Q. Discuss how basic duties of police officers have changed with the new criminal laws coming into effect. (10 Marks, 150 Words)

Core Demand of the Question:

  • Discuss the changes in the basic duties of police officers.
  • Highlight the associated issues and suggest solutions to overcome them. 


Three new criminal laws—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA)—came into effect across India on July 1. These laws brought significant changes to the country’s criminal justice system, replacing the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (1860), Code of Criminal Procedure (1973), and Indian Evidence Act (1872). Together, these three laws redefine penal offences, prescribe new processes for investigation and evidence gathering, and govern the trial process in court, fundamentally transforming India’s criminal justice jurisprudence.

Changes in Basic Duties of Police Officers:

  • Rules for Registering FIRs: The officer in-charge is now legally bound to register a First Information Report (FIR) regardless of jurisdiction, known as a zero FIR under the Section 173 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) . This can be done electronically, which is to be taken on record by the officer in-charge if it is signed within three days by the person giving it. Non-registration of FIRs may attract penal action under various sections.
  • Electronic Information Submission and Sensitive Enquiries: While no one can stop a police officer from enquiring into the information immediately if it is of a sensitive nature, the electronic mode by which information may be given must be decided by the agencies, such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) portal, the police website or officially published email IDs.
  • Videography Requirements: The BNS mandates videography during searches under Section 185at crime scenes, and when taking possession of property. This helps in maintaining evidence integrity and transparency, benefiting both the investigation and judicial process.
  • Public dislay of Arrest Information: Information about arrested persons boards (including in digital mode) containing names, addresses and the nature of the offence must be put up outside police stations and district control rooms. 
  • Provisions of Arrest: Section 37 of the BNSS requires a police officer in every police station, not below the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector, to be responsible for maintaining and prominently displaying information about the arrested persons.
    Restrictions are placed on the arrest of elderly or infirm individuals, requiring permission from a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) for arrests in minor offences. This ensures humane treatment of suspects and transparency in custodial processes.
  • Timelines for Medical Examination and Investigation: Medical reports for rape victims must be forwarded to the Investigating Officer (IO) within seven days under Section 184 (6) of the BNSS , and POCSO Act cases must be investigated within two months. These timelines expedite the judicial process and ensure timely justice for victims.
  • Handling of Electronic Devices: Section 193(3)(h) requires maintaining a sequence of custody for electronic devices and informing the investigation progress within 90 days to the informant or victim. This emphasises the integrity and careful handling of electronic evidence, crucial in modern investigations.
  • Terrorist Acts: Section 113 defines ‘terrorist act’ and mandates that the decision to register such cases be made by an officer of SP rank or higher. This ensures that cases related to terrorism are handled with the necessary expertise and scrutiny.

Issues and Solutions:

  • Resource Limitations: Many police stations may lack the necessary technological resources for mandatory videography and handling electronic evidence.
    • Government funding and infrastructure development to equip police stations with the required technology.
  • Training Needs: Police officers may need adequate training to handle new procedures and electronic devices.
    • Regular training programs and workshops to enhance the skills of police officers in line with new laws.
  • Administrative Burden: New rules may increase the administrative burden on police officers, affecting their efficiency.
    • Streamlining procedures and recruiting additional administrative staff to assist in non-core tasks.
  • Uniform Implementation: There might be inconsistencies in the implementation of new laws across different regions.
    • Strict monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure uniform implementation and adherence to the new laws.

The new criminal laws mark a significant shift in the duties of police officers in India, aiming to enhance transparencyaccountability, and efficiency in law enforcement. While the new provisions offer substantial improvements, addressing the accompanying challenges through adequate resource allocation, training, and monitoring will be crucial to achieving the intended benefits. As these changes take effect, continuous evaluation and adjustment will ensure that the police force is well-equipped to uphold justice in a rapidly evolving legal landscape.

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