On Friday, the government announced an overhaul of criminal laws dating back to colonial times to include the maximum penalty for crimes such as lynching and rape of minors and a new offense of “endangering unity” rather than sedition.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Indian Penal Code of 1860 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Act, introducing three bills. The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Act will replace the Criminal Procedure Code and the Bharatiya Sakshya Act will replace the Indian Evidence Act.
All three have been referred to the Standing Committee for review.
A new offense relating to acts of separatism, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India has been added to the amended laws.
The interior minister said the sedition law had been repealed. It has been replaced by Article 150 relating to acts endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
“Whoever intentionally or knowingly, by saying, writing, signaling, visual representation, electronic communication, or using financial or other means, incites or attempts to provoke, secede, armed rebellion, or sabotage.” activities, encourages separatist sentiments or endangers the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; or indulges in or commits any such act, shall be liable to imprisonment for life or imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine,” section 150 says.
The clarification reads: “Comments expressing disapproval of administrative or other measures, actions or actions taken by the government intended to change them by legal means without provoking or attempting to provoke the activities referred to in this section.”
The new draft law gives priority to laws related to crimes against women and children, murders and “crimes against the state”.
For the first time, community service will be one of the penalties for minor infractions.
The proposed law also provides that arrest evaders can be tried in absentia.
Police are required to provide an update on FIRs or FIRs within 90 days, and an electronic FIR can be submitted from anywhere.
The search and trial process must be videotaped.
The proposed law also calls for a year in prison for voter bribery during elections.
Crimes have also become gender neutral. In order to deal effectively with the problem of organized crime and terrorist activities, new crimes for terrorist acts and organized crime with deterrent penalties have been added.
Fines and penalties for various offenses have also been strengthened.
In the case of gang rape, the penalty can be 20 years to life imprisonment.
The death penalty has been retained in the new bills.
Amit Shah told parliament that the law seeks to rejuvenate the laws of the British era.
“The laws to be repealed…the focus of those laws was to protect and strengthen the British administration, and the idea was to punish rather than achieve justice. By replacing them, the three new laws will give a spirit of protection to the British administration.” “The rights of the Indian citizen,” Mr. Shah said in the Lok Sabha.
He added, “The aim will not be punishment, but rather justice. The punishment will be imposed to create a sense of stopping the crime.”