Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said that the objectives of three proposed bills to overhaul the country’s criminal law are not punitive in nature, Bar and Bench reported.

Shah had introduced the bills on August 11, the last day of the Monsoon Session. Speaker Om Birla then referred all the bills to the parliamentary standing committee.

The bills propose to replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860 with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973 with the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 with the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.

On Sunday, Shah said at a conference organised by the Bar Council of India that the three bills seek to ensure justice for all.

“The old laws were to strengthen the English rule to ensure they could rule well,” the home minister said, according to Bar and Bench. “They intended to punish, not ensure justice. The new laws don’t intend to punish, they intend to ensure justice.”

Shah said that the three bills do not have a colonial imprint but have the flavour of Indian soil. “The central point of these three proposed laws is to protect the constitutional and human rights of citizens as well as their personal rights,” he said, according to PTI.

The home minister said a new provision has been added to deal with mob lynching, while the provision on sedition has been removed.

While there is no mention of “sedition” in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Clause 150 of the proposed code contains provisions similar to Section 124A.

Clause 150 reads: “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 terms “electronic communication”, “use of financial means” and “subversive activities” are left undefined.

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