The government has notified that the three criminal laws — Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita (BSS) will come into effect from July 1. However, it has withheld from enforcing a provision on causing death by rash and negligent driving due to widespread protests from truckers against it.

The three amended acts, which replaced the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, got Presidential assent on December 25, 2023, four days after parliament passed them.

On Friday, the Union Home Ministry issued three different notifications to announce that each of the new acts seeking reform in the criminal justice system will come into force on July 1. The BNS, however, will come into effect “except the provision of sub-section (2) of section 106” of the Act which deals with hit-and-run-cases.

In talks

The reason for keeping that section in abeyance is that the Ministry is in talks with the truckers association to address their grievance on the provision of rash and negligent driving of vehicle leading to death. Less than two months ago, the truckers had gone on strike over stringent punishment and fine charges in the hit-and-run cases under the new law.

The government had increased the punishment under the Section 106 of the BNS upto a maximum of 10 years and a fine to deter growing rash and negligent driving instances due to which India topped the global accident fatalities chart. As per the Section 106(2) of the BNS, an individual will become liable if he fails to inform police officer or magistrate ‘soon after’ he causes death by rash and negligent driving.

Such acts, however, attracted a limited punishment of up to two years of imprisonment or a fine under the colonial-era Indian Penal Code’s Section 304A.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah who had piloted the bills in both the Houses of Parliament had stated that by December all Union Territories will have necessary infrastructure, fully computerised courts to implement three new criminal justice laws. For rest of the country, it will take more time.

Replying to the debate before Rajya Sabha passed reform legislations, Shah had said that the three bills were ‘made by India’, ‘made for India’ and passed by the Indian Parliament. The focus of the amended acts, the Union Minister had said, was to provide justice instead of punishment that the colonial-era criminal codes were intended for.