Three criminal law bills were passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, 20th December and Rajya Sabha on Thursday, 21 December, to replace the Evidence Act, The code of criminal procedure, and the Indian penal code.
Before we go further and discuss the transformation of three new criminal laws. Let’s dig into the history of these laws first.
To create the essence of India, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has begun amending all colonial laws in our nation.
The Three Criminal Laws named as:
INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860. (IPC)
THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973. (CrPC)
INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872.
India’s law on crime is a body of legislation that outlines crimes and specifies penalties for culprits. It is an essential component of the Indian judicial system and is vital to upholding the nation’s law and order. India’s criminal law system is intricate and multidimensional, shaped by several variables including society, politics, history, and culture.
During the British administration in India, Thomas Babington Macaulay served as the chairman of the committee that developed the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860. It attempted to create a unified legal framework by combining several criminal laws that were common in various locations. The socio-political climate of the period is reflected in the Indian Penal Code, which went into effect on January 1, 1862. Macaulay aimed to develop an all-encompassing penal code that took into account the unique aspects of Indian civilization while adhering to the foundations of English law. Even after India gained independence in 1947, the IPC remained a vital component of the country’s legal system, covering a wide range of offences, their penalties, and legal proceedings.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, which was passed in 1861 while Britain was still a colony, is where the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of India had its start. Sir James Stephen served as the primary architect of this legal structure. The purpose of the CrPC was to create a standardised and effective criminal justice administration system across British India. To ensure justice and due process, it created guidelines for the investigation and trial of criminal crimes.
The CrPC was modified over time to reflect evolving community norms and legal requirements. The Indian government kept updating and changing the CrPC after independence to bring it into line with the ideals and values of the constitution. An essential part of India’s criminal justice system, the code specifies protocols for the investigation, arrest, bail, trial, and punishment. Its development is a reflection of the continuous attempts to strike a balance between the need to uphold law and order and the rights of the accused.
During the British colonial era, the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 was passed, and it had a significant impact on the development of Indian law. Sir James Stephen, who also contributed to the Criminal Procedure Code of 1861, had an impact on its drafting. The Evidence Act’s main goal was to harmonise and unify the evidence rules that apply in Indian courts.
The Act defined the guidelines for the introduction of evidence in court as well as the rules controlling the admissibility of that evidence. It presented ideas like relevance, admission requirements, and oral and written evidence. The Act sought to guarantee an equitable and trustworthy legal system that upheld the values of justice and equity.
Like other legal codes of the time, the Indian Evidence Act has undergone amendments to adapt to changing legal norms. Its principles continue to be a cornerstone of India’s judicial system, guiding the admission and assessment of evidence in criminal and civil proceedings.
Current Outlook: “New-era Indian laws 2023”
Bharatiya Dandh Sanhita (IPC) 1860, now has become Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS).
Dandh Prakriya Sanhita (CrPC) 1973, now became Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023
Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 1872, has now become Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023
The prime minister stated the Bills as “transformative,” indicating they would move the legal, policing, and investigative institutions into a contemporary era where forensic science and technology would be prioritised.
Now, a wholly Indian age will begin in the Criminal Justice System of India.
The nation’s criminal justice system has been released from the bonds of slavery thanks to the Modi Government, and the new laws’ being, thought processes, and structure are entirely Indian.
The Modi government’s new rules will make it harder for organised crime to operate.
The most impoverished of the poor will receive immediate reparation with the passage of new laws.
Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (IPC) had to have 511 clauses. And now, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) have 358 clauses.
20 new crimes have been added.
Increase in imprisonment of 33 crimes.
For 83 crimes, there is an increase in fines.
Mandatory minimum punishment has been introduced in 23 crimes
The penalty for community service has been extended for six crimes.
19 clauses have been abolished.
2023 Criminal Law Bills, Clauses have been added and abolished.
On December 2, 2023, the Rajya Sabha passed these bills.
Shri Narendra Modi began transforming or doing away with all colonial rules in this nation and creating India’s essence.
there was no structure in place to protect Indian residents and that three outdated laws were created to uphold British authority following the 1857 revolution. In the old laws, Instead of focusing on, child abuse, and the rights of women, Britishers were more into protecting their crown and treasure.
Prime Minister Modi said The transformation of these three laws is to give justice to everyone, stop child abuse, and give women their rights.
In BNS new law has been added, in which a petition to change the provision of rape cases of below 18 girls.
In the case of minor girls, the punishment of “lifetime imprisonment” and death by hanging.
Gang rape of girls under 18 years of age has been made a new crime.
There is a provision of punishment for persons who fraudulently enter into sexual relations or make false promises of marriage and renege on the promise.
Organised crime: There have been new clauses added by BNS.
Activity by the syndicate against the law will be punishable.
The new provisions include crimes like armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities and offences threatening the sovereignty or unity and integrity of India.
There is a provision of imprisonment up to 7 years for small organised crimes…the provisions related to this are in section 112.
Economic crime has also been defined… manipulation of currency notes, bank notes and government stamp papers… running any wrong scheme… malpractice in any bank or financial institution has been kept in the category of crime.
If an individual has been killed as a result of organised crime, the accused faces the death penalty or life in prison. In addition, a fine of at least Rs 10 lakh would be assessed.
Additionally, there is a clause that stipulates penalties for anybody who aids and abets organised crime offenders.
Another important provision is, There is a death penalty in mob lynching. A new provision has been included on the offence of murder committed based on race, caste, community etc. which provides for life imprisonment or the death penalty.
A new rule about snatching has been included. Serious injuries that result in lifelong impairment or near incapacitation would face harsher sanctions.
Some rights that are included in BNS:
1- The victim has the opportunity to voice his opinions following BNSS section 360.
2- Information Rights under BNSS Sections 173, 193, and 230
3- In addition, the practice of filing zero FIR has been institutionalised following BNSS 173, which guarantees the right to compensation for loss.
4- The victim is entitled to a free copy of the FIR.
5- The victim must be notified by the police within ninety days of the investigation’s advancement.
6- By being required to provide police reports, FIRs, witness statements, and other case facts, victims would have the right to know the specifics of their situation.
7- There are provisions in place to inform victims at different phases of the inquiry and trial.
what new features were added to BNSS:
Indian Civil Defense Code (BNSS)
For the commencement of criminal procedures, arrest, investigation, charge sheet, testimony before a magistrate, cognizance, charges, plea negotiations, the appointment of an Assistant Public Prosecutor, trial, bail, verdict and punishment, mercy petition, etc. A deadline has been set.
BNSS – (e-FIR)
It helps in the timely reporting of delicate crimes against women
Information and electronic transparency will be beneficial to the investigation’s advancement.
The police must now give the complainant complete information about the investigation’s status within 90 days.
BNSS – ( Modern Justice Process)
In BNSS, technology use is encouraged at every turn, from the crime scene to the investigation and trial phases.
Technology will be used to digitize FIRs to case diaries, charge sheets to case diaries, and even rulings.
All police stations and courts will retain personal data about individuals.
Transparency in evidence, search, and seizure will result from recording.
This allows for the maintenance of checks and balances on the authority of the police.
The BNSS now includes additional special rules of forensic investigation, undertrial detainees, witness protection, property attachment of proclaimed offenders, and asset disposal.
The big achievement is that electronic and digital records have been accepted in the new era of criminal law.
They said, by setting timelines for the police, solicitors, and judicial system, adopting technology has accelerated the quest. Of speedy justice. In this framework, from initial inquiries to court proceedings, electronic technologies speed and streamline multiple facets of the legal process. When it comes to gathering evidence, police agencies with cutting-edge forensic tools can work quickly, while lawyers use internet platforms for communication and case preparation. Case management systems help courts by making it easier to schedule hearings and trials within predetermined timelines. Setting deadlines, made possible by technology, not only increases productivity but also emphasises the dedication to a prompt and just legal system. In the end, this digital integration serves the larger objective of providing justice quickly by ensuring a more responsive and flexible judicial system.
The history of criminal law in India is adorned with legislation that has moulded the legal landscape to mirror contemporary security challenges and strive for justice. These criminal law bills are emblematic of the nation’s commitment to protecting the rights of its citizens and ensuring a fair legal system. These landmark criminal law bills, with their unique origins, purpose, and impact, have significantly contributed towards building a safer and more just society. As India continues to evolve, the legacy of these legislations will resonate in the pursuit of stronger criminal justice systems and upholding the principles of justice and equality for all.