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By Navia Sebastian

Intern, Vidhi Parivartan

The Union Government notified the Apex Court of its determination to actively investigate changes to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in order to make justice more accessible and quick for all residents and forge a legal system that is centered on the needs of the nation’s population. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala heard a petition challenging Section 64 of the CrPC on the grounds that it discriminated against women by classifying female family members as unable to accept summonses on behalf of the person being summoned.

The petition claimed that the cited section violated women’s rights to equality under Articles 14 and 15, their right to know under Article 19(1)(a), and their right to dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It also cited the Madras High Court petition of G. Kavitha v. Union of India, in which the same issue was raised and the Ministry of Law and Justice of the Union of India responded by stating that the petition’s allegations were unfounded.

The provision also makes life difficult for all other relevant parties and ignores cases in which the individual being served a summons only has female family members or is the only one present at the moment of service. The “anarchic and dogmatic” nature of the CrPC is demonstrated by the refusal to issue summonses to female members under provisions of the CrPC that took effect after 65 years of the CPC where it is permitted.

A Criminal Law Reforms Committee had been constituted by the Central Government in March 2020 to make suggestions for revising the IPC, CRP, and Evidence Act. The then VC of National Law University Delhi, Professor Dr. Ranbir Singh, headed the committee, which consisted of the then Registrar of NLU-D, Professor Dr.GS Bajpai, the VC of DNLU, Professor Dr. Balraj Chauhan, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, and former Delhi District and Sessions Judge GP Thareja.

On its website, the committee had posted a questionnaire that had been designed to solicit comments from experts and was based on secondary research. A wide range of organisations, research institutions, academic institutions, legal professionals, and civil society organisations from all over the nation responded to the questionnaire.Governors, chief ministers, lieutenant governors, administrators of union territories, the chief justice of India, the chief justices of various high courts, the Bar Council of India, the Bar Councils of various states, and members of Parliament have all been asked for suggestions by the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding comprehensive changes to criminal laws.

Even though there have been numerous significant changes to the criminal law over the past 40 years, the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs recommends in its 111th, 128th, and 146th reports that instead of making irregular changes to the relevant acts, the criminal justice system of the nation needs to be thoroughly reviewed. We must wait until July 2023, when the matter is listed, to understand how marital rape, sedition and other provisions in the criminal law system may be affected by the significant amendment under consideration.

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