The Union government has announced significant changes to colonial-era criminal laws, aiming to introduce harsher punishments for crimes such as mob lynching and the rape of minors.
Those involved in such heinous crimes may face maximum punishment of death sentence.
Additionally, a new offence called "endangering unity" will replace sedition in the revised laws.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has introduced three bills that will bring about significant changes in the legal system.
The Indian Penal Code of 1860 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, while the Code of Criminal Procedure will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita.
Furthermore, the Indian Evidence Act will be replaced by the Bharatiya Sakshya.
To ensure a thorough review, all three bills have been referred to a standing committee. This panel will carefully examine the proposed changes and provide valuable insights and recommendations.
The revised laws now include a new offence that addresses acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities, or any actions that endanger the sovereignty, unity, or integrity of India.
This addition aims to strengthen the legal framework and protect the nation's stability and integrity.
According to the Home Minister, the sedition law will be repealed and replaced with Section 150, which focuses on acts that endanger the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
Section 150 states that anyone who intentionally or knowingly uses words, signs, visible representation, electronic communication, financial means, or any other means to incite secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, or encourage separatist feelings, or jeopardise the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India, will be punished with life imprisonment or imprisonment up to seven years, along with a fine.
The explanation accompanying the law clarifies that expressing disapproval of government measures or actions to seek lawful change, without inciting the activities mentioned in this section, is not considered a violation.
The new bill places emphasis on enacting laws to address crimes against women and children, as well as murders, and offences against the state.
Community service will now be included as a punishment for minor offences, marking a significant change.
According to the proposed law, individuals who evade arrest can face trial even in their absence.
Law enforcement authorities are now required to provide updates on first information reports (FIRs) within 90 days. Additionally, it is now possible to lodge an E-FIR from any location.
To ensure transparency, the search and prosecution process must be recorded through video documentation.
The proposed law includes a provision for a one-year jail sentence for individuals found guilty of bribing voters during elections.
Furthermore, the law has been amended to ensure that offences are not gender-specific. This change aims to address the issue of organised crimes and terrorist activities more effectively.
In addition, new offences related to terrorist acts and organised crime have been introduced, along with stricter punishments to serve as deterrents.
The fines and punishments for various offences have also been increased under the new law.
In cases of gang rape, the punishment can range from a minimum of 20 years in jail to a life sentence.
The new bills have retained the death sentence.
During his address to Parliament, Amit Shah stated that the objective is to modernise laws that were established during the British era.
In the Lok Sabha, Shah explained that the laws being repealed were originally designed to protect and strengthen British administration, focusing on punishment rather than justice. The three new laws aim to safeguard the rights of Indian citizens.
According to Shah, the primary goal is not to punish but to ensure justice. Punishment will serve as a deterrent against crime and promote a sense of security in society.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!