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New bills attempt to Indianise criminal justice system: Centre

The three new bills introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to repeal the Indian Penal Code 1860, Criminal Procedure Code 1898 and the Indian Evidence Act 1872 are intended to Indianise the criminal justice system, said government sources.
Last Updated : 11 August 2023, 18:22 IST
Last Updated : 11 August 2023, 18:22 IST

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The three new bills introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to repeal the Indian Penal Code 1860, Criminal Procedure Code 1898 and the Indian Evidence Act 1872 are intended to Indianise the criminal justice system, said government sources. In a consultative process that spanned four years, Opposition-ruled states like Kerala and West Bengal did not participate. 

Government sources said that the legislations, drafted during British rule, are colonial edicts which carry “signs of slavery”. “There is a ‘colonial’ imprint on the legal and the criminal law process. British laws enacted 160 years ago were intended to protect the interests of the British and their government in London,” said sources.

“Sedition and protection of treasury got precedence over murder and crime against women. The aim was to make British rule paramount rather than human rights of the common man of India.”


Words and phrases such as ‘Parliament of the United Kingdom’, ‘Provincial Act’, ‘London Gazette’, ‘Jury’, ‘Barrister’, ‘Lahore’, ‘Commonwealth’, ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’, ‘Her Majesty’s Government’, ‘Possession of the British Crown’, ‘Court of Justice in England’, and ‘Her Majesty’s Dominions’ have been omitted from the Acts in the proposed Bills.

Government sources said that the laws were made with an intent to rule, not deliver justice. “There was selective justice – when they had to hang Bhagat Singh, or imprison Mahatma Gandhi, cases were concluded in days, but for the common man, cases languished in courts. The system is complicated, and there is overcrowding in jails of undertrials,” ministry sources said. 

The consultation for the Bills started in September 2019, with Shah writing to all Governors, Chief Ministers, Lt. Governors and Administrators. In January 2020, suggestions were sought from the Chief Justice of India, Chief Justices of all High Courts, Bar Councils and Law Universities.

A year later, in December 2021, suggestions were also sought from the Members of Parliament. The BPRD sought the suggestions of all IPS officers, and a committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Vice Chancellor of the National Law University, Delhi. 

Suggestions were received from 18 states and 6 Union Territories, the Supreme Court of India, 16 High Courts, five Judicial Academies, 22 law universities and 142 MPs. In all, Shah held 58 formal and 100 informal review meetings, said government sources. Some of the Congress-ruled states, as well as Kerala and West Bengal did not take part in the process, said senior home ministry officials. 

Committees such as the Bezbaruah Committee, the Viswanathan Committee, Malimath Committee, Madhan Menon Committee have recommended reforms in these laws. Several Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, including the 146th report (2010), 111th Report (2005) and 128th Report (2006) called for reforms.

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Published 11 August 2023, 18:22 IST

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