Parliament Passes Landmark Criminal Law Reforms,Replacing British-Era IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act

Parliament passed three criminal law reform bills during the recently concluded winter session, namely the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which will replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita replacing CrPC 1973, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita, replacing the Evidence Act 1872.

The Lok Sabha cleared these bills on December 20th, and the Rajya Sabha on December 21st.

Home Minister Amit Shah highlighted the significance of the proposed Bills, stating that they marked a departure from British colonial-era criminal law, shifting the focus from punishment and deterrence to justice and reformation.

The highlights of the Reformed criminal law Bills are as follows:

1. Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023:

It will replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860. Some of its features include:

  • 20 new offenses added (including organized crime, terrorist acts, mob lynching, etc.)
  • 19 provisions of IPC omitted (including the attempt to commit suicide)
  • Punishment of imprisonment increased in 33 offenses
  • Punishment of fine enhanced in 83 offenses
  • Mandatory minimum punishment introduced in 23 offenses
  • Punishment of community service introduced in 6 offenses (including theft below Rs.5, 000)
  • Chapters on offenses against women & children and inchoate offenses added
  • Definition of ‘child’ added, which will be uniform throughout the Act
  • Definition of ‘gender’ amended to include transgender
  • Definition of ‘movable property’ widened
  • Number of days in the definition of ‘grievous hurt’ reduced from 20 to 15
  • Terms like ‘lunatic’, ‘insane’, and ‘idiot’ omitted
  • Terms like ‘British calendar’, ‘British India’, ‘Queen’, and ‘Justice of Peace’ omitted
  • ‘Court of Justice’ replaced by ‘court’

2. Bhartiya Nagrik SurRaksha Sanhita 2023:

It will replace CrPC 1973. It has changed several provisions of CrPC, including those related to:

  • Detention of under-trials
  • Medical examination
  • Forensic investigation
  • Signatures and finger impressions
  • Timelines for various procedures

It also makes provision for:

  • Trials in electronic mode
  • Removal of provision of metropolitan areas and metropolitan magistrates
  • Alteration of the procedure of police custody
  • Power to use handcuffs
  • Scope of mandatory bail limited in case of multiple charges
  • Scope for plea bargaining may be limited

3. Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023:

It will replace the Evidence Act of 1872. Some of the highlights are:

  • The electronic record included in the definition of ‘document’
  • Statements received electronically included in the definition of ‘evidence’
  • More standards added for considering electronic and digital records as primary evidence
  • Added more kinds of secondary evidence to include oral and written admissions and evidence of skilled persons
  • Establishment of legal admissibility of electronic or digital records as evidence
  • Inclusion of husband/wife as a competent witness in criminal proceedings against the spouse
  • Conviction based on corroborated testimony of accomplice made legal
  • Comprehensive certificate for the submission of electronic evidence added to the schedule
  • Reference to colonial terminology omitted
  • Language modernized and made gender-sensitive

The new laws are designed for the next 100 years and will remove the colonial imprint, keeping technological advancements in mind, says Home Minister Amit Shah.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information existing at the time of preparation and we take no responsibility to update it with the subsequent changes in the law. The article is intended as a news update and Affluence Advisory neither assumes nor accepts any responsibility for any loss arising to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material contained in this article. It is recommended that professional advice be taken based on specific facts and circumstances. This article does not substitute the need to refer to the original pronouncement

CLICK HERE The Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023

CLICK HERE The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023

CLICK HERE The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023