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President Droupadi Murmu Gave Assent to Three New Criminal Bills & Telecommunications Bill 2023

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President assent on 25th December 2023On 25th December 2023, the President of India Droupadi Murmu gave assent to three new criminal bills: Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (BNS2), 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita(BNSS2), 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Adhiniyam, 2023.

  • The three new criminal bills will replace the British-colonial era laws: the Indian Penal Code(IPC), 1860; the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act(IEA), 1872 respectively.
  • She also gave assent to the Telecommunications Bill, 2023 and Post Office Bill, 2023. 

Background of Three New Criminal Bills:

i.These three bills were introduced by Union Minister, Amit Shah, Ministry of Home Affairs in August 2023, during the monsoon session of the parliament, and were referred to the MoHA’s Standing Committee for examination.

ii.On 12th December 2023, the bills were reintroduced in Parliament with new amendments suggested by the Standing Committee.

iii.The new criminal bills were cleared by the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the parliament) on 20th December 2023 and by Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the parliament) on 21st December 2023.

iv.These new laws will shift the focus from punishment and deterrence to justice and reformation.

Note: In 2020, MoHA constituted a Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws headed by Professor Ranbir Singh, founder Vice Chancellor of the National Law University, Delhi.

About Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (BNS2), 2023:

Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita or BNS2, 2023 replaced the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860.

  • BNS2 include 356 provisions, whereas IPC has 511 sections.
  • It has retained most provisions of the IPC and add community service as a form of punishment.

Key Highlights:

i.The new bill includes acts endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; terrorism; Organised crime; kidnapping, extortion and cyber-crime committed on behalf of a crime syndicate and Petty organised crime as an offence.

ii.The bill also considers murder by a group of 5 or more persons on grounds of caste, language or personal belief as an offence.

iii.Age of criminal responsibility is retained at 7 years.

About Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita(BNSS2), 2023:

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita (BNSS2), 2023 replaced the CrPC, 1973. It governs the procedure for investigation, arrest, prosecution and bail for offense.

Detention of Undertrial:

According to CrPC, accused who has spent half of the maximum period of imprisonment in jail, has the right to get bail. This does not apply to offences punishable by death.

As per BNSS2, this provision will also not apply to, i. Offences punishable by life imprisonment. ii. Persons against whom proceedings are pending in more than one offence.

It also adds that 1st time-offenders can get bail after serving 1/3rd of maximum sentence.


i.This mandates forensic investigation for offences punishable with seven years of imprisonment or more.

ii.The bill also states that all trials, inquiries, and proceedings may be held in electronic mode and production of electronic communication devices with digital evidence, will be allowed for investigation, inquiry, or trial.

Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Adhiniyam, 2023:

Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Adhiniyam, 2023 replaced the Indian Evidence Act(IEA), 1872.

  • It retains most provisions of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 such as: confessions, relevancy of facts and burden of proof.
  • It recognizes electronic records as primary evidence. It expands such records to include information stored in any communication devices such as laptops and smart phones.
  • The BSB2 retains original classification of evidence i.e. documentary or oral. It classifies electronic records as documents.

Key Features:

i.Admissible evidence: BSB2 retains the original admissible evidence which can be classified as either “facts in issue” or “relevant facts”.

ii.Police Confessions: Any confession made to a police officer or in police custody is inadmissible, unless recorded by Magistrate.

iii.Oral Evidence: The BSB2 allows oral evidence can be in electronic form. This would allow witnesses, accused persons and victims to testify through electronic means.

iv.Secondary Evidence: The Act adds new categories under secondary evidence:

  • Oral and written admissions.
  • Testimony of a person who has examined the document and is skilled to examine the documents.

v.Joint Trials: The Act extended the definition of joint trials, which now include a trial of multiple persons, where an accused.

About Telecommunications Bill 2023

Telecommunications Bill 2023 repealed the Indian Telegraph Act (1885), the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act (1933) and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act 1950 and amends the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, 1997.

  • The Telecommunications Bill, 2023 falls under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Communication.

Key Features:

i.Authorisation for telecom-related activities: The Bill include the provision of prior authorisation from the central government which will have the power to provide telecommunication services, establish, operate, maintain or expand telecommunication network or possess radio equipment.

ii.Appointments of TRAI: It allow individuals with at least 30 years of professional experience to serve as the chairperson and at least 25 years of professional experience to serve as members.

iii.Digital Bharat Nidhi: The new bill renamed Universal Service Obligation Fund as Digital Bharat Nidhi . It allows the fund utilization for research and development.

iv.Offences and Penalties: The bill includes the provision of punishment for unauthorised use of telecom services or access to network or data with penalty up to Rs10 lakh.

v.Adjudication process: The Central Government is authorised to appoint an adjudicating officer. He/ She must be the rank of joint secretary and above.

About Post Office Bill 2023:

The enactment of the Post Office Bill 2023 will replace the 125-year-old Indian Post Office Act 1898. 


i.The Post Office Act 2023 authorises post office employees to open or detain any item during transmission in the interest of national security or public safety.

ii.It also prescribed immunity for post office employees from liability in providing services but with conditions.

iii.The new law also empowers the director general of Postal Services to make rules regarding fees for Post Office services.

Note: At present, more than 1.5 lakh post offices are there in India. This includes around 1.30 lakh in rural areas.

About Ministry of Home Affairs(MoHA): 
Union Minister– Amit Shah (Constituency- Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat)
Minister of State– Nityanand Rai; Ajay Kumar Mishra; Nisith Pramanik