New criminal laws portend great danger to democracy, says civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad The Hindu

14, Aug 2023 | V. RAGHAVENDRA

Noted civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad has said that the changes proposed in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and The Evidence Act portend a great danger to democracy.

The Constitution was so drafted that it respected the opinions and aspirations of all sections, and gave utmost significance to equality, whereas the laws being made by present governments and the amendments thereof tended to be biased, Ms. Setalvad said while addressing a seminar on ‘Protection of Constitution and democracy’, organised as part of the All India Lawyers’ Union (AILU) State conference, in Guntur on Sunday.

The laws were being violated on the Floor of Parliament itself during the NDA regime. In contrast, the Left parties-backed UPA Government had made several good legislations, she observed.

Ms. Setalvad said the BJP-led NDA government’s actions stoked communal disharmony, and it would go to any extent to suppress the dissenting voices. Besides, the government had all powers concentrated in its hands, she said.

While the existing laws (IPC and CrPC) allowed police custody for a maximum period of 15 days, the new set of criminal laws provided for its extension up to 90 days. This would give ample scope for persecution of political opponents on flimsy grounds, she added.

Incarceration of intellectuals had become common as the government couldn’t take any criticism in its stride, she observed.

Under the NDA rule, secularism was also under threat and the Constitution was acquiring a religious hue. Youth aged between 18 and 35 years were being brain-washed by the BJP with its religious agenda in order to build up its vote bank, Ms. Setalvad alleged.

Former High Court judge K.G. Shankar, MLC K.S. Lakshman Rao, former Ministers Dokka Manikya Varaprasad and Alapati Rajendra Prasad, AILU national general secretary and senior advocate P.V. Surendranath and State president Sunkara  Rajendra Prasad and general secretary Narra Srinivasa Rao spoke.

The original piece may be read here


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