Criminal law Bills: Centre to work on suggested changes | India News

Taking into account some of the key changes proposed by the parliamentary panel, the Centre is likely to introduce the three criminal law Bills in the winter session of Parliament, The Indian Express has learnt.

The Parliamentary panel, which adopted its report on the three Bills on November 7, is expected to submit the report to the government Friday.

However, sources told The Indian Express that the Law Ministry is already working internally on new drafts that would include key changes. The Parliamentary panel, headed by BJP MP Brij Lal, had suggested over 50 amendments and also underlined several typographical and numbering errors in the three Bills.

The winter session of Parliament will begin December 4 and will end December 22, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said Thursday.

On August 11, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had introduced three Bills in Lok Sabha to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860; The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (originally enacted in 1898); and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The new Bills —Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, to replace the IPC; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023, for CrPC; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023, for the Indian Evidence Act —were referred to a standing committee the same day.

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From a new provision on mob lynching, punishable by seven years imprisonment or life imprisonment or death penalty; to enabling speedy justice through video trials, e-filing of FIRs; expanding the definition of sedition; bringing corruption, terrorism and organised crime under the penal laws; introducing community service and solitary confinement as new forms of punishment; holding trials in the absence of an accused; and expanding the scope of offence against women pertaining to sexual intercourse by employing “deceitful means” – the new Bills provide for substantive changes in criminal jurisprudence.

Among the key suggestions of the panel that the government is likely to consider is introducing a gender-neutral provision criminalising adultery (Section 497 of the IPC) which was omitted in the BNS, 2023. The provision was omitted since the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in 2018, had decriminalised adultery. However, there are concerns that there is a need to retain the provision in order to safeguard the sanctity of the institution of marriage while it can be tweaked to address the gender discrimination aspect.

Another key change mooted was the defining the term “mental illness” which was used in place of “unsound mind” that is widely used in IPC. Some members raised concerns that the term could be broadly interpreted to include a spectrum of psychiatric illnesses.

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