President Gives Assent To Bills Replacing IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act
President Droupadi Murmu on Monday gave her assent to three new criminal justice Bills enacting them into laws that replace the colonial laws namely the IPC, the CrPC and the Evidence Act.
The three new criminal laws will be called Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023, Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023.
The move comes days after the Parliament passed the three criminal bills — the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita Bill, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita Bill and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill.
Giving prominence to crimes against women and children, murder and crimes against the nation; these three Bills were passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in the recently concluded Winter Session of Parliament.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been replaced with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the CrPC with Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Indian Evidence Act has been replaced with the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam.
Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita will have 358 sections (instead of 511 sections of IPC). A total of 20 new crimes have been added to the Bill, and imprisonment sentences have been increased for 33 crimes. The amount of 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 The penalty of community service has been introduced in six crimes and 19 sections have been repealed or removed in the Bill.
Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita will have 531 sections (in place of 484 sections of CrPC). A total of 177 provisions have been changed in the Bill and nine new sections as well as 39 new sub-sections have been added to it. The draft act has added 44 new provisions and clarifications. Timelines have been added to 35 sections and audio-video provision has been added at 35 places. A total of 14 sections have been repealed and removed in the Bill.
Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will have 170 provisions (instead of the original 167 provisions, and a total of 24 provisions have been changed. Two new provisions and six sub-provisions have been added and six provisions have been repealed or deleted in the Bill.
Piloting the three Bills in the Rajya Sabha Union Home Minister Amit Shah on December 21 had said that it was the “beginning of a new era” as “the purpose of these bills is to give justice not the punishment.”
“For the first time in history”, Shah had said that the three bills would free people from a colonial mindset as the British government considered protections against treason and treasury more important than murder or atrocities against women.
The Minister had said that complete implementation of new criminal laws will ensure an end to ‘tareekh pe tareekh’ era and justice will be given in three years.”
Shah had also said the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita has introduced a new chapter titled ‘Crimes against women and children’ to deal with sexual crimes, and that the bill is proposing changes in the provisions related to the rape of women below 18 years of age.
Provision related to gang rape of a minor woman to become consistent with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), and a provision has been made for life imprisonment or the death penalty in the case of girls below 18 years of age, said the Minister on Thursday.
There is provision of 20 years imprisonment or life imprisonment in all cases of gang rape and new crime category of gang rape of a woman under 18 years of age, he said, adding “the Bill provides for targeted penalties for persons fraudulently engaging in sexual intercourse or promising to marry without true intention to marry.”
As per the Minister, terrorism has been defined for the first time in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, and it has been made a punishable offence.
In Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Sectiin 113. (1), it is clearly mentioned that “whoever, with intent to endanger or is likely to endanger the unity, integrity, sovereignty, security or economic security or sovereignty of India or to cause or spread terror among the public or any section of the public in India or in any foreign country, commits any act using bombs, dynamite, explosive substances, poisonous gases, nuclear with intent to cause death to any person or persons, damage to property, or manufacture or smuggling of currency or so, he commits terrorist acts”.
In the Bill, terrorist acts are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. A range of terrorist offences have also been introduced in the Bill and it is pointed out that destroying public facilities or private property is a crime. Acts that cause ‘widespread loss by reason of damage or destruction of critical infrastructure’ are also covered under this section.
A new criminal section related to organized crime has been added to the Bill, and organized crime has been defined for the first time in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 111. (1). Illegal activity done by syndicate has been made punishable.
The new provisions include armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or any act threatening the sovereignty or unity and integrity of India. Small organized crimes have also been criminalized, punishable with imprisonment of up to seven years.
In organized crime, if a person is killed, the Bills says, the accused can be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. A fine will also be imposed, which will not be less than Rs 10 lakh. Provision for punishment has also been made for those who help in organized crime.
On mob lynching, Shah had said a new provision on crime related to murder committed on the basis of race, caste and community has been included, for which a provision of life imprisonment or death penalty has been made.
A new provision related to snatching also. There will now be more severe penalties for serious injuries that result in near-disability or permanent disability.
The practice of filing zero FIR has been institutionalized. The First Information Report (FIR) can be lodged anywhere, irrespective of the area in which the crime took place.
Victim’s right to information has been ensured in these laws. Victim has the right to get a copy of the FIR free of cost. There is also a provision to inform the victim about the progress of the investigation within 90 days.
The timeline has been added in 35 sections of Bharatiya Nagrik Sukraksha Sanhita, which will make the speedy delivery of justice possible. The Bill prescribes a time limit for initiation of criminal proceedings, arrest, investigation, charge sheet, proceedings before magistrate, cognizance, charges, plea bargaining, appointment of Assistant Public Prosecutor, trial, bail, judgment and punishment, and mercy petition.
This process of reform in the three laws of the criminal justice system was started in 2019 and 3,200 suggestions in this regard were received from various stakeholders. Union Home Minister Amit Shah held more than 150 meetings and these suggestions were thoroughly discussed in the Home Ministry. (ANI)
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