Ensure stay on new ‘anti-democratic’ criminal laws: 2,900 citizens’ Letter Petition to Chandrababu Naidu

Seeking support from the newly elected Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is also an ally in the recently formed NDA government at the Centre, citizens from across India have urged urgent intervention from the BJP ally
Close to 3,000 signatories including Tushar Gandhi, Tanika Sarkar, Henri Tiphagne, Major Gen (retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Kavita Srivastava, Shabnam Hashmi and several others have sought the urgent intervention of Chief Minister Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu in staying ‘anti-democratic’ new criminal laws slated to come into effect from July 1.
The collective signature campaign that is ongoing, will also be communicated to other leaders of parties from the INDIA Alliance. The Letter Petition urges serious Parliamentary debate on the proposed, far reaching amendments, consultation with legal experts and scrutiny by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
The Letter Petition states that the signatories are hopeful that the TDP will use the opportunity to firmly uphold the basic principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and will do everything in its power to defend democratic rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution.

“Sadly, as the situation stands now, there is a grave threat that is hanging over the nation in the formof three new criminal laws, namely, ‘Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023’, ‘Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023’, and ‘Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023’, which were hurriedly pushed through  Parliament on 20th December 2023 without a debate. “

“These laws are scheduled to come into effect from July 1, 2024….the major concern is that the amendments made in the then existing laws are such that they are mostly draconian in nature. They deal exclusively with matters of life and liberty and criminal harm that can be caused to an individual in other multiple and various ways.
“They also (adversely affect) deal with civil liberties of citizens more particularly in the matter of freedom of speech, right to assembly, right to associate, right to demonstrate, and their other civil rights, which can be criminalized as part of the law and order provisions of these three laws.
“Essentially,  these new criminal laws would equip the government with adequate power to hollow out our democracy and transform India into a fascist state – should the government choose to deploy the new laws to their fullest extent.

“The proposed new laws would enable the government to dramatically scale up arrest, detention, prosecution and imprisonment of law abiding democratic opponents, dissidents and activists.
“Some of the chilling features of the new Criminal Code as requiring special attention are:

(1) the criminalisation of legitimate, lawful, non-violent democratic speech or action as ‘terrorism’;
(2) the broadening of the offence of sedition  in a new and more vicious avatar (what could be called “sedition-plus”);
(3) the expansion of the potential for “selective prosecution” — targeted, politically-biased prosecution of ideological and political opponents;
(4) the criminalisation of a common mode of political protest against government through fasting; (5) encouraging the use of force against any assembly of persons; (6) exponentially enhancing ‘police raj’ by criminalising “resisting, refusing, ignoring or disregarding to conform to any direction given by [a police officer]”;
(7) enhancing handcuffing;
(8) maximising police custody during investigation;
(9) making the recording of a FIR discretionary for the police;
(10) dialling up the pain of imprisonment;
(11) compelling all persons (even those not accused of any crime) to provide their biometrics to the government; and
(12) shielding of some of the Sangh parivar’s activities.



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