Criminal laws in India are very old, despite some amendments from time to
time it has not been updated to the level where it will fulfill the needs of
society. India penal code and the Evidence act have its origin in the British
era, both being substantive law needs major overhauling of the acts. Code of
criminal procedure, enacted in 1973 still has not been amended to that the level
where it will provide speedy trial of the crimes and need some major amendments
Many recommendations of the various law commissions have not been included in
the acts. Many committees have recommended certain important measures still the
parliament has not been able to bring some major changes. Recently, the Ministry
of Home Affairs has set up a national-level committee for reforms in criminal
In this blog, I will be writing about certain changes that must be incorporated
in the acts and certain parts of the acts which need major overhauling.
Some of the major changes required in criminal laws are:
Criminalization of Marital rape; this has been a long-standing
recommendation of the law commission, various committees and the
criminalization of the marital rape has been demanded by many sections of
Till now, marital rape has not been considered as rape in India. Any sexual
acts done without the consent of women or done by force against the will of
women (under the purview of the definition of rape under section 376 of IPC). In India there
has been a history of forceful sex or sex without the consent of women in a
marriage, women cannot complain because this has not been considered as a crime.
Indian system still follows the writing of Sir Matthew Hale, CJ, he stated
the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his
lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath
given herself up to her husband, consent which she cannot retract.
position was followed in England till 1991 when the England court held Marital
rape to be a crime and punished the husband for raping his wife. India also
needs to criminalize the said act and amend section 375 of the IPC accordingly.
But, before making it a criminal offence, a lot of thinking has to be done in
regards to the misuse of the said law, there has to be guided principle
regarding the evidence and witnesses to the particular case. Marital rape should
be incorporated into the act as early as possible.
Gender Neutrality in the definition of sexual offences under IPC; Language
of the sections relating to sexual offences needs to be amended to a neutral
gender rather than continuing with language relating to the female gender. With
section 377 being struck down by the Supreme court, an amendment is required in
this aspect too.
Amendment in the language of Section 124A of the IPC; Section 1124 A
deals with sedition law. This law is not well defined and that is why even a
simple dissent from the policies and decision making of the government may
attract a sedition charge that is why the amendment is required in the language
of this section.
Inclusion of law relating to Match and spot-fixing; We have seen
since the late 90ís that in sports there are many instances of players
fixing the matches, especially in cricket and now with the concept of
spot-fixing, the risk associated with match-fixing from a player point of
view is less and that is why it is very important to have law relating to
this. Till now police investigate these cases under cheating but lack of
legislation and other things associated with it, they fail to prosecute the
Diluting the right to file an appeal in heinous crimes, Crimes
against womenThis is one of the suggestions which I would like to be
included so that in cases such as Delhi gang rape cannot go on for so long
and diluting the right to file will heal in that regard but this amendment
will be scrutinized by the Supreme court of the Country.
Forensic evidenceForensic evidence should be made compulsory in
criminal cases and for this to happen India needs to invest in many more
forensic labs across countries, this will help in bringing out the truth
plus the custodial torture by the police officers will also be curbed.
Laws On custodial Torture and death: A tough law is required over
this topic as we can see there are rises in cases related to custodial
Inquisitorial system of investigationCountries like Germany and
France follow the inquisitorial system of investigation, where a judge is
actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, whereas we follow
the adversarial system of investigation. Some of the points of the
inquisitorial system of investigation can also be added to the present laws.
Inquisitorial system of investigation has a high rate of conviction.
Our society is a progressive society but criminal laws have stayed the way it
was in the British era. The new laws should reflect modern reality and they
should be in accordance with the democratic aspirations of the people and
provide speedy justice to women, children, and the weaker sections of people.