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Government to repeal Colonial era laws

  • Published
    12th Aug, 2023
Context

Government of India (GoI) has moved three bills in the lower house of Parliament aimed at overhauling some colonial-era criminal laws, ranging from the controversial sedition law to strengthening laws that protect women and minors.

About the proposed Bills:

  • The bills are going to repeal and replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, which were implemented by the British before the country’s independence in 1947 as under;
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023- now will have 356 sections instead of the earlier 511 sections, 175 sections have been amended, 8 new sections have been added and 22 sections have been repealed.
  • The Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 and- with 533 sections, 160 sections have been changed, & 9 new sections have been added and 9 sections have been repealed.
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, will now have 170 sections instead of the earlier 167, 23 sections have been changed, 1 new section has been added and 5 repealed.
  • The bill seeks to replace the colonial-era sedition law which was mainly used against Indian political leaders seeking independence from British rule.
  • Also, the state-of-the-art technologies have been incorporated in these laws.
  • The objective of these laws will not be to punish anyone but give justice and in this process punishment will be given where it is required to create a sense of prevention of crime.

Need for such a legislation:

  • From 1860 to 2023, the criminal justice system of India continued to be operated on the basis of the laws made by the British Parliament, but now these three laws will be replaced with new laws imbibing the Indian soul, which will bring a big change in our criminal justice system.

Significance:

  • The definition of documents has been expanded to include electronic or digital records, e-mails, server logs, computers, smart phones, laptops, SMS, websites, locational evidence, mails and messages available on devices, which can be used in courts, which will give reduce the burden of officials.
  • These laws will digitize the entire process from FIR to case diary, case diary to charge sheet and from charge sheet to judgement.

Criminal Justice System in India:

  • Criminal Justice System refers to the agencies of government charged with enforcing law, adjudicating crime, and correcting criminal conduct.
  • Objective:
    • To prevent the occurrence of crime.
    • To punish the transgressors and the criminals.
    • To rehabilitate the transgressors and the criminals.
    • To compensate the victims as far as possible.
    • To maintain law and order in society.
    • To deter offenders from committing any criminal act in the future.

Why there is a need for Reforms?                                                             

  • Colonial Legacy: The criminal justice system- both substantive and procedural- are replica of the Bristish colonial jurisprudence, which were designed with the purpose of ruling the nation.
  • Therefore, the relevance of these 19th century laws is debatable in the 21st century.
  • Ineffective Justice Delivery: The purpose of the criminal justice system was to protect the rights of the innocents and punish the guilty, but nowadays the system has become a tool of harassment of common people.
  • Pendency of Cases: According to Economic Survey 2018-19, there are about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system, especially in district and subordinate courts, which leads to actualization of the maxim Justice delayed is justice denied.”
  • Huge Undertrials: India has one of the world’s largest numbers of under-trial prisoners.
  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)-Prison Statistics India, 67.2% of our total prison population comprises of under trial prisoners.
  • Police Issue: Police are being a front line of the criminal judiciary system, which played a vital role in the administration of justice. Corruption, huge workload and accountability of police is a major hurdle in speedy and transparent delivery of justice.

Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2020: The Draft Rules recommends reforms in investigation and trial, including proposals to employ separate teams of lawyers to help the police during the probe and for the trial; details to be covered while drafting spot panchnamas and even corrections in body sketches.

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