PIL filed before Supreme Court to stay three new criminal laws

Read Time: 06 minutes


The main motive of the bills were to decolonise the Indian laws, but in contrary the same laws are being repeated with no new explanations with additional powers granted to the police to rule people out of fear and depriving the fundamental rights, the plea filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari claims.

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on three criminal laws passed last month to replace British era Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Evidence Act, due to various "defects and discrepancies".

In December 2023, Centre had introduced a fresh set of draft legislations to replace the existing criminal laws after incorporating recommendations of a parliamentary panel set up in the Lok Sabha.

Home Minister Amit Shah withdrew the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 and then introduced 'The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023', 'The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023' and 'The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023', which are to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act respectively.

In August, the Union Government had proposed three new bills in the Lok Sabha, replacing the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

The instant plea further seeks a direction to constitute an expert committee under the chairmanship of former judge of the top court to examine and assess the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam 2023.

The new laws were passed in Parliament on December 21, 2023 and published in Gazette Notification on December 25, 2023 "without any parliamentary debate as unfortunately most of the members were under suspension during the period", it claimed.

"The title of the present Bills being Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam are not accurate as per to Interpretation of Statutes, as the title does not speak about the statute and its motive but the present names of Acts are ambiguous in nature," the plea claims.

Filed through Advocate Vishal Tiwari, the plea highlights major issues with Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 including the fact that the Supreme Court has recognised that electronic records may be tampered with. 

"In reality, the new criminals are far more draconian and establishes police state in reality and violates every provision of fundamental rights of the people of India. If the British laws were considered colonial and draconian, then the Indian laws stands now far more draconian as in the British period, you could keep a person in police custody for a maximum of 15 days. Extending 15 days to 90 days and more, is a shocking provision enabling police torture," the plea said.

The petitioner has added that the introduction of new criminal bills can potentially impact lawyers in various ways, posing a range of challenges, like increased workload, complexity and ambiguity, increased workload etc.

In addition to these problems, it has been submitted that the new criminal bills do not bring any new changes from the previous ones, create confusion among citizens and provide more power to police and suppress the fundamental rights of people. 

Cause Title: Vishal Tiwari vs. Union of India