India will no longer be a functional democracy if three new criminal laws come in force: Ex-Bureaucrats

0
90
Representational photograph.

India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—Stating that “India will no longer be a functional democracy” if the three new criminal laws passed by Parliament in 2023 and given assent by the President of India come in force on July 1, over 100 ex-bureaucrats forming part of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) have appealed to the President of India, Prime Minister of India and others to go for an urgent review of these laws.

The three criminal laws over which the CCG has expressed its deep concern are: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 (BNSS), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 (BSA). Click here to read the three new criminal laws.

In an open letter to President of India, Prime Minister of India, Union Home Minister, President of all political parties, members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, CCG has requested to conduct a detailed debate on it before their implementation because these laws were passed by the Parliament without much debate.

They have said that the new laws will “criminalise legitimate, non-violent dissent against the governments and the forces that back them.” In short, the laws will immobilise democracy.

Another concern raised by the CCG is that the news laws will “terrorise civilians and honest public servants” because the new laws give “unguided, arbitrary and virtually unlimited power to selectively arrest, detain, prosecute and convict practically anyone they choose, including by branding them as terrorists and as anti-nationals”.

The third concern raised by them is that the new laws “regularise extraordinary powers which should normally be available only in legitimate states of emergency as already provided in the Constitutions”.

The letter says that “the three laws are only second to the Constitution of India in their importance in the daily lives of the common people in the country, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised sections”.

Here is the text of the letter and the names of the signatories:

CCG Open Letter:

Review of new criminal laws needed

21 June 2024

To

Hon’ble President of India
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
Hon’ble Home Minister of India
Presidents of National Parties
Presidents of State Parties
Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha)

Dear Madam/Sir,

1. Our group, the Constitutional Conduct Group, comprises former civil servants who have served in the All India and Central Services in various capacities. We have no affiliation with any political party but are strongly committed to the ideals enshrined in the Constitution of India.
2. On 25th December 2023, the President of India gave assent to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 (BNSS), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 (BSA). As notified by the Government of India, these new criminal laws are to take effect in a few days, on 1st July 2024.

3. These three criminal laws are second only to the Constitution of India in their importance in the daily lives of common people in the country, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised sections. Yet these three new complex criminal laws, which replace the entire legal edifice of criminal justice, were rushed through parliamentary approval without having to face critical questioning by the opposition in a public debate. As a result, a number of valid and important questions about the laws remain unanswered.

4. Wide concern has been expressed in great detail in public discourse over the last ten months since the drafts of these new laws were first introduced in August, 2023. However, the core issues raised have not been addressed by the Union Government. These fall into three broad areas. First, the concern is that the new laws enable governments of the day (whether at the Union or State levels) to immobilize the practice of democracy by over-broad criminalization of  legitimate, non-violent dissent and opposition against the Governments, the ruling parties and the forces that back them. The second concern is that the new laws  will terrorize innocent civilians and honest public servants because they put in the hands of the Government of the day unguided, arbitrary and virtually unlimited power to selectively arrest,  detain, prosecute  and convict practically anyone they choose, including by branding them as terrorists and  as anti-national. Third, the concern is that the new laws in effect regularise extraordinary powers which should normally be available only in legitimate states of emergency as already provided in the Constitution . The effect of these laws, as currently approved, is that, once they come into effect, India will no longer be a functioning democracy.

5. Suffice it to say that the new laws are vulnerable to rampant political abuse, especially in today’s vitiated political atmosphere and the intolerance of Governments, both at the Centre and in the States, to dissent in any form and from any source. To ensure that the democratic ethos of our Republic is protected in letter and in spirit, we are of the view that it is incumbent on the Government of India to (i) defer the date (1st July 2024) on which the three laws are to come into force and (ii) urgently call an all-party meeting to develop a national consensus on how to take these three new laws forward so as to completely remove all public concerns about the possible negative impact of these three new laws on constitutional rights and civil liberties.

6. We urge the highest political executive of the Government of India, the members of both Houses of Parliament and leaders of political parties to ensure that these new laws do not hollow out our constitutional rights and jeopardise our democracy. We, therefore, appeal to all of you to take urgent steps to ensure that the enforcement of the new criminal statutes is deferred and the new criminal laws are reviewed at an all-party meeting to develop a national consensus.

SATYAMEVA JAYATE  

Yours faithfully,

 Constitutional Conduct Group (109 signatories, as below) 

1.Anita AgnihotriIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
2.Anand ArniRAS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
3.Aruna BagcheeIAS (Retd.)Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Mines, GoI
4.Sandeep BagcheeIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
5.G. BalachandhranIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
6.Vappala BalachandranIPS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
7.Gopalan BalagopalIAS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
8.Chandrashekar BalakrishnanIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
9.Sushant BaligaEngineering Services (Retd.)Former Additional Director General, Central PWD, GoI
10.Rana BanerjiRAS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
11.Sharad BeharIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
12.Aurobindo BeheraIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha
13.Madhu BhaduriIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Portugal
14.K.V. BhagirathIFS (Retd.)Former Secretary General, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Mauritius
15.Pradip BhattacharyaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Development & Planning and Administrative Training Institute, Govt. of West Bengal
16.Nutan Guha BiswasIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Police Complaints Authority, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
17.Meeran C BorwankarIPS (Retd.)Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
18.Ravi BudhirajaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI
19.Sundar BurraIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
20.R. ChandramohanIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
21.Rachel ChatterjeeIAS (Retd.)Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
22.Kalyani ChaudhuriIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
23.Purnima ChauhanIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Administrative Reforms, Youth Services & Sports and Fisheries, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
24.Gurjit Singh CheemaIAS (Retd.)Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Govt. of Punjab
25.F.T.R. ColasoIPS (Retd.)Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
26.Anna DaniIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
27.Vibha Puri DasIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
28.P.R. DasguptaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
29.Pradeep K. DebIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
30.Nitin Desai Former Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
31.M.G. DevasahayamIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
32.Kiran DhingraIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI
33.Sushil DubeyIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Sweden
34.A.S. DulatIPS (Retd.)Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
35.Suresh K. GoelIFS (Retd.)Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI
36.S.K. GuhaIAS (Retd.)Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
37.H.S. GujralIFoS (Retd.)Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab
38.Meena GuptaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
39.Ravi Vira GuptaIAS (Retd.)Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
40.Wajahat HabibullahIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, GoI and former Chief Information Commissioner
41.Deepa HariIRS (Resigned) 
42.Vivek HarinarainIAS (Retd.)Govt. of Tamil Nadu
43.Sajjad HassanIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Manipur
44.Siraj HussainIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI
45.Kamal JaswalIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
46.Naini JeyaseelanIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
47.Najeeb JungIAS (Retd.)Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
48.Sanjay KaulIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
49.Vinod C. KhannaIFS (Retd.)Former Additional Secretary, MEA, GoI
50.Gita KripalaniIRS (Retd.)Former Member, Settlement Commission, GoI
51.Ish KumarIPS (Retd.)Former DGP (Vigilance & Enforcement), Govt. of Telangana and former Special Rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission
52.Sudhir KumarIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal
53.Harsh ManderIAS (Retd.)Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
54.Amitabh MathurIPS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
55.Lalit MathurIAS (Retd.)Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI
56.Aditi MehtaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
57.Sonalini MirchandaniIFS (Resigned)GoI
58.Malay MishraIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Hungary
59.Satya Narayan MohantyIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
60.Sudhansu MohantyIDAS (Retd.)Former Financial Adviser (Defence Services), Ministry of Defence, GoI
61.Anup MukerjiIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar
62.Deb MukharjiIFS (Retd.)Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
63.Shiv Shankar MukherjeeIFS (Retd.)Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
64.Gautam MukhopadhayaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Myanmar
65.B.M. NantaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
66.Ramesh NarayanaswamiIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
67.Surendra NathIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
68.P. Joy OommenIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh
69.Amitabha PandeIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
70.Maxwell PereiraIPS (Retd.)Former Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi
71.Alok PertiIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
72.R. PoornalingamIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI
73.Rajesh PrasadIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to the Netherlands
74.R.M. PremkumarIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
75.Rajdeep PuriIRS (Resigned)Former Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
76.N.K. RaghupathyIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
77.V.P. RajaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
78.V. Ramani  IAS (Retd.)Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra
79.M. RameshkumarIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal
80.K. Sujatha RaoIAS (Retd.)Former Health Secretary, GoI
81.M.Y. RaoIAS (Retd.) 
82.Vijaya Latha ReddyIFS (Retd.)Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI
83.Julio RibeiroIPS (Retd.)Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Punjab
84.Manabendra N. RoyIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
85.Aruna RoyIAS (Resigned) 
86.Deepak SananIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
87.S. SatyabhamaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI
88.N.C. SaxenaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
89.Ardhendu SenIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
90.Abhijit SenguptaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI
91.Aftab SethIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Japan
92.Ashok Kumar SharmaIFoS (Retd.)Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat
93.Ashok Kumar SharmaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
94.Navrekha SharmaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Indonesia
95.Pravesh SharmaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
96.Raju SharmaIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
97.Rashmi Shukla SharmaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
98.Avay ShuklaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary (Forests & Technical Education), Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
99.Mukteshwar SinghIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission
100.Satyavir SinghIRS (Retd.)Former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
101.Sujatha SinghIFS (Retd.)Former Foreign Secretary, GoI
102.Tara Ajai SinghIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
103.Tirlochan SinghIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
104.Prakriti SrivastavaIFoS (Retd.)Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Special Officer, Rebuild Kerala Development Programme, Govt. of Kerala
105.Anup ThakurIAS (Retd.)Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
106.P.S.S. ThomasIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
107.Geetha ThoopalIRAS (Retd.)Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
108.Ashok VajpeyiIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi
109.Rudi WarjriIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here