Opposition parties likely to move Supreme Court over 3 new crime code laws | Latest News India

New Delhi: Hours after the Lok Sabha cleared new criminal code bills, the INDIA bloc discussed the possibilities of challenging the “loopholes” in the three pieces of legislation in the Supreme Court, with Opposition members saying that Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Singhvi might be considered to lead the legal charge once the bills were passed by both Houses.

Lok Sabha MPs give vote on Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill during the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday.  (ANI)
Lok Sabha MPs give vote on Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill during the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI)

Read here: Lok Sabha clears 3 bills to replace British-era criminal codes

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The discussion took place was taken at a floor leaders’ meeting of the group organized a day after a larger INDIA bloc meeting on Tuesday. The leaders had focused on a seat-sharing agreement and a joint campaign plan in 8-10 cities on Tuesday.

The floor leaders’ meeting organized at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence on Wednesday centered around a possible challenge to the three crime code laws in the Supreme Court, and on staging a protest by suspended Opposition MPs at Jantar Mantar on December 22, people aware of the deliberations said.

“We discussed the bills and it was decided that the loopholes in the proposed laws would be challenged in the Supreme Court,” said Trinamool’s Saugata Ray, who was present in the meeting.

The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita were cleared through a voice vote at a time when 97 Opposition members were suspended from the Lok Sabha (along with 46 from the Rajya Sabha) in action that had been unprecedented in scale during the winter session.

The three bills aim to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Evidence Act.

“The new code creates two sets of anti-terror laws. The existing UAPA [or Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act] and now the whole set of anti-terror provisions in the new criminal codes. The codes also leave the discretion to deputy SP-level officers to choose which anti-terror laws would be applicable in a case. “No guidelines or criteria have been laid on how to choose between the two laws,” said Singhvi.

“They do a similar thing to organized crime legislation. While Maharashtra has MCOCA or Rajasthan has RCOCA, the new bills again create two sets of laws,” Singhvi added.

In a dissent note to the parliamentary panel on home affairs in November, former Union home minister P Chidambaram referred to Clause 5 of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita as “…retrograde as well as unconstitutional. The absolute power of the executive government to commute a sentence of death or life imprisonment, without recording reasons, is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.”

He also said that Clause 72(3) was unconstitutional. “It violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. “The Court can restrict the right of the media to report the Court’s proceedings in a particular case, legislation cannot bar the media in all cases,” the note said.

Read here: ‘Sedition to be treason’: Amit Shah explains proposed changes to criminal laws

Like Singhvi, Chidambaram also objected to inserting anti-terror provisions in the new codes. “Clause 111 refers to the offense of ‘terrorist act’ and provides for punishment thereof. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 is a comprehensive law that has stood under scrutiny by the Courts. It has special provisions on sanctions for prosecution, burden of evidence, etc. if there is need, the special law, UAPA, can be amended,” he stated.