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SC to hear plea against new criminal laws on May 20

supreme court

NEW DELHI, MAY 19: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on May 20 a petition challenging the enactment of 3 new laws that seek to overhaul India’s penal codes claiming that they suffer from many “defects and discrepancies”.
A Vacation Bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal is likely to hear the matter.
The Lok Sabha, on December 21 last year, passed 3 key legislations ~ the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill. President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent to the bills on December 25.
These new laws ~ the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Act ~ will replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act respectively.
It is to be noted that the Union Government claimed that these 3 new criminal laws aim to provide better and clear definitions of the offences and punishments related to crimes and also better dispensation of justice to litigants.
Seeking a stay on the operation of the 3 new laws, the PIL filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari has said they were enacted without any parliamentary debate as most of the opposition members were under suspension.
Tiwari, in his PIL (Public Interest Litigation), a copy accessed by TNIE, sought directions from the SC to the Government of India to immediately constitute an expert committee under the chairmanship of a former Judge of the Supreme Court and its members comprising of Judges, Senior Advocates to examine the 3 new criminal laws.
Tiwari also sought a direction from the SC that the expert committee should be directed to examine, assess, identify the viability of the 3 new criminal laws being BNS 2023, BNSS and BSA 2023.
“The Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita Bill, 2023 has not adequately shed the colonial vestiges. There is no substantial attempt to regulate and curtail police authority or to mitigate the overarching control the State exercises over its citizens. All things considered, the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita Bill, 2023 falls far short of the proclaimed decolonisation, as it continues to give power to police and suppress the rights of the Citizens and make a Police State just like the Colonial Period”, Tiwari said in his petition.
Three criminal laws to be effective from July 1
“The new criminal laws are far more draconian and establish a police state in reality and violate every provision of fundamental rights of the people of India. If the British laws were considered colonial and draconian, then the Indian laws stand now far more draconian as, in the British period, you could keep a person in police custody for a maximum of 15 days. Extending 15 days to 90 days and more is a shocking provision enabling police torture”, the plea has said.
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita encompasses offences, such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity of the country, in a new avatar of the sedition law.
According to the new laws, anyone purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, by visible representation, by electronic communication, by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite secession or an armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers the sovereignty or unity and integrity of India or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment that may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
According to IPC Section 124A, which deals with sedition, anyone involved in the crime may be punished with life imprisonment or with a 3-year jail term. Under the new laws, “Rajdroh” has got a new term, “Deshdroh”, doing away with the reference to the British crown. Loosely explained, “Rajdroh” refers to a rebellion or an act against the ruler, while “Deshdroh” represents such acts against the nation.
Also, for the first time, the word “terrorism” has been defined in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. It was absent in the IPC. Under the new laws, the Magistrate’s power to impose fines has been increased as well as the scope for declaring a proclaimed offender.