Home   »   New Criminal Laws in India 2024

New Criminal Laws in India 2024

India’s criminal justice system has embarked on a historic transformation with the enactment of three groundbreaking laws on July 1, 2024: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA). These laws replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act (IEA) of 1872, respectively, with the aim of modernizing the legal framework and enhancing the efficiency and fairness of criminal justice in India.

Key Changes in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS)

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) introduces several pivotal reforms:

  • Terrorist Act as a Separate Offense: Defined explicitly to include acts threatening India’s unity, integrity, sovereignty, security, economic stability, or spreading terror among any group.
  • Omission of Sedition: The offence of sedition is omitted. Instead, BNS criminalizes acts endangering the unity and integrity of India. It transitions from ‘Rajdroh’ (treason against the government) to ‘deshdroh’ (treason against the Nation).
  • Mob Lynching: Recognized as a separate offence, punishable by the death penalty.
  • Community Service for Minor Offenses: Introduced as an alternative punishment to imprisonment for minor offences.
  • Offences Against Human Body and Women & Children: Prioritized at the beginning of BNS. For instance, murder is addressed under section 101, instead of Section 300 in the IPC.
  • Enhanced Punishments for Sexual Offenses: Life imprisonment and the death penalty for the rape of a girl under 18 years; stringent penalties for gang rape.
  • Revised Age for Consensual Sex: Consensual sex with a wife aged above 15 is no longer an offence; this age limit is now increased to 18 years.
  • ‘Hit and Run’ and ‘Snatching’: New specific offences with detailed punishments.
  • Grievous Hurt: More stringent penalties for cases where the victim becomes brain dead, with imprisonment up to ten years.

Comparison with IPC:

The BNS retains essential IPC provisions on serious crimes but introduces new offenses like organized crime and mob lynching. It also mandates forensic evidence collection and audio-video recording of victim statements in sexual violence cases, emphasizing a victim-centric approach.

Significant Reforms in Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)

The BNSS aims to streamline criminal procedures:

  • Defined Timelines: Mandatory timelines for FIR registration, preliminary investigation, and trial processes.
  • e-FIR Registration: Allows for electronic filing of FIRs, particularly benefiting women reporting sexual violence.
  • Forensic Investigations: Compulsory forensic team visits to crime scenes and electronic recording of evidence.
  • Trial in Absentia: Trials can proceed without the accused if they fail to appear within 90 days.
  • Release Provisions for Undertrial Detainees: First-time offenders can be released if they have served one-third of the sentence period during undertrial detention; for others, it’s half the period.
  • Mercy Petition Restrictions: Only the convict can file a mercy petition against the death penalty within 30 days after the Supreme Court’s decision.
  • Property Seizure and Summary Trials: Expanded provisions for seizing property of fugitives and conducting summary trials for offences punishable up to three years.
  • Witness Protection: A new scheme requiring notification by every state.

Comparison with CrPC:

Unlike the CrPC, the BNSS prescribes strict timelines and broadens the scope of medical examinations. It introduces the concept of Zero-FIR, allowing crime reporting at any police station, irrespective of jurisdiction, and simplifies bail provisions for first-time offenders.

Modernizing Evidence with Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA)

The BSA revolutionizes evidence handling:

  • Electronic Records as Primary Evidence: Comprehensive inclusion of digital records such as emails, server logs, and digital communications.
  • Remote Testimonies: Permits electronic provision of oral evidence, enabling remote testimonies from witnesses and victims.
  • Disposal of Seized Property: Allows for the sale of material objects and vehicles seized in crimes within 30 days, reducing the burden on police stations.

Comparison with IEA:

While the IEA focused on traditional documentary evidence, the BSA expands to include digital evidence, aligning with technological advancements. It retains key IEA provisions on confessions, relevancy of facts, and burden of proof while modernizing the framework for contemporary needs.

Enhanced Punishments and New Offenses

The BNS and BNSS introduce stringent penalties for serious offenses like mob lynching, organized crime, and terrorism. The BNS mandates harsher penalties for sexual offenses against minors and elevates punishment for causing death by negligence.


Despite the progressive changes, certain aspects have raised concerns:

  • Sedition-like Elements: The BNS’s provisions on National integrity might be misused, similar to sedition laws.
  • Extended Police Custody: The BNSS’s provision for extended police custody lacks adequate safeguards.
  • Tampering with Electronic Evidence: The BSA does not have strong safeguards against tampering with electronic evidence.


The enactment of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam marks a significant milestone in India’s legal history. These laws aim to enhance the efficiency, transparency, and fairness of the criminal justice system, addressing contemporary challenges and leveraging technological advancements. While broadly welcomed, ongoing scrutiny and adjustments will be essential to ensure their effectiveness and fairness in practice.

Sharing is caring!


What are the new laws replacing the IPC, CrPC, and IEA?

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA).

What significant changes does the BNS introduce?

BNS introduces new offenses like mob lynching, removes sedition, and mandates community service for minor offenses.

How does the BNSS streamline criminal procedures?

BNSS sets strict timelines for FIR registration and investigations, allows e-FIRs, and introduces forensic investigations.

What advancements does the BSA bring to evidence handling?

BSA includes electronic records as primary evidence and allows remote testimonies and the sale of seized property.

What are the criticisms of these new laws?

Concerns include potential misuse of national integrity provisions, extended police custody, and insufficient safeguards for electronic evidence.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *