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India Set to Enact Three New Criminal Laws Effective from 1st July

The Centre has announced that three new criminal laws – the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam – aimed at completely revamping the country’s criminal justice system will be implemented from July 1. However, a new penal provision in hit-and-run cases under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita has been temporarily suspended.

The new laws were approved by Parliament during the Winter Session, and President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent to them on December 25. Prime Minister Narendra Modi subsequently directed the targeted implementation of these laws in all Union Territories (UTs).

A gazette notification issued on Friday stated, “The Central Government appoints July 1, 2024, as the date on which the provisions of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (except for subsection (2) of section 106), shall come into effect.”

In January, transporters’ associations across the nation staged protests against certain provisions in the new code. These provisions stipulate that any driver causing death due to rash and negligent driving, and fleeing from the scene, could face imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or fines. The Centre assured all transporters that decisions regarding the enforcement of stringent provisions under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) in such cases would be made only after consulting with the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).

The Center has additionally chosen to establish a team of 3,000 officers who will be responsible for training police officers, investigators, and forensic experts in the nationwide implementation of the new laws in a “zone-wise” approach. “The training will primarily emphasize forensic evidence. A model setup will be established in Chandigarh to ensure a foolproof online mechanism, as the majority of records will be digital,” a source stated.

Another notification issued on Friday states, “In the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 1 of the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 (47 of 2023), the Central Government hereby appoints July 1, 2024, as the date on which the provisions of the said Adhiniyam shall come into effect.”

“In the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 1 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (46 of 2023), the Central Government hereby appoints July 1, 2024, as the date on which the provisions of the said Sanhita shall come into effect, except for the provisions related to section 106(2) of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, as listed in the First Schedule,” it further adds.

Last month, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla convened a meeting with chief secretaries, advisors to Administrators, and all police chiefs of Union Territories (UTs) to assess their readiness for the implementation of the new laws. During the meeting, they were urged to promptly communicate any challenges they encountered in the implementation process to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

“Bhalla instructed them to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of their existing infrastructure and the requirements for implementing the new laws. They were also directed to engage in necessary consultations with relevant stakeholders, including the respective high courts, to make informed assessments,” a source revealed. The source added that Prime Minister Modi has emphasized the immediate implementation of the laws in UTs following the notification date.

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