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Newly Enacted Criminal Laws Transitioned India’s Legal Framework Into New Age: CJI DY Chandrachud

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New Delhi: Chief Justice of India, Justice DY Chandrachud, hailed the newly enacted criminal laws as a transition into a modern era for India’s legal framework on criminal justice. Speaking at a conference on India’s Criminal Justice System organized by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the CJI highlighted the significant improvements made to protect victim interests and enhance the efficiency of investigations and prosecutions.

“India is set for a significant overhaul of its criminal justice system with the upcoming implementation of three new criminal laws. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will replace the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act 1872, respectively. These laws signify a watershed moment for our society because no law affects the day-to-day conduct of our society like the criminal law,” he said.

“Criminal law directs the moral arc of a nation. The underlying justification for the substantive provisions is the age-old harm principle, which is best summarised in the saying, ‘Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins. Procedural law, which governs crimes from the state of setting the criminal process in motion to the conviction for the commission of the offence, ensures that no person is charged and subsequently convicted for offences without due process of law, he added.

While addressing the Conference on India’s Progressive Path in the Administration of the Criminal Justice System, Chandrachud said, “Our laws and their implementation are an ever-evolving area. There is no finality to any law or the manner of its implementation. However, we must be willing to embrace positive changes to meet the needs of our times.”

“I expect that with the implementation of the new criminal laws, we will discover loopholes and areas that need to be addressed. Such debates would be helpful in enhancing the efficiency of our criminal justice systems. However, the ideological framework at the heart of our analysis must be justice-oriented with a civil liberty-centric approach that balances the interests of the victim and the accused,” he added.

“Our laws need to address these concerns and obviate age-old issues like delays in examination of witnesses, conclusion of trials, overcrowding of prisons and the issue of undertrial prisoners,” he said.

The three laws, i.e., the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023; and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, replace the earlier criminal laws, namely, the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. As notified, these criminal laws are to take effect from July 1.

Other dignitaries who attended the conference includes Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State (independent charge) for the Ministry of Law and Justice, R Venkataramani, Attorney General for India, Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, Rajiv Mani, Law Secretary, Government of India, among others.

The conference aims to bring out the highlights of the three criminal laws and organise meaningful interactions through technical and question-and-answer sessions. Besides, judges of various courts, advocates, academicians, representatives of law enforcement agencies, police officials, public prosecutors, district administration officials and law students also participated in the conference.

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