Skip to main content

A design to 'communalize' judicial process, Sanskritize nomenclature of legal provisions

Union home minister Amit Shah introducing the bills
By Kirity Roy* 
In the name of denouncing the colonial criminal laws in the country, the present Union government introduced and subsequently sent the three new bills to the Parliamentary standing committee, while changing the erstwhile legal provisions named as Indian Penal Code, 1860; Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita; Bharatiya Nagarik Surakshya Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill.
The human rights fraternity of this country along with international partners intend to change the content of these legal provisions set during the colonial times; not only the nomenclatures of these provisions.
Section 150 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 shows that the word ‘sedition’ has been removed but the spirit of the sedition law is very much existent in the new section. At any moment of time when the governance has the ultimate authority to determine an act/ observation/ opinion/ association as anti-national or against the integrity of the nation as ample opportunity to use this draconian legal provision against any dissent.
Section 150 of the new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill details the codes while discussing the acts, which are endangering the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India. It states: 
“Whoever, 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 mean, 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.”
The uttered position is not different to the original position in Indian Penal Code under section 124A in letter and spirit.
The explanation of the law appears incomplete. And it brings into its purview the potential to criminalize protests against any action or inaction of the government authority. The use of words ‘subversive activity’ is not only vague, it restricts the democratic activities denouncing the government’s policies and actions.
This is a direct attack on the fundamental constitutional rights of the citizen of India. The Constitution of India guarantees the right to protest under Article 19 (1) (b) and is a basic fundamental freedom incorporated by the makers of our constitution which is being demolished with this new section. The dissenting voice and the human rights defenders are at stake.
The new criminal bills also introduce new offences with stricter punishment. Section 111 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita incorporates new crime as the ‘terrorist act’ under general penal law. For dealing with terrorist activities there are special laws like UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967) but here the features of UAPA are very much existing in the new penal provisions presented by the government.
To define terrorist acts it explicitly refers under section 111 (1) (iv):
“To provoke or influence by intimidation the Government or its organization, in such a manner so as to cause or likely to cause death or injury to any public functionary or any person or an act of detaining any person and threatening to kill or injure such person in order to compel the Government to do or abstain from doing any act, or destabilize or destroy the political, economic, or social structures of the country, or create a public emergency or undermine public safety.”
This definition is vague as well echoing the same position which is in the existing special provisions. It can be misused by the government authorities to take vengeance against the opposition, human rights workers and dissent voice who will try to raise their opinion against the government.
Use of words subversive activity is vague, it restricts democratic activities denouncing the government’s policies and actions
When most of the civilized countries of the world stand in this 21st century to abolish death penalty for all crimes in accordance to the Optional Protocol II of the ICCPR, the Indian government who will preside over the 18th G-20 summit in the next month along with other countries has put death penalty in the new bill for crimes like mob lynching. On changes in provisions related to rioting the provisions proposed regarding rioting are clearly and deliberately intended to have a communal twist with a slanted mindset.
These three bills denounce the basic concept of the Indian Criminal Jurisprudence i.e., “assume innocence until proven guilty”. Supreme Court in its various judgment clearly denounces handcuffing and roping (Prem Shankar Shukla vs. Delhi Administration 1980 SCC 526 / Citizens for Democracy vs. State of Assam and others-(1995) 3SCC743) but the present Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita allows the savage act of handcuffing for the arrest of persons in many cases including murder, rape and counterfeit currency.
The manner of introduction of these three bills is also not proper. The bills were introduced on the last day of the monsoon session leading to inadequate consultation in the Parliament regarding these bills. These new elements related to the judicial process should have been placed before the law commission prior to tabling it before the parliament. By this act, the present government made it clear that they wish to supersede and bypass the legal fraternity and process.
These changes in the criminal justice administration system can be dubbed as pseudo-progressive change. This act of the present government is a sinister design to communalize the judicial process of the country by Sanskritizing the nomenclature of the legal provisions, which is undemocratic and colonial in nature. The present social-economic legal situation of this country demands a democratic change in these legal acts, provisions and procedures.
Therefore, we on behalf of MASUM, call upon every academic, individual, member of political parties, NGOs, CBOs and organizations to come forward and discuss the intended changes for a constructive and democratic discourse on the present legal provisions and protest against the government’s constant attempt to suppress the dissenting voice.
*Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM); national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly



Insider plot to kill Deendayal Upadhyay? What RSS pracharak Balraj Madhok said

By Shamsul Islam*  Balraj Madhok's died on May 2, 2016 ending an era of old guards of Hindutva politics. A senior RSS pracharak till his death was paid handsome tributes by the RSS leaders including PM Modi, himself a senior pracharak, for being a "stalwart leader of Jan Sangh. Balraj Madhok ji's ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation and society. I had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions". The RSS also issued a formal condolence message signed by the Supremo Mohan Bhagwat on behalf of all swayamsevaks, referring to his contribution of commitment to nation and society. He was a leading RSS pracharak on whom his organization relied for initiating prominent Hindutva projects. But today nobody in the RSS-BJP top hierarchy remembers/talks about Madhok as he was an insider chronicler of the immense degeneration which was spreading as an epidemic in the high echelons of th

The Vaccine War fails to reveal: Jabs not one of Indian scientists' 'proud' achievements

By Bhaskaran Raman*  On 28 Sep 2023, the movie “The Vaccine War” by Vivek Agnihotri was released internationally, as the story behind India’s Covid-19 vaccine development. While there will be many a review written, as for other movies, a technical review is important, as the film is supposed to be fact-based, on the science and scientists behind the science.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Modi govt intimidating US citizens critical of abuses in India: NY Christian group to Biden

Counterview Desk  the New York Council of Churches for its release of an open letter calling on the Biden administration to “speak out forcefully” against rising Hindu extremist violence targeting Christians and other minorities in India. In the letter addressed to President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other major elected officials, the NY Council of Churches expressed "grave concern regarding escalating anti-Christian violence" throughout India, particularly in Manipur, where predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo tribals have faced hundreds of violent attacks on their villages, churches, and homes at the hands of predominantly Hindu Meitei mobs.

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

MS Swaminathan Counterview Desk In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’. Pointing ou

Link India's 'deteriorating' religious conditions with trade relations: US policymakers told

By Our Representative  In a significant move, Commissioners on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) have raised concerns about the “sophisticated, systematic persecution” of religious minorities by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a hearing on India in Washington DC.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Why is green revolution harmful for nutrition, food safety, environment, climate change

By Bharat Dogra*  A lie repeated a hundred times will not turn a lie into a truth. The big media should realize this and stop perpetuating the lie of the green revolution saving India from hunger, long after the world has awakened to the reality of how harmful the green revolution has been from the point of nutrition, food safety, environment and climate change.