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New criminal laws take effect: How to file FIR; videography of crime scenes now mandatory | Explained

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With introduction of zero FIR, one can file an FIR at any police station, regardless of jurisdiction. This eliminates delays in initiating legal proceedings.

Zero FIR, registration of police complaints online, summons through electronic modes and mandatory videography of crime scenes of all heinous crimes are some of the key highlights of the three new criminal laws that came into effect from Monday, July 1. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023, enacted late last year, replaced the British-era Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

How will one file an FIR under new criminal laws?

  • Under the new laws, a person can now report incidents by electronic communication, without the need to physically visit a police station. This allows for easier and quicker reporting, facilitating prompt action by the police.
  • Zero FIR: With the introduction of zero FIR, a person can file a First Information Report (FIR) at any police station, regardless of jurisdiction. This eliminates delays in initiating legal proceedings and ensures immediate reporting of the offence.

Will the complainant receive a copy of FIR?

Yes, under the new laws, victims will receive a free copy of the FIR, ensuring their participation in the legal process.

What about those arrested?

  • An interesting addition to the law is that in the event of an arrest, the individual has the right to inform a person of his choice about his or her situation. This will ensure immediate support and assistance to the arrested individual.
  • Besides, arrest details will now be prominently displayed within police stations and district headquarters, allowing families and friends of the arrested person easy access to important information.

Crime scene to be videographed

  • To strengthen the case and investigations, it has become mandatory for forensic experts to visit crime scenes for serious offences and collect evidence. Additionally, the process of evidence collection at the crime scene will be mandatorily videographed to prevent tampering of evidence.
  • This dual approach significantly enhances the quality and reliability of investigations and contributes to a fair administration of justice.

What about probes for offences against women, children?

  • The new laws prioritised the investigations for offences against women and children, ensuring timely completion within two months of recording information. Under the new law, victims are entitled to regular updates on the progress of their case within 90 days.
  • This provision keeps the victims informed and involved in the legal process, enhancing transparency and trust.

Free medical treatment to victims of crimes against women, children

The new laws guarantee free first-aid or medical treatment to victims of crimes against women and children at all hospitals. This provision ensures immediate access to essential medical care, prioritising the well-being and recovery of victims during challenging times.

Summons can be served electronically

Summons can now be served electronically, expediting the legal processes, reducing paperwork and ensuring efficient communication between all parties involved.

Timely justice delivery

Courts grant a maximum of two adjournments to avoid unnecessary delays in case hearings, ensuring timely justice delivery.

Witness protection scheme

  • The new laws mandate that all state governments implement a witness protection scheme to ensure the safety and cooperation of witnesses and enhance the credibility and effectiveness of legal proceedings.
  • To provide more protection to the victim and enforce transparency in investigation related to an offence of rape, the statement of the victim shall be recorded through audio video means by the police.

Who are exempted from attending police stations?

Women, persons below 15 years, persons above 60 years and those with disabilities or acute illness are exempted from attending police stations and can receive police assistance at their place of residence.

Fines for crimes

Under the new laws, the fines imposed for certain crimes have been aligned with the severity of the offences, ensuring fair and proportional punishment, deterring future offences and maintaining public trust in the legal system.

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