In a significant move, the Central Government announced the withdrawal of three crucial criminal law reform bills – BharatiyaNyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, and Bharatiya NagarikSuraksha Sanhita. These bills, intended to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, were presented in the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
However, following recommendations from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, chaired by Minister Shah, it was decided that the bills would be withdrawn to incorporate the suggested changes. The Committee’s report, submitted last month, highlighted several key modifications required for a more comprehensive and effective legal framework.
Among the notable recommendations was the proposal to reintroduce a provision criminalizing adultery, albeit in a gender-neutral form. This suggestion emerged after the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling striking down the previous provision. Additionally, the Committee proposed the retention of a provision similar to Section 377 IPC to address non-consensual homosexual acts, emphasizing the need to safeguard against such offenses.
Addressing contemporary concerns, the Committee advocated for provisions within the new CrPC bill that secure digital evidence, reflecting the evolving nature of crime in the digital sphere. Critically, the Committee expressed reservations about allowing police custody beyond the initial 15-day arrest period, urging caution and reconsideration of this provision.
Moreover, the Committee’s report emphasized the need to delegate the modalities of online FIRs to individual States, acknowledging the varying capacities and systems across different regions. This recommendation aimed to ensure a more tailored and effective implementation of online FIR procedures, considering state-specific requirements and resources.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while addressing members of the Lok Sabha on December 11, confirmed the government’s decision to withdraw the bills and expressed intent to introduce revised legislation. The move signifies the government’s responsiveness to the recommendations put forth by the Parliamentary Committee, indicating a commitment to a more comprehensive and inclusive legal framework.
This development marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to modernize and reform India’s criminal laws. By incorporating the Committee’s suggestions, the government aims to craft legislation that not only aligns with contemporary societal needs but also ensures fairness, equity, and robustness in the country’s legal system.
The withdrawal of these bills, followed by the promised introduction of revised legislation, underlines the significance of comprehensive consultation and scrutiny in shaping the legal landscape of the nation. As the government progresses towards formulating new bills, incorporating the recommended changes, it sets the stage for a more nuanced and adaptive legal framework in India.
This decision reaffirms the government’s commitment to ensuring that the country’s laws are reflective of evolving societal dynamics, safeguarding rights, promoting justice, and maintaining the rule of law.