Criminal laws may need reform, but not new and unfamiliar names

Syllabus: Parliament and State legislatures


Few would disagree that laws require an overhaul from time to time so that they could be abreast of developments in technology and changes in society.


  • It does not mean that whole new Codes be introduced and given abstruse names, when, in substance, the old laws are essentially retained.
  • The first criticism about the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS, to replace the Indian Penal Code), the Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS, to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure) and the Bhartiya Sakshya Bill (to replace the Indian Evidence Act) is that it is unnecessary to refer to them wholly in their Hindi names.
  • Every law in India has an official translation in the respective official language of every State;
  • so the need for the IPC, CrPC and Evidence Act to be referred to in their Hindi names alone is questionable.
  • The criminal procedure law was re-enacted in 1973, and it is known as the CrPC, 1973, as distinct from its 1898 version.
  • The objective to have Hindi names is apparently an attempt to symbolise the de-anglicisation of criminal law.
  • A preliminary scroll through the new laws indicates that much of the original language is retained.
  • It raises a doubt whether the changes are far too few to warrant their being enacted afresh, as deletions and amendments may have achieved the same purpose.
  • It is some consolation that the ‘Sanhita’s’ are to be scrutinised by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, as the consultation process appears inadequate.

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