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New Delhi, 20 December (MTNews): In a historic move on Wednesday, the Lok Sabha successfully passed three significant criminal laws: the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill. Notably, these legislative milestones were achieved amidst ongoing protests and the suspension of Opposition MPs from the Lower House, stemming from concerns over the recent breach of Parliament security.

suspended MPs
Opposition MPs protested in front of the Gandhi statue located in the Parliament complex in protest against the suspension of the MPs on 20 December. Senior MPs including Congress President and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, CPP Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi participated in the protest even as the Lok Sabha passed the landmark criminal laws.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita will replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will replace the CrPC of 1973, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill will replace the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

In response to the passage of these laws, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, delivered a comprehensive speech in the Lok Sabha today, highlighting key features of the bills. Some of the prominent provisions include:

Definition of ‘Terrorist Act’: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) introduces a distinct offence for ‘Terrorist Act,’ encompassing actions that pose a threat to India’s unity, integrity, sovereignty, security, economic security, or spread terror among any group.

Omission of ‘Sedition’: The BNS eliminates the offence of ‘sedition,’ penalizing acts jeopardizing the unity and integrity of India. While sedition previously criminalized acts against the government, the BNS replaces ‘government’ with ‘country,’ with ‘Rajdroh’ now referred to as ‘deshdroh.’

‘Mob Lynching’ as a Separate Offence: The BNS categorizes ‘Mob Lynching’ as a distinct offence, carrying a maximum penalty of death.

Introduction of ‘Community Service’ for Minor Offences: Several minor offences now offer ‘Community Service’ as an alternative to imprisonment.

Compulsory Collection of Forensic Evidence: Provisions are in place to ensure the mandatory collection of forensic evidence during investigations, strengthening the prosecution’s case.

Mandatory Audio-Video Recording of Victim Statements: In cases of sexual violence, the BNS mandates the audio-video recording of victims’ statements.

Independent Director of Prosecution: Each district will now have an independent Director of Prosecution to decide on appeals, independent of recommendations.

Accountability of Police: Provisions have been introduced to fix accountability within the police force.

Zero FIR Registration: Victims can approach any police station, and the FIR will be transferred to the jurisdictional police station within 24 hours.

Victim-Centric Justice: Courts are now prevented from allowing the State to withdraw cases without hearing victims.

Electronic Mode for Inquiries and Trials: All inquiries and trials can be conducted electronically.

Reclassification of Offences: Offences against the human body, offences against women and children are prioritized at the beginning of the BNS.

Enhanced Punishments for Offences: The BNS introduces separate provisions for offences against women and children, with stringent punishments, including life imprisonment and death penalty.

Exemption for Doctors in Cases of Death by Negligence: Following a request by the Indian Medical Association, doctors will be exempt from the offence of death by negligence.

Introduction of ‘Snatching’ as a Separate Offence: ‘Snatching’ is now recognized as a distinct criminal offence.

Stringent Punishment for ‘Grievous Hurt’: A separate provision is made to prescribe more stringent punishment, up to ten years, in cases where the victim becomes brain dead.

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