Three new criminal laws—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam—came into effect across the country on Monday, July 1. They brought widespread changes in India’s criminal justice system and ended colonial-era laws.

Delhi Police personnel patrol Raisina Hill. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The three laws replaced the British-era Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act.

The new criminal laws will bring in a modern justice system, incorporating provisions such as Zero FIR, online registration of police complaints, summonses through electronic modes such as SMS and mandatory videography of crime scenes for all heinous crimes.

How states are preparing to implement new criminal laws

  1. Delhi: The Delhi Police is all set to implement the three new criminal laws. “Proper trainings were organised to understand the new laws. Those who received the training were given handbooks to understand the new laws,” a senior officer of the Delhi Police told news agency PTI. In January, a 14-member committee was constituted to study the laws and prepare the study material for the Delhi Police personnel. The committee was led by Special Commissioner of Police Chhaya Sharma and comprised DCP Joy Tirkey, additional DCP Uma Shankar and other officers. During the last 15 days, the Delhi Police personnel initiated a trial process where they registered dummy FIRs, said the officer. As per the new law, the evidence collection process at the crime scene will be mandatorily videographed to prevent evidence tampering, another police officer said. “There will be helpline numbers for the IOs to help them in understanding the law,” said the police officer.
  2. Bihar: The Bihar Police is “fully geared up” in terms of technology, capacity building and awareness generation to implement the three new criminal laws. An awareness programme will be held at every police station in Bihar on Monday to highlight the key features of the new criminal laws, officials said. “Elaborate preparations have been made to ensure successful implementation and seamless transition to the new system. The state police is fully geared up in terms of technology, capacity building and awareness generation to implement the new criminal laws from July 1,” a statement issued by the Bihar Police said. The state police has carried out training of its 25,000 senior officers ahead of the new laws coming into effect and also on digital policing, it said.
  3. Tripura: The government has taken all possible steps to implement the three new criminal laws, a senior official said. “The state government has taken all possible steps to implement criminal laws… The move will bring modernisation in judiciary, speedy justice and safeguarding the interest of victims,” said Tripura home secretary PK Chakravarty at a press conference. He said the home department has already completed training programmes for all stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, social welfare department and law department.
  4. Mizoram: The Mizoram government has launched a series of initiatives to ensure the smooth implementation of three new criminal laws. Talking to PTI, Mizoram inspector general of police (Law and Order) Lalbiakthanga Khiangte, however, said the three new laws are not being translated into Mizo language.
  5. Arunachal Pradesh: The state will use the English and Hindi versions of the three new criminal laws since its people speak in “innumerable” dialects, an official told PTI. Officials and other people concerned are being trained on the new laws in English and Hindi, he said. English is the official language of the northeastern state. “We will use the English and Hindi versions (of the three laws). They are not being translated into any local language. We have 26 major and over 100 sub-tribes,” the official said.
  6. Assam: A top official told PTI that the Assam Police was fully prepared to implement the new criminal laws. DGP GP Singh said the force has been preparing for these new laws for the last three years, since the first drafts were made public. Describing the new laws as a ‘milestone event,’ he added, “These laws mark a shift from the colonial period to laws reflecting the free will of our country.”
  7. Tamil Nadu: Expeditious training were provided to judicial and police personnel, chief minister MK Stalin said last week. Replying to legislator MH Jawahirullah (Manithaneya Makkal Katchi), who spoke on changes to criminal laws, MK Stalin said it is true that time is needed for understanding the new laws to be implemented from July 1. During its enactment itself, the DMK had staunchly opposed these new laws in Parliament. The CM recalled that he had written to Union home minister Amit Shah seeking deferment of the implementation of new laws and also urged proper consultation with states.
  8. Himachal Pradesh: The new laws embody a reformative philosophy, not retributive philosophy and will make the system transparent, strong and effective, additional director general of police (Law and Order) Abhishek Trivedi said in a statement issued. “All cases registered since midnight of July 1 will be tried as per the new criminal laws,” he said during an interaction with officials. Trivedi said the preparation for moving to the new system was in full swing. The new laws, which focus on technology, will bring uniformity across the nation in filing e-FIRs, with a thrust on mobile phones and applications, the AGDP said. It added that all seizures made by the police will now have to be accompanied by videography.
  9. Odisha: The state police is prepared to implement the three new criminal laws, a senior police officer said last week. “The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has issued notifications for implementation of the three new criminal laws from July 1, and we are prepared to implement it,” Odisha DGP Arun Sarangi told PTI. Odisha Police have been conducting training for police officers (for inspectors and above-rank officers).
  10. Jammu and Kashmir: The Jammu and Kashmir Police has come out with a compendium on the three new criminal justice laws containing detailed provisions regarding investigation, arrest, search, seizure and prosecution in the Urdu language. Compiled and translated by a six-member committee headed by senior superintendent of police (SSP) Mubassir Latifi, it was made public last week as chief secretary Atal Dulloo separately assessed the preparedness to implement the new laws.

The three new criminal laws — Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam — will replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure Act of 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, respectively.

Union home minister Amit Shah, who piloted the laws, said the new laws would give priority to providing justice, unlike the British-era laws that gave primacy to penal action.

“These laws are made by Indians, for Indians and by an Indian Parliament and marks the end of colonial criminal justice laws,” he said.

According to the new laws, judgment in criminal cases has to come within 45 days of the completion of trial and charges must be framed within 60 days of the first hearing.

Statement of rape victims will be recorded by a female police officer in the presence of her guardian or relative and medical reports have to come within seven days.

Organised crimes and acts of terrorism have been defined, sedition has been replaced with treason and video recording of all search and seizure have been made mandatory.

(With inputs from agencies)