'Is it an eyewash?' Karnataka asks Centre on new criminal laws

The Congress government’s opinion is based on the conclusions of an expert committee that was constituted to study the new criminal laws.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 23:23 IST

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Karnataka has asked the Union government if the new criminal laws are “an eyewash” while pointing to various “inadequacies” such as the lack of provisions to “sufficiently address” new-age crimes.

The Congress government’s opinion is based on the conclusions of an expert committee that was constituted to study the new criminal laws. The committee, chaired by Law Minister H K Patil, gave an 88-page report to the state government in October last year. It was later sent to the Union government.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam will replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

“The changes brought in through the new Bills are not massive or large-scale and when they retain about 80% of the existing provisions, is there any honest necessity for new legislation instead of amending the existing law? Is the new exercise therefore an eyewash is the emerging question...” the committee said in its conclusion.

The committee frowned that sequencing of various sections/clauses in all three laws is “entirely different and radically changed,” which would make life difficult for practitioners of law.

The BNS “being the major criminal law should include cyber crimes, hacking, economic offences, spying of nuclear secrets, stashing of currency, deposits in tax haven states, digital sabotage etc,” the committee said. Also, it said that the approach taken to fight white-collar and transnational crimes “is not satisfactory”.

The committee, in its report, recommended a gender-neutral definitions to sexual offences. “Sexual assault on male adult (sic) in India is uncommon. Even the male adults are vulnerable to sexual crimes...” it said.

The government committee also found fault with the BNS for not defining ‘community service’, which will be an alternative mode of punishment for some offences. “India is a secular country with people from various religions, caste, creed, culture etc. If the term ‘community service’ is not defined and a blanket power is conferred on the law implementing agency, such a power may cause damage to the inner feelings, personal reputation and social status of a person against whom the punishment of community service would be imposed,” it said.

While appreciating the need for ‘decolonisation’, the committee said that the content in the new laws “merely reflects tokenism and adhocism”. It added that the words ‘Nyaya’ and ‘Sanhita’ are unacceptable as they are not English as per Article 348 of the Constitution.

The report urged the union government to introduce a specific provision to punish insults to the National Flag, National Anthem and Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.

Published 29 June 2024, 23:23 IST

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