The three new criminal laws, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, which will replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act respectively, will come into force from 1st July this year. Three new criminal laws – Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and Bharatiya Saksha Adhiniyam (BSA) – which seek to replace the colonial era Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence act. Home Ministry has issued three gazette notification on February 24.

The MHA’s gazette notification said, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (45 of 2023), the Central Government hereby appoints the 1st day of July 2024 as the date on which the provisions of the said Sanhita, except the provision of sub-section (2) of section 106, shall come into force,” stated the notification for BNS. Identical notifications were issued for BNSS and BSA as well.

A government official said, Not many States have shown the urgency to train the police officials in the new laws. Now that the date to implement the laws have been notified, they do not have an option but to set things in action.

The new laws were passed by Parliament in the Winter Session. President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent to the three laws on 25th December. The ministry had last month informed that all the police stations across the country will start implementing the provisions in the legislation within a year. The laws will be first implemented in the Union territories like Chandigarh, Delhi etc. the new laws will overhaul the criminal justice system, government has sought time to train police officials and the judiciary. While the Union Territories under the Central government have trained police officials on priority, such enthusiasm was seen lacking in States.

The Government has also decided to form a team of 3,000 officers who will train police officers, investigators and forensic experts to implement the new laws across the country in a “zone-wise” manner. “The focus of the training will be on forensic evidence. There will be a model set-up in Chandigarh to ensure a foolproof online mechanism as most of the records would be digital,” The three bills include key changes that deal with offences of terrorism and acts against the state, enable the registration of electronic first information reports (FIR), factor in corruption in election processes, and make electronic evidence a form of primary proof. As per the new laws, the generation and supply of records will be in electronic form like zero-FIR, e-FIR, and charge sheet and victims will be provided information in digital form.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had a meeting with chief secretaries, advisers to administrators and all the police chiefs of UTs to review their preparedness. They were asked to immediately flag issues that they faced in the process of implementation of the laws to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Bhalla asked them that they should conduct a comprehensive review of their existing infrastructure as well as the requirements for the roll-out of the new laws. They were also asked to conduct necessary consultations with the stakeholders concerned, including the high courts concerned, to make realistic assessments.

The Lok Sabha to replace the existing British-era criminal laws, after withdrawing the previous versions, introduced in August 2023. The three bills were first introduced in Lok Sabha on 11st August 2023 as Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhitathe Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill before being referred to a parliamentary committee headed by Brij Lal for further examination. Some of the suggestions of the panel were incorporated and a set of new bills (labelled as second) were tabled on December 12, 2023. President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent to the three laws on 25th December.