Updated December 25th, 2023 at 19:38 IST
New criminal code bills become laws after President's nod; IPC, CrPC & Evidence Act get replaced
The Rajya Sabha approved these bills through a voice vote on Thursday (December 21), following their prior approval by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday (December 20).
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In a landmark development, President of India Droupadi Murmu has given her assent to the three new Criminal Law Bills that will replace the IPC, CrPC & Evidence Act. The Parliament had given its nod to three new bills aimed at revamping the outdated colonial-era criminal laws last week. These bills propose stricter penalties for offenses including terrorism, mob-lynching, and activities that pose threats to national security. The Rajya Sabha approved these bills through a voice vote on Thursday (December 21), following their prior approval by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday (December 20).
Home Minister Amit Shah, during his response to a discussion in the Upper House of Parliament, expressed that the bills aiming to repeal and substitute the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act will herald a new phase in the criminal justice system. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bills were waiting for the assent of the President which was received on Monday. The new criminal bills which were passed by the Parliament in the recently concluded Winter Session were termed as ‘revolutionary and transformative and with a sense of indigenousness’ by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal.
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita lists offences such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity in the new avatar of the sedition law. It will have 358 sections (instead of 511 sections in the IPC). A total of 20 new crimes have been added to the bill, and the imprisonment sentence has been increased for 33 of them. The amount of the fine has been increased in 83 crimes and mandatory minimum punishment has been introduced in 23 crimes. The penalty of community service has been introduced for six crimes and 19 sections have been repealed or removed from the bill.
The three bills were first introduced during the Monsoon session of Parliament in August this year. However, the government decided to withdraw the bills and introduced their redrafted versions last week after the Standing Committee on Home Affairs made several recommendations. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the three bills were drafted after comprehensive consultations and that he had gone through every comma and full stop of the draft legislation before bringing them to the House for approval.
According to the laws, anyone purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.
According to IPC Section 124A, which deals with sedition, anyone involved in the crime may be punished with life imprisonment or with a three-year jail term. Under the new laws, 'Rajdroh' has got a new term 'Deshdroh', thus doing away with the reference to the British crown.
Also for the first time, the word terrorism has been defined in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. It was absent in the IPC. Under the new laws, the magistrate's power to impose fines has been increased as well as the scope of declaring a proclaimed offender.
(With agency inputs)
Published December 25th, 2023 at 18:34 IST
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