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Three criminal justice bills get President’s assent

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New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu on Monday gave assent to the three new criminal justice bills which were cleared by Parliament last week.
The three new laws — the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Act — will replace the colonial era Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
While replying to a debate on the three bills in Parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the focus was on delivering justice rather than handing down punishment.
The three legislation aim at completely overhauling the criminal justice system in the country by giving definition of various offences and their punishments. These have given a clear definition of terrorism, abolished sedition as a crime and introduced a new section titled “offences against the state”.
The bills were first introduced during the Monsoon session of Parliament in August. After the Standing Committee on Home Affairs made several recommendations, the government decided to withdraw the bills and introduced their redrafted versions last week.
Shah had said the three bills were drafted after comprehensive consultations and that he had gone through every comma and full stop of the draft legislation before bringing them to the House for approval.
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita lists offences such as acts of secession, armed rebellion, subversive activities, separatist activities or endangering the sovereignty or unity in the new avatar of the sedition law.
According to the laws, anyone 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.
According to IPC Section 124A, which deals with sedition, anyone involved in the crime may be punished with life imprisonment or with a three-year jail term. Under the new laws, ‘Rajdroh’ has got a new term ‘Deshdroh’, thus doing away with the reference to the British crown.
Also for the first time, the word terrorism has been defined in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. It was absent in the IPC. Under the new laws, the magistrate’s power to impose fines has been increased as well as the scope of declaring a proclaimed offender.

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