Three bills to replace British-era criminal laws, Telecommunication bill get Prez nod

Indian pres murmu
President Droupadi Murmu addresses the nation on the eve of the 77th Independence Day. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu on Monday gave assent to the three new criminal justice and the Telecommunications bills that were cleared by Parliament last week.
The three new laws -- the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Act -- will replace the colonial era Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

'The Telecommunications Act, 2023 is set to overhaul the country's century-old telecom law to make the sector investor-friendly; it prioritises user protection but also extends powers to the government to intercept communications. With her asset, these bills will now be enacted as laws.

While replying to a debate on the three criminal bills in parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the focus was on delivering justice rather than handing down punishment. The three legislation aim at completely overhauling the criminal justice system in the country by giving definition of various offences and their punishments. These have given a clear definition of terrorism, abolished sedition as a crime and introduced a new section titled "offences against the state".

The bills were first introduced during the Monsoon session of Parliament in August. After the Standing Committee on Home Affairs made several recommendations, the government decided to withdraw the bills and introduced their redrafted versions last week.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita lists offences such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity in the new avatar of the sedition law.

According to the laws, anyone purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers 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 which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

Also for the first time, the word terrorism has been defined in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. It was absent in the IPC.

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