Bar Council of India Mandates Implementation of New Criminal Justice Laws in Legal Education from 2024-25

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has issued a directive to all centres of legal education (CLEs) in India to introduce three new criminal justice laws starting from the academic year 2024-25. These laws are set to replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

In a circular dated May 20 and signed by BCI Secretary Srimanto Sen, the BCI outlined its plan for a comprehensive overhaul of legal education in response to the “transformative vision” articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The circular emphasized the need for legal education to evolve in step with technological advancements and changing legal frameworks.

Prime Minister Modi had highlighted the necessity for legal education to adapt to modern times, focusing on the latest trends in crime, investigation, and evidence. Reflecting this vision, the BCI has directed CLEs to integrate subjects such as blockchain technology, electronic discovery, cybersecurity, robotics, artificial intelligence, and bioethics into their curricula.

Furthermore, the circular mandates the inclusion of mediation as a compulsory subject, reflecting a shared interest by the judiciary and the government in this area. This directive had previously been communicated in August 2020 but is reiterated in the latest circular with an emphasis on its immediate implementation.

The BCI also addressed the integration of constitutional values and the importance of understanding socio-economic and cultural contexts within legal studies. The push for interdisciplinary thinking and bilingual education in both English and regional languages was also highlighted.

The new laws to be introduced, named Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam of 2023, aim to modernize and streamline India’s criminal justice system. This inclusion in university curricula is part of a broader initiative to ensure that graduates are equipped to handle contemporary legal challenges effectively.

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Additionally, the circular stressed the ongoing prohibition of law courses offered through online or correspondence modes, requiring that degree courses be conducted in person, following the stipulated time and working hours. The BCI also called for periodic reviews and compliance with the sanctioned seat strength across the CLEs to maintain educational standards.

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