centre-seeks-to-overhaul-british-era-criminal-laws

Centre seeks to overhaul British-era criminal laws

 

Context: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday introduced three Bills in the Lok Sabha to repeal the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).

 

About the introduced Bills

  • The Bill proposes 313 amendments that will bring revolutionary changes to the criminal justice system
  • The Minister introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023, that will replace the IPC, 1860; Criminal Procedure Act, 1898; and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

 

 

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, which replaces the IPC, prescribes capital punishment as the maximum sentence for mob lynching and suggests 10-year imprisonment for sexual intercourse with women on the false promise of marriage
  • The Bill, however, states that “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape”.
  • The section on sedition has been repealed
  • The Bill for the first time defines terrorism and offences such as separatism, armed rebellion against the government, challenging the sovereignty of the country, which were earlier mentioned under different provisions of law.
  • The changes were done to provide speedy justice and create a legal system that addresses contemporary needs of the people
  • The Bills will be sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
  • Absconding criminals such as underworld don Dawood Ibrahim will be tried in absentia by court and will be sentenced too.
  • In cases of sexual violence against women, the video-recording of statement of survivors has been made compulsory.
  • Police have to inform about the status of a complaint in 90 days
  • If a case punishable by seven years or more is to be withdrawn, then before doing so, the police must consult the victim.
  • Community service is being introduced for specific crimes. The maximum limit of 180 days has been fixed to file a chargesheet. The police cannot take an indefinite plea that investigation is on. Police will get 90 days to file chargesheet, another 90 days can be granted by court, but it cannot exceed that. 
  • Government of the day will have to decide prosecution sanctions against police officers and civil servants within 120 days, else it will be deemed to be permitted.
  • Videography of search and seizure is being made compulsory and a chargesheet won’t be accepted without it. 
  • A police officer will be designated in each police station who will certify to the relatives of an accused that she/he is in police custody.
  • A person with political clout does not get advantage of rules on remission of sentence, like we saw in Bihar, so the government has decided that 
    • death sentence can only be remitted to life sentence, 
    • life sentence can be remitted only up to seven years, 
    • Seven years imprisonment can be waived off only up to three years.
  • The conviction rate is presently low, the government aims to take it to 90%

 

Forensic collection of evidence will be compulsory in all crimes punishable by seven years.