Supreme Court to Hear Petition Challenging New Penal Laws on tomorrow

Supreme Court Law Insider

Published on: May 18, 2024 23:48 IST

Supreme Court is all set to hear a petition on Monday that challenges the recent enactment of three new laws aimed at overhauling India’s penal codes. The petition claims these laws contain numerous “defects and discrepancies.” A vacation bench comprising Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal is expected to preside over the matter.

Last year, on December 21, the Lok Sabha passed three significant pieces of legislation: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Act. These laws, which received presidential assent from Droupadi Murmu on December 25, are set to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

Advocate Vishal Tiwari, who filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeks a stay on the implementation of these laws. Tiwari argues that the bills were enacted without adequate parliamentary debate, as many opposition members were suspended during the proceedings. The plea calls for the immediate formation of an expert committee to evaluate the viability of these new criminal laws.

The petition criticizes the new laws as excessively harsh, claiming they create a “police state” and infringe on fundamental rights. It highlights a provision that extends the permissible duration of police custody from 15 days to 90 days, which the plea describes as a mechanism for enabling police torture.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita redefines offences like secession, armed rebellion, and activities threatening national sovereignty, essentially rebranding the sedition law. The new laws impose severe penalties, including life imprisonment for those found guilty of such crimes.

Under the new regime, “Rajdroh” (rebellion against the ruler) has been replaced with “Deshdroh” (acts against the nation). Additionally, the term “terrorism” has been defined for the first time in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, a definition previously absent in the IPC. The magistrate’s authority to impose fines and the criteria for declaring a proclaimed offender have also been expanded under the new laws.

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