Social Policy & Administration

New criminal laws: An era of accountability, transparency and justice

New criminal laws: An era of accountability, transparency and justice

Incorporating technology and forensics into investigations is a positive step towards modernising the criminal justice system in India.


Vaibhav Chadha, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.


The Central government has notified that the three new criminal laws, namely the Bhartiya Sakshya Sanhita (BSS), Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) and Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), which aim to replace the colonial era Indian Evidence Act 1872 (IEA), Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC), and Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC), will come into effect from 1 July 2024.

One of the most appreciable measures in the enactment of the new criminal laws has been the insertion of the words “electronic and digital records” in the definition of “document” in section 2(1)(d) of the BSS. The scope of “documents” in the new BSS has been widened and made futuristic to include server logs, locational evidence, voice mail messages stored on digital devices…etc. In the IEA 1872, the definition of “document” did not specifically include electronic records. For the admissibility of electronic records in evidence, compliance with Section 65B of IEA 1872 was required.

To ease the process further, two new forms have now been included in the schedule of the BSS, which will not only authenticate the collection process but also speed up the appreciation process of digital evidence. These reforms in the domain of “electronic evidence” will help in plugging the loopholes that were present in the IEA 1872.

In CrPC 1973, there was no specific provision for Zero FIR. Zero FIR means an FIR registered by the police in case of a cognisable offence, irrespective of the jurisdiction. Earlier section 154 CrPC provided for the registration of FIR but not Zero FIR expressly. Now, section 173(1) of BNSS explicitly provides that every piece of information disclosing the commission of a cognizable offence_, “irrespective of the area where the offence is committed”, may be given orally or through electronic means to the police.

Published in: Firstpost

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