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  • Opp MPs dissent on criminal law Bills: Copy-paste job, still have colonial spirit | Political Pulse News

Opp MPs dissent on criminal law Bills: Copy-paste job, still have colonial spirit | Political Pulse News


In their dissent notes, the Opposition members in the Parliamentary panel on the three criminal law Bills have called the proposed legislation only a “rearrangement of sections” in the existing laws and a “stunt” that will have “many undesirable consquences”.

While protesting the rechristening of the laws in Sanskritised Hindi as “an affront” to non-Hindi speaking people, the Opposition members have also noted that the Bills retained the “colonial spirit” and had no new clauses imbibing the “Indian thought process”.

They have also flagged the exclusion of marital rape and the inclusion of clauses such as marriage through “suppression of identity” and “deceitful means” in the new code, apart from reshaping the law on sedition.

The 30-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs to review the three Bills — Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (to replace the IPC); Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (for CrPC) and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill (for Indian Evidence Act) — adopted its reports on November 7. The reports, including the dissent notes, were made public on Saturday.

As reported earlier by The Indian Express, the Centre is likely to introduce the three Bills in the Winter Session of Parliament from December 4 to 22. According to sources, the Law Ministry is already working internally on new drafts that would include key changes suggested by the panel, headed by BJP MP Brij Lal.

Festive offer

The Opposition members who submitted their dissent notes include Congress MPs P Chidambaram, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, Digvijay Singh and Ravneet Singh, TMC MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Derek O’Brien, and DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran and NR Elango.
Chidambaram called the three Bills “largely a copy and paste of the existing laws”.

“All that the Bills have done is to make a few amendments (some acceptable, some not acceptable), rearrange the sections of the existing laws, and merge different sections into one section with many sub-sections. This is a wasteful exercise that will have many undesirable consequences… Hundreds of thousands of judges, lawyers, police officers — and even the general public — will be put to enormous trouble and inconvenience without any benefit at all,” his dissent note said.

Objecting to the use of Hindi for the name of the Bills, Chidambaram has cited Article 348 of the Constitution which says all Acts shall be in English. “To have a Hindi only name to the Bill irrespective of the language of the Bill (which is English) is highly objectionable, unconstitutional, an affront to the non-Hindi speaking people (e.g. Tamils, Gujaratis or Bengalis) and opposed federalism,” Chidambaram said.

Flagging a lack of consultation on the Bills, he said, “We strongly object to the process followed on the grounds of insufficiency, non- inclusionary, non-scholarly and lack of adequate time for consideration by the members.” He also protested the retention of the death penalty as punishment, continuation of adultery as an offence, provision of solitary confinement and inclusion of “terrorist act” in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS).

Congress leader of the House in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary made similar points, but raised specific objections to the non-inclusion of marital rape under the clauses defining rape under the BNS. He has also objected to Clause 69 of the BNS which deals with “sexual intercourse by applying deceitful means etc.” and explains deceitful means to include “marriage after suppression of identity”.

According to Chaudhary, the criterion of “deceitful means” was too broad and the phrase ‘suppression of indentity’ “can be misused by ill-interested parties to harass interfaith and inter-caste couples.” He also criticised the Bills for retaining the “colonial spirit” of the existing laws and enhancing “the coercive powers of the State”.

The dissent notes by Ravneet Singh and Digvijay Singh are identical to Chaudhary’s.

TMC’s Derek O’Brien, apart from sharing the concerns of Chidambaram and Chaudhary, flagged the lack of representation of the marginalised communities in the committee that drafted the Bills as well as the lack of consultation within the Standing Committee that reviewed them.

“The urgency to conclude discussions on bills that could significantly alter our nation’s safety and law and order regulations raises concerns about the democratic and informed nature of the decision-making process,” he said, adding that adopting the report “ridicules legislative scrutiny” and is only a “stunt” before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

In his dissent note, O’Brien’s pointed out that the sedition law has been paraphrased and retained, not abolished. “The provision in the new Bill gives it such a broad definition that it can encompass any act in the name of endangering the unity and integrity of India. It leaves a lot of room for discretion which is the opposite of what was advised by the law commission,” he said.
He has also objected to non-inclusion of trans women under rape and the provision of seven years’ imprisonment if a murder is committed by a group of more than five people on certain grounds.

TMC MP Dastidar’s dissent note contained similar objections to the Bill.

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While flagging a lack of consultation and expressing dismay over non-inclusion of suggestions by stakeholders, DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran’s dissent note significantly focused on “imposition of Hindi” through the Bills. It would “further change the federal relationship and structure between the Union and the State”, he said.

Maran’s party colleague and fellow MP Elango, while suggesting “the arrangement of sections” be maintained as in the existing IPC, also raised objections to “the imposition of Hindi”.

Referring to language of the panel reports suggesting the criminal laws had been “Indianised”, he said, “I find no new clause that imbibes Indian thought process and the Indian soul. This bill achieves nothing.”





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