, reducing paperwork, and ensuring efficient communication among all parties involved.

Faster justice delivery, with judgment required within 45 days of trial completion and charges framed within 60 days of the first hearing.

Sensitive handling of crimes against women and children including recording victim statements by female officers and faster medical reports.

New provisions to address emerging crimes like false promises of marriage, gang rape of minors, and mob lynching.

Definition of terrorism for the first time, with expanded scope to include “economic security” of the country.

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