New Delhi: In a landmark move, Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday introduced three bills in Lok Sabha to replace colonial-era laws, asserting that the proposed laws will transform the country’s criminal justice system and bring the spirit to protect the rights of the Indian citizen at the centre stage.
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 and said the changes were done to provide speedy justice and creating a legal system that keeps 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.
“I can assure the House that these bills will transform our criminal justice system. The aim will not be to punish, it will be to provide justice. Punishment will be given to create a sentiment of stopping crime,” Shah said while noting that the laws made by Britishers were full of signs of slavery aimed at punishing those opposed to their rule.
The Home Minister also urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to refer the three Bills for examination by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
The minister said the focus of the laws that will be repealed was to protect and strengthen the British administration, the idea was to punish and not to deliver justice.
“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 the 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.