Major Overhaul in Indian Criminal Laws to Be Implemented from July 1, Announces Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal

In a landmark move, the Union Minister of State for Law and Justice, Arjun Ram Meghwal, announced that a significant revamp of India’s criminal laws is set to take effect on July 1, 2024. This transformation will see the introduction of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, Bharatiya Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, replacing the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

During a press conference held on Sunday, Minister Meghwal detailed the extensive amendments designed to modernize and strengthen the framework governing criminal justice in India. “After extensive consultations and recommendations from the Law Commission of India, we are prepared to implement these revised statutes,” he stated.

The Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, set to replace the IPC, will feature 358 sections, a reduction from the current 511, but will include 20 new crimes. Penalties for 33 crimes have been enhanced, with increased fines for 83 offenses and the introduction of mandatory minimum punishments for 23 offenses. Additionally, community service penalties have been established for six offenses, and 19 sections have been repealed.

The Bharatiya Suraksha Sanhita, which will supplant the CrPC, now contains 531 sections compared to the former 484. This revised code introduces 177 changed provisions, including nine new sections and 39 new subsections, along with 44 fresh provisions and clarifications aimed at enhancing procedural efficiencies.

Notably, the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will expand to 170 provisions from 167, incorporating two new provisions and six sub-provisions, while repealing six. The act aims to modernize evidence handling, notably incorporating audio-video recording in 35 different contexts to ensure transparency and accuracy in the judicial process.

Minister Meghwal highlighted the logistical efforts supporting these changes, such as nationwide training initiatives spearheaded by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD). “Our judicial academies and national law universities are also involved in these training programs to ensure seamless implementation,” he added.

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One of the most significant changes under the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita is the extension of police custody duration under general criminal laws from 15 to 90 days, depending on the severity of the offense. This change reflects the government’s prioritization of crimes against women, children, and national security.

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