Criminal law overhaul: Sedition to be scrapped; death for mob lynching, rape of minors

Union Home Minister Amit Shah. File photo: PTI

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday introduced three bills in the Lok Sabha to replace the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act.  

Shah 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.  

He said the proposed laws would transform the country's criminal justice system and create a legal system that keeps the contemporary needs and aspirations of the people.

The BNS Bill has provisions that seek to repeal sedition, and award maximum capital punishment for crimes such as mob lynching and rape of minors, the Home Minister said. The Bill also has provisions to provide first-time community service as one of the punishments for petty offences.

The Bill also lists new offences such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity and integrity of India.

"The laws made by Britishers were full of signs of slavery aimed at punishing those opposed to their rule," he said.

"By replacing them, the new three laws will bring the spirit to protect the rights of the Indian citizen at the centre stage," he said.

The offences against women and children, murder and offences against the State have been given precedence, Shah said, adding that various offences have been made gender-neutral.

"The experience of seven decades of Indian democracy calls for a comprehensive review of our criminal laws, including the Code of Criminal Procedure and adopting them in accordance with the contemporary needs and aspirations of the people," said the statement of object for the BNSS Bill.

It said the government's mantra was "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas" and it was committed to ensuring speedy justice to all citizens in conformity with these constitutional democratic aspirations.

"The government is committed to making a comprehensive review of the framework of criminal laws to provide accessible and speedy justice to all..." it added.

(With PTI inputs)

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