Proposed Reforms in Criminal Laws: A Game Changer

Prof Mithilesh Kumar Sinha

British laws were aimed at strengthening the British power by punishing people rather than giving them justice. The country’s criminal justice system, which has adhered to British-made laws from 1860 to 2023, is poised for substantial change as the three laws are slated for replacement. The experience of seven decades of Indian democracy calls for a comprehensive review of our criminal laws, including the Code of Criminal Procedure, and adopting them in accordance with the contemporary needs and aspirations of the people.

In a path breaking development, Union Home Minister Amit Shah presented a trio bills in the Lok Sabha signalling intent to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act with the intention to be shifted from punishment to the provision of justice. The IPC of 1860 set to be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023. The CrPC of 1973 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 whereas the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 will be replaced by Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023. 

The changes were done to provide speedy justice and creating a legal system that keeps contemporary needs and aspirations of the people. This alteration will bring about a significant transformation in the country's criminal justice system. The aim will not be to punish, it will be to provide justice. Punishment will be given to create a sentiment of stopping crime.

Salient features of the Bills are: Separate provision for mob lynching, punishable with 7 years or life imprisonment or death penalty; Ex-parte trial and conviction of fugitives; Formal provision for 'Zero FIR'- this will enable citizens to lodge a FIR with any police station.

Move initiated for massive revamp of criminal laws

Crime against women: 20 years jail or life for gang rape, death for raping minors, up to 10-yr jail for sexual exploitation on pretext of marriage, job, promotion or by hiding ID, Victim’s statement, video recording must in sexual assault case and Police to provide status update on case within 90 days. In mob lynching the punishment is 7 year jail, life term or death if group of 5 or more involved. As Punishment waiver Death can only be reduced to life term; life only to 7 years. Sanction against officials to be given/denied within 120 days; if no response, it will be deemed to be sanctioned.

The first time provisions are: Trial will be made in absentia if criminal declared absconding, for cases entailing less than 3 year jail, summary trial will be enough, Community service as punishment in case of petty offences may be given. For enabling citizens Zero FIR at any police station may be registered. FIR will be sent to police station concerned within 15 days. Arrested person’s kin will get certificate of police responsibility

For Digitisation and scientific evidence, Filing of FIR, case diary, charge-sheet, getting judgment will be digitised. Focus will be on forensic sciences in investigation. Forensic team must visit crime scene if punishment is 7 years or more. Each district will have three mobile forensic science labs.


By replacing them, the new three laws will bring the spirit to protect the rights of the Indian citizen. These bills will transform our criminal justice system the newly introduced trio of laws aims to prioritize the protection of rights for the citizens of India. Punishment will be administered to foster a sense of deterrence against criminal activities. Punishment will be given to create a sentiment of stopping crime. 

The writer is Head In charge, Department of Law, Nagaland University, Lumami