Lok Sabha Approves Legislation Proposing Revisions to IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act

Author : Yogricha

Updated On : December 21, 2023

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MPHC

Overview: On the thirteenth day of the winter session, Lok Sabha successfully passed three revised criminal law bills. These bills, known as the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (Indian Justice Code, Second Edition), aimed to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita (Indian Citizen Security Code, Second Edition), intending to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Sanhita (Indian Evidence Code, Second Edition), which sought to replace the Indian Evidence Act.

Click Here: Know the History of these Criminal laws

Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced several new amendments during the proceedings, including one that provides exemptions to doctors in cases of death caused by medical negligence.

The passage of these bills took place in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday afternoon, despite the suspension of 141 opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) from both houses. Last week, 13 legislators were suspended from the Lok Sabha, followed by an additional 82 over the last two days. This has led to a growing list of disciplinary actions taken against lawmakers.

The proposed criminal law bills have faced scrutiny, with opposition leaders like Adhir Ranjan Choudhary and Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal expressing concerns about potential human rights violations and the inadequacy of safeguards against potential abuses by law enforcement agencies.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have staunchly supported the three revised criminal law bills. They argue that the existing British-era criminal laws focus primarily on punishment and deterrence, while the proposed bills shift the focus towards justice and reformation, aligning with the evolving needs of modern-day India. Biju Janata Dal legislator Bhartruhari Mahtab, expressing his endorsement of the bills during the debate, stated, "It is imperative that our perspective shifts away from the colonial lens when considering law and order."

Tejasvi Surya, a BJP Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, elaborated on the bills' intent to place the citizen at the center of the criminal justice system, rather than the Crown. He emphasized that these bills are part of a deliberate effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to decolonize the nation, asserting, "True self-rule has finally gained significance as our country respects its language, its culture, and its people."

The bills' incorporation of digitization and information and communication technology received widespread approval among members. Senior advocate and former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad emphasized, "In this era of communication and technology, knowledge and communication technology equate to power." He also commended the provision for mandatory video recording of search and seizure procedures, which he believes will prevent misuse. Legislators also praised the bills for streamlining and expediting the criminal justice system, addressing issues related to investigative deficiencies and court delays, and the extensive consultations that preceded the bills' introduction.

Ravi Shankar Prasad highlighted the bill's provisions allowing in absentia trials in cases where the accused are absconding.

Due to the suspension of numerous opposition members, the Lok Sabha passed the three bills with minimal opposition. Only a handful of opposition members raised dissenting voices. Notably, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi voiced concerns about potential bias in the implementation of criminal laws against religious minorities and vulnerable communities, such as Dalits and Adivasis. He also expressed apprehensions about a provision in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita that allows police custody beyond 15 days, citing potential violations of civil liberties.

Additionally, he highlighted the omission of DK Basu guidelines, restrictions on third parties filing mercy petitions on behalf of death row prisoners, restrictions on bail in cases where multiple offenses are pending against an accused, and the absence of provisions penalizing sexual assault against men and stalking of men. He questioned the government's reintroduction of sedition-related provisions without using the term "sedition," despite its commitment to the Supreme Court.

During the debate, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal alleged that the bills granted excessive powers to the police without adequate checks and balances, potentially leading to arbitrary use of power. She argued that such arbitrary powers run counter to the principles of liberty, democracy, dissent, and opposition. MP Simranjit Singh Mann also objected to the bills being debated in the absence of opposition members, deeming it an "undemocratic practice."

The concluding remarks came from Home Minister Shah, who asserted that the bills align with constitutional principles and morality, while also being forward-looking in their approach to future technological advancements. He outlined key provisions of the bills, including the definition of terrorism to prevent circumvention of the judicial process. He emphasized the shift from "rajdroha" (treason) to "deshdroha" (anti-national activities) under the new penal code, highlighting that the Indian Penal Code punishes actions against the government, while the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita would punish actions against the nation.

The minister explained that the criminal procedure laws strike a balance between law enforcement powers and citizens' rights, aiming to protect both the accused and the victim. He also underscored the bills' focus on digitization of processes within the criminal justice system and the use of digital and electronic evidence.

Home Minister Shah concluded by appealing to Lok Sabha members to pass the three bills, emphasizing their alignment with the spirit of the Indian Constitution and the nation's commitment to justice. Live updates from the discussion can be found here.

The three criminal law reform bills were initially introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah during the parliament's monsoon session but were subsequently referred to the home affairs' standing committee. Last month, the committee submitted its reports on the proposed bills, suggesting various changes.

These recommendations included retaining the provision for adultery in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita while modifying it to be gender-neutral, as well as retaining a provision similar to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to criminalize sexual offenses against men, non-binary individuals, and animals.

The standing committee also addressed other aspects of the bills, such as recommending a provision for the secure handling and processing of electronic and digital records acquired as evidence during investigations or amending a clause allowing police custody beyond the initial 15 days for greater clarity. While some recommendations were incorporated, others remained unchanged. Home Minister Shah clarified that most of the changes were of a grammatical nature.

On December 12, the Centre reintroduced the three revised criminal bills, including the BNSS, in the Indian parliament's lower house, withdrawing the previous versions introduced in August.

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Lok Sabha Approves Legislation Proposing Revisions to IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act

Author : Yogricha

December 21, 2023

SHARE

MPHC

Overview: On the thirteenth day of the winter session, Lok Sabha successfully passed three revised criminal law bills. These bills, known as the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (Indian Justice Code, Second Edition), aimed to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita (Indian Citizen Security Code, Second Edition), intending to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Sanhita (Indian Evidence Code, Second Edition), which sought to replace the Indian Evidence Act.

Click Here: Know the History of these Criminal laws

Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced several new amendments during the proceedings, including one that provides exemptions to doctors in cases of death caused by medical negligence.

The passage of these bills took place in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday afternoon, despite the suspension of 141 opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) from both houses. Last week, 13 legislators were suspended from the Lok Sabha, followed by an additional 82 over the last two days. This has led to a growing list of disciplinary actions taken against lawmakers.

The proposed criminal law bills have faced scrutiny, with opposition leaders like Adhir Ranjan Choudhary and Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal expressing concerns about potential human rights violations and the inadequacy of safeguards against potential abuses by law enforcement agencies.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have staunchly supported the three revised criminal law bills. They argue that the existing British-era criminal laws focus primarily on punishment and deterrence, while the proposed bills shift the focus towards justice and reformation, aligning with the evolving needs of modern-day India. Biju Janata Dal legislator Bhartruhari Mahtab, expressing his endorsement of the bills during the debate, stated, "It is imperative that our perspective shifts away from the colonial lens when considering law and order."

Tejasvi Surya, a BJP Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, elaborated on the bills' intent to place the citizen at the center of the criminal justice system, rather than the Crown. He emphasized that these bills are part of a deliberate effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to decolonize the nation, asserting, "True self-rule has finally gained significance as our country respects its language, its culture, and its people."

The bills' incorporation of digitization and information and communication technology received widespread approval among members. Senior advocate and former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad emphasized, "In this era of communication and technology, knowledge and communication technology equate to power." He also commended the provision for mandatory video recording of search and seizure procedures, which he believes will prevent misuse. Legislators also praised the bills for streamlining and expediting the criminal justice system, addressing issues related to investigative deficiencies and court delays, and the extensive consultations that preceded the bills' introduction.

Ravi Shankar Prasad highlighted the bill's provisions allowing in absentia trials in cases where the accused are absconding.

Due to the suspension of numerous opposition members, the Lok Sabha passed the three bills with minimal opposition. Only a handful of opposition members raised dissenting voices. Notably, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi voiced concerns about potential bias in the implementation of criminal laws against religious minorities and vulnerable communities, such as Dalits and Adivasis. He also expressed apprehensions about a provision in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita that allows police custody beyond 15 days, citing potential violations of civil liberties.

Additionally, he highlighted the omission of DK Basu guidelines, restrictions on third parties filing mercy petitions on behalf of death row prisoners, restrictions on bail in cases where multiple offenses are pending against an accused, and the absence of provisions penalizing sexual assault against men and stalking of men. He questioned the government's reintroduction of sedition-related provisions without using the term "sedition," despite its commitment to the Supreme Court.

During the debate, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal alleged that the bills granted excessive powers to the police without adequate checks and balances, potentially leading to arbitrary use of power. She argued that such arbitrary powers run counter to the principles of liberty, democracy, dissent, and opposition. MP Simranjit Singh Mann also objected to the bills being debated in the absence of opposition members, deeming it an "undemocratic practice."

The concluding remarks came from Home Minister Shah, who asserted that the bills align with constitutional principles and morality, while also being forward-looking in their approach to future technological advancements. He outlined key provisions of the bills, including the definition of terrorism to prevent circumvention of the judicial process. He emphasized the shift from "rajdroha" (treason) to "deshdroha" (anti-national activities) under the new penal code, highlighting that the Indian Penal Code punishes actions against the government, while the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita would punish actions against the nation.

The minister explained that the criminal procedure laws strike a balance between law enforcement powers and citizens' rights, aiming to protect both the accused and the victim. He also underscored the bills' focus on digitization of processes within the criminal justice system and the use of digital and electronic evidence.

Home Minister Shah concluded by appealing to Lok Sabha members to pass the three bills, emphasizing their alignment with the spirit of the Indian Constitution and the nation's commitment to justice. Live updates from the discussion can be found here.

The three criminal law reform bills were initially introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah during the parliament's monsoon session but were subsequently referred to the home affairs' standing committee. Last month, the committee submitted its reports on the proposed bills, suggesting various changes.

These recommendations included retaining the provision for adultery in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita while modifying it to be gender-neutral, as well as retaining a provision similar to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to criminalize sexual offenses against men, non-binary individuals, and animals.

The standing committee also addressed other aspects of the bills, such as recommending a provision for the secure handling and processing of electronic and digital records acquired as evidence during investigations or amending a clause allowing police custody beyond the initial 15 days for greater clarity. While some recommendations were incorporated, others remained unchanged. Home Minister Shah clarified that most of the changes were of a grammatical nature.

On December 12, the Centre reintroduced the three revised criminal bills, including the BNSS, in the Indian parliament's lower house, withdrawing the previous versions introduced in August.

Related Blogs:

Ace the upcoming Judiciary Exams

Tips to Remember Important Articles of Constitution

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