The proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, aimed at replacing the current Indian Penal Code (IPC), is raising concerns regarding the absence of procedural safeguards against false implication in cases involving terrorism. Legal expert M.S. Khan highlighted that the new law lacks crucial provisions present in anti-terror legislation like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA). Khan emphasized, "All safeguards have been bypassed in the new law. Now any police officer can register a First Information Report (FIR) against anyone saying the person is a terrorist."
Khan further noted that while terrorism-related offenses are distinct and require specific safeguards, the proposed law lacks the checks present in the UAPA and MCOCA. These omissions allow police officers to initiate terrorism-related FIRs without the oversight mandated by existing laws.
The BNS Bill introduces a distinct definition of terrorism as a separate offense, differentiating it from the UAPA, which primarily targets terrorist activities. Khan stressed that the proposed law's deficiencies, such as the absence of senior officer approval prior to FIR filing and specific criteria for investigating officers, could impede the progress of trials.
Interestingly, the new Bill includes "causing floods" as a form of terrorist activity. While seemingly unconventional, this provision stems from the Assam government's previous action of prosecuting individuals for "man-made" floods. This precedent, albeit unusual, adds to the evolving legal landscape.
The BNS Bill's unique approach to defining and addressing terrorism-related offenses underscores the intricate balance between legal frameworks and real-world scenarios. These developments raise crucial questions about safeguarding individuals' rights while ensuring national security and justice.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University