22 June, 2021

Old Law Machine Seeks A New Engine

An MHA-appointed committee reviewing criminal laws triggers fears that it may lead to more curtailing of rights

Old Law Machine Seeks A New Engine

What Mahatma Gandhi said may well resonate now as the country looks to overhaul its criminal justice system, with some of its laws as old as 160 years. “There are  unjust laws as there are unjust men,” he wrote, speaking primarily of laws designed, legislated and enforced by colonialists on millions of people they have enslaved. India of the 21st century is a free country, a vibrant democracy, but its people still slave under the yoke of archaic colonial-era laws, which have never been changed wholly to sync with the times, except for a few desperate amendments. There have not been any comprehensive reforms, though successive governments have promised a recast and legal luminaries often flagged the dings and dents, the chinks and cracks in the system.

This May, however, during the Covid lockdown, the Union home ministry set up a five-member committee to re-evaluate India’s criminal justice laws. The mandate of the committee headed by Ranbir Singh, vice chancellor, National Law University (NLU), Delhi, is to review the three codes of criminal...

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