IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Committee which proposes to reform criminal law from non-patriarchal perspective excludes women and minorities

13th July, 2020 Editorial


  • A five-member Committee for Reforms in Criminal Law has been set up by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs at the National Law University (Delhi).

Mandate of Committee:

  • Recommend reforms in the criminal laws of the country in a principled, effective and efficient manner.
  • Ensure safety and security of individual, community and the nation.
  • Prioritise the constitutional values of justice, dignity and inherent worth of the individual.

Challenges with the Process:

  • Wrong mandate as law reforms lies under the Ministry of Law and Justice and not with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Limited consultation: Unlike Law commission, which undertakes nationwide consultation, committee consultations likely to be limited?
  • Truncated time frame: Law commission has three years to give recommendation unlike the committee, which will give in six months.
  • The Bar Council of Delhi has raised an objection to the almost complete exclusion of practising lawyers and the Bar from the committee.
  • Lack of diversity in the composition of the committee.
  • Lack of clarity on the objectives that the reforms or amendments seek to achieve.
  • The women’s bar across the country has refused to accept the composition of this committee and has demanded its reconstitution.
  • The focus of this committee seems to be on increasing strict liability offences and making sexual offences gender neutral.
  • Predetermination on what is to be amended and the process of consultation is more like a referendum on the amendments.
  • The criminal law reform agenda has clubbed the security of an individual with the security of the nation.

About Indian Penal Code

  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the official criminal code of India.
  • It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.
  • The code was drafted on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Criminal laws in India:

  • Crimes are generally referred to as offenses against the state.
  • The standard of proof for crimes is beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • It is a body of rules and statutes that defines conduct prohibited by the government because it threatens and harms public safety and welfare and that establishes punishment to be imposed for the commission of such acts.
  • Indian Penal Code
  • Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Indian Evidence Act

Controversies around IPC:

  • Section 377: Criminalised the homosexuality.
  • Section 309: Criminalises the Suicide
  • Imposition of Death Penalty
  • Provision of adultery, which has already been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • Criminal defamation under section 499
  • Provision of Sedition under section 124

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/national-law-university-delhi-committee-for-reforms-in-criminal-law-6502591/