New criminal laws will make country a police state, fear advocates

The news laws are 'an attempt to turn India into a police state', former state public prosecutor BT Venkatesh said on Saturday.
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 22:14 IST

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Bengaluru: The Centre’s move to replace the three criminal laws — Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act with Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, respectively, — is “an attempt to turn India into a police state”, former state public prosecutor BT Venkatesh said on Saturday.

He was speaking at the 'The Pursuit of Legal Justice' seminar, organised by the Karnataka chapter of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), a group of advocates and grassroots social activists dedicated to supporting exploited and deprived sections of society.

Commenting on the lack of transparency in framing the new criminal laws, which are expected to come into effect from Monday, he warned against their "potential misuse by the Centre to continue to oppress certain communities, people with certain ideologies while making it easier to prosecute them". 

Venkatesh found a fundamental problem in the nomenclature, in Sanskritised Hindi. “These laws will only take us back to being a land of snake charmers as portrayed by our colonisers,” he said, adding the laws will create an Orwellian state where the government controls every aspect of people’s lives.

Responding to this, Justice HN Nagamohan Das, former judge of the Karnataka High Court, said that we have a long way to walk before bringing in “draconian laws” like the newly proposed criminal laws.

"We need ground-level reforms in the way elections are conducted, legislation is carried out, in the way education and healthcare facilities are provided to our people before bringing in reforms and amendments in criminal laws.”

Manavi Atri, human rights lawyer from People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), spoke about the alarming condition of the media — the fourth estate of democracy — which, she said, is "losing its integrity and credibility", while becoming a "propagator of hatred, prejudice and bias".

Human rights activist Nadeem Khan; author, columnist Apoorvanand; National Vice-President of APCR P Usman; and Karnataka General Secretary of APCR Mohammed Niyaz were present.

Published 30 June 2024, 22:14 IST

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