Overhauling British-Era Laws: Centre’s Initiative

Overhauling British-Era Laws: Centre's Initiative

Centre to Overhaul British-era Laws

Context : 

Three bills to repeal the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), Indian Evidence Act (IEA), and Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr. PC) were introduced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday in the Lok Sabha.

What are the bills passed to replace the British-era laws?

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (Replaces IPC):

  • Replaces the IPC, legislation from the British era.
  • establishes the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for mob lynching.
  • imposes a 10-year prison sentence for having sex with a woman under the pretences of marriage.
  • excludes husband and wife’s mutually consenting sex, provided that the wife is over the age of 18.
  • The section on sedition is removed.
  • defines terrorism as well as many crimes involving separatists, armed uprisings, and undermining national sovereignty.

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 (Replaces Cr. PC):

  • the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr. PC) is repealed.
  • enacts modifications to the criminal justice system to deliver swift justice.
  • imposes a 180-day maximum deadline for filing a chargesheet.
  • police must update the complainant on the status of the case within 90 days.
  • establishes community service as a possible punishment for particular offences.
  • requires video recording of all searches and seizures.
  • Establishes deadlines for sentence reductions, especially for people with political clout.

Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 (Replaces IEA):

  • the Indian Evidence Act (IEA) is repealed.
  • makes it mandatory to videotape survivors’ comments in cases of sexual abuse against women.
  • introduces a new classification of crimes for marrying or engaging in sexual activity with a woman under pretences.

What was the requirement for replacing the laws?

  • Relevance and Obsolescence: Social norms, values, and problems change throughout time. Old laws may become ineffective in addressing modern problems or technological breakthroughs as they age. To more accurately reflect the social reality of today, new laws can be written.
  • Legal Clarity: Old laws may include confusing or vague terminology that makes them difficult to interpret and apply. Clearer standards and definitions can be included in new laws, which will lessen the likelihood of legal challenges.
  • Social and Technological changes: Changes in society, culture, and technology might lead to new legal issues that older laws may not be able to appropriately address. New laws could address new problems by considering these modifications.
  • Harmonization and simplification: As laws are added to and modified over time, complex legal systems can result. There may be a chance to streamline the legal system and make it more effective and user-friendly by replacing outdated laws with new ones.
  • International Standards and Duties: To conform to international standards and duties, nations frequently change their legal systems. This might be in response to agreements, rules, or suggestions made by international organizations.
  • Enhancing Effectiveness: New laws may be implemented to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system as a whole as well as of the legal system. This can involve taking steps to speed up court proceedings, boost conviction rates, and enhance justice access.

What are the challenges the public is going to face due to change?

  • Public Education and Acceptance: Bringing in new legislation necessitates educating the populace about the changes and winning their support. A lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of the provisions could result in opposition or confusion.
  • Enforcement and Implementation: Effectively implementing new laws can be difficult, particularly when there are resource shortages or capacity difficulties within law enforcement organizations. It can be challenging to guarantee uniform enforcement across the nation.
  • Legal Capacity: The ability and knowledge of the legal system to deal with the modifications brought about by the new laws may be a problem. This can entail educating judges, attorneys, and other legal experts on how to comprehend and properly implement the new regulations.
  • Transition and Compatibility: Aligning current legal processes and outstanding cases with the new legal framework can be difficult when changing from one set of laws to another. It can be difficult to ensure compatibility and a smooth transition.
  • Resourcing: New regulations may necessitate the addition of resources in the form of infrastructure, technology, administrative assistance, and training. Effective resource allocation could be difficult.