Revision sans vision – Rushed Reforms: New Criminal Laws Raise Concerns Amidst Absent Opposition | 22 December 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • This article analyzes the controversy surrounding the recent passing of three new criminal law codes in India, highlighting the lack of proper legislative debate and potential shortcomings in the revised laws.


  • GS2: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these


  • The absence of a significant number of opposition members in the Indian Parliament has raised concerns about the law-making process. Recently, the Indian Parliament passed three key bills in the ongoing session without the presence of more than 140 opposition members. This situation has led to several questions and concerns.


  • Impact on Law-making:
    • Quality of Laws: The revised versions of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (which will replace the CrPC), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill (instead of the Evidence Act) were introduced after scrutiny by a Parliamentary Standing Committee. However, many concerns that the bills raised could not be addressed in Parliament.
    • Retention of Original Language: Despite claims that the colonial imprint of the IPC, CrPC, and the Evidence Act has been replaced by a purely Indian legal framework, the new codes do not envisage any path-breaking change in the way the country is policed, crimes are investigated, and protracted trials are conducted.
  • Improvements in the Bills:
    • Removal of Outdated Sections: The BNS includes the removal of the outdated sedition section, as exciting disaffection against the government or bringing it into hatred and contempt is no more an offense.
    • Mob Lynching as a Separate Offense: The BNS introduces mob lynching (including hate crimes such as causing death or grievous hurt on the ground of a person's race, caste, community, sex, language, or place of birth) as a separate offense.
    • Gender-neutral Offense on Adultery: The government ignored the panel's recommendation to bring back adultery, struck down by the Supreme Court, as a gender-neutral offense
  • Concerns and Failures:
    • Inclusion of Terrorism: It is questionable whether 'terrorism' should have been included in the general penal law when it is punishable under special legislation. Grave charges such as terrorism should not be lightly invoked
    • Police Custody beyond 15-day Limit: A significant failure lies in not clarifying whether the new criminal procedure allows police custody beyond the 15-day limit or if it is just a provision that allows the 15-day period to spread across any days within the first 40 or 60 days of a person's arrest.

Way Forward: Need for a Comprehensive Legal Framework

  • Revisions in law cannot be made without a vision for a legal framework that addresses all the inadequacies of the criminal justice system. The absence of opposition members in the Parliament has led to a lack of representation of the entire country, raising concerns about the quality of laws and the overall criminal justice system

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