New Delhi: The government has introduced bills to comprehensively reform colonial-era Indian criminal laws. The 1860 Indian Penal Code will be substituted with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Code of Criminal Procedure will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Indian Evidence Act will be replaced by the Bharatiya Sakshya. All three bills are undergoing review by a Standing Committee.
The revised laws introduce a new offense related to acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities, or endangering the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
The sedition law has been removed, and the term “sedition” is not present in the proposed law. It has been replaced by Section 150, addressing acts that endanger sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
The proposed law states, “Anyone purposefully or knowingly, through spoken or written words, signs, visible representation, electronic communication, financial means, or other methods, incites or attempts to incite secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India shall be punished with life imprisonment or imprisonment of up to seven years, along with a fine.”
The explanation clarifies that expressing disapproval of government measures without inciting the activities mentioned is not covered under this section.
Additionally, the government plans to introduce a provision for capital punishment in cases of mob lynching. Other proposed penalties include 20 years to life imprisonment for gang rape and the death penalty for the rape of a minor.
The new bill places emphasis on laws concerning crimes against women and children, murders, and offenses against the state.
Notably, community service will be introduced as a punishment for petty offenses, and offenses will be made gender-neutral. The bills address organized crimes and terrorist activities by introducing new offenses with deterrent punishments.
The fines and penalties for various offenses have been enhanced, reflecting a comprehensive overhaul of British-era laws, as stated by Amit Shah in parliament.
The new laws aim to protect the rights of Indian citizens and prioritize justice rather than mere punishment, fostering a sentiment to deter crime.
The inclusion of the death penalty has been retained in the new bills.