The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023: Evaluating the Ambitious Legal Reforms

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 is upcoming legislation meant to comprehensively overhaul and modernize India’s legal system. As one of the most ambitious judicial reforms undertaken, UPSC aspirants must examine its aims, key provisions and potential impact.

Rationale for Reforms

The colonial-era laws and convoluted processes have rendered justice slow, costly and inaccessible for common citizens. With 3.5 crore cases pending, the judicial system is overburdened. Opaque procedures, exorbitant legal fees and dated laws have fueled corruption.

The reforms aim to increase efficiency, reduce pendency, improve accessibility and repeal outdated British laws to suit modern Indian conditions. They intend to deliver speedy justice to all.

Key Features

  • Merging district and high courts into a 3-tier system with State, Regional and Supreme Courts.
  • Increasing number of judges and hiking retirement age to improve judge-to-population ratio.
  • Specialised benches for taxation, environmental law etc. to speed up disposal.
  • Expanding physical and digital infrastructure for efficient functioning.
  • Increased use of alternate dispute mechanisms like mediation and arbitration.
  • Overhaul of procedural laws related to evidence, summons, warrants etc.
  • Decriminalizing minor offences to reduce case burden.
  • Repealing outdated laws on property rights, marriages, inheritance etc.

Concerns Raised

Critics argue the reforms concentrate excessive powers over postings and appointments with the government, compromising judicial independence. There are also fears of overemphasis on ‘Bharatiya’ values weakening constitutional ethos and secularism. Proposed changes related to marriage age, forests rights and sedition law have become contentious.

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