New criminal laws: Law Commission was bypassed, says Chidambaram

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Chennai, Jul 6 (PTI) Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday claimed that the Centre bypassed the Law Commission in enacting the three new criminal laws that came into effect from July 1.

The Law Commission, comprising of retired judges, legal experts, professors, and permanent legal staff, would normally hold consultations with bar council members, and advocate associations and prepare a draft to be presented in the Parliament, he said.

But the Law Commission was bypassed and five or six "part-timers" were appointed for a panel, he said on the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, replacing the British-era Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act.

"The laws were not referred to the Law Commission nor was it consulted. This is wrong," Chidambaram said while speaking at a protest organised here by the DMK advocate wing against the new laws.

"World over, the death penalty has been abolished. But, here solitary confinement was included as a punishment, which is an unusual and cruel punishment as per the Constitution," he said. Such a punishment was not prevailing anywhere in the world, the former Union Minister added.

"Similarly, life sentence and life sentence to the remainder of life have been included. What is the difference?" he asked.

Further, Chidambram said that he has been insisting upon a debate on the new laws for several months but the government has denied as it was not prepared for it.

He reiterated that 90 - 99 percent of the new laws were cut, copy and paste work. The government could have instead brought a few amendments.

"I did not say there should be no reforms. ... they should have brought an amendment. They changed only the section numbers. Advocates, judges and police should now read again," he said.

For instance, even a child or a newly recruited police constable would know that section 302 referred to murder but now this number has been changed, adding to the confusion, he claimed. PTI JSP ROH