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New criminal laws notified: What changes, what are some key takeaways?

By, New Delhi
Feb 24, 2024 08:30 PM IST

The three new laws will come into effect from July 1.

The three new criminal laws which succeed the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Code Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, have been notified by the Centre, and will come into effect from July 1.

Representational Image
Representational Image

Introduced in Parliament during its Monsoon session in August last year, the laws are Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Saksha Adhiniyam (BSA), which replace the trio of IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act, respectively, .

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Also Read: 3 criminal laws replacing IPC, CrPc, Evidence Act to come into effect from July 1

So what changes with the new laws? Here are some key takeaways:

Sections: While IPC had 511 sections, its successor BNS has 358; similarly, CrPC had 484 sections, while BNSS has 531. Evidence Act had 166 sections, while BSA has 170.

No sedition: Though sedition has been deleted, treason caused by armed revolution, destructive and separatist activities will be criminalised.

“Any activity will be considered treason only if it is intended against the integrity, sovereignty and unity of the nation and not just because it is against the government. Anyone can say anything against the government, but if someone interferes with the country's flag, security, or property, they will go to jail,” Union home minister Amit Shah explained in Parliament.

Terrorists and terrorism: Under the laws, any individual who uses dynamite, poisonous gas etc. against the well-being of the nation is a terrorist. A terrorist activity is one that threatens the security of the government of India, any state or any foreign government or any international government organisation.

Trial in absentia: An accused hiding outside India need not be here. If the person does not appear before a court within 90 days, then a trial will go on despite their absence. A public prosecutor will be appointed for the prosecution.

Rapes and sexual assault: Provisions on sexual assault on women below 18 have been aligned with the POCSO Act to prevent the accused from taking advantage of the lenient provisions of the penal code. For minors' rape, life-long imprisonment or death penalty has been mandated. In case of gang-rapes, 20 years of imprisonment or lifelong imprisonment has been mandated. Additionally, the laws have been made gender-neutral by including the trade of minor boys as a crime.

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