Jamaat-e-Islami Hind expresses concern over changes to India’s criminal justice system

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has expressed concern over changes to India’s criminal justice system with the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) being replaced by the newly passed Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) laws from July 2024.

In a statement to the media, the JIH Vice President Prof Salim Engineer said, “We are concerned over the changes to India’s criminal justice system through the passage of new criminal laws. From July 2024, cases registered before and after July 1 will fall under different laws. Two parallel criminal justice systems will exist, complicating the legal process and increasing the workload for the already overburdened judiciary. This will cause confusion and delay in imparting justice. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that simple amendments to the IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act would have been more appropriate than rewriting the entire laws.”

The JIH Vice President stated, “There are multiple problems with these new laws. Firstly, they were passed in December 2023 without proper discussion in Parliament, while many opposition members were suspended. We support any genuine attempts to decolonise our legal system, but without making the police and security agencies accountable to citizens, there can be no real decolonisation.

For example, even the government claims to have abolished the old sedition law, a new, more stringent section (152 of the BNS) has been introduced. Similar to the old sedition law, this new section will impact freedom of speech and dissent in the guise of security concerns. And it has no provision to hold police officers accountable for filing false cases. The new laws make it discretionary for the police to register FIRs for crimes punishable by 3 to 7 years of imprisonment. This could lead to corruption and difficulty for marginalized sections in filing FIRs. Police can now request custody for up to 15 days anytime during a 60 to 90-day period. This could lead to longer detentions and misuse of power, undermining civil liberties. While efforts to digitize the justice system (FIRs, judgments, etc.) by 2027 are commendable, it will be discriminatory for the poor and marginalized sections who do not have access to technology and the internet.”

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