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Transformative Legal Reforms: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Introduces Landmark Bills in Lok Sabha

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In a historic moment in the Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah, responded to the discussion on the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, marking a paradigm shift in India’s legal landscape. These bills, having received approval after a comprehensive discussion, represent a transformative step towards aligning the criminal justice system with the principles of the Indian Constitution.

Key Reforms Addressed by Shri Amit Shah:

Shri Amit Shah highlighted the monumental changes introduced under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, emphasizing the need to reform the archaic laws governing the criminal justice system. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, is set to replace the outdated Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will replace the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill will supersede the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. These new laws, designed with the essence of Indianness, aim to bring about a revolutionary shift in the criminal justice system.

Objectives of the New Legislation:

Shri Shah outlined that the purpose of these bills goes beyond mere punishment; they are crafted to deliver justice, aligning with the ethos of the Indian Constitution. The bills represent a departure from the colonial-era laws that were designed to uphold British rule rather than cater to the needs of Indian citizens. The Union Home Minister emphasized that these laws mark the first step in humanizing the justice system, aligning it with the foundational principles of freedom, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

Focus on Victim-Centric Justice:

One of the significant aspects highlighted by Shri Amit Shah is the shift towards victim-centric justice. He pointed out that the previous laws primarily focused on punishment, with justice being secondary. The new legislation places a strong emphasis on crimes against women and children, crimes affecting the human body, border security, offenses related to the armed forces, electoral crimes, and crimes against the nation.

Incorporating Technological Advancements:

Shri Amit Shah underlined the forward-looking nature of the bills, incorporating provisions that anticipate technological innovations in the next century. The bills emphasize the importance of forensic science, ensuring a robust and technologically advanced criminal justice system.

Abolishing Outdated Provisions:

The Home Minister emphasized the removal of archaic provisions, such as sedition, and replaced them with more relevant and contemporary definitions. He stressed that the new laws are crafted to ensure that they are in line with the spirit of the Constitution and cater to the evolving needs of society.

Response to Suggestions and Consultation:

Shri Amit Shah informed the Lok Sabha that a total of 3200 suggestions were received regarding these laws, and a thorough consultative process took place. The bills were sent to the Standing Committee of the Home Ministry for consideration, and amendments were made based on extensive discussions and feedback.

Justice Delivery Timelines and Accountability:

The Home Minister outlined specific timelines for different stages of the justice delivery process, including filing FIRs, charge sheets, trial proceedings, and judgment delivery. He emphasized the importance of leveraging technology to streamline and expedite these processes, ensuring accountability and transparency.

Highlights of Individual Bills:

  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita: Replacing the IPC, this bill reduces the number of sections, introduces new offenses, increases penalties, and emphasizes community service as a form of punishment.
  • Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita: Replacing the CrPC, this bill adds new sections, changes existing ones, and addresses issues like bail, bond, and property confiscation.
  • Bharatiya Sakshya Bill: Replacing the Indian Evidence Act, this bill expands the definition of documents to include electronic records, incorporates statements received electronically, and modernizes evidence gathering and presentation.

Shri Amit Shah concluded by reiterating the government’s commitment to building a justice system aligned with the Indian ethos. He emphasized that these legislative changes would not only modernize the legal framework but also contribute to a more just, transparent, and efficient criminal justice system, realizing the vision of an independent and empowered India. The passing of these bills marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to create a legal system that reflects the values and aspirations of the Indian people.

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