Next big move from the Modi regime: Amit Shah introduces bills to replace British-era IPC and Sedition!

In a historical move to repeal the colonial laws, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has on Friday - August 11 introduced three new bills in the Lok Sabha. These bills will be revoking and replacing India's criminal laws - the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act. One of the crucial takeaways from the new bills is that the offence of the colonial and draconian Sedition law will be completely repealed, but a similar provision has been enacted in the new bill. 

The passage of new bills and their names have sparked outcry as they were passed without discussion and that they carry the names of 'Bharat' in place of 'India'. The IPC will be replaced by the 'Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023' to consolidate and amend the provisions relating to offences. The CrPC will be replaced by the 'Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023', to consolidate and amend the laws relating to Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act will be replaced by the 'Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023', to consolidate the general rules and principles of evidence of the trial. 

Passing these three bills, Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed the Lok Sabha during which he said that the Union government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will put an end to the three criminal laws that were introduced during the British rule. The Home Minister said, "We will bring three new laws in their place for the protection of rights, with the aim of providing justice and not punishment." 

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, says, "It is proposed to provide first time community service as one of the punishments for petty offences. The offences against women and children, murder and offences against the state have been given precedence. The various offences have been made gender neutral. In order to deal effectively with the problem of organised crimes and terrorist activities, new offences of terrorist acts and organised crime have been added in the Bill with deterrent punishments." 

The bill further says, "A new offence on acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering sovereignty or unity and integrity of India has also been added. The fines and punishment for various offences have also been suitably enhanced." Amit Shah announced that the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, which will replace the IPC, will completely repeal the offence of sedition under section 124A of the IPC. 

However, it is pertinent to note that the new bill contains Section 150, which punishes acts endangering sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India. The repealing of sedition law has come three months after the Supreme Court's advice. On May 11, the apex court had asked the Union and state governments to refrain from registering any cases for the offence of sedition under the IPC. 

The repealing of the CrPC and replacing it with the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, has come with an objective of ensuring swift justice. The bill will also make certain changes such as setting up specific timelines for time-bound investigation, trial and pronouncement of judgments, supply of copy of First Information Report (FIR) to the victim and information about the progress of investigation, including by digital means, and making summary trial mandatory for petty and less serious cases. 

On the other hand, the objective for repealing the Indian Evidence Act and replacing it with Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 is that the existing law doesn't address the technological advancements in the country in the last few decades. The new bill will be expanding the scope of evidence to include electronic information and provide admissibility of electronic or digital record as evidence. 

After introducing and passing the bills, Amit Shah said that these three bills will be sent to a parliamentary panel for further scrutiny. It must be noted that the IPC was framed and introduced during the British era in 1860 and it has been the core of the criminal justice system of the country for more than 160 years. It will now be replaced by the new bill so are the CrPC of 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.