The Indian criminal laws which were formulated during the colonial era under British rule, primarily aimed not at ensuring justice for the people of India but rather at safeguarding the interests of the British rulers. These laws are now set to undergo a significant transformation through three new bills.
On August 11, 2023, India’s Home Minister, Amit Shah, presented three bills in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) that will completely overhaul the outdated colonial-era criminal laws.
The bills to change the colonial-era Indian criminal laws have been brought.
- The CrPC, 1973 – Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023.
- The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 – Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023.
While presenting these 3 bills, Amit Shah stated that the old criminal laws were formulated with the intention of strengthening and protecting British rule.
Shah further states that the upcoming 3 laws will embody the spirit of safeguarding all the rights enshrined in the Constitution for the people of India.
So, let’s take a look at the 10 most important provisions present in these new Bills.
1. Doing wrong with a minor.
“Committing a crime with children is considered the most heinous, and acknowledging this fact, the new criminal laws allow for the imposition of the death penalty for those who rape girls under the age of 18. Such a severe punishment was not provided for before.”
2. Identifying themselves wrongly and forming relationships.
Many times, it used to happen that males from one community would falsely present their identity to females from another community in order to ensnare that girl in their love.
But now, this cannot happen. In these new Indian criminal laws, this thing will be treated as a criminal activity.
3. Rape and Gang rape.
The punishment for committing rape has been increased from 7 to 10 years.
In all cases of gang rape, there is now a provision for a 20-year sentence or life imprisonment. Such a stringent punishment was not present in the older Indian criminal laws.
4. Mob lynching.
Mob lynching is a significant issue in the country, where a group of people injures or kills an individual. To prevent this, strict punishments have been introduced.
Now, for committing mob lynching, penalties such as 7 years of imprisonment, life imprisonment, or even the death penalty have been included.
5. Snatching laws.
During the colonial era, there were no specific Indian criminal laws related to snatching because it did not fall under the category of theft.
However, this has been changed now. According to the new criminal laws, provisions related to snatching have also been included.
6. Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
Under the old Indian criminal laws, under ‘IPC 324’, the perpetrator of a crime resulting in the victim being seriously injured or slightly hurt could receive a sentence of up to 7 years.
Now, this has been changed. If the victim is permanently incapacitated or becomes brain dead as a result of the crime, the punishment has been increased to 10 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment.
7. Someone who commits a crime by children.
Criminals often used children to engage in various types of criminal activities, such as smuggling and theft.
According to the old laws, such criminals were subject to a sentence of 7 years, which has now been increased to 10 years.
8. The political use of punishment forgiveness.
You must have heard many times or seen in movies that political leaders used to pardon the sentences of their loyal people.
However, now such a thing might not be possible to that extent, and only a reduced form of pardon could be granted. For example:
- The death penalty could be changed to life imprisonment.
- Life imprisonment could be reduced to 7 years.
- And a 7-year sentence could be shortened to 3 years.
9. Sedition laws repealed.
In the new Indian criminal laws bill, one of the most talked-about laws is the Sedition law.
While introducing these three bills, Amit Shah stated that the sedition law is being completely removed. Shah further mentioned that India is a democracy where everyone has the right to express their opinions.
Regarding sedition, Amit Shah went on to explain that Armed rebellion, Separatism, Subversive activities, and challenging “India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity” have now been specified and incorporated into the provisions of the new Indian criminal laws.
In the old criminal laws, such matters were not explained in such detail.
10. Trial in absentia.
A new provision has been added wherein a fugitive proclaimed offender’s case can be tried and a verdict can be delivered even in their absence from the court.
if the accused wants to appeal against their received punishment, they will have to come within the ambit of the Indian judicial system.
One of the most important things.
In these new criminal laws, one of the very good things is that it will be easier and faster for the common people of the country to receive justice.
Under these new laws, the courts and the police have been made responsible towards the common citizens, so that there will no longer be a need for people to wait for years for justice as before.
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In any well-mannered human society, there is no crime worse than the murder of an individual or crimes against women and children. However, in the old Indian criminal laws, the punishment for such serious crimes was mentioned much later, even exceeding 300 sections. This clearly indicates that the criminal laws formulated by the British colonial rulers were not concerned with delivering justice to the Indian people.
In the old criminal laws, acts such as sedition (going against British rule), looting the treasury, and attacking government officials were given more importance.
In the new Indian criminal laws, greater attention will be given to provisions that ensure justice for the Indian people. The new criminal laws emphasize on stricter punishments and increased penalty fees for various crimes, which will aid in reducing crime rates.
Efforts for creating these new Indian criminal laws bill had been underway since 2019. Home Minister Amit Shah take suggestions for this new Indian criminal laws bill from Chief Justices of High Courts and the Supreme Court, all law universities in the country, all members of Parliament, Chief Ministers, Governors, and administrators of Union Territories. After numerous discussions and 158 meetings, these three new criminal law bills have been introduced.