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On July 1, new criminal legislation will go into effect

The government said on Saturday that three new criminal laws, the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Act, would take effect on July 1. The Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act from the colonial period will be replaced by these three statutes.

The three pieces of legislation were approved by Parliament, and in December 2023, President Droupadi Murmu signed them into law.

The Union Home Ministry sent three similar notices stating that the new laws’ provisions would take effect on July 1.

The three laws define different offenses and specify associated penalties in an effort to fully restructure the nation’s criminal justice system. “The central government hereby appoints the first day of July 2024 as the date on which the provisions of the sanhita, except the provisions of the entry relating to Section 106(2) of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, shall come into force,” the Home Ministry said in a notification. This was done in exercise of the powers granted by Sub-section (3) of Section 1 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (46 of 2023).

Interestingly, the controversial Section 106(2)—which imposes a maximum 10-year sentence for hit-and-run incidents—has been placed on hold. This action was taken in response to a nationwide transporters’ strike over the provision earlier in the year. Currently, causing death by carelessness is punishable by two years in jail, a fine, or both under Section 304A of the IPC.

In its amended version, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita lists offenses such as subversive activity, armed rebellion, secessionist actions, and jeopardizing the unity or sovereignty.

Notably, acts of terrorism are now specifically defined in the sedition legislation, a phrase that was not included in the previous Indian Penal Code. Additionally, the new laws give judges more power to punish offenders and expand the definition of a proclaimed criminal.

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