Centre seeks to overhaul British-era criminal laws
‘New criminal laws will have no bearing on UAPA and MCOCA’
Context: Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced three Bills in Lok Sabha to repeal the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), Indian Evidence Act (IEA), and Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).
Relevance: GS -2 Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government
- The new Bills include the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023; and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.
Key Provisions of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023:
- Replaces IPC and introduces changes to modernize the criminal justice system.
- Prescribes capital punishment as the maximum sentence for mob lynching.
- Imposes a 10-year prison term for sexual intercourse with women under false promise of marriage.
- Exempts consensual sexual intercourse between a husband and wife if the wife is not under 18 years of age.
- Repeals the section on sedition.
- Defines terrorism, separatism, armed rebellion, and challenges to national sovereignty, under specific provisions.
Objectives and Benefits of the Bills:
- Aim to provide faster and more relevant justice to address contemporary needs.
- Introduce changes in areas like evidence collection, chargesheet filing, prosecution sanction, and remission of sentences.
- Enhance conviction rates and forensic evidence collection in cases punishable by seven years or more.
- Facilitate video recording of statements of survivors in sexual violence cases.
- Mandates videography of search and seizure activities.
Empowerment of Police and Accountability:
- Police required to inform the status of a complaint within 90 days.
- Community service introduced as punishment for specific crimes.
- Police have 90 days to file a chargesheet, extendable by court but limited to 180 days.
- Prosecution sanction against police officers and civil servants must be decided by the government within 120 days.
- Videography of search and seizure made compulsory; chargesheets won’t be accepted without it.
Sentencing and Remission Guidelines:
- Death sentences can be remitted only to life sentences.
- Life sentences can be remitted only up to seven years.
- Seven years imprisonment can be waived off only up to three years.
- Aim to prevent individuals with political influence from evading strict punishments.
Key Changes in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023:
Terrorism Defined as Separate Offense:
- The BNS Bill, 2023, introduces a distinct offense of terrorism.
- However, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the existing law on terrorism, will continue to be in effect.
Impact on Special Laws:
- The new Bill’s repeal of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not affect other special laws like the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and laws governing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Codification of Zero FIR Concept:
- The concept of Zero FIR, filed irrespective of jurisdiction, is codified in the new Bill.
- Zero FIR allows the initiation of a criminal case even outside the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.
Attachment and Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime:
- A new section is introduced regarding attachment and confiscation of property obtained through criminal activities.
- Investigating police officers can apply to the court for property confiscation, with the proceeds used for victim compensation.
Mob Lynching and Hate Crimes:
- A new provision addresses mob lynching for murder based on race, caste, or community.
- The punishment for this offense includes a minimum of seven years’ imprisonment, life imprisonment, or death penalty.
Stringent Punishment for Snatching:
- A new provision focuses on “snatching” offenses, such as chain snatching.
- Severe injury resulting in incapacitation or permanent disability attracts stricter penalties.
Chinese military ship docks at Colombo Port for a ‘formal’ visit
Context: A Chinese warship named Hai Yang 24 Hao arrived in Colombo and will be docked at the Colombo Port.
Relevance: GS -2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Importance: This visit comes exactly a year after the visit of another Chinese vessel led to diplomatic tensions between India and Sri Lanka.
- Sri Lankan officials confirmed that India did not raise any concerns over the warship’s visit.
- Both India and Sri Lanka are reportedly in agreement over the visit.
Background and Previous Incident:
- In August 2022, China’s satellite tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 visited Hambantota Port, causing concerns from India and the U.S.
- This visit strained Indo-Lanka ties, prompting discussions on diplomatic procedures for granting clearance to foreign vessels and aircraft visiting Sri Lanka.
Current Status and Response:
- Sri Lanka’s Cabinet approved a “standard operating procedure” for granting diplomatic clearance to foreign vessels and aircraft visiting the country.
- The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson mentioned monitoring the situation, ensuring security and taking necessary measures to protect India’s interests.
India needs a new economic policy
Context: The National Statistical Office (NSO) released the 2022-23 GDP fourth-quarter growth rate figures.
Relevance: GS 3 Economy
NSO’s GDP Data and Media Perception:
- The data contrasts with media reports from the Press Information Bureau, presenting a gloomier economic picture.
Decline in GDP Growth and Historical Context:
- Since 2015-16, GDP growth rate has been decreasing annually.
- The decline has brought the growth rate to a level known as the “Hindu Rate of Growth” (around 3.5%).
Comparison with Past Governments’ Performance:
- The period between 1991-96 and 2004-2014 saw higher GDP growth rates under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.
- During this period, reforms were undertaken to reduce state participation, incentivize capital and labor, and promote economic growth.
Modi’s Economic Policies and Current Challenges:
- The Modi government’s policies since 2014 have not been effective in maintaining a coherent economic strategy.
- The decline in GDP growth rates since 2016 has persisted and raises concerns.
- Bold claims, like achieving a $5 trillion GDP by 2024, have been made without clear policy structuring.
Need for Structured Economic Policy:
- There’s a necessity for well-defined economic objectives, priorities, strategies, and resource mobilization plans.
- Urgent reforms include abolishing personal income tax, scrapping Goods and Services Tax (GST), and increasing interest rates on savings and loans for specific sectors.
Call for New Economic Policy:
- A comprehensive new economic policy is needed.
- It should emphasize clear objectives, strategies, resource mobilization plans, and accountability.
- The market system should be structured, with rules to ensure transparency, accountability, and a level-playing field.
Balance between Deregulation and Public Welfare:
- Deregulation shouldn’t lead to rejecting government intervention for safety nets, market failure, and social security.
- The trade-off between public sector involvement and deregulation needs to be balanced for inclusive development and safeguarding democratic values.
Luna-25 will not hamper function of Chandrayaan-3: Russian space agency
Context: Russia’s space agency Roscosmos launched Luna-25, which aims to land on the moon.
Relevance: GS-3 Space
No Interference between Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3:
- Roscosmos clarified that Luna-25’s landing on the moon will not hinder India’s Chandrayaan-3.
- The two missions have different landing areas on the moon, ensuring no interference or collision risk.
- There is sufficient space on the moon for both missions.
- Luna-25 was launched from Russia’s Vostochny spaceport.
- Its lunar lander is anticipated to reach the moon on August 23, coinciding with Chandrayaan-3’s expected landing.
Unique Landing Areas:
- Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 have distinct planned landing areas.
- Luna-25’s lunar lander is stationary and will not move on the moon’s surface.
Flight Trajectory and Landing:
- Luna-25’s journey to the moon takes around one hour and 20 minutes for trajectory alignment.
- The flight from Earth to the moon is approximately five days.
- The stay in lunar orbit varies from five to seven days, contingent on the landing area.
- India’s ISRO plans for Chandrayaan-3’s lander and rover to touch down near the lunar south pole region.
Lunar Orbiters and Cooperation:
- As of July 2023, there are six active lunar orbiters.
- ISRO mentioned China’s Yutu-2 rover as the only operating rover on the far side.
- While there is no interaction between ISRO and Luna-25, Russia is open to cooperation, including participation in the International Scientific Lunar Station (ILRS) project and potential Russian payloads on future Indian missions.
International Scientific Lunar Station (ILRS):
- The ILRS is a joint project pursued by Roscosmos and the Chinese space agency, aiming to establish a lunar base.
Shared Lunar Aspirations:
- Both India and Russia aspire to be the first countries to land on the moon’s south pole.
ECOWAS bloc to keep troops ready for Niger
Context: Tensions are rising between Niger’s new military regime and the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS.
What is ECOWAS?
- Regional Bloc: ECOWAS is a regional intergovernmental organization in West Africa, consisting of 15 member states.
- Establishment: Founded on May 28, 1975, with the Treaty of Lagos, aimed at promoting economic integration and cooperation in the West African region.
- Enhance economic growth, development, and cooperation among member states.
- Create a common market and facilitate free movement of goods, people, and capital.
- Coordinate policies in various sectors such as agriculture, industry, energy, and transportation.
- Promote peace, stability, and security in the region.
- Member States: ECOWAS comprises 15 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Gambia.
Niger’s Importance and Western Involvement:
- Niger, an impoverished nation with a population of around 25 million, was a crucial partner for Western nations in countering the jihadi insurgency in the region.
- Western powers, including France and the U.S., had significant military personnel in Niger and invested substantial resources to support its military against the insurgency.