Centre tables three bills in Lok Sabha to revamp criminal justice system

The new Bill has provisions that seek to repeal sedition, and award maximum capital punishment for crimes such as mob lynching and rape of minors, the Home Minister said.
Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023 (Photo | PTI)
Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023 (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Colonial-era criminal laws, including that on sedition, headed straight for the shredder on Friday as the Centre announced their complete overhaul through three bills tabled in the Lok Sabha. They will be referred to a parliamentary committee for vetting.

Introducing the bills that replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Section 124A (sedition) will be completely repealed but Section 150 punishes “acts endangering sovereignty, unity and integrity of India” will stay.

Shah claimed the objective of existing bills was to punish people rather than provide justice. Their replacements — The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 — will completely transform India’s criminal justice system, he claimed. 

Some of their salient features are maximum punishment for crimes like mob lynching and rape of minors. Besides, marrying a woman by concealing her identity or having a sexual relationship under false promises of marriage, promotion or employment will attract up to 10-year imprisonment. 

In cases of sexual violence, the statement of the victim and video recording will be compulsory and police will have to provide a status update on a case within 90 days. Every district will have a police official who will give a certificate to the family of those arrested that they are responsible for the person. Information will have to be provided both online, and personally, as the proposed law mandates.

For the first time, community service as punishment for petty offences is sought to be introduced.
Some new offences have also been included, such as armed rebellion, subversive and separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity of India, Shah told the House. The aim is to raise the conviction rate to 90 per cent, he added.

The new bill allows trials of absconders and fugitives in absentia. Also, a forensic team’s visit to a crime scene has been made mandatory if the crime would attract at least seven years of imprisonment.

New formulations

  • Whole procedure right from filing an FIR to case diary, chargesheet and judgment to be digitised
  • A visit by a forensic team to the crime scene will be mandatory if the crime entails punishment of seven years or more 
  • Three mobile forensic science labs are to be present in every district
  • All courts to be computerised by 2027
  • For the first time, filing e-FIRs will be possible. Zero FIR can be registered in any police station. Complaint will be sent to the police station concerned in 15 days
  • In case of sexual violence, victim's statement and video recording are compulsory. Police will have to provide status update on a case within 90 days
  • No government can withdraw a case entailing punishment of 7-yr jail or more without hearing the victim
  • Community service is to be introduced as punishment. For cases entailing less than three years of jail, summary trial will be enough
  • Chargesheet deadline is 90 days. Further 90-day extension with court permission. Probe must be wrapped up in 180 days. After trial, judgment in 30 days
  • For filing complaints against civil servants, authorities will have to give or deny permission within 120 days. If no response, it will be deemed to be a ‘yes’
  • Sexual exploitation of women on the pretext of marriage, job, promotions or by hiding identity will be a crime
  • For gang rape, punishment of 20 years imprisonment or life in jail. Provision for death sentence for raping minors. For mob lynching, punishment from seven years in jail to death sentence
  • Death sentence can only be converted to life; and lifer can be pardoned only within seven years of punishment
  • Terrorism defined for the first time. Trial to be allowed even if the criminal is absconding - like fugitive Dawood Ibrahim

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express