In a landmark decision, Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced three new bills in the Lok Sabha on August 11, replacing the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act. He said that the new bills are aimed at reforming India’s criminal justice system.
The Union Minister introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023 that will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Criminal Procedure Act, 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 respectively. The Union Minister said that the new bill to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will repeal the offence of sedition which is criminalised under Section 124A of the IPC. However, the new bill contains Section 150 which punishes “acts endangering sovereignty unity and integrity of India”.
While introducing these bills, Union Minister commented that the outdated laws, originating from the 19th century, symbolized subjugation, harkening back to the era of British colonial rule in India. He says, “From 1860 to 2023, the country’s criminal justice system functioned as per the laws made by the British. The three laws will be replaced and there will be a major change in the criminal justice system in the country…”
The Minister stated that IPC, which was framed by the British has been the core of the criminal justice system for more than 160 years and now the alterations were implemented to ensure swift dispensation of justice. He further said that the new bill will establish a legal framework aligned with the current requirements and aspirations of the people.
Union Minister Shah highlighted that the Bill includes a provision for the “complete repeal” of the contentious sedition law. The objective of the Bill is to substitute the IPC while incorporating the following provisions:
– Capital punishment in mob lynching cases, depending on the gravity of the crime
– One year imprisonment for bribing voters during elections
– 20 years jail to life imprisonment for gang rape
– Death penalty for rape of a minor.
Union Minister Amit Shah while introducing the Bharatiya Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 said, “Under this Bill, we have set the goal that the conviction ratio has to be taken above 90%. That is why, we have brought an important provision that the Sections which provide for seven years or a greater jail term, under all those cases forensic team’s visit to the crime scene will be made compulsory…”
Furthermore, the Minister announced that court processes will undergo digitization, and hearings will be conducted via video conferencing. He said that by 2027, all courts across the nation will be automated. He also emphasized the compulsory use of video recording for the statements of victims in cases of sexual violence and sexual harassment.