Criminal law

India’s message: Proposed criminal law reforms positive, but some terminology raises questions – Jurist


Indian law students report for JURIST on developments affecting law in India. This letter is from Summer Veer, a third-year law student at the National University of Law, Delhi.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah foot Three new bills in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of India’s parliament) on Friday are set to replace three existing laws that are largely the core of India’s criminal justice system.

the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act (IEA) should be replaced with Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita bill, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill W Bharatiya Sakshya Bell, respectively. These bills follow the Criminal Law Reform Commission form In 2020, she presented her report in February 2022, in which she analyzed the Indian criminal legal framework at length.

So far, the bills have been sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for review.

The new draft law includes various new provisions punishing new types of crimes, while repealing some old provisions. Various departments have been rearranged and penalties for many offenses reduced to fines rather than imprisonment.

Here is an overview of the most notable changes introduced by the three bills.

In a remarkable development, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (which replaced the IPC) abolished the controversial offense of sedition under Article 124A. In recent years, the central government Accused Many times this strict law was used to bring cases against opponents, accusing them of trying to overthrow the government. In many cases, these cases have only been brought in response to strong advocacy Cash One of the prominent figures in power. However, concerns remain, due to the introduction of a new offense in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita under Article 150 – ‘Acts threatening the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India’.

Upon examining the language used in this new section, one can see that the language used is largely identical to the old offense under Section 124a. It may not be an exaggeration to say that Article 150 is just the same offense as sedition, in a repackaged form.

Furthermore, for offenses such as criminal defamation (previously under Article 499 of the IPC), penalties have been reduced from two years’ imprisonment to the newly introduced “community service” under Articles 354(1) and 354(2). Interestingly, this is the offense for which the maximum sentence was imposed on Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi earlier this year, and a motion was made to overturn it. to reject by the Gujarat High Court. This conviction led to the removal of Gandhi as a Member of Parliament, before A Serving On the recent conviction by the Supreme Court.

Other notable developments include the imposition of the death penalty for rape of a minor, and a minimum sentence of 20 years in the case of gang rape. Section 302 of the Islamic Penal Code, which previously punished murder, now describes the new crime of “kidnapping” which is defined as occurring if ““If the offender suddenly, quickly, or by force seizes, secures, or extorts or extorts from any person or from his possession any movable property.”

There is a sentence of 20 years or life imprisonment for mob lynching,

Moreover, Article 102 of the Nyaya Sanhita also prescribes the death penalty or life imprisonment for murder committed by a convict under life imprisonment. Oddly enough, this seems to revive the long-discontinued Section 303, which mandated the death penalty for this crime and was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1983.

In a positive development, many sentences and offenses have become gender-neutral, the terms “insanity” and “disorder of mind” have been replaced by mental illness and Article 377, which penalizes sexual intercourse considered “against the order of nature” (and (used to criminalize homosexuality earlier) Moreover, in a long overdue development, the penalty for attempted suicide under Article 309 of the Islamic Penal Code has also been abolished, along with Article 497 (punishment for adultery).

All in all, the new bills constitute an historic development. For many years, it has been said that various laws in the Indian justice system (such as Section 309 and 377 mentioned above) are outdated and deserve repeal. It is encouraging to finally see such long overdue developments bear fruit. The increase in gender neutrality in terminology and the discontinuation of terms such as “crazy” were also welcomed.

However, not all is well with these changes. Perhaps most notably, it may have seemed for a brief moment that the seemingly immortal crime of sedition, which obstinately refuses to leave and reach the end of its artificially extended life, had indeed been abolished. However, the new Article 150 does nothing but change the name of the offense, while retaining the provisions in substance and substance. How the judiciary interprets this, particularly in light of the control over prosecutions placed under Article 124a, will be an interesting exercise in common law jurisprudence.

The opinions expressed in JURIST letters are solely those of our correspondents in the field and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST’s editors, staff, donors, or the University of Pittsburgh.


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