PIL Questions Recent Amendments to Criminal Laws in Supreme Court

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging three recent criminal law amendment Acts—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam. These Acts are intended to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, aiming to reform India’s criminal justice system.

The laws, passed in the winter session of Parliament and approved by the President on December 25, are yet to come into effect. While information is available on the Rashtrapati Bhavan website, it has not been published in the Gazette of India, and rules are still pending.

Vishal Tiwari, the petitioner, raises concerns about the laws, pointing out defects and discrepancies while emphasizing that they ignore recommendations from the Law Commission. The petitioner stresses that the laws were passed without proper parliamentary debate, as many members were suspended during that period. Additionally, the petitioner notes that the titles of the proposed bills are unclear and do not convey the purpose of the statutes.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, according to the petitioner, largely retains offenses from the Indian Penal Code of 1860. The new CrPC, as per the petitioner’s arguments, could make obtaining bail during police custody more challenging.

The three laws were initially introduced in Lok Sabha on August 11, 2023, and later referred to a parliamentary committee for further examination, headed by Brij Lal. Following this, they were approved by the Lok Sabha on December 20 and subsequently passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 21.

In summary, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court questioning the validity and effectiveness of the new criminal law amendment Acts, emphasizing concerns about their passage without proper parliamentary discussion and the potential implications of changes to bail procedures.

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