Opposition members have submitted dissent notes on a draft accepted by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs on Monday on the three Bills it was examining, that seeks to bring fundamental reform in the criminal justice system.

Some MPs are believed to have offered a host of suggestions including that the panel should define and describe the ambit of community service. In Monday’s meeting, they requested for three more instead of two days to submit dissent notes. But, the Parliamentary Committee, headed by BJP MP Brij Lal, insisted on 48 hours deadline for accepting dissent on the draft notes, after that a report will be compiled and placed before the next session of Parliament, sources said.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary and some other Opposition members have, however, submitted their individual replies to the panel, suggesting changes to the three Bills -- Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam -- which seek to amend Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Act (CrPC), and Evidence Act.

Earlier also, the Standing Committee had postponed the date of acceptance of the draft report from October 27 to November 6 on the requests of Opposition members, like Chidambaram and TMC’s Derek O’ Brien, that proceedings should not be rushed since issues raised in the Bills, that want to get rid of colonial laws from the criminal jurisprudence, are serious.

In the draft accepted, the committee is learnt to have stuck to the Hindi names given to the three Bills, setting aside recommendations from the non-NDA members such as DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran to have English versions too for better understanding by non-Hindi speaking people, sources pointed out.

Committee’s suggestions

Of the slew of alterations suggested by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, sources said, is to reinstate the adultery law, struck down by Supreme Court in September of 2018 in a landmark judgement, with additional gender-neutral provision to it. It is also believed to have proposed criminalising non-consensual sex between men, women or transperson.

The panel is taking a more stringent view of deaths caused by negligence to fix accountability, a long held criticism that the current statute is too lenient, they informed. As per section 304A of the IPC, the maximum punishment is for two years, or with fine or both and now the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita proposes to increase it up to 7 to 8 years.

The committee has also proposed a reduction in sentence for those convicted for obstructing public servants from discharging their duties. The IPC’s Section 353 provides for a maximum of two years of prison term but the committee is exploring option of reducing it to a year. The move is to avoid abuse of such laws against protests, with many members holding common view that protestors should be dealt with more humanely.