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LS Passes Three Bills to Replace British-Era Criminal Laws

LS Passes Three Bills to Replace British-Era Criminal Laws

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Dec 20: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed by voice, in the absence of a majority of the opposition members, three crucial historic bills which when enacted will replace the criminal laws framed during the British era and is in force in the country even now.

Three crucial bills passed included “The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023,” “The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023” and “The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, will replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973 and Indian Evidence Act, of 1872, respectively.

With two more Lok Sabha MPs, C. Thomas and A.M. Arif, suspended on Wednesday from the Lower House for the remainder of the Winter Session for displaying placards in the House, the total number of MPs suspended this Session rises to 143.

The laws were passed without any substantial discussions owing to the suspension of 143 Opposition members following protests over the recent security breach and the debate on the crucial bills was mainly comprising of BJP MPs. The numbers of suspensions in the Lok Sabha reached 97 today, with the suspension of two more MPs. The issue has snowballed into the latest flashpoint between the government and the Opposition following the mimicry of Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar by a Trinamool MP.

Insisting that the new laws would replace the colonial era rules that are completely unsuitable for this day and age, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the new bills lay “emphasis on Indianness, the Indian Constitution and the well-being of the people.” “I have gone through every comma, full stop of the new criminal laws,” the minister said, insisting that they were in consonance with the spirit of Constitution. Mr Shah said the bills would encourage the use of technology in giving justice to people. He said “mob-lynching” had been included as an offence in the bills.

Answering queries on the amendments, Mr Shah said, “Mercy petition can be filed only those who accept guilt. Terrorism has been defined under CrPC and UAPA must be used in appropriate cases.” He also assured the House that these laws would will not create a police state till BJP was in power. “We have kept technological advancements in mind and framed a law which uses such tools for the next 100 years,” he added.

Talking about the clauses in the bills which cut down time delay, Mr Shah said, “Doctors have been excluded from accidental deaths. Within filing complaint, FIR has to be registered within three days. Initial investigation must be done within 24 hours and filed in court. Charge-sheet has to be filed within 180 days.” He also added that undertrials who are first-time offenders can be bailed out after 1/3rd of the jail sentence and half the time of the sentence. E-FIRs, mandatory forensic study of evidence and reduced time frame of trial, zero FIR at any police station, intimation of arrested individuals to family are some of the clauses in the new bills, Shah added.

The bills were withdrawn after the monsoon session and three new bills introduced, as a few changes were to be made, Mr Shah said. The new bills have been examined by the Standing Committee and instead of coming up with official amendments, it was decided to bring the bills again.

The Opposition has alleged that suspension of MPs was the government’s ploy to pass key bills without any discussion. The criminal law bills were vehemently criticised by several Opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the DMK. The Congress wanted a larger public debate on the bills that would involve judges, jurists, lawyers, criminologists and other stakeholders including the general public.

The parties further said many sections of the new criminal bills are identical to the colonial laws that the government claimed to have removed. They also wanted the bills passed after the general elections next year.

 

 

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