Stop the Damocles’ Sword of 3 New Criminal Laws from Falling upon Us, Indira Jaising Beseeches New Union Law Minister
Gursimran Kaur Bakshi (The Leaflet) 12 June 2024
The three new criminal laws Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (criminal laws), set to replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 respectively, are due to come into force on July 1, 2024.
 
Ever since the Bills were tabled in the Parliament last year, they have come under criticism from various quarters, most notably the legal community, for provisions that go against the grain of the criminal justice system in a constitutional republic like India.
 
Now, senior advocate of the Supreme Court and eminent jurist Indira Jaising has written a letter to Arjun Ram Meghwal, the newly appointed Union minister of law and justice, raising concerns over the implementation of the three laws.
 
While congratulating the minister for his appointment, Jaising states in her letter that the criminal laws have reworded and reformatted the entire existing provisions, which now convey a completely different meaning from what they bear in the original laws.
 
The existing laws have existed for over a century now and their contents have been a matter of judicial interpretation at the hands of several high courts and the Supreme Court of India. The previous Modi government cited the colonial origins of the laws as the reason for the drastic and significant overhaul of the criminal justice system.
 
In the letter, Jaising points out that even if the three criminal laws are implemented, the existing laws will perhaps continue for another 20 years or more until pending cases governed by them are sorted.
 
She remarks: “In effect, we will be having two parallel criminal justice systems for the foreseeable future, which can range from 20–30 years.”
 
This is known to be the average lifespan of a case in India.
 
Life and liberty
As per Jaising’s letter, criminal laws deal exclusively with the matters of life and liberty and criminal harm that can be caused to an individual in different ways.
 
The laws also deal with civil liberties of the citizens, more particularly the freedom of speech, right to assembly, right to associate, the right to demonstrate and other civil rights, which Jaising says may be criminalised as a part of the law and order provisions under the criminal laws.
 
Impact of criminal laws on pendency cases 
Further, Jaising in her letter has states that the criminal laws may have an impact on the backlog of cases. Till now, no study has been conducted by the government to study the impact of the new laws on the pendency of cases.
 
Jaising has cited the data on pendency of cases from the National Judicial Data Grid, which, according to her, paints a grim picture of an overburdened judiciary.
 
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Indira Jaising wrote that the new criminal laws are likely to increase criminal litigation by 30%, which will be an additional burden to the existing backlog of cases. The judicial system may become unmanageable if the three laws are given effect, the letter further reads.
 
 
 
 
Lack of infrastructure
Jaising has raised concerns over the lack of efforts made to upgrade the infrastructure of the existing judicial system in her letter.
 
She has stated that no efforts have been made to train the courts at all levels to deal with the “vexed” constitutional issues of retrospective application of the criminal laws and how it would affect speedy access to justice.
 
While substantive criminal laws such as the BNS cannot be applied retrospectively, the provisions of the BNSS are procedural and could be applied retrospectively. This, however, will create an issue in pending cases as the question of which law will be applicable in a particular case will continue to arise. 
 
Jaising has requested that the implementation of the criminal laws be delayed till the judiciary at all levels, the investigation agencies, the government both at the Union and the state level and the citizens have an opportunity to debate and discuss its implementation.
 
She concludes by stating: “We, the people of India, have confidence that you will understand our concerns and address them promptly so that the Damocles’ sword hanging on us does not fall on the nation on July 1, 2024.”
 
 
Comments
tuneer73
1 month ago
no civil societies engagement is encouraged at the time of new bills are presented in the parliament whether be it the new criminal bills, or the enacting of the Aadhar Act by money bill
does the mother Fu6king MPs think that if they win the election they can Fu6k one billion ppl without any consultation with them
Do 500 MPs consist of the of whole of Mother Fu6king Bharat or does ordinary ppl have any say in their matter?
S.SuchindranathAiyer
1 month ago
Modi's new laws, like most of what Modi does is change for change sake and will NOT let well enough alone. His law reforms beginning with his corruption law that criminalized the victims of extortion (the bribe giver) while making it impossible to prosecute the extortionist (the empowered Neta-Babu) and Motor Vehicles Act which turned Traffic Police into a Revenue Department that paid scant attention to ensuring the comfort, thoroughfare, safety and speed of traffic are first steps. What do these new laws ensure? That Urdu is thrust down the throats of the courts with, a badly translated and plagiarized version of laws that stood the test of time. Not a law passed since 1947 can match the quality, precision, applicability and clarity, with explanations of those passed by the Viceroys in council. But the precedent was set with the bumbling, incompetent, Constituent Assembly that plagiarized the Government of India Act (1935) suitably blurring it into "originality" and adding fundamental rights and directive principles borrowed liberally from their desultory reading of other people's works. Not a single fundamental right is operative as they is over ridden by India's colonial legacy Government of India Act lurking within the "Constitution", the Police, Bureaucracy and Judiciary. Why? Modi has violated Article 18 any number of times, following in the footsteps of an earlier Gujarat Model, Morarji Desai, and improving upon the Urine Therapist and Nehruvian Pakistan Lover any number of times.
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