A stated aim of the newly proposed criminal law bills is the ‘decolonization’ of our justice system.
Konina Mandal, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Updating the Indian legal, police, and investigative systems holds the promise of bolstering protection for the disadvantaged, while enabling more effective responses to organized crime, terrorism.
The Rajya Sabha recently passed three reformed criminal law bills: the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita 2023, aiming to replace the Indian Penal Code 1860; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita 2023 seeking to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973; and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Sanhita 2023 intending to replace the Indian Evidence Act 1872 respectively.
These Bills, previously approved by the Lok Sabha, secured passage via a voice vote following their presentation by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar lauded their historical import, citing their unanimous approval as a transformative departure from colonial legal constructs deleterious to citizens, previously predisposed to favoring our erstwhile colonial rulers. Union Home Minister Amit Shah staunchly advocated for the Bills in both parliamentary chambers, delineating their deviation from colonial-era paradigms.
He accentuated the shift from punitive doctrines to a paradigm anchored in justice and rehabilitation. At a glance, the Bills’ overarching goal is to position citizens at the epicenter of the criminal justice system, highlighted through provisions seemingly oriented toward digitalization and information technology. It is not unknown that the criminal justice system is a flawed legacy inherited from the British.
It is an accumulated manifestation of several years of decay. A stated aim of the newly proposed criminal law bills is the ‘decolonization’ of our justice system. However, can these changes, largely perceived as superficial by most critics, authentically lead to the decolonization of the Indian criminal justice system?
Published in: TheSundayGuardian
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