New Criminal Laws Take Effect: Zero FIR, E-Summons, Mandatory Videography of Crime Scenes | Key Points

On Monday, July 1, three new criminal laws came into force in India: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023. These laws replace the outdated Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act, introducing significant changes to India’s criminal justice system.

Key Features of the New Laws
Zero FIR
The concept of Zero FIR allows anyone to file a First Information Report (FIR) at any police station across the country, regardless of jurisdiction. This ensures that crimes are reported immediately, facilitating prompt legal proceedings.

Electronic FIR Filing
The new laws enable individuals to report incidents electronically, without needing to visit a police station. This method is quicker and more convenient, ensuring prompt action by the police. Complainants will receive a free copy of the FIR, enhancing transparency and participation in the legal process.

Rights of Arrested Individuals
Arrested persons now have the right to inform someone of their choice about their situation, ensuring they receive immediate support and assistance. Details of arrests must be prominently displayed in police stations and district headquarters, making information easily accessible to families and friends.

Mandatory Videography of Crime Scenes
Police must now videograph the evidence collection process at crime scenes to prevent tampering. Forensic teams are also required to visit crime scenes for serious offenses to collect evidence.

Prioritizing Crimes Against Women and Children
Investigations of crimes against women and children must be completed within two months. Victims are entitled to regular updates on the progress of their cases within 90 days, ensuring transparency and involvement in the legal process.

Free Medical Treatment for Victims
Women and children who are victims of crimes are guaranteed free first-aid or medical treatment at all hospitals, ensuring they have immediate access to medical care.

E-Summons
Summons can now be served electronically, reducing paperwork and ensuring efficient communication between stakeholders.

Witness Protection and Timely Justice
All state governments must implement a witness protection scheme, ensuring the safety and cooperation of witnesses and reducing the likelihood of witnesses turning hostile. Police will record statements from rape victims using audio and visual means, providing additional protection. Courts are limited to granting maximum of two adjournments to avoid unnecessary delays in case hearings.

Exemption from Attending Police Stations
Women, minors under 15, individuals over 60, and those with disabilities or severe illnesses are exempted from attending police stations and can receive police assistance at home.

Shruti Suman

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