BENGALURU: Law students across the country have criticised the lack of diversity in the national committee to reform criminal law, and the committee’s consultation process. The Ministry of Home Affairs constituted the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Law on May 4 to recommend amendments to the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act 1872, within six months after holding public consultations.
Over 400 law students from across the country have signed an open letter addressed to the all-male committee. The letter criticised the lack of diversity in the committee’s composition, and demanded that the consultation be put on hold until the pandemic subsides substantially, and unless there is adequate representation across geographies, professions, and from marginalised communities, who often face the brunt of the law.
“The lack of women members is especially appalling as historically, women have been excluded from consultation processes. This resulted in regressive notions being written into the law, which did not account for the lived realities of women... their present exclusion is a seriously retrogressive step,” the students said.
Meanwhile, students were shocked that the committee was going ahead with the consultation in the midst of the pandemic. “As students, we do not have access to our university libraries due to the lockdown, and many other stakeholders will also find it difficult to contribute to the consultation,” they said. They also criticised the committee’s method of obtaining views only through an English questionnaire.