Aimed to curb heinous crimes like rape which have shaken the country on many occasions with brutal assaults on minor girls as well as on adult women, and to instil fear of law, the Union Home Ministry has expedited its procedure of seeking suggestions to amend the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Once the opinion sought from departments concerned in the Ministry of Home Affairs, including the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and Ministry of Law and among others, are received, a proposal to change certain sections will be sent to the Union Cabinet seeking it approval to put it in Parliament for a new strict law to deal with such gruesome crimes.
It is learnt that the proposal for a new law could be moved in Parliament during the upcoming Budget Session 2020, which is expected soon, officials in the know told IANS, adding the Home Ministry has "expedited" its work in this direction in consultation with the BPR&D. The MHA is considering amendments to the IPC, the CrPC and Indian Evidence Act, said an official, requesting anonymity.
"Many suggestions have been received so far from various state police departments, judges, lawyers, and civil society to bring the IPC and the CrPC in line with a democratic functioning of the government, and it is being considered."
The suggestions include diluting the right to file an appeal or seek legal remedies in heinous crimes against women, and making forensic evidence compulsory in criminal cases where punishment is seven years or more, so that the amended law could be as strict as it "instil fear among criminals", the official said.
The MHA has allocated the task to its senior officials dealing with internal security to suggest necessary changes in the IPC and the CrPC so that internal security in the 21st century can become foolproof.
Besides, a layout for criminal investigation is also being prepared, specially based on forensic evidence to increase conviction rates, another official said.
The BPR&D - which is mandated to find solutions to challenges being faced by the police forces among other responsibilities -- has also submitted suggestions to change IPC and CrPC rules which, during the British rule, were made to secure its empire. "BPR&D's suggestions are being analysed by the Home Ministry in consultation," the official said.
As per current provisions of the CrPC, the victim and the accused have right to appeal against lower court judgements before a higher court, in order to avoid any miscarriage of justice. However, this clause has led to unusually delays in certain cases, like the 2012 brutal Nirbhaya gangrape-cum-murder in which the convicts still could not be punished even after special court proceedings to deal with the case.
The IPC was enacted in 1860, while the Indian Evidence Act came into effect in 1872 and the new CrPC in 1973.
The official said the new laws will be made considering the present reality of the society, in accordance with democratic aspirations of the people and provide speedy justice to women, children and the weaker sections of people.
Laws in countries like France and Germany -- where the investigation is supervised by a judicial magistrate -- are also being scrutinised as they leads to a high rate of conviction, the official said.
"The aim is to bolster the current adversarial system to make it more effective. This was also among the recommendations of the 2003 Malimath committee, set up by the then Home Minister L.K. Advani to suggest reforms on the criminal justice system."
The government is also working on the vision to establish a National Forensic Science University, with an affiliated college in each state and forensic science lab in each district, to make prosecution and conviction more effective in the backdrop of the rate of conviction in the country which is at a pitiful level.
Besides, the MHA is also working on the model to establish a Modus Operandi Bureau (MOB) to study the psychological profile crime and criminals, for effective implementation of law and order, and on a similar line to create post of Director (Prosecution).
The Ministry began its work to amend sections in IPC and CrPC after Union Home Minister Amit Shah mentioned the need for such changes in the 47th All India Police Science Congress summit in Lucknow in November.
At the 54th Conference of the Directors General of Police and Inspectors General of Police, held in Pune too, "the Home Minister underscored the government's resolve to initiate changes in the IPC and CrPC to make them more conducive to current democratic set up".