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Govt introduces legislation to revamp criminal laws, death penalty for mob lynching

New Delhi

Other than making a separate provision for the offence of acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering sovereignty or unity and integrity of India, the Government has introduced community service for minor offences.

The government today announced a complete overhaul of colonial-era criminal laws to include maximum punishment for crimes like mob lynching and rape of minors and a new offence of “endangering unity” instead of sedition. The new bill prioritises laws for crimes against women and children. The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee of Home Affairs for the review.

As per the Bill the Indian Penal Code of 1860 will be replaced by the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, Union Home Minister Amit Shah informed the Parliament, introducing three bills. The Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will replace the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Bhartiya Sakshya will replace Indian Evidence Act.

A new offence on acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering sovereignty or unity and integrity of India has been added in the revised laws. The sedition law has been repealed. It has been replaced by Section 150 for acts endangering sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.

“Whoever, 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,” says Section 150.

The explanation states this: “Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures, or administrative or other action of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means without exciting or attempting to excite the activities referred to in this section.”

The proposed law also says those evading arrest can be tried in their absence. The police must furnish an update on FIRs or First Information Reports within 90 days and an E-FIR can be lodged from anywhere. The search and challan (prosecution) process will be video graphed.

A provision for one-year jail for bribing voters during elections has also been made. Also, offences have been made gender neutral. In order to deal effectively with the problem of organised crimes and terrorist activities, new offences of terrorist acts and organised crime have been added with deterrent punishments.

In a related development the fines and punishment for various offences have also been enhanced. Now for gang-rape, the punishment can be 20 years in jail to a life term. The death sentence has been retained in the new bills.

The aim will not be to punish, it will be to provide justice. Punishment will be given to create a sentiment of stopping crime,” Union Home Minister said.

 

“The laws that will be repealed. The focus of those laws was to protect and strengthen the British administration, the idea was to punish and not to give justice. By replacing them, the new three laws will bring the spirit to protect the rights of the Indian citizen,” Amit Shah said in Lok Sabha.

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