India overhauls criminal justice system with new laws | Fusion - WeRIndia

India overhauls criminal justice system with new laws

India overhauls criminal justice system with new laws

India is set to transform its criminal justice system with three new laws that replace colonial-era regulations, effective from July 1.

The newly enacted laws—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Act—received parliamentary approval on December 21 last year. Besides, they were assented to by President Droupadi Murmu on December 25.

The Union Home Ministry issued identical notifications confirming their implementation from July 1.

These laws introduce several significant changes aimed at modernizing and streamlining the criminal justice process.

They allow for the trial and punishment of absconding individuals and the use of forensic sciences and technology in investigations.

Summonses can now be sent electronically, and mandatory summary trials for minor offences are introduced.

One key provision ensures that victims can be heard before withdrawing cases where the punishment exceeds seven years. Accused individuals can be questioned electronically during court proceedings using tools like video conferencing.

Female police officers, in the presence of a guardian or family member, will record statements from victims of sexual assault, and health reports will be available within seven days.

Arrested individuals can notify a person of their choice about their arrest. The laws also include provisions for e-FIR and Zero FIR.

For crimes carrying a minimum sentence of seven years, forensic examination is required, with experts visiting crime scenes to gather evidence. Only two adjournments are allowed during case hearings to prevent delays.

Certain groups, including women, minors, the elderly, people with disabilities, and those with serious illnesses, are exempt from visiting police stations.

Crime scene videography is mandatory. The laws decriminalize non-consensual same-sex behaviour, define organized crime and organized petty crime, and omit marital rape.

New penalties include a minimum 20-year prison sentence and penalty for raping a girl under 12.

Community service is introduced for minor infractions like disturbing someone while intoxicated. Attempting suicide remains illegal, punishable by jail time and community service.

Terrorism is clearly defined, and all trials, investigations, and hearings may be conducted electronically.

Digital or electronic records are accepted as proof. The laws permit a maximum of 15 days of police custody, used in segments during judicial custody. If authorities do not use all 15 days, the full bail amount could be denied.

The new laws also remove colonial references such as “Parliament of the United Kingdom,” “Provincial Act,” “London Gazette,” and others, modernizing the legal language to reflect India’s sovereignty.

These changes aim to create a more efficient, transparent, and modern criminal justice system in India, ensuring faster and fairer processes for all citizens.

Image Credit: HTGS, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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