The government today announced a complete overhaul of the country’s colonial-era criminal laws to include maximum punishment for crimes like mob lynching and rape of minors and a new offence of ‘endangering unity,’ instead of sedition.
‘The three Bills that I am moving today include the principle law for criminal justice system.
One is Indian Penal Code which was formed in 1860, second is Criminal Procedure Code which was formed in 1898 and third is Indian Evidence Act, which was formed in 1872. We will end these laws today, which were brought by the British,’ said the HM Shah.
The new bill prioritises laws for crimes against women and children.
Capital Punishment For Mob Lynching
The Indian Penal Code of 1860 will be replaced by the ‘Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita,’ said Union Home Minister Amit Shah, introducing the three bills.
‘The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita’ will replace the Code of Criminal Procedure and the ‘Bharatiya Sakshya’ will replace Indian Evidence Act.
All three were referred to a Standing Committee for review.
Crimes against the State
A new offence on acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering sovereignty or unity and integrity of India has been added in the revised laws.
The sedition law has been repealed, said the Home Minister. It has been replaced by Section 150 for acts endangering sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
‘Whoever, purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite, secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India; or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine,’ says Section 150.
The explanation states this: ‘Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures, or administrative or other action of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means without exciting or attempting to excite the activities referred to in this section.’
The new bill prioritises laws for crimes against women and children, murders and ‘offences against the state.’
Community service will be one of the punishments for petty offences as one has seen with programmes in the West.
The proposed law also says those evading arrest can be tried in their absence. The police have to furnish an update on FIRs or First Information Reports within 90 days and an e-FIR can be lodged from anywhere.
The search and challan (prosecution) process has to be videographed. The proposed law also suggests one-year jail for bribing voters during elections.
Offences have also been made gender-neutral. In order to deal effectively with the problem of organised crimes and terrorist activities, new offences of terrorist acts and organised crime have been added with deterrent punishments.
Offences and terms
For gang-rape, the punishment can be 20 years in jail to a life term. The death sentence has been retained in the new bills.
The content of these bills overhauling criminal laws in the country is yet to be analysed in detail.
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