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  • Jahnvi Sahu

"Unveiling India's New Criminal Laws: Impact on Legal Landscape"

Jahnavi Sahu

National Law University, Jodhpur


The recent issuance of three gazette notifications by the Centre signifies a significant shift in India's legal landscape, as it prepares to usher in three new criminal laws: the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bhartiya Sakshya Act, scheduled to take effect on July 1. Notably, the provision pertaining to hit-and-run cases under the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita has been placed on hold, pending further deliberation. These legislative developments stem from the passage of the new laws during the Winter Session of Parliament, subsequently receiving the assent of President Droupadi Murmu on December 25. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's directive to implement the laws in a targeted manner across all Union Territories further underscores the government's commitment to law enforcement reform. The gazette notification issued recently delineates the commencement date for the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, specifying July 1, 2024, for the enactment of its provisions, excluding a particular subsection related to hit-and-run cases. This nuanced approach reflects a deliberate effort to address concerns raised by stakeholders, such as transporters' associations, who protested certain provisions, particularly those imposing stringent penalties for reckless driving resulting in fatalities In response to these concerns, the government has pledged to engage in consultations with stakeholders, including the All-India Motor Transport Congress, prior to finalizing the implementation strategy for the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita. This collaborative approach underscores the government's commitment to ensuring that the new laws are effectively enforced while accommodating the interests of relevant stakeholders. Moreover, the government has announced plans to establish a team comprising 3,000 officers tasked with training law enforcement personnel and forensic experts nationwide. This initiative aims to enhance the capacity of police officers and investigators to effectively implement the new laws, with a particular emphasis on leveraging forensic evidence. The establishment of a model infrastructure in Chandigarh further underscores the government's commitment to adopting modern technologies to streamline law enforcement processes. In parallel, another gazette notification has been issued, setting July 1, 2024, as the commencement date for the Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, marking a significant milestone in the implementation of this legislation aimed at bolstering witness protection measures. Similarly, the Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita is slated to take effect on the same date, with certain provisions coming into force, excluding those pertaining to the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita. The proactive measures undertaken by the government to ensure the effective implementation of these laws were underscored during a meeting convened by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla with chief secretaries, advisers to administrators, and police chiefs of Union Territories. Emphasizing the need for preparedness, stakeholders were urged to conduct comprehensive reviews of existing infrastructure and engage in consultations with relevant stakeholders, including high courts, to address implementation challenges effectively. Furthermore, Prime Minister Modi's directive to Union Territories to promptly implement the laws upon notification underscores the government's resolve to expedite the reform process and uphold the rule of law. This concerted effort reflects a pragmatic approach to law enforcement reform, balancing the imperatives of effective governance with stakeholder engagement and consultation. In conclusion, the issuance of gazette notifications heralds a new chapter in India's legal framework, signalling the imminent implementation of three pivotal criminal laws aimed at enhancing judicial efficacy and citizen protection. The government's proactive approach, characterized by stakeholder consultations and capacity-building initiatives, bodes well for the effective enforcement of these laws, ushering in a more robust and equitable legal regime.

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