Three New Criminal Laws – Some Flaws That Are Prone To Gross Misuse And Abuse

Vipin Pubby

Vipin Pubby

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Unfortunately the bills to replace the colonial era laws were passed by Parliament without much discussion.

THE THREE NEW criminal laws, which were passed by Parliament last year, have been notified and will come into effect from July 1.

The three laws, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, will replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

Only the provision relating to hit and run cases which provides for punishment of “0-10 years” in “hit and run” cases, has been put on hold. Earlier this year, transporters and drivers across the country had struck work to protest the particular provision.

bailUnfortunately the bills to replace the colonial era laws were passed by Parliament without much discussion. The result is that despite an amendment already, the provisions of the new amended laws are actually worse in matters of arrests, remand and bail than the British era laws.

A prominent flaw, which affects the fundamental rights, is the provision for an increase in the number of days a person can be kept in police custody. While under the current laws, he or she can be kept in police custody for upto 15 days, the amended provision provides for police custody for 60 to 90 days depending on the seriousness of the alleged crime.

This provision is prone to misuse and abuse because the police are empowered to arrest anyone on the basis of mere suspicion. Although there is a provision to produce the accused before a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest, magistrates almost invariably agree for police remand.

Therefore it would be the norm now to keep any person in police custody for upto 90 days. This unbridled power to the police, without any checks and balances, can lead to serious consequences pertaining to the life and liberty of citizens.

lawsAnother related provision, that of conspiracy, has been misused in the past and is bound to abused in the future relates to conspiracy under Section 120. Police frequently uses this provision to arrest persons against whom there is no concrete evidence. Person concerned has to wait till the end of the trial to be get justice and in many cases get acquitted.

The inclusion of the provision that police remand can extend from 14 days to 60-90 days is actually moving to a worse regime and is prone to gross misuse. Why should the police take so much time to conduct preliminary investigations and make recoveries required for the prosecutions.

In fact with modern technology the police should be taking less time to complete investigations. There is absolute no justification in extension of time for police remand. All that it might do is to put more psychological and physical pressure on the accused. And the irony is that the statement made to the police is not admissible as evidence in the courts!

The ordeal for the accused does not end at the end of the period of police remand. While bail and not jail should be the norm and Supreme Court has been saying it, the practice continues to be sending people to jail rather than grant of bail.

collegiumSupreme Court itself is to be party blamed for this situation. While the apex court was set up to hear and decide on the laws and protect the constitution, it has been increasingly getting involved in grant or denial of bail. This has led to a percolating process.

Trial courts don’t give bail because of the apprehension of adverse judgments and reversal of orders by high courts. Similarly high courts don’t grant bail for fear of adverse remarks and grant of bail by the Supreme Court.

It is high time Supreme Court intervenes and strikes down the provision of extended police custody in the new Acts being enforced from July 1. Police must provide evidence and give in writing about the reasons for seeking remand. Also stringent checks should be made mandatory by magistrates for grant of remand rather than routinely granting permission for police remand. punjab

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ਉੱਲੂ ਨੇਤਾ ਅਤੇ ਭੇਡਮਈ ਵੋਟਰ

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Vipin Pubby

Vipin Pubby

The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.

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