Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Analysis of Recent Reforms in Indian Criminal Law

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Governance: Indian Criminal Justice System

 

Source: LM

 Context: We have already discussed the need and provisions of the bill. Here in this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of the proposed bill.

 

Major Provisions of the Bills:

 

 

Objective of the Bills:  These bills aim to modernize the criminal justice system by updating laws, incorporating digital interfaces, expediting legal processes, and introducing community service as a form of punishment for minor offences.

 

The positive aspects of the proposed criminal law reforms:

  • Modernization of Criminal Justice System: E.g., using e-FIR, Zero FIR, new cyber offences, and modernize evidence collection.
  • Update of Outdated Laws
  • Stringent Provisions for Women and Children: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) has dedicated a separate chapter to these matters and introduced new forms of offence.
  • Innovations: Innovations such as trial in absentia and the introduction of community service as a penalty for minor offences are noteworthy.
  • Gender Inclusivity: The proposed reforms have reviewed language for gender neutrality and replaced outdated terms such as ‘insanity’ with ‘mental illness.’
  • Specific Definitions and Offenses: The bills define and address offences like terrorism, organized crime, mob lynching, and negligent acts, adding new dimensions to criminal law.
  • Protection for Victims:g., protection and rights of victims, including provisions related to victims’ participation, and rights.
  • Expedited Justice: E.g., Requirement for judgments to be given within 30 days after the trial concludes and limitations on adjournments.

 

Issues with the Proposed Bills:

IssuesExplanation and Concerns
Gender-Biased Language and AssumptionsThe Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) bill reflects gender bias by treating women as needing protection rather than equals. Marital rape is criminalized only if the wife is under 18, perpetuating the idea of spousal ownership and control.
Regressive Terminology and AssumptionsSections like “outraging modesty” (BNS Section 73) employ regressive terminology, reflecting outdated ideas about women’s behaviour and morality.
Incomplete Protections for Men and Non-Binary IndividualsThe bills do not provide sufficient remedies for men or non-binary individuals who face similar violations.

 

The bills focus on sexual offences against women and do not adequately address sexual offences perpetrated by men against other men or women against other women

Ambiguities in Certain ClausesThe inclusion of “deceitful means” for marriage (exact provisions not specified) creates ambiguity in judging guilt and determining.
Discretionary Powers and Potential for MisuseThe bills grant discretionary powers to law enforcement agencies, such as the “right to handcuff,”.
Weakened Protections Against State Abuse and ViolenceThe new bills seemingly endorse practices like detention without charges for extended periods (90 days in certain cases), raising concerns about the potential erosion of individual liberties and rights.
Ambiguity in the Definition of OffensesThe definition of offences like “subversive activities” and “provocation and intimidation of the government” (exact provisions not specified) is vague and broad, potentially leading to overreach and misuse.

 

Insta Links:

India’s Criminal Justice System

 

Mains Links:

Comprehensive reforms are needed in the criminal justice system to ensure effective enforcement of the law, uphold accountability, have a well-trained workforce and speedy disposal of the cases. Comment. (250 words)