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Center introduces 3 new bills to replace the British-era IPC, CrPc and Evidence Act

British colonial era laws to be repealed?

The criminal justice system of the nation would be completely restructured, according to three new bills that the Center has submitted in the Lok Sabha.

Union Home Minister, Amit Shah proposed the three new bills on 11 August 2023 that are set to replace the
Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860; the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

IPC is to be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023.
The CrPC is to be replaced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023.
The Indian Evidence Act is to be replaced by the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.

The ancient and insufficient laws that were implemented during the British colonial era have been criticised for not being able to fulfil the needs of contemporary Indian society. The new legislation aims to correct these flaws by establishing a more thorough and effective criminal justice system.
The necessity for criminal law reforms was also emphasised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its 111th and 128th reports.

The Criminal law reforms committee was constituted to review the three codes of criminal law.
It was led by the former Vice Chancellor of National Law University (NLU) Delhi, Prof. (Dr.) Ranbir Singh.
Though the committee was criticized for its lack of transparency and lack of diversity.

The new bills have the potential to bring about a number of changes to the Indian judicial system through speedy trials, increased accountability of police officers, better protection of witnesses, etc.

The BNS Bill, 2023, introduces a number of new offences, including mob lynching, sexual exploitation of women after hiding their identity, and cybercrimes. It also proposes stricter punishments for existing offences, such as rape and murder.
The measure also suggests first-time community service as a punishment for trivial crimes.

The BNSS Bill, 2023, provides for the protection of citizens from crime. It repeals 9 provisions of the CrPc, and recommends changes in 107 provisions. Altogether, it has 533 sections. It also sets up a number of new institutions, such as the National Crime Records Bureau and the National Forensic Science Laboratory, to help in the fight against crime.

The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, includes one new provision and updates 23 existing provisions. There are 170 sections altogether. It deals with the admissibility of evidence in criminal trials. It clarifies the rules of evidence and makes it easier for the prosecution to prove its case.

The new bills address several long-standing issues with the system, including trial delays, police officers’ lack of responsibility, and insufficient witness protection.

The introduction of the new bills is a significant step towards reforming the Indian judicial system. However, they have been well questioned by the opposition and demand a deep debate on this issue. If the new bills are passed into law, they will have a major impact on the way justice is delivered in India and how the law would be interpreted in the country from then.

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