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New criminal justice laws to be rolled out across India from July 1

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NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 24: The newly enacted laws ~ Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Act ~ to completely overhaul the criminal justice system in the country will come into effect from July 1.
However, the provision related to cases of hit and run by vehicle drivers will not be implemented immediately.
The three laws got the Parliament’s approval on December 21 last year and President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent on December 25.
According to three identical notifications issued by the Union Home Ministry, provisions of the new laws will come into force from July 1.
The laws will replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 respectively.
The three legislations aim at completely overhauling the criminal justice system in the country by giving definitions of various offences and their punishments.
The Government, however, has decided not to implement the provision related to cases of hit and run by a vehicle driver as promised to truckers who had protested against it.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (45 of 2023), the Central Government hereby appoints the 1st day of July, 2024 as the date on which the provisions of the said Sanhita, except the provision of sub-section (2) of Section 106, shall come into force”, one of the notifications said.
After the laws were enacted the truckers had protested the provision of Section 106 (2) which provides for 10 years imprisonment and fine to those who causes death of any person by rash and negligent driving of vehicle not amounting to culpable homicide, and escapes without reporting it to a police officer. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had said the decision to invoke Section 106 (2) of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita will be taken only after consultation with the All India Motor Transport Congress.
According to the Section 106 (2) of the BNS, “Whoever causes death of any person by rash and negligent driving of vehicle not amounting to culpable homicide, and escapes without reporting it to a police officer or a magistrate soon after the incident, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” While replying to a debate on the three bills in Parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said the focus was on delivering justice rather than handing down the punishment.
For the first time, the word terrorism has been defined in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. It was absent in the IPC.
The laws have given a clear definition of terrorism, abolished sedition as a crime and introduced a new section titled “offences against the state”.
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita lists offences such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity in the new avatar of the sedition law.
According to the laws, anyone purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
According to IPC Section 124A, which deals with sedition, anyone involved in the crime may be punished with life imprisonment or with a 3-year jail term.
Under the new laws, ‘Rajdroh’ has got a new term ‘Deshdroh’, thus doing away with the reference to the British crown.
The provisions of this Sanhita shall also apply to any offence committed by any citizen of India in any place without and beyond India, any person on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be and any person in any place without and beyond India committing offence targeting a computer resource located in India.
Under the new laws, the Magistrate’s power to impose fines has been increased as well as the scope of declaring a proclaimed offender.
Shah had said the three legislations were drafted after comprehensive consultations and that he had gone through every comma and full stop of the draft legislation before bringing them to the House for approval. (PTI)

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