Friday, March 1, 2024

Union govt withdraws 3 new criminal law amendment bills, plans to introduce them anew

The Union Government has decided to withdraw the three criminal law reforms – Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Sakshya Bill and Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita- introduced by it in the Lok Sabha to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure respectively.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah informed on 11 December that the Union government will draft and reintroduce the bills with amendments based on suggestions by the parliamentary standing committee.

The three new bills to revamp the criminal justice system were introduced in the Lok Sabha in August. 

During the introduction of the bills in Lok Sabha, Shah argued, “the focus of the existing laws was to protect and strengthen the British administration, the idea was to punish and not to give justice. By replacing them, the three new laws will bring the spirit to protect the rights of the Indian citizens.” 

The amendment drafts were then referred to a  committee of Parliament for extensive scrutiny and the committee was asked to submit its report within three months.

In November, the Committee submitted its reports on the proposed bills, with various recommendations. 

For example, the committee recommended that a provision to criminalise adultery, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2018, be introduced in a gender-neutral form.

It also recommended the retention of a provison akin to Section 377 IPC to criminalise non-consensual homosexual acts. 

The panel also asked for provisions in the new CrPC bill to secure digital evidence. It raised questions regarding the provision allowing police custody beyond 15 days of arrest, and also suggested that modalities of online FIR be left to the States.

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