Decolonising Colonial Criminal Laws: India’s New Criminal Laws Introduced


By a comprehensive overhaul of the Indian Criminal Justice System, the Indian government has set a landmark by decolonising the Indian Justice System. The colonial IPC, which had been a part of the Indian justice system since 1860, has now been replaced and ushered by India’s indigenous laws, for a quicker and swifter justice. It will be effective from 1st July, 2024. 

Letting the old colonial criminal justice framework rest in the colonial museums, the new criminal laws are said to be more relevant to the modern society, focusing on bringing a faster and swifter justice as needed today. 

What was the IPC?

India’s primary criminal code for the last 160 years, The Indian Penal Code was established by the British Government of India and was drafted by Thomas Babington Macaulay. IPC was based on deterrence rather than justice, and that is one reason that it needed a removal from the present day society, where we do believe more in rehabilitation rather than punishment and covered various offenses alongwith their punishments against the state.

The major reason why IPC was implemented during the British Raj was because it wanted to bring a uniform criminal code all over the country, which had its own rules and forms of justice in different regions. 

Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023: Things You Need To Know 

The Indian government has revised and replaced the IPC with the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita Bill to reform the criminal justice system in India. 

  • The focus is on bringing justice rather than punishing the victim, which is a much needed change in India, if we focus on how the high percentage of undertrial cases, high incarceration rates and the slow system of serving justice, not to forget the Nirbhaya case, where the justice was served after seven long years. 
  • Modernizing the legal framework of India, the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita Bill aims to have a fair, equitable and a technological enhanced justice system of India. 
  • Introduction of eFIRs has been a bonus, as it would make the fight against women crimes stronger in India. 
  • Community service is added as a form of punishment in the new bill, which will result in less incarceration in India. 
  • The definition of terrorism has been broadened where intimidating the public, using firearms or hazardous weapons against the country, destroying public property or threatening the sovereignty or unity of the country is also terrorism. 

It will be the world’s most modern criminal justice system.” Amit Shah

According to Amit Shah, the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita Bill has been enhanced with provisions which the IPC lacked, as it was an outdated system by the British, which did not have provisions related to the cases of mob lynching, anti national activities, and is a far visioned criminal justice system which has made sure to focus and embed laws related to technology which might come even 50 years later in India. As Shah quoted, “I believe this will be the world’s most modern criminal justice system.” 

Why Do We Need Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita Bill?

First and foremost, because Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita Bill is not a colonial criminal code, but formulated by our own people, giving it the national identity that our country needed. It was very much needed that the old laws by the British be eradicated, and completely a new decolonised criminal code be introduced.

Secondly, because we needed laws that were more related to contemporary times, were more fast paced, technologically advanced and where more provisions and laws related to modern crimes were introduced. The online FIR system that will be introduced with this bill will be far from the best, as it will be an easy way to file complaints, otherwise which go unreported because of a stigmatized fear of the police. The focus of Bharitya Nyay Sanhita Bill is on serving justice, rather than on deterrence, which makes it a better approach in handling crimes and offenders.

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Pooja Acharya
Pooja Acharya
By day you'll find me making my way through the ordinary days and gossip, but by night, I become a word weaver, a story teller and a gossip monger. So, if you're looking for a content writer with a sprinkle of wit, a dash of mystery, and a whole lot of love for the written word, you're at the right place. Apart from a graduate with Bachelors of Arts, I find guilty pleasures in binge watching shows and reading books! I am a veracious reader, a happy foodie and writer and I love exploring stories from different cultures.

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