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UGC Directs Universities and HEIs to Publicize New Criminal Laws, Dispel ‘Myths’

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has urged universities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country to publicize the new criminal legislation and debunk any “myths” about them.

Among the “myths” listed by the UGC are that the new laws “threaten” individual freedom and aim to build a “police state”, that sedition provisions have been kept under ‘Deshdroh’, and that these legislations permit “police torture”.

The UGC is additionally speaking with universities and HEIs on these myths and the truth.

UGC Secretary Manish Joshi said, “The Higher Educational Institutions have been requested to publicise the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 around the themes contained in the flyers and by carrying out campaigns by way of displays through standees, distributing flyers and organizing seminars and talks by lawyers, judges both serving and retired and their respective faculties in their institutions.” The HEIs have also been asked to share the details of the activities undertaken to the Ministry of Education for sending them to Home Ministry, he added.

The Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita, 2023, The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, and The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 were passed by both Houses of Parliament during the Winter Session. They were enacted into law after they got assent from President Droupadi Murmu.
They will respectively replace Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In its flyers the UGC has mentioned the following “myths”: “The new criminal laws threaten individual freedom, aim to establish a police state; (they) are mere repackaging of existing draconian provisions; the extension of custody from 15 to 90 days in the new criminal laws is a shocking provision enabling police torture; sedition is gone, but appears as ‘Deshdroh’ in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 and harsh punishment in hit-and-run cases under Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023”.

While 20 new offences have been added in the (BNS), 19 provisions that existed in IPC have been deleted. In 33 offences the punishment of imprisonment has been increased, in 83 the punishment of fine has been enhanced, while in 23 the mandatory minimum punishment has been introduced and in six offences the punishment of ‘community service’ has been introduced.

The major changes proposed in the new criminal laws include the introduction of a definition of child; the inclusion of transgender in the definition of ‘gender’; the inclusion of electronic and digital records in the definition of document; and the expansion of the definition of’movable’ to include property of all descriptions.

New chapters on offenses against women and children, as well as ‘inchoate crimes’ (attempt, abetment, and conspiracy), have been added, and beggary has been established as a type of exploitation for trafficking.

New offences have been introduced, including organized crime, terrorist acts, petty organized crime, hit-and-run, mob lynching, hiring a child to commit an offence, sexual exploitation of women by deceptive means, snatching, abetment outside India, acts endangering India’s sovereignty, integrity, and unity, publication of false or fake news, and so on.

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