The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, reviewing the three Bills to replace existing criminal codes, is likely to recommend redrafting key provisions that were brought in for the first time to tackle organised crime, The Indian Express has learnt.
The Bharatiya Nyana Sanhita, 2023, which seeks to replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860, introduced new provisions to define and penalise “organised crime”.
The deliberations by the panel headed by BJP MP Brij Lal are likely to lead to a recommendation to re-draft this provision.
It is learnt that while the panel feels that the provision is a very effective addition, many terms used must be clearly defined to avoid uncertainty.
Section 109 of the proposed law defines an organised crime syndicate to include a “gang, mafia or (crime) ring” involved in “gang, criminality, racketeering and syndicated organised crime.”
It is learnt that experts have pointed out that the scope of organised crime in the proposed law is much wider, even when compared with the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999.
The proposed provision also criminalises holding “any property, derived, or obtained from the commission of an organised crime or proceeds of any organised crime” with the jail term of not less than three years but which can be extended to life imprisonment.
The deliberations of the Parliamentary panel are likely to lead to a recommendation to safeguard third parties who may acquire such property unknowingly. This means, supplementing the provision with the “intent” to hold such property obtained from unlawful means.
Former CBI Special Director, Praveen Sinha, former Additional Solicitor General of India Pinky Anand, National Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Justice Arun Mishra are among the experts who appeared before the panel.
It is learnt that there is a view leaning in favour of bringing back the provision criminalising adultery (Section 497 of the IPC) and non-consensual ‘unnatural sex’ (Section 377 of the IPC) which have been removed in the new Bills.
The Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in 2018, had decriminalised adultery. Some have gone to the panel with concerns that there is a need to keep the provision in order to safeguard the sanctity of the institution of marriage.
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