Tamil Nadu forms panel to review new criminal laws, suggest changes

The one-man committee will hold consultations with bar associations and other stakeholders, and submit its report to the state government within a month.
Representational image of a gavel.
Representational image of a gavel.File photo

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday constituted a one-man committee led by retired judge of the Madras High Court, M Satyanarayanan, to study the three new criminal laws brought into force by the union government from July 1 and recommend amendments that need to be effected at the state-level, including a change in the nomenclature of the titles. The one-man committee will hold consultations with bar associations and other stakeholders, and submit its report to the state government within a month.

An official release said that CM Stalin, on June 17, strongly objected to the NDA government’s decision to enforce Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023; Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA), 2023, from July 1 by repealing the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. He had urged the centre to withhold the new legislations until the views of all state governments and other stakeholders have been considered.

“The union government passed these three legislations in haste, without any discussion and by suspending 146 MPs in Parliament in December last year. Since these legislations have been named in Sanskrit, in violation of constitutional provisions, and enacted without hearing the views of the Members of Parliament, there have been protests across the country against various clauses of these laws,” the release added.

The decision to form a one-man committee was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the CM at the secretariat.

Representational image of a gavel.
Thoothukudi bar association protests new criminal laws, demands reinstatement of IPC, CrPC

‘States have amended central laws before’

Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan, Advocate General P S Raman, Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena and other senior officials also took part.

Regarding whether the state has powers to amend these central Acts, retired Madras HC judge K Chandru told TNIE that since these criminal laws come under the Concurrent List of the Constitution, states have the power to make amendments.

“In the past, many states have made amendments suitable for them. States can also change the title of these central legislations. However, under Section 254 (2) of the Constitution, only after obtaining Presidential assent will the amendments made by the states be valid,” he said.

Another retired judge, on condition of anonymity, told TNIE that since the President would act as per the advice of the central government, such amendments will get the Presidential nod only when the central government approves them. “Otherwise, such amendments can be useful to keep the issue in the limelight so that in the long run they will help bring about the desired results,” he said.

It may recalled that on June 23, former CJI and former Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and Dr N S Santhosh Kumar, Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, Chennai, urged the central government to retain English nomenclature for the new criminal laws since the naming of the new legislations has violated Article 348 of the Constitution.

(With inputs from S Kumaresan @ Chennai)

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