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IPC, CrPC & Evidence Act : Replaced by New Criminal Laws

Key Changes | Salient Features

Arshi Saxena
Arshi Saxena

Published on: Jan 2, 2024

Vaibhav Jain
Vaibhav Jain

Updated on: Feb 14, 2024

(44 Ratings)
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In 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a committee which was headed by Dr. Ranbir Singh (former VC of NLU Delhi). The committee was tasked with reviewing the existing 3 Codes of Criminal Law i.e., Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 (Cr. PC) and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA).

The Committee’s focus was to ensure the security and safety of communities, individuals, and the nation. During all the discussions and meetings, the Committee’s aim was to uphold constitutional values such as justice, dignity, and the intrinsic value of each individual. On 11th August 2023, the Centre proposed 3 bills and following Standing Committee recommendations, amended bills were reintroduced in Lok Sabha on 12th December, 2023 and was approved by both the Houses of Parliament.

The Act introduced by Central Government are:

  1. Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita (Second) Act herein referred as “BNS Act”
  2. Bhartiya Sakshya (Second) Act herein referred as “BS Act”
  3. Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (Second) Act herein referred as “BNSS Act”

The Bills obtained President assent on 25th December, 2023 and will be recognized as Acts.

Table comparing number of sections in existing Acts and proposed legislations

Old IPC – 511 sections New BNS – 358 Sections
Old Cr. PC – 484 sections New BNSS – 531 Sections
Old Evidence Act – 167 sections New BS – 170 Sections

Need for these New Acts

  1. The existing laws were from the colonial era and they were the exact replica of British criminal jurisprudence and those were designed to rule and oppress the Indian and not to serve or provide justice but merely to punish them.
  2. Many of the sections were irrelevant in current scenario as we as a society has come a long way and evolved in every aspect as society.
  3. One of the major needs to constitute these 3 Acts is to make the criminal justice system more efficient.

BHARTIYA NYAYA SANHITA ACT

The BNS Act is among the three criminal laws bills aiming to replace the longstanding IPC, 1860 which will have 358 Sections. Changes have been done in 175 Sections wherein 8 new Sections have been added and 22 Sections have been repealed. It mostly retains IPC provisions, recognized new offenses, eliminates court-invalidated offenses, and raises penalties for some offenses.

Significant Amendments in the legislation: –

  • Section 69 of the BNS stipulates penalties for engaging in sexual intercourse through deceptive means i.e., deceptive commitments regarding job advancement, inducements, or marriage while concealing one’s identity.
  • Section 109 of the BNS identifies organized crime as an offense and specifies its penalty. This includes activities such as kidnapping, extortion, contract killings etc. as a member of criminal syndicate.
  • Section 111 penalizes terrorism involving acts intending or likely to threaten India’s unity, integrity, security, sovereignty, or economic, or to instill terror in people domestically or abroad.
  • The Act eliminates the sedition law to uphold citizen’s right to speak, introducing a new form of sedition as subversive activities in Section 150 with punishment up to imprisonment for life
  • Section 195 prescribes penalties for disseminating false information whether through spoken words, signs, writing, representation or electronic means.
  • Section 226 stipulates penalty for attempt to commit suicide with intent to restrain exercise of lawful power.
  • Section 101 expands murder grounds, penalizing individual acting together based on race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Section 302 identifies snatching as an offense and specifies its penalty.
  • The death penalty provision is introduced for crime against girls below 18 years of age.

BHARATIYA SAKSHYA ACT

The BS Act will replace the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 with some major changes in which, 23 sections have been amended, 1 Section is entirely new, and 5 Sections have been removed. The Act strives to establish general rules and principles of evidence for a fair trial, adapting to technological advancements and societal changes over recent decades.

Significant Amendments in the legislation: –

  • BS Act recognizes electronic record as primary evidence under Section 57.
  • BS Act allows electronic presentation of oral evidence, enabling remote testimony and ensure that electronic records will have the same legal effect as paper records.
  • BS Act expands the concept of joint trail under Section 24 which states that cases involving multiple people in which the accused flees or fails to respond to an arrest warrant are treated as joint trial.
  • BS Act expands the list of secondary documents under Section 58 which include
    • oral and written admissions, and
    • the testimony of a person who has examined the document and is skilled in the examination of documents.

BHARATIYA NAGARIK SURAKSHA SANHITA ACT

The BNSS Act will replace Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, repealing 9 Sections from the existing Act, suggesting changes in 160 Sections and introducing 9 new provisions.

Significant Amendments in the legislation: –

  • The BNSS Act under section 176 requires forensic investigation for crimes punished with 7 years’ imprisonment or more. The appointed experts will visit, gather and document the process.
  • Electronic mode is permitted for all trials, inquiries, and proceeding under section 173 of BNSS Act.
  • If proclaimed offender avoids trail by absconding, the judgement can be pronounced in their absence under section 356 of BNSS Act.
  • Earlier in CrPC, if an accused has served half the maximum imprisonment period, they must be released on a personal bond, except for death penalty cases, but now BNSS Act specifies that this doesn’t apply to life imprisonment offences or individual punished under more than one offense.
  • Earlier CrPC permits medical examination, including rape cases, conducted by a registered medical practitioner upon request of a sub- inspector, but now BNSS Act expands this by allowing any police officer to make such a request.
  • The concept of Zero FIR is introduced under section 173(1) and mandate police station to register the FIR, regardless of jurisdiction.
  • Earlier CrPC authorizes Magistrates to order specimen signatures or handwriting, but now under BNSS Act section 349 extends this to include finger impressions and voice sample, even from someone not arrested.
  • The BNSS Act establishes deadlines, such as rape examination with 7 days, giving judgement within 30 days of completion of arguments (expandable), progress of investigation to be informed to victim within 90 days, plea bargaining application to be filed within 30 days from the date of framing of charges and framing of charges within 60 days from the first hearing.
  • The BNSS Act removes the provision allowing cities with over a million people to have Metropolitan Magistrate.
  • The BNSS Act altered procedure of police custody allowing custody in parts within the initial 40 or 60 days which might result in the denial of bail if needed.
  • The BNSS Act allows the use of handcuffs during arrest, limited to habitual offender, escapees, or individuals accused of serious offenses as rape, acid attacks, organized crimes, economic crime etc.
  • The BNSS Act allows a successor officer, including public servant, medical officer, and investing officers to testify if the original officer is unavailable due to reasons like death, transfer, retirement etc. to expedite case proceedings.
  • The BNSS Act extends the power of attachment of property to immovable properties as well.

CONCLUSION

All the 3 Acts are a testament to India’s commitment to reform. They bring our legal, policing, and investigative systems into the modern era with a focus on technology and forensic science. The Acts ensure enhanced protection for the poor, marginalized and vulnerable sections of our society. It aims to align the criminal justice system with contemporary needs and values, emphasizing the protection of citizens’ rights and the efficient administration of justice. The success of this reform will depend on careful implementation, clear guidelines, and continuous monitoring to ensure that the law serves its intended purpose without unintended consequences.

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