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Tuesday, July 16, 2024, 1:02 am

Tuesday, July 16, 2024, 1:02 am

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New criminal rules are causing uncertainty and panic in an underprepared system.

New criminal rules are causing uncertainty and panic in an underprepared system.
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The three new criminal laws have taken effect in the country, despite widespread concerns that the policing and judiciary systems are not yet prepared for their implementation.

The level of preparedness among upper and lower echelons of the police is unknown, despite reports of some rudimentary training for station-house personnel, workshops, and an upgrade to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems to facilitate electronic complaint filing.

The government previously set July 1 as the effective date for three new laws: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (replacing the Indian Penal Code), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (replacing the Code of Criminal Procedure), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (replacing the Indian Evidence Act). The Union government chose to enact the changes and allow for a bumpy transition among police, judges, and attorneys rather than waiting for everyone involved in criminal law to catch up.

It is unclear how long the initial moment of bewilderment may persist. The police and legal community should have had more time to prepare before implementing the codes.

The new legislation’ names are unclear, leading to questions about their lack of English equivalents and unusual Hindi names. The name of the criminal procedure code remained unchanged when it was replaced with a new version in 1973, following the 1898 original.

The Standing Committee of Parliament proposed amendments to the draft laws, but there is still a perception that they were not adequately debated in the legislature or with civil society. Some new rules, particularly those related to police detention, have raised concerns about their potential to empower the police at the expense of citizens. The addition of ‘terrorism’ to ordinary penal law, alongside the current special anti-terrorist statute, is likely to produce confusion.

Although the Centre has announced that states can make their own adjustments, there is no guarantee that they will receive early Presidential approval. While some procedural reforms, such as recording FIRs regardless of jurisdiction and implementing videography for searches and seizures, are desirable, there is still doubt about the overall impact of these new laws.

 

 

 

ABHISHEK VERMA


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