Capital punishment for mob lynching: New bill to overhaul Indian criminal laws

The Indian government today introduced bills for the complete overhaul of colonial-era Indian criminal laws. 

The 1860 Indian Penal Code will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will replace the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Bharatiya Sakshya will replace Indian Evidence Act. All three have been referred to a Standing Committee for review. 

A new offence on acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering sovereignty or unity and integrity of India has been added in the revised laws. 

The sedition law “has been repealed”, said Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The word “sedition” is not in the proposed law. It is replaced by Section 150 for acts endangering sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. 

“Whoever, purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite, secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India; or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine,” it says. 

The explanation states this: “Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures, or administrative or other action of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means without exciting or attempting to excite the activities referred to in this section.” 

Amit Shah said the Centre will also introduce a provision of capital punishment in mob lynching cases. Other proposed punishments include 20 years jail to life imprisonment for gang rape,and  death penalty for rape of a minor. 

The new bill prioritizes laws for crimes against women and children, murders and “offences against the state”. 

For the first time, community service will be one of the punishments for petty offences. 

Also, offences have been made gender neutral. In order to deal effectively with the problem of organized crimes and terrorist activities, new offences of terrorist acts and organized crime have been added with deterrent punishments. 

The fines and punishment for various offences have also been enhanced. 

It seeks to revamp British-era laws, Amit Shah told parliament. 

“The laws that will be repealed… the focus of those law was to protect and strengthen the British administration, the idea was to punish and not to give justice. By replacing them, the new three laws will bring the spirit to protect the rights of the Indian citizen,” Mr Shah said in Lok Sabha. 

“The aim will not be to punish, it will be to provide justice. Punishment will be given to create a sentiment of stopping crime,” he added. 

The death sentence has been retained in the new bills. 

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