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Replacement of Criminal laws : – Amit Shah’s Revolutionary Overhaul: India’s Monumental Transformation of Colonial-Era Laws

Revamp of criminal laws: Centre brings Bills to replace IPC, Evidence Act, CrPC

Replacement of Criminal laws

Revolutionary Overhaul: India’s Monumental Transformation of Colonial-Era Laws

A seismic shift is underway in India’s legal landscape, as Union Home Minister Amit Shah unveiled a trio of bills in the Lok Sabha, heralding a complete revamp of the archaic colonial criminal laws. This audacious move seeks to supplant the outdated statutes—the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973 (originally enacted in 1898), and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

The bills :-Replacement of Criminal laws

—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) 2023, set to replace the IPC; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) 2023, designed for CrPC; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill 2023, targeting the Indian Evidence Act—have been forwarded to a standing committee for consideration. Replacement of Criminal laws is being done to decrease the ongoing crimes and to the pass the punishment as the Indian Nature.

From introducing stringent provisions against mob lynching, carrying penalties ranging from seven years of imprisonment to life imprisonment and even the death penalty; to ushering in rapid justice through video trials and electronic filing of First Information Reports (FIRs); broadening the scope of sedition; encompassing corruption, terrorism, and organized crime under the purview of penal laws; incorporating novel forms of punishment like community service and solitary confinement; holding trials in the absence of the accused; and expanding the definition of offenses against women to include sexual intercourse through “deceitful means”—these new bills signify a profound transformation in criminal jurisprudence.

Replacement of Criminal laws
Replacement of Criminal laws

In Shah’s words, “I assure the House that these three laws will have an Indian spirit and ethos, and will bring a big change in our criminal justice system.”

  • In a poignant tribute to freedom fighter Khudiram Bose, Shah underlined that these changes would fulfill the promise of eradicating a “mentality of servitude,” one of the five pledges (“paanch pran”) Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized in his Independence Day address last year.
  • Shah articulated, “These three laws were passed by the British Parliament; their central theme was to strengthen and protect colonial rule. Their aim was to punish, not to provide justice. The new laws that will replace the colonial laws will place a citizen’s constitutionally guaranteed rights at the center and protect them. The aim will be to provide justice, not to punish.”
  • Key modifications encompass the elevation of crimes against women and children in the new penal code and the repeal of the IPC provision on sedition. However, the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita includes a provision penalizing actions that endanger the “sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.” While it refrains from explicitly labeling it as sedition, the definition is expanded to incorporate financial support for “subversive activities” and encouragement of “feelings of separatist activities.”
  • The bill addresses the sexual exploitation of women under the pretext of marriage, employment, promotions, or identity concealment as a criminal offense. Notably, gang rape carries the potential for either 20 years’ imprisonment, life imprisonment, or the death penalty in cases involving minors. replacement of Criminal laws is really necessary at the stage when India is considered as the inspiration of Democracy for the world.
  • Terrorism, for the first time, gains a legal definition. A terrorist is now defined as an individual who commits acts with the intention of threatening India’s unity, integrity, and security, causing intimidation among the public or a segment thereof, or disrupting public order. Furthermore, provisions are set in place to confiscate the property of terrorists.
  • Shah assures that the new laws will overhaul the criminal justice system, promising a resolution within a maximum of three years.
  • The underlying principle of the BNSS bill centers on “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, and Sabka Prayas”—translating to “Together, Development for All, Trust for All, and Effort for All.” The bill underscores the government’s commitment to ensure accessible and swift justice, aligning with the nation’s constitutional democratic aspirations.
  • The proposed legislation mandates the filing of a chargesheet within 90 days, with an additional 90-day extension under certain circumstances. Investigations should conclude within 180 days, followed by trial proceedings. The court’s judgment is expected within 30 days.
  • A transformative facet includes the provision for trials in absentia. Shah elucidated this point by referring to the case of Dawood Ibrahim, a fugitive from numerous cases. These absconders will be declared so by Session Courts following a defined procedure. Subsequently, trials will be conducted in their absence, leading to verdicts. Shah emphasized, “They may hide anywhere, but the sentence will be given. This will have a big impact.”
  • To curtail the political exploitation of clemency provisions, a groundbreaking change stipulates that death sentences can only be commuted to life imprisonment, and life imprisonment can be pardoned only within seven years of the sentence being imposed. 



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