What Criticism Is Faced By The 3 New Laws Inferred Today?

What Criticism Is Faced By The 3 New Laws Inferred Today?

India's three new criminal laws, namely Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BNA), that have been implied today have received criticism.

Manasi KambleUpdated: Monday, July 01, 2024, 05:01 PM IST
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India's three new criminal laws, namely Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BNA). | File Image

India's three new criminal laws, namely Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BNA), have sparked significant controversy since their introduction in Parliament. These laws are set to replace the long-standing Indian Penal Code of 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. As their enforcement date of July 1, 2024 approaches, criticisms have only intensified.

The New Laws Implied Today

On December 25, 2023, the bills were published in the Official Gazette after receiving presidential assent. We have not yet been informed of the day they will take effect.The Indian Parliament enacted three new criminal codes in December 2023: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita ('BNS'), the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita ('BNSS'), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam ('BSA') to replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ('IPC'), the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 ('CrPC'), and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ('IEA').

Problematic Rape Laws

Section 375 of the IPC defines rape and outlines the circumstances under which sexual contact only between a man and a woman will constitute rape. Even though this section was meant to be comprehensive, several courts have interpreted it to include sexual relations under false pretences of marriage. Despite not being addressed in the section, a separate section has been created for it now that the BNS has been implemented. But the recently enacted law only addresses protection for women, indicating no laws for the protection of transgender or male victims.

The new implementation also defines consent in the law as, "an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the woman, by words, gestures, or any form of verbal or nonverbal communication, communicates a willingness to participate in the specific sexual act." Marital rape, however, is not regarded as rape. A man having sex with his wife without her consent is not considered to have committed rape under Section 63(2) of the BNS; however, a husband who rapes his divorced wife is criminalised under Section 67, albeit with a less severe penalty.

Deep-seated worries about legislative transparency, constitutional rights, judicial readiness, and cultural sensitivity are highlighted by the commotion surrounding India's new criminal laws. The uproar surrounding India's new criminal laws underscores deep-seated concerns about legislative transparency, constitutional rights, judicial preparedness, and cultural sensitivities. Critics argue that rushing such monumental changes without sufficient public and expert consultation risks undermining the very democratic principles they aim to uphold. As the implementation date nears, calls for reconsideration and comprehensive parliamentary review grow louder, reflecting the profound impact these laws could have on India's legal landscape and societal fabric.

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