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Implementation of criminal laws, adoption of AI key tasks for law ministry | India News

As India awaits its new law minister, the ministry grapples with the challenge to implement the new criminal laws and adopt a more technology-friendly arbitration, conciliation, and mediation landscape.

The Parliament had introduced Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam in 2023, replacing the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act. The new laws will come into effect from July 1, 2024.

Two weeks earlier, the Puducherry law secretary had written to the Directorate of Higher and Technical Education in Puducherry to give necessary instructions to Pondicherry University, deemed universities, and law colleges to introduce the three new criminal laws passed by the Parliament in their syllabus for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The department also initiated several measures to create awareness among the students, public, and all stakeholders of the criminal justice administration in the country about the new laws.

Before the implementation of the three new criminal laws, the Ministry of Home Affairs had on May 12 told all union territories (UTs) that a legal examination has to be done to determine whether the existing forensic assistants can be notified as forensic experts, since after the implementation of the new laws, their visits will increase substantially.

Talking about the involvement of technology in the legal landscape, Dr Rajiv Mani, secretary, Government of India, Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice, said they are using artificial intelligence (AI) in the translation of various laws in the country.

He said that as far as the use of technology in the arbitration and mediation system is concerned, they have consciously incorporated the use of online mediation. “We are in the process of undertaking fresh amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. That will also form a part of the conduct of arbitration proceedings by the use of online platforms,” he said.

He explained that the online platform will be equal for everyone, irrespective of the status of the litigants. He said online platforms can offer a robust solution for the resolution of disputes and AI could be used to identify cases of arbitration, mediation, and conciliation.

Last year, law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said India can also become the hub for arbitration. “We have passed the Mediation Bill; there was a mention of commercial courts; these are improvements because they require technical expertise, but I am saying your (legal fraternity) work is more important,” he said.

Former additional solicitor general of India Sanjay Jain said in May that as companies expand globally, general counsels must navigate complex international laws, trade regulations, and cross-border transactions. “This requires a deep understanding of different legal systems and cultures. The adoption of AI and other legal technologies is transforming the legal profession. General counsels should leverage these tools for contract management, compliance, legal research, and more efficient service delivery,” he said.

The Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, on April 21 organised a day-long conference on Saturday, April 20, 2024, on the theme of ‘India’s Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System’ at Dr Ambedkar International Centre, Janpath, New Delhi.

Chief Justice of India Dr Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that the new Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) provides a holistic approach to deal with crimes in the digital age. “The BNSS also stipulates that criminal trials must be completed in three years, and judgments must be pronounced within 45 days of being reserved. This would help in clearing the vast backlogs and faster delivery of justice,” he said.

He said it is very heartening to note that Section 530 of the BNSS allows all trials, inquiries, and proceedings to be conducted in electronic mode, which is in keeping with the need of the present time. He also drew attention to the importance of protecting privacy in the digital age, especially when dealing with the digitisation of proceedings and matters pertaining to digital evidence.

First Published: Jun 10 2024 | 12:27 AM IST

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