As new criminal laws come into effect, here’s what experts think of their impact on legal system

By: Muslim Mirror

As the three new criminal laws come into effect today, several legal experts say there are big challenges ahead for law-enforcing agencies, judicial officers, and legal professionals.

It is said that these laws will affect a large number of citizens at some point in time or the other in their lives. The passing of the three criminal law bills in Parliament last year sparked a series of debates regarding the need to take such steps towards evolution in the field of law with the introduction of new criminal laws.

In an interview with ANI, former Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar and Congress leader said, “The way the government rushed to bring these laws in Parliament and the way it implemented rushed to, is not desirable in a democracy. These laws were neither adequately discussed in the Parliament committee nor extensively discussed in the House, even no consultation held with the stakeholders.”

“Now, the opposition parties demanding a change in the legal architecture of criminal laws should be preceded by meaningful deliberations between all the stakeholders that appears not to have been done.

Advocate Sumit Gehlot from Fidelegal Advocates and Solicitor also interacted with on this issue and said, “In the New Criminal Laws, law enforcement agencies have been given unfettered powers without checks and balances and safeguards and safety provisions have been ignored, which will be prone to misuse. Under the New Criminal Laws, there will be potential violations of civil liberties.”

He further asserted, “Like Sedition Law under Section 150 of BNS, the offence has been made Draconian. Section 150 will surely be challenged, as will other provisions, which will result in being struck down by constitutional courts. The insertion of the Sedition Law as a backdoor entry seems to be for political reasons. Why is terrorism inserted as a general penal law offence when it is already punishable under special legislation? Why has police custody been extended from 15 days to 90 days?

“There are many regressive steps in the new criminal laws and all these will lead to instances of police torture and abuse and there are many grey areas. These additional powers and discretion with the investigating agency will be misused. There is a dilution of civil liberties and furthermore, there is insufficient institutional capacity to enforce these laws properly,” he said.

“Reforms were required in the existing criminal colonial laws through specific amendments and more deliberation with all stakeholders but not in this manner. Notably, these laws were passed arbitrarily, in haste, and without even proper debate in the Lower House and Upper House of Parliament,” Advocate Gehlot added.

In this regard, Dr Adish C Aggarwala, Sr. Advocate & Chairman of All India Bar Association and outgoing President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said, “Many colonial-era laws had been hanging around like an albatross around the neck of the Indian legal fraternity even 75 years after Independence. Now, the soul and spirit of the Bharat have been infused into the key criminal laws, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita, that are replacing the archaic and outdated Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Evidence Act.”

“The overhaul of these prime criminal laws was long overdue, as many of their provisions had outgrown their purposes and, in fact, were incongruent to the times and objectives for which they had been legislated. The new laws, with the soul and spirit of the new Bharat, therefore bring a sea-change in our criminal justice delivery system,” said Aggarwala. ( With Agencies Inputs )