Shah Tables New Drafts on Criminal Bills

The Asian Age With Agency Inputs

India, All India

The discussion on the bills will take place on Thursday and voting will take place on Friday

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. (PTI Photo)

NEW DELHI: Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday withdrew the three bills to replace criminal laws and introduced a fresh set of draft legislation incorporating the recommendations of a parliamentary panel in the Lok Sabha. The discussion on the bills will take place on Thursday and voting will take place on Friday.

Introducing the three redrafted bills, Mr Shah said that instead of bringing several official amendments to incorporate recommendations of the parliamentary committee on home affairs, the government decided to bring fresh bills incorporating changes.

“The discussion on the bills will take place on Thursday and voting will take place on Friday,” the Union home minister told the Opposition members, who demanded sufficient time to study the three bills.

Mr Shah said that he introduced the bills on Tuesday so that the members could get 48 hours to study the draft laws. “Mainly five sections have been tweaked and most of the changes relate to grammar and language," he said. 

The Union home minister, in three identically signed statements submitted to Parliament on Monday, said the decision to withdraw the three bills and introduce them afresh was taken after the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs made recommendations suggesting changes in the three bills following a series of discussions with domain experts and various stakeholders.

In the statement for withdrawal, Mr Shah said that to make comprehensive
amendments to the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita
Bill 2023 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 11 to repeal and replace the IPC.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam Bill seek to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure Act 1898, the Indian Penal Code 1860, and the Indian Evidence Act 1872, respectively, on August 11 this year and these bills were sent to the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs for wider scrutiny.

The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, headed by BJP member Brijlal, also made a host of recommendations on provisions related to rape, gang rape, murder and unnatural sex, among others.

In the reintroduced bills, at least five changes have been made, including in the definition of terrorism. In the Bharatiya Nyaya (second) Sanhita Bill, the definition of terrorism now includes the word "economic security", among other changes.

"Whoever does any act with the intent to threaten or likely to threaten
the unity, integrity, sovereignty, security, or economic security of India or with the intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country...," it says.

The bill has brought changes in Section 73, making it punishable to publish the proceedings of a court which may reveal the identity of victims of rape or that of similar offences without the court's permission.

Section 73 now states, "Whoever prints or publishes any matter in relation to any proceeding before a court with respect to an offence referred to in Section 72 without the previous permission of such court shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine."

These bills were referred to the department-related parliamentary standing committee on home affairs on August 18 for consideration.

Mr Shah said that the committee held several rounds of discussions with the officials of the ministry of home affairs, ministry of law and justice, domain experts and various stakeholders and submitted its reports along with its recommendations on November 10.

"Based on the recommendations of the committee, amendments are proposed in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023. It is proposed to introduce a new bill in place of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023," he conveyed to the Parliament.

The bill also includes the addition of the words "or marital status" after the words "suppressing identity" in the explanation part of this clause, for the reason that there are a plethora of cases that have been decided by the judiciary wherein the accused has deceived multiple women into marrying him or having sexual intercourse with him without revealing that he is already married.

Based on the recommendations of the panel, the bill proposes that the two-year imprisonment given to anyone who assaults or uses criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty should be reduced to one year as the law is widely "misused".

The bill, on recommendations of the panel, brings back the term “unsound mind” instead of “mental illness", since the latter is “too wide in its import".