Criminal Law Bills Critical View of Decolonisation of Law

  Oct 03, 2023

Criminal Law Bills:Critical View of Decolonisation of Law

Criminal Law Bills and Decolonization


Q1: What are the key criminal law Bills introduced in 2023, and what was the stated goal of these Bills?

A1: In 2023, three criminal law Bills were introduced, with claims of decolonization as their objective. These Bills aimed to reform India's criminal laws and bring about a shift from colonial-era legal practices.

Q2: How does the author define colonization in the context of criminal law?

A2: The author defines colonization as a process where the colonized people serve the interests of the colonial state without question. The colonial state prioritizes its own interests and views the colonized as both inferior and suspicious.

Q3: What should a decolonized or post-colonial law achieve in terms of the citizen-state relationship?

A3: A decolonized or post-colonial law should reflect a changed relationship between citizens and the state. It should prioritize serving the needs and interests of citizens rather than treating them with suspicion. The purpose of law should shift from protecting the state to serving the citizens.

Q4: How do the criminal law Bills fail to achieve decolonization in practice?

A4: The Bills view citizens with increased suspicion and mistrust, creating a sense that the state is in opposition to the citizen. They introduce overbroad and constitutionally suspect provisions that compromise people and empower the state. The Bills broaden the definition of offenses, increasing police powers without addressing real issues.

Q5: What are some examples of issues with the criminal law Bills' provisions?

A5: Many of the proposed changes in the Bills, such as those related to organized crime, false information, acts endangering sovereignty, and terrorist acts, are overbroad and constitutionally suspect. They duplicate existing laws and increase police powers unnecessarily.

Q6: How does the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) expand police powers?

A6: The BNSS repeals the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and grants the police extended powers, allowing longer periods of police custody. Some provisions in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) grant police powers broader than even harsh laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Q7: What is the author's view on the state's approach to police and prison reform in the context of decolonization?

A7: The author contends that the Bills and other recent developments in criminal law do not show a willingness to audit and reimagine the police and prison systems, which are relics of colonization. The focus on increasing punishments and broadening police powers reflects colonial logic and fails to consider the impact on India's overcrowded prisons and policing practices.

Q8: How does the author relate the Bills to other developments in criminal law that push India back into colonial ways?

A8: The author mentions the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, as an example of a law that further promotes surveillance and control by the state, aligning with colonial-era objectives. These developments collectively undermine the narrative of decolonization in criminal law.


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