NEW CRIMINAL LAW BILLS, 2023

by | Dec 30, 2023

Introduction Of New Criminal Law Bill, 2023 :

In a landmark move, the Centre has introduced three new criminal law bills aimed at overhauling India’s Criminal Justice System. The proposed legislation seeks to replace the archaic Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. The new Bills include the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.

BHARATIYA NYAYA (SECOND) SANHITA BILL, 2023 (IPC)

UAPA’s Influence on Terrorism Definition

Section 113 adopts the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act’s definition of ‘terrorist act,’ aligning closely with UAPA but expanding the scope. Notably, penalties range from death or life imprisonment for the act to imprisonment for those involved in conspiring or facilitating terrorism.

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Cruelty Definition

The Bill introduces a refined definition of “cruelty” against women, aligning with existing provisions. Section 86 outlines specific behaviors and carries a potential jail term of up to three years.

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Unauthorised Publication of Court Proceedings

Section 73 penalizes individuals printing or publishing court details in sexual assault cases without authorization, with a two-year jail term and a fine.

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Language Update: ‘Mental Illness’ to ‘Unsoundness of Mind’

To eliminate outdated language, ‘mental illness’ is replaced with ‘unsoundness of mind’ throughout the Bill, offering clarity and precision.

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Minimum Punishment for ‘Mob Lynching’ Enhanced

The revised Bill aligns the punishment for mob lynching with murder, removing the earlier minimum sentence of seven years.

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Adultery and Section 377 – Ignored Recommendations

Crucial recommendations for gender-neutral provisions in adultery and non-consensual sex cases are omitted, raising concerns about legal recourse for men and transgender individuals.

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Redefined ‘Petty Organised Crime’

The Bill now provides a more specific definition of ‘petty organised crime,’ focusing on criminal acts such as theft, snatching, cheating, and unauthorized ticket selling.

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BHARATIYA NAGARIK SURAKSHA (SECOND) SANHITA, 2023

Community Service Redefined

Section 23 refines the concept of ‘community service’ for minor offences, emphasizing a restorative approach.

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Handcuffing and Proceedings via Audio-Visual Means

Changes in Section 43(3) expand police authority to use handcuffs and include specific provisions for audio-visual proceedings, ensuring accused rights.

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Police Custody Beyond Initial 15 Days

Section 187(3) raises concerns about potential misuse by allowing cumulative 15-day police custody over 60 or 90 days, with a recommendation for clearer amendments.

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Preventive Detention Powers

Strict timelines are introduced in Section 172 to address ambiguity, preventing potential abuse of police power.

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BHARATIYA SAKSHYA (SECOND) BILL, 2023

Admissibility of Electronic Evidence

Section 61 mandates adherence to Section 63 for the admissibility of electronic records, aligning with established legal procedures.

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Comparison of Key provisions in the New Criminal Law Bills,2023 with their counterparts in the Old Laws:

SUBJECT TOPIC NEW LAW OLD LAW
Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023: Terrorism Definition Adopts UAPA’s definition, expands scope. Not as expansive, limited in scope.
Cruelty Definition Refined definition with specific behaviours outlined. Less detailed definition.
Unauthorised Publication of Court Proceedings Penalties introduced for unauthorized publication in sexual assault cases. No specific penalties for such publication.
Language Update – ‘Mental Illness’ Replaces with ‘unsoundness of mind’ for clarity Used outdated ‘mental illness’ terminology.
Minimum Punishment for ‘Mob Lynching’ Aligns punishment with murder, removes earlier minimum sentence. Had a specific minimum sentence for mob lynching.
Adultery and Section 377 Ignored recommendations for gender-neutral provisions. Potential for gender-neutral provisions.
Redefined ‘Petty Organised Crime’ Offers a more specific definition

on.

It is in less detailed.
Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023: Community Service Redefined Emphasises a restorative approach for minor offences. Less emphasis on restorative justice.
Handcuffing and Proceedings via Audio-Visual Means Expanded police authority on handcuff use, provisions for audio-visual proceedings. It has been  less explicit on these aspects.
Police Custody Beyond Initial 15 Days Raises concerns due to extended police custody provisions. It had different limitations on police custody.
Preventive Detention Powers Introduces strict timelines to prevent potential abuse. It  had more ambiguity in timelines.
Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023: Admissibility of Electronic Evidence Mandates adherence to specific admissibility procedures for electronic records. It had less specified guidelines.

CONCLUSION :

In summary, the new criminal law bills introduced various changes like expanded definitions, updated language, revised punishments, and refined procedures compared to the older laws, addressing certain gaps while raising concerns regarding extended police custody and gender-neutral provisions.Concerns raised by experts highlight potential threats to civil liberties, especially in the extended police custody duration permitted by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023. The increased risk of abuse and coerced evidence poses significant challenges to the protection of civil liberties. Further analysis and discussions are crucial to ensure a balanced and effective criminal justice system.

 

SOURCE- THE HINDU

 

Written By Nancy Sharma

I am Nancy Mahavir Sharma, a passionate legal writer and , a judicial service aspirant who is interested in legal researching and writing. I have completed Latin Legum Magister degree. I have been writing from past few years and I am excited to share my legal thoughts and opinions here. I believe that everyone has the potential to make a difference.

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