Southern states except Andhra register first cases under new criminal laws; Tamil Nadu witnesses protests by lawyers

Former Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami said christening new laws in 'Sanskrit mixed Hindi' is blatant imposition of Hindi.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jul 01, 2024 | 5:57 PM Updated Jul 01, 2024 | 11:41 PM

Kerala Police arrests a man for molesting a minor during a bus journey.

As the new criminal laws came into effect on Monday, 1 July, states in South India registered first FIRs under all three laws. Interestingly, there has been no reports of FIRs filed so far in Andhra Pradesh, the only state in south India where a BJP ally – TDP – is in power.

We take a look at the first FIRs filed under the new criminal laws by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka and for what offence the cases were registered.

First case in Kerala

Kerala registered its first case under the newly enacted Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, on Monday, 1 July, against a 24-year-old man from Karnataka for rash and negligent driving, allegedly without wearing a helmet.

Mohammad Shafi, a native of Madikeri, near Kodagu, was travelling from Palakkad to Kozhikode, when a police team at Kolathur junction apprehended him. He was found driving with two others on a two-wheeler without a helmet at midnight.

After intercepting him, a case was registered at 12.20 am, Kondotty police SHO A Deepakumar said.

Shafi was allowed to go after registering the FIR as it was a bailable offence. However, his bike was taken into custody, police said. He faces charges under Section 281 of the BNS (Rash driving or riding on a public way) and Section 194D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (Penalty for not wearing protective headgear).

Tamil Nadu: DMK to launch hunger strike

The Tamil Nadu police have registered FIRs under the new criminal laws for a number of offences including assault, causing hurt and so on, in several parts of the state, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the ruling DMK’s legal wing announced a hunger strike on 6 July to oppose the new criminal laws. On 5 July, protest will be held in front of district courts. Also, seminars will be conducted across the state on the flaws of the new laws.

AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami denounced christening new laws in ‘Sanskrit mixed Hindi’ and said it is blatant ‘imposition of Hindi,’ which goes against Constitutional values. The former Chief Minister urged the Centre to name the new laws in English.

A section of lawyers staged protest on court premises in districts including Tiruvallur, Thoothukudi and Thanjavur urging the Centre to not implement the new laws.

Related: Why omission of IPC Section 377 from BNS is two steps backwards in fighting gender-neutral offences

Charminar registers Telangana’s first FIR

The Charminar police in Telangana was the first to register an FIR under the provisions of the new criminal laws gainst two persons allegedly riding their vehicles without number plates. Provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act have also been invoked in the case.

“Telangana Police has registered the First FIR with Digital Signature under the Bharathiya Nyaya Sanhitha. I am happy to inform that the First FIR from Telangana under B N S has been issued today from Charminar Police Station of Hyderabad Police Commissionerate,” state DGP Ravi Gupta said in a post on ‘X’.

According to Charminar police, the two two-wheelers were found moving without number plates during vehicle checking from 11 pm of June 30 to 1 am of July 1. The FIR was registered under Section 281 of BNS and also relevant sections of MV Act.

In Karnataka, it is death by negligence

Karnataka police’s first case under the new criminal laws pertains to ‘rash and negligent driving,’ which caused ‘death by negligence’. The FIR under section 173 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) was filed on a complaint by Ravi HS.

Ravi accused the driver Sagar of Halebeedu in Hassan district, of driving the car rashly due to which the car went off a bridge on 1 July near Seege Gate between Hassan city and Halebeedu. While Ravi and Sagar escaped due to the airbags, his mother-in-law, who was seated in the back seat, sustained grievous head injuries.

She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors declared her brought dead. Based on a complaint, police registered a case against Sagar under sections 106 (death by negligence) and 281 (rash and negligent driving) of the BNS.

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New criminal laws 

The country’s three new criminal laws, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA), 2023, replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

The laws which were expedited through the Parliament on 20 December 2023, without a debate, came into effect on Monday, 1 July, bringing far-reaching changes in India’s criminal justice system.

The introduction of new laws aimed at decolonizing existing criminal laws was met with opposition from legal experts and activists who argued that broader consultations should have taken place before their implementation by the government.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who piloted the laws, had said the new laws would give priority to providing justice, unlike the colonial-era laws that gave primacy to penal action.

From Monday, all fresh FIRs will be registered under the BNS. However, cases filed earlier will continue to be tried under the old laws till their final disposal.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday, 1 July, claimed that the three new criminal laws were passed “forcibly” after suspending 146 MPs in the last Lok Sabha, and asserted that the INDIA bloc will not allow such “bulldozer justice” to prevail in the country’s parliamentary system.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also slammed the government and said it was another case of “bulldozing” existing laws and replacing them with three new Bills without adequate discussion and debate.

As many as 3,695 citizens had on 19 June signed a petition urging political leaders of the INDIA bloc and numerous NDA partners to intervene and prevent the implementation of new criminal laws, deemed by them as “anti-democratic”.

Prominent signatories of the petition include Tushar Gandhi, Tanika Sarkar, Henri Tiphagne, Major General (Retd.) Sudhir Vombatkere, Teesta Setalvad, Kavita Srivastava and Shabnam Hashmi, among others.

(Edited by Neena, with inputs from PTI and Dileep V Kumar)

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