3 criminal Bills, Telecommunications Bills passed in LS

Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Lok Sabha (LS) on Tuesday passed three amended criminal bills — Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) (BSB) 2023.

The Lok Sabha also passed the Telecommunications Bill, 2023, with voice vote.

The three Bills were passed after Home Minister Amit Shah spoke in the House and majority of MPs present in the Lower House voted in favour of the bills by voice vote.

The proceedings took place in the absence of 97 Opposition MPs, who have been suspended over “misconduct” and “unruly” behaviour since last week.

Referring to IPC, CrPc, Indian Evidence Act, Shah said: “New criminal law bills will free people from colonial mindset. The three laws were made during the time of British. Till the laws are not repealed, the UK laws will continue in the country. Her Majesty, London Gazette, British Crown and barrister terms continue to be used in India because of the laws.”

Shah said that the bills were framed after consultations. He said he had even gone through every comma and full stop before they were tabled in the Lok Sabha.

He said that the three bills will establish a justice system based on Indian thinking. He said the existing laws reflect the colonial mindset of punishing for a crime but not doing justice.

Shah also highlighted the changes brought in the new Bills and said a provision for trial in absentia has been introduced to the criminal justice system.

“A provision for Trial in Absentia has been introduced. Many cases shook us, be it the Mumbai bomb blast or any other. Those people are hiding in other countries and trials are not underway.

“They don’t need to come here now. If they don’t appear before the court within 90 days then in their absence trial will go on. A public prosecutor will be appointed for their prosecution. They will be hanged. It will make the process to bring them back since it changes their status in the other country when they get prosecuted,” he said.

He further said after the bill becomes law, the case would have to be brought to trial in 120 days.

“Now the accused will get seven days to file a plea for acquittal. The judge has to hold the hearing in those seven days and in a maximum time of 120 days, the case would come to trial. There was no time limit for plea bargaining earlier. Now if one accepts their crime within 30 days of the crime then the punishment will be less,” he said.

He also said that there was no provision to present documents during trials. “We have made it compulsory to produce all documents within 30 days. No delays will be made in that,” he said.

He also underlined that for poor, the biggest challenge to get justice is the financial challenge.

“For years ‘tareekh pe tareekh’ keep going. Police hold the judicial system responsible. The government holds the police and judiciary responsible. The police and judiciary hold the government responsible for the delay. Now, we have made many things clear in the new laws,” he said.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita will replace the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will replace the CrPC of 1973 and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill will replace the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

The new laws also explain “organised crime” for the first time”. “There was no special law for this. We have included cyber crimes, economic crimes, land grabbing, arms trade, dacoity, human trafficking,” Shah said.

Shah said the new laws are “gender-neutral”, “victim-centric” and “justice-centric”, rather than “punishment-centric”.

He also said that under the new criminal laws, the government has included a provision of death penalty for those committing the crime of mob lynching.

Shah questioned the previous Congress government, “You have also ruled this country for 58 years, so why didn’t you include mob-lynching in the laws? You used the word mob-lynching to abuse us (BJP), but then you forgot about it once you came into power.”

Shah hit out at the Congress and responded to a question once asked by former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram. “Once I was listening to Chidambaram’s speech. He had said it’s a test for the Home Minister that if he will bring a new law, then what will he do with (the issue) of mob lynching?”

Responding to this, Amit Shah said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that Chidambaram has neither understood the BJP nor its principles. “Our party has only one ideology and that is the development of the nation,” Amit Shah said.

Slamming Congress, Shah said, “The citizens know about your behaviour and that’s why you are sitting in the Opposition, and now even outside Parliament.”

He also said the Congress has “double standards” and that’s why it is facing so many problems.

He also took a veiled dig at the Congress and Sonia Gandhi. Shah emphasised on Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita being close to Indian context and said, “The three bills reflect the spirit of the Constitution…but those with an Italian mindset will never understand it.”

“It is a matter of pride and seriousness that I am here with three Bills. Instead of Indian Penal Code, which was intended to punish, not deliver justice, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita will come into effect. Instead of CrPC 988, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will come into effect,” Shah said.

Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha passed the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill, 2023 Wednesday. The Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill, 2023 was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

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