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Law panel chief for making lynching a separate crime in new criminal law

Source: PTI
September 22, 2023 21:59 IST
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The Law Commission on Friday told a parliamentary panel that there was a need to define as to what amounts to "lynching" in the proposed Bharat Nyay Sanhita, sources said.

IMAGE: A participant shows a placard during a silent protest 'Not in My Name' against the targeted lynching, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

In a first, "mob lynching" has been introduced as a crime in the proposed Bharat Nyay Samhita (BNS) which seeks to replace the colonial era Indian Penal Code (IPC). The sources said lynching has been "kept along with murder".

The law panel suggested that it should be "separated" and carved out as a separate offence itself "instead of part of murder".

Law Commission chairperson Justice (retd) Ritu Raj Awasthi was also present at the meeting of the standing committee on home headed by the BJP's Brijlal, a former director general of police of Uttar Pradesh.


What amounts to "lynching" should also be defined for greater clarity, the law panel suggested, according to the sources.

The BNS uses the term "mental illness" in place of "unsound mind", "lunatic" and "idiot" which are in use in the present IPC.

The words were replaced as they were "colonial" in nature, the sources pointed out citing the BNS.

The definition of "mental illness" was taken from the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. The purpose and object of the mental healthcare law is different, they noted citing the presentation of the law panel.

What "mental illness" amounts to has been mentioned in the Act along with exceptions.

The definition, the law panel told the committee, will create a "lot of confusion", the sources said.

For the purpose of criminal jurisprudence, the panel suggested that the term should be defined in the BNS wherever it was necessary, they said.

In IPC 302, self-defence is mentioned as one of the exceptions. If the term "mental illness" is provided instead of "unsound mind" in the BNS, then it will have "wide implication", the sources said citing the presentation.

Since the possibility of "misuse" cannot be ruled out, the law panel suggested that the term "unsound mind" be used.

The panel appreciated the use of the terms "organised crime" and "terrorist act" in the BNS and described it as a "welcome change", the sources noted.

"Terrorist acts" were, so far, being covered under specials laws such as the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, the National Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and were not a part of the IPC.

The law panel suggested including the definition of terrorist act or what will amount to a terrorist act.

According to the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, which seeks to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), there is no need to "prove" the admitted evidence of the prosecution. An investigation officer is called to court to prove the police report submitted.

Under the proposed provision, if the defence side is admitting and not denying the report, there is no need to prove it.

The Law Commission, the sources said, welcomed the step as it would fasten trials and reduce pendency.

The sources said the commission's chairperson pointed out errors such as use of "Bharat" and "India", and "code" and "samhita" interchangeably, and suggested that the proposed laws should use one term consistently. He also praised the emphasis on electronic evidence, saying it will be helpful in trials.

The members of the committee learnt from the experience of Justice Awasthi, who retired as the chief justice of the Karnataka high court, the sources said. 

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