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Indian Penal Code 1860, HM Amit Shah wants to Overhaul IPC

Indian Penal Code 1860, HM Amit Shah wants to Overhaul IPC

Tag: GS 2 || Polity ||Judiciary || Judicial Reforms

Why In News?

  • The Home Ministry is set to amend various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

About IPCs

  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the official criminal code of India.
  • It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.
  • The code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the chairmanship of Macaulay.
  • It came into force in British India during the early British Raj period in 1862.
  • However, it did not apply automatically in the Princely states, which had their own courts and legal systems until the 1940s.
  • The Code has since been amended several times and is now supplemented by other criminal provisions. 

Why IPC needs revamp?

  • The rebooting of IPC introduced by the British in 1860 was necessary as it is primarily based on the spirit of “master and servant.”
  • In the British era, the police were raised to protect their interests, but now their duty is to “protect the people”.
  • There is uneven punishment for crimes of grievous nature. For example — snatching of chains or bags on road. It could be life-threatening in some cases but the punishment is not commensurate with the gravity of the crime.
  • Depending on the whims of the police, it is booked under robbery or theft. We have to standardize the punishment.

Earlier amendments

  • In 2016, the Home Ministry had proposed insertion of two stricter anti-racial discrimination provisions in the IPC.
  • The two amendments — Section 153A and Section 509A “to deal with racially motivated crimes” received lukewarm response from the States.

What is the proposal?

  • The Home Minister recently said that the Bureau of Police Research and Development should work on the proposal to amend the codes.
  • The Ministry wrote to all States and Union Territories seeking suggestions in this regard.
  • Two committees comprising legal luminaries have also been constituted by the Ministry.

What is the need for caution?

  • While the revision of the codes is essential in many ways, it should not be unprincipled or unguided amendments.
  • In the process, it is suggested to first look into –
  • the general principles of criminal law
  • the language of the IPC.
  • the rules which should govern its
  • Criminal law is considered to be the most apparent expression of the relationship between a state and its

What are the principles to be considered?

Victims – Victimological underpinnings ought to be given a major thrust in reforming laws to identify the rights of crime victims.

  • The following point towards the increased role of victims in the criminal justice system:
  • launch of victim and witness protection schemes
  • use of victim impact statements
  • advent of victim advocacy
  • increased victim participation in criminal trials
  • enhanced access of victims to compensation and

Offences – Construction of new offences and reworking of the existing classification of offences is another priority.

  • This process must be informed by the principles of criminal jurisprudence which have substantially been altered in the past four decades.
  • For instance, liability questions in offences need a fresh look.
  • Criminal liability could be graded better to assign the degree of punishments.
  • New types of punishments like community service orders, restitution orders, and other aspects of restorative and reformative justice could also be brought in this fold.

Classification – Chapters of the IPC are overloaded at several places.

  • It is unnecessary to have hundreds of sections in the category of property offences.
  • The scheme of chapters and classification of offences can be drastically reworked.
  • Offences like criminal conspiracy, sedition, offences against coin and stamps, etc must be abolished or
  • Even the chapters on offences against public servants, contempt of authority, public tranquility, and trespass can be redefined and narrowed.
  • New offences under a fresh classification scheme, like those suggested by the Malimath Committee on criminal justice reforms, can be introduced.

 What is the way forward?

  • India needs to draft a clear policy that should inform the changes to be envisaged in the IPC or
  • Simultaneous improvements should be made in the police, prosecution, judiciary and in prisons, for the above measures to be truly effective.
  • A Criminal Justice Reform Committee with a mandate to evolve criminal justice policy should be formed for this exercise.
  • It should be in furtherance to the work done by the Menon Committee on Criminal Justice System, the Malimath Committee, and the Law Commission in India in this regard.

Additional Info Malimath Report

  • Justice Malimath Committee or The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System was constituted by the Home Ministry in 2000.
  • The committee had submitted its report in 2003 and made recommendations on crime investigation and punishment.
  • The recommendations were never implemented. It is now going to be revisited by the government.
  • One of its key recommendations is admissibility of confessions made before a police officer as evidence in a court of law.
  • Other recommendations are
  • Stringent punishment for false registration of cases,
  • Constituting a National Judicial Commission and
  • Amending Article 124 to make impeachment of judges less difficult.
  • Standard of “proof beyond reasonable doubt” followed in criminal cases be done away with.

Mains  Question

Why revamping or reform is necessary in Indian Penal Code(IPC)?