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3,695 citizens write to leaders to stay on new ‘anti-democratic’ criminal laws

The petition called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation, legal expert consultation, and a meaningful debate on the proposed reforms in parliament.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 13:57 IST

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New Delhi: Over 3,600 eminent citizens including activist Tushar Gandhi, Major Gen (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Teesta Setalvad, Kavita Srivastava, Shabnam Hashmi have sought an urgent intervention of Mallikarjun Kharge President - Indian National Congress, Sitaram Yechury Secretary-general - Communist Party of India (Marxist) and others to have a meaningful dialogue and stay the new ‘anti-democratic’ criminal laws.

The petition has also been sent to Arvind Kejriwal, national convener - Aam Aadmi Party , D Raja General Secretary - Communist Party of India (CPI) , M K Stalin President - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) , Dr Farooq Abdullah President - Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, Hemant Soren President - Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Sharad Pawar President - Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar), Akhilesh Yadav National President - Samajwadi Party (SP), Uddhav Thackeray President - Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) , G Devarajan President- All India Forward Bloc and many others.

The new criminal laws are slated to come into effect from July 1.

The petition called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation, legal expert consultation, and a meaningful debate on the proposed reforms in parliament.

In a press statement, they said they hoped that the political parties will seize the chance to steadfastly defend the fundamental values enshrined in the Indian Constitution and would do every effort to protect the democratic rights.

“Sadly, as the situation stands now, there is a grave threat that is hanging over the nation in the form of three new criminal laws, namely, ‘Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023’, ‘Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023’, and ‘Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023’, which were hurriedly pushed through Parliament on 20th December 2023 without a debate," the plea said.

“The major concern is that the amendments made in the then existing laws are such that they are mostly draconian in nature. They deal exclusively with matters of life and liberty and criminal harm that can be caused to an individual in other multiple and various ways," it said.

It claimed that these laws also deal with civil liberties of citizens more particularly in the matter of freedom of speech, right to assembly, right to associate, right to demonstrate, and their other civil rights, which can be criminalised as part of the laws.

"Essentially, these new criminal laws would equip the government with adequate power to hollow out our democracy and transform India into a fascist state – should the government choose to deploy the new laws to their fullest extent," they claimed.

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Published 19 June 2024, 13:57 IST

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