Opposition MPs call for views of 16 experts on newly drafted 3 criminal codes
The Opposition MPs have also welcomed some aspects of the proposed bills including those that allow online FIRs and add community service to penal provisions
Opposition MPs who are part of the parliamentary panel on home affairs have demanded that 16 eminent experts including former Supreme Court judges Fali Nariman and Madan Bhimrao Lokur , and former chief justice of India UU Lalit be invited to provide expert views on the three criminal codes the government wants to replace.
The Opposition lawmakers from Congress, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Janata Dal United are pushing for a detailed review of the three bills that deal with this and have urged the panel chairman, BJP lawmaker Brijlal, to not rush the process.
The Opposition MPs have also welcomed some aspects of the proposed bills including those that allow online FIRs and add community service to penal provisions.
The experts, according to two Opposition leaders, have “domain knowledge” as well as “years of experience” and could provide valuable inputs to the panel, which is reviewing the three bills-- Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill 2023.
On Wednesday, some Opposition leaders, including Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien and DMK’s NR Elango gave a list of 16 experts to Brijlal, a former DGP of Uttar Pradesh. The panel has already heard from some other experts, including former Central Bureau of Investigation officers. The list of 16 also includes Menaka Guruswamy, a senior advocate and a lecturer in top law schools.
Some Opposition lawmakers have also raised questions about some of the experts who will appear before the panel. “Former Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra is supposed to depose before the panel. This is the same judge who once said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an “internationally acclaimed visionary” who could “think globally and act locally”. And a number of experts have come from Gujarat and UP. But we need a diverse range of experts as these are important bills,” said one member of the panel.
“We had one witness, Jagdeesh Rana, who is a judge of an Ajmer trial court. We welcomed him. But we should also get the views of former judges from Supreme Court,” said a second member; both these members are from Opposition parties.
In the proceedings, a BJP lawmaker argued that all three codes, the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Evidence Act are “colonial-era legislations” and new, India-specific laws are required. DMK’s Elango countered the argument and said that all provisions of the original laws have been retained in the proposed laws. A senior Opposition leader added that they have “ conveyed to the chairman that the review should take place for at least 12 to 18 months. In other words, these bills shouldn’t be passed ahead of the election.”
The panel will meet again on September 22 and former home minister P Chidambaram is expected to speak on that day. The second member cited above said that while “reforms are required in our criminal laws, but those shouldn’t be more draconian.”
A fourth member of the panel said that the proposed laws affect policing and poor people, Dalits, adivasis and minorities, and require careful deliberation.