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'Old laws have slave mentality': Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal bats for rehaul of colonial era laws

'The Modi government has removed the old laws having a slave mentality and made three new laws incorporating the basic spirit of Indianness and justice, namely Indian Judicial Code, Indian Civil Defence Code and Indian Evidence Act, which will be implemented across the country from 1st July,' said Meghwal.
Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 12:08 IST

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Chennai: Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Sunday called for the need to understand the correct legal history of the nation as the country's legal system was established from the perspective of the colonial rulers.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Justice (Independent Charge) said at a conference here that the laws in India made during colonial times 'ignored' the Indian ethos and societal realities of the India of the time and were based on furthering the needs of the colonial rulers.

The union minister made the comments at the conference 'India's Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System' at Vellore Institute of Technology, Vandalur, here.

The seminar is the fourth in the series after being held in Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata which was attended by judges of high courts, advocates, academics, representatives of law enforcement agencies and students.

"The Modi government has removed the old laws having a slave mentality and made three new laws incorporating the basic spirit of Indianness and justice, namely Indian Judicial Code, Indian Civil Defence Code and Indian Evidence Act, which will be implemented across the country from 1st July," he said.

Meghwal said the evolution of the legal system, particularly criminal justice under the British from the Battle of Plassey in 1757, introduction of laws like Doctrine of Lapse, Codification of Laws etc, were to suit and perpetuate colonial rule in the country. The Irish Penal Code was mindlessly copied and introduced in India, oblivious of the realities prevailing in then India, he said.

As India is striving to take its rightful place in the comity of nations as the 'Viswaguru' or the leader, it is imperative that all vestiges of colonial legacy are shed and a modern criminal justice system is put in place, Meghwal said.

Union Minister of State, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs L Murugan said that after almost eight decades of Independence, the nation deserves a justice system of its own and the initiative to change the colonial era laws.

Secretary of the Department of Legal Affairs Rajiv Mani said the repeal of the outdated criminal laws -- Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1983 -- and the re-enactment of three new criminal laws, with the assent of President Droupadi Murmu in December 23, namely the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023, Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 and Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023 -- is a step to remove the traces of colonial imprints.

These laws not only merely replace the existing laws but unshackle the legal structure and framework created by the British, he claimed.

Mani said the Madras High Court is one of the three oldest high courts in India established at the presidency towns under the Indian High Courts Act, 1961 and by grant of Letters Patent on June 26, 1862.

The Madras High Court holds great significance in the field of law and justice and has produced many stalwarts in the legal profession and umpteen numbers of judges of highest calibre, many of whom have adorned the Supreme Court of India, he added.

Kerala High Court Chief Justice A J Desai said the impact of the new laws with modern provisions will be felt not only in the administration of the criminal justice system but on the entire legal ecosystem of the country. Effective implementation of new laws would require effective judicial capacity building, he said.

Chief Justice of the High Court for the State of Telangana Alok Aradhe said laws need to be flexible to meet the requirements of the changing realities of society, including taking into cognisance the new age crimes.

Madras High Court Chief Justice (Acting) R Mahadevan said the progressive nature of the new laws may be seen from the inclusion of new age crimes, new punishments, deletion of petty offences and mandatory videography of seizures etc.

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Published 23 June 2024, 12:08 IST

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