LS passes three new criminal law bills; Shah says they are meant for justice, not punishment

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed three bills to replace the colonial-era criminal laws by voice vote.

The three redrafted bills — the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill — were introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister Amit Shah last week.

These bills will replace the Indian Penal Code-1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure Act-1898, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, respectively.

Replying to a debate on the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill in the Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the three proposed laws also have a clear definition of terrorism, scrap sedition as a crime and introduce a new section titled “offenses against the state”.

The Central government on Tuesday took up the three bills to replace the existing British-era criminal laws for consideration, in the absence of a majority of Opposition MPs in Lok Sabha.

Shah said that Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which will replace the Indian Penal Code, focuses on justice rather than punishment.

He said that the three proposed criminal laws would free people from the colonial mindset and its symbols.

Replying to a protest on the criminal law bills, he said, “If someone opposes govt, he shouldn’t be punished as it’s his freedom of speech.”

However, he said, “If anyone works against the country, he or she must not be spared and must be given the strictest punishment,” emphasizing that criminal law bills will ensure victim-centric justice.

“Act of terrorism is the worst human rights violation, anyone involved in terror must be given harsh punishment,” he added.

“For the first time, the criminal justice system will have the human touch. Till we repeal these old laws, we are still following laws made by the UK government. We still use English words like Her Majesty, British Kingdom, the crown, barrister, ruler after 75 years of independence,” Shah said.

The home minister said the colonial-era laws prioritized acts of “looting the treasury”, “uprooting rail tracks” and “insult to the Crown” over crimes against women and children, human rights, border security, and the army.

The old laws had listed rape under Section 375-376, the new bill has the crime listed under Section 63, murder was listed under Section 302 now it is Section 101, kidnapping was under Section 359 and now it is Section 136, Shah said.

Listing the features of the bills, he said, “This bill punishes mob lynching with the death penalty. (Congress leader P) Chidambaram kept asking me what about mob lynching. He does not understand the BJP and our mentality. Why did you not penalize mob lynching during your rule? If one’s mind is Indian, you will understand the laws. If it is Italian, you won’t.”

The three bills reflect the spirit of the Constitution, but those with an Italian mindset will never understand it,” he said in an apparent dig at the opposition Congress.

Shah asserted that the three laws were based on justice, transparency, and fairness.

“This is the first government which has fulfilled the promises it has mentioned in its manifesto. We have revoked Article 370, removed AFSPA in 70 percent areas in the northeastern states, banned triple talaq, and gave 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament,” he said.

Additionally, addressing the construction of Ram temple, he said, “We said Ram temple will be built and as promised statue of Lord Ram will be consecrated on Jan 22.