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In Custody, Civil Liberties

  • Published
    14th Dec, 2023

Context:

Instead of decolonising criminal law, the three new Criminal laws related Bills should entrench colonial logic — where the state’s paramount interest is to control the people to the maximum extent.

Expansion of Police Powers and Overcriminalization

  • Overextended Police Custody: BNSS proposes a drastic increase in police custody duration from 15 to 60 or 90 days, posing risks of abuse and coercion.
  • Widespread Overcriminalization: BNS introduces broadly defined offenses, particularly related to national security, contributing to overcriminalization and state control.
  • Lack of Transformative Vision: The bills lack a transformative vision for criminal law and justice, instead indicating an expansion of state control.

Ambiguous Offenses and Lack of Clarity           

  • Vague Offenses Persist: BNS II maintains ambiguous offenses like misinformation and "Acts endangering sovereignty," perpetuating concerns about unclear legal boundaries.
  • Surrogate for Sedition: While removing "sedition," BNS II introduces a surrogate offense, lacking clarity and potentially widening the net for prosecution.
  • Terrorism Definition Ambiguity: Ambiguity persists regarding the applicability of BNS to terror offenses, with an unclear decision-making process between BNS and UAPA.

Structural Barriers

  • Missed Correctional Opportunities: Proposed bills miss the chance to address fundamental injustices in the criminal justice system, entrenching colonial-era state control.
  • Inadequate Structural Reforms: Despite emphasis on timelines and technology, the bills overlook fundamental structural barriers, such as high judicial vacancies and forensic science issues.
  • Efficiency vs. Context: The bills, emphasizing efficiency, fail to consider the context of implementation, especially regarding technology, forensic methods, and infrastructural challenges.
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