BREAKING: New Criminal Laws to Come Into force from July 1, 2024

Central Government has notified July 1, 2024 as the date of coming into force for the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Surakhsa Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam.

The Parliament of India has introduced a significant overhaul of its colonial-era criminal laws through the enactment of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Act (BNS), 2023, Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSS), 2023, and Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSSS), 2023. These new laws replace the Penal Code of 1860, the Evidence Act of 1872, and the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, respectively. Key highlights of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 include:

  1. Consolidation of offences against women and children into a single chapter, emphasizing the importance of these issues.
  2. Reduction of sections from 511 to 358, streamlining the code for efficiency.
  3. Introduction of community service as a punishment for petty offences, marking a shift towards a more reformative approach to justice.
  4. Criminalization of abetment of offences committed outside India, expanding the jurisdiction of Indian law.
  5. New offences, such as sexual intercourse under false pretenses and snatching, are introduced to address contemporary social issues.
  6. Gender-neutral reformulations of certain offences and the inclusion of provisions for organized crime and terrorist acts, aligning with modern legal principles.
  7. Removal of the sedition law, reflecting a commitment to free speech, alongside the introduction of new sections on acts endangering national unity.
  8. The deletion of the offence of ‘attempt to commit suicide’ in favor of a more compassionate legal framework, aligned with the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
  9. Enhanced penalties for various offences, including those related to theft, grievous hurt, and rash or negligent acts, indicating a shift towards stricter deterrence.
  10. The introduction of definitions for ‘child’ and ‘transgender’, and updates to the definitions of ‘movable property’ and ‘document’ to include intangible and electronic records, reflecting an adaptation to modern realities.
  11. The update and rationalization of fines and terms of imprisonment for numerous offences, aiming for a more equitable and contemporary legal system.

These reforms signify a major step forward in modernizing India’s criminal justice system, with a focus on consolidation, contemporary relevance, gender neutrality, and a balance between retribution and reform.

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