On July 24, 2019, the Lok Sabha has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019. This bill, if made into a law, will replace the already existing Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Ever since its presentation in the lower house, this bill has been a subject of controversy. This bill is considered by some to be draconian in nature.
According to Amnesty International, the act once amended can designate any individual a terrorist, thus violating international human rights laws and opening the floodgate of harassment of the Human Rights defenders and activists.
The Home Minister had recently said that the Bureau of Police Research and Development should work on a proposal to amend various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. This comes in response to the growing inefficiency of India’s Criminal Justice system. India’s criminal justice mechanism suffers from a lack of judiciary’s accountability and non-cooperation between its investigation and prosecution wings, allowing criminals to go scot-free. Even if they are charged, they manage to wriggle out either due to botchy investigation or apathetic prosecution. India’s Criminal Justice System is dismal as its conviction rate is just 21.2% of the cognisable offences. On the other hand, countries like the US and Japan have a conviction rate of over 98%. Clearly, reforms in India’s criminal justice system are a need of the hour.
The Police system in India and its sorry state once again came to the fore recently when a father-Son duo, namely P Jeyaraj (58) and Fenix (31) respectively, died in Police custody in Tamil Nadu. The relatives and protestors fear this to be a case of police brutality. The reason for their arrest was that they kept their shop open beyond permitted time (restrictions placed in the light of COVID-19). This comes amid the cases of police brutality across the country and the recent uproar over the George Floyd case.