End of sedition; death penalty for rape of minor, mob lynching: How Centre aims to overhaul colonial-era criminal laws | India News

NEW DELHI: In a landmark step aimed at erasing colonial-era practices, Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday introduced three new bills in Lok Sabha to revamp India’s criminal justice system.

The proposed laws have been introduced to bring the spirit of protecting the rights of Indian citizens at the centre stage.
Shah said the new laws, once passed, will bring an overhaul of the criminal justice system and everyone will get justice in a maximum of three years.

What are the proposed laws?
The three proposed laws are Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023. They will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Criminal Procedure Act, 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 respectively.
End of sedition
* The BNS Bill will repeal the sedition provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. “This is democracy, everyone has the right to speak,” said Shah while introducing the bill. According to the existing law on sedition, anyone involves in the crime is punished with life imprisonment.
Stricter punishment
* The bill seeks to award maximum capital punishment for crimes such as mob lynching and rape of minors.
* Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
* Whoever commits rape shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of not less than 10 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
* For gang rape, there is a provision for punishment of 20 years imprisonment or life in jail.
* Sexual exploitation of women on the pretext of marriage, job, promotions or by hiding identity will be considered a crime.

* Provision has also been made stricter for punishment in case of organized crime and international gangs.
* Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
* Crime against children will entail a 10-year jail term as punishment. Penalties have also been increased.
Life sentence for anti-national acts
* 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 mean, 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.
Prevention of misuse
* The laws will prevent any government from withdrawing a case entailing punishment of seven years imprisonment or more without hearing the victim. This will protect citizen’s rights.
* To stop the political use of punishment waivers by governments, a new provision has been made in the laws that death sentences can only be converted to life imprisonment, and life imprisonment can be pardoned only within seven years of punishment.
Other highlights
* The new laws have provisions to provide community service as one of the punishments for first-time petty offences.
* New offences such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity and integrity of India have also been listed.
* The laws define a terrorist as one who commits any act in India or in any foreign country with the intention to threaten the unity, integrity and security of India, to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof, or to disturb public order. There is also a provision for attaching the property of the terrorist.
* The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023, which replace Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, places greater emphasis on rehabilitation for offenders. This will help reduce recidivism rates and reintegrate offenders into society.
* The new code will establish special courts to ensure speedy justice in criminal cases.
* The Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, which intends to replace the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, will have increased focus on scientific evidence, increased protection for the rights of witnesses and accused.
Preventing delays and logjams
* Under the new laws, the chargesheet will have to be filed within 90 days, and the court can give permission for another 90 days looking at the situation.
* Probe would have to be finished in 180 days and sent for trial.
* Police will have to provide a status update on a case within 90 days.
* After trial, the judgment will have to be given in 30 days. It will have to be uploaded online within a week.
* For cases entailing less than three years of imprisonment, a summary trial will be enough. This will reduce cases in session courts by 40 per cent.
* For filing complaints against civil servants, authorities concerned will have to give or deny permission within 120 days. If a response is not received, it will be deemed to be a yes.
The aims of the proposed laws
* Provide justice and not to punish. Punishment will be given to create a sentiment of stopping a crime.
* The whole procedure, right from filing an FIR to case diary, chargesheet and getting judgment to be digitized.
* Forensic sciences will be in focus. A visit by a forensic team to a crime scene will be mandatory if the crime entails a punishment of seven years or more. Three mobile forensic science laboratories will be present in every district.
* The aim is to take the conviction rate up to 90 per cent.
* All courts in the country will be computerised by 2027.
(With inputs from agencies)
Watch New bill on IPC will repeal offence of sedition: Amit Shah introduces 3 bills to replace IPC, CrPC, Indian Evidence Act in Lok Sabha

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