Overview of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) is a procedural law that regulates the administration of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), addressing issues arising from multiple legal systems in India.

Initially enacted in 1861, CrPC underwent revisions and a comprehensive replacement in 1973, introducing changes like anticipatory bail—subsequent amendments in 2005 incorporated provisions for plea bargaining and the rights of arrested individuals.

Bare Act PDFs

The Supreme Court has interpreted the CrPC over time, mandating FIR registration for cognizable offences, restricting arrests for punishments less than seven years, and emphasizing bail as an absolute right for bailable offences.

The criminal justice system grapples with challenges such as case backlogs and delays despite judicial interventions addressing concerns like custodial interrogations and speedy trials. A proposed replacement, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS), aims to amend bail provisions, broaden property seizure scope, and modify the police system and Magistrates’ powers.

Transformative Legislation Introduced by Union Home Minister in 2023

Union Home Minister Amit Shah presented three crucial bills in Parliament on 11 August 2023, signalling a transformative overhaul of India’s criminal justice system. These bills, namely the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023; the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023; and the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, aim to replace the antiquated British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The proposed changes, meticulously crafted by the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws under the Ministry of Home Affairs, target offences related to terrorism, crimes against women, corruption in elections, and acts against the state.

These bills were introduced during the last day of the monsoon session, designed to usher in a paradigm shift, ensuring expeditious justice, bolstering evidence integrity for higher conviction rates, and reducing case pendency. The bills were then forwarded to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for further deliberations, reflecting a thorough examination and scrutiny commitment.

Bare Act PDFs

Brief History of the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSSB) to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS)

Let us now review the legislative journey from the introduction of the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSSB) to its evolution into the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS), noting key dates, stages, and the subsequent enactment details of the consolidated and amended law, which repeals the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

Here are the three small tables presenting these facts:

Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSSB)

Introduced in Lok Sabha (House of People)11 August 2023
Referred to Standing Committee11 August 2023
Report of Standing Committee10 November 2023
Withdrawn12 December 2023

Bharatiya Nyaya Suraksha (Second) Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSSB)

Introduced in Lok Sabha12 December 2023
Passed in Lok Sabha20 December 2023
Passed in Rajya Sabha21 December 2023
Received Assent of President Droupadi Murmu25 December 2023

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS)

Act Details

Act Name/ Short TitleThe Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS)
Long TitleAn Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to Criminal Procedure.
Act No.46
Act Year2023
Enactment Date25 December 2023
MinistryMinistry of Law and Justice
Enforcement Date1 July 2024
Repealed ActThe Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974)

Salient Features/ Key Changes/ Key Amendments in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS)

Here are the salient features of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023.

New Framework

BNSS Sections vs CrPC Sections: BNSS introduces 531 sections, surpassing CrPC’s 484 sections.

Amendments and Additions:

  • 107 sections amended, reflecting substantial changes.
  • 9 new sections incorporated to address evolving legal needs.
  • 9 sections were deleted for streamlining the legal framework.

Detention of Undertrials

  • CrPC stipulates release on personal bond if half of the maximum imprisonment period is served, excluding death penalty cases.
  • BNSS excludes this provision for offences punishable by life imprisonment and individuals facing proceedings in multiple offences.

Medical Examination

  • CrPC permits medical examination in some instances, including rape, by a registered medical practitioner upon a sub-inspector’s request.
  • BNSS allows any police officer to request such an examination.

Forensic Investigation

  • BNSS mandates forensic investigation for offences with at least seven years of imprisonment.
  • Forensic experts will collect evidence at crime scenes, documenting the process electronically. States without facilities can utilize those in other states.

Signatures and Finger Impressions

  • CrPC empowers Magistrates to order specimen signatures or handwriting.
  • BNSS expands this to include finger impressions and voice samples, which are applicable even if the person is not arrested.

Timelines for Procedures

  • BNSS establishes timelines for various procedures, including the requirement for rape victim examination reports within seven days.
  • Other specified timelines include delivering judgments within 30 days (extendable to 60 days), informing victims of investigation progress within 90 days, and framing charges by a sessions court within 60 days from the first hearing.

Hierarchy of Courts

  • CrPC outlines a hierarchy of courts, including Magistrates, Sessions, High Courts, and the Supreme Court.
  • BNSS retains the hierarchy but omits the provision allowing state governments to designate metropolitan areas with a population of over one million, which had Metropolitan Magistrates. It also omits the concept of the Assistant Session Judge.

Trial in Absentia

  • BNSS allows trials in absentia for cases where the accused has absconded from India or cannot be procured.

e-Filing of FIR

  • BNSS facilitates the electronic filing of FIRs, streamlining the initiation of legal proceedings.

Time-Bound Investigation and Judgment

  • Emphasis on time-bound processes, from filing FIR to delivering judgments, reducing delays in the justice system.

Trial on Video Conference

  • Video conferencing was introduced for legal proceedings, enhancing accessibility and efficiency.

Police Custody

  • BNSS introduces changes in the criteria and regulations for police custody, addressing concerns and ensuring fairness.

Video Recording of Search and Seizure

  • Police actions, such as search and seizure, are to be video-recorded for transparency and accountability.

Electronic Recording of Depositions

  • Depositions of accused and witnesses are recorded electronically, ensuring accurate documentation.

Service of Process in Electronic Form

  • Legal notifications and processes to be served electronically, aligning with modern practices.

e-FIR (to be signed within three days)

  • Introduction of Electronic FIRs signed promptly within three days for efficient record-keeping.

Sanction of Government for Trial

  • Government sanction is required for the trial to be given within 120 days, streamlining administrative processes.

Magistrate’s Authority for Samples

  • The magistrate was empowered to order the collection of handwriting, fingerprints, etc., for investigative purposes.

Victim or Informant Notification

  • Police are mandated to inform the victim or informant about the case’s progress.

Summary Trial Scope Expansion

  • Increase the scope of summary trials to offences punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years, reducing the workload of session courts.

 Zero FIR – Specific Provision

  • Implementation of a specific provision for “Zero FIR,” allowing FIR lodgement in any police station, with a duty to transfer it to the relevant station within 15 days.

 Use of Handcuffs

  • Authorization for police officers to use handcuffs in specific cases, including habitual offenders, escapees, organized crimes, murder, rape, human trafficking, offences against children, and offences against the state.


The evolution from the CrPC to the BNSS signifies a significant paradigm shift in India’s criminal justice system. The legislative amendments, meticulously crafted by the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, reflect a commitment to expeditious justice, evidence integrity, and the reduction of case pendency.

The BNSS introduces a new framework with 531 sections, surpassing the CrPC, and brings forth substantial amendments, additions, and deletions to streamline the legal landscape. Crucial alterations in undertrial detention, medical examinations, forensic investigations, and the hierarchy of courts mark a progressive approach to addressing contemporary challenges. Integrating technology, such as video conferencing and e-filing of FIRs, underscores the legislative intent to enhance efficiency and transparency.

Moreover, the proposed changes in police custody criteria, video recording of search and seizure, electronic recording of depositions, and the introduction of specific provisions like “Zero FIR” demonstrate a commitment to modernizing and aligning the legal system with evolving societal needs. The expansion of summary trial scope and regulations on the use of handcuffs further contribute to the comprehensive nature of the BNSS.

As the BNSS progresses through the legislative stages, including the examination by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, its potential impact on the criminal justice system remains a focal point for legal scholars, practitioners, and the public. The enactment of this legislation promises a redefined legal landscape, striving to address contemporary challenges while upholding the principles of justice and fairness.


Dinesh Verma
WritingLaw » Law Notes » Overview of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 Law Study Material
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