Criminal law

The Criminal Law Reforms Commission faced criticism in 2020 for an obfuscation; Congress demands wider consultations – The New Indian Express


Fast news service

New Delhi: Even when the Center proposed three new pieces of legislation to revamp colonial-era criminal laws, the Criminal Law Reform Commission, which looked into law reform, faced heavy criticism from several quarters for its vague methodology and ineffectiveness. -Transparency after its establishment in May 2020.

The Ministry of the Interior was also widely criticized by the legal fraternity for forming a special committee, bypassing the law committee and criminal law experts, and entrusting the task to academics. Experts noted that despite stakeholder requests, the committee also did not make the public consultation report available on its website.

The commission, which was set up during the coronavirus lockdown, has come under fire from several retired judges, bureaucrats and women activists, who cited a lack of transparency, representation of women, and marginalized classes and minorities. After facing the fire, the committee later included a female member.

Many also expressed concerns about the committee’s deadline for proposing reforms. It took the first five legal committees more than 10 years to change a third of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Thomas Babbington Macaulay, who chaired the first law commission, drafted the International Patent Law in 1837, more than two decades before it became law.

Although Professor Ranbir Singh (former VC of National Law University, Delhi) initially served as the chair of the committee, Professor Srikrishna Deva Rao replaced him later. Other members include NLU VC GS Bajpai, Balraj Chauhan of NLU Jabalpur, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, Ex-Justice JP Thareja, Praveen Sinha and Dr Padmini Singh.

Legal experts, including former High Court judge Madan Lokur, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court A.P. Shah, and former Justice RS Sodhi, wrote to the panel in July 2020.

“We are concerned that, unlike previous efforts of similar size, this committee does not consist of full-time members. They noted that members continue to carry out their full professional obligations in addition to their work on this committee.

Besides defining terrorism for the first time, the changes aimed at transforming the country’s criminal justice system include provisions for the maximum death penalty for lynchings by mobs, sexual abuse of minors, and a maximum of 20 years in prison for all types of gang rape and community service. as one of the crimes. Penalties for minor first-time infractions.

Congress calls for broader consultations

Congress on Sunday called for broader consultations, including experts and the public, on the three pieces of legislation that seek to reform India’s criminal justice system.

In a statement, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said that on August 11, without any prior notice, public consultation or invitation for suggestions from legal experts and other stakeholders, the Modi government introduced three bills from its “black magic hat”, thereby bringing back… Structuring the entire parliament. The criminal law apparatus “in a secret, hidden and vague manner.”

In a detailed analysis, Surjewala said Shah had “lied and misled” on many points.

“The Home Minister’s introductory statements exposed the fact that Amit Shah is himself out of touch, ignorant and oblivious to the entire exercise,” the Congress leader said.

“Other than searching for credit and scoring points in desperation, a hidden practice, away from the eyes of the public or the suggestions and wisdom of stakeholders, cannot serve the overall purpose of reforming the structure of criminal law in the country,” Surjewala said.

After an extensive “scrutiny” of existing and proposed laws, he said detailed definitions of terrorism and terrorist acts already exist since the time of Indira Gandhi and “the definition of terrorists in the IPC is an eyewash”.

In connection with the FIR case against mob lynching, which was allegedly first brought, Shah was alleged to have given “too much concession” to the perpetrators of the lynchings.

“The BJP government has reduced the minimum punishment for mob lynching to seven years (under BNS, 2023), while the minimum punishment under IPC for such an offense was life imprisonment,” he alleged.

Surjewala claimed that all provisions for sexual assault of minors already exist, as does a 20-year prison sentence for gang rape.

Shah introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023; The Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023 will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

Congressman Manish Tiwari also called for wider consultations on the bills.

“Some of these laws, especially the Code of Criminal Procedure, have state amendments – since law and order are state subjects. Each provision in each of these pieces of legislation has been extensively litigated over the past 150 to 100 years, and the interpretation of each provision has been settled.” “Through judicial rulings by the Privy Council, the Federal Court, the Supreme Court, various High Courts, and in some cases even by subordinate courts,” Tiwari said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He stressed that these bills have serious implications on the fundamental rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India, especially the Golden Triangle of Rights – Articles 14, 19 and 21.

Former Congress leader Kapil Sibal also alleged that the government is talking about ending colonial-era laws but wants to impose “dictatorship” through such legislation.

The Rajya Sabha MP and former law minister has called on the government to restore the three 1872 bills, claiming that if these bills become a reality, they will “jeopardize the future” of the country.

(with additional input from PTI)


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