Three revised criminal bills must be reviewed: Harsimrat Kaur

New Delhi : Former union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Wednesday demanded that the three revised criminal bills must be reviewed and checks and balances be introduced to ensure they are not misused.

She also demanded a revision of the clause allowing only the family to move a mercy petition of a convict, stating the new bills if passed would further violate the human rights of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict in former chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case.

Participating in the debate on the three revised criminal bills in the Lok Sabha, Harsimrat Kaur, who is the Bathinda Member of Parliament, said: “We should take care not to become an authoritarian state like China and should ensure human lives and values as enshrined in the Constitution are given due respect.”

Asserting that civil rights were most important, she said that care should be taken to ensure we do not create a police state by giving unbridled powers to the police.

She called for introducing relevant checks and balances in the Bills to ensure the police force was not misused by their political masters.

Lamenting the fact that only the ruling party MPs and few others were present in Parliament to debate the three bills, Harsimrat Kaur said everyone should be allowed to air their views.

She also took a strong note of the manner in which Section 113 of the revised Bill had modified the definition of the crime of terrorism to entirely adopt the existing definition under Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

She said UAPA had earlier been misused in Punjab to arrest youth and jail them.

Harsimrat Kaur also highlighted how youth had in the past and even now, like in the incident which occurred in Parliament, indulged in actions after getting swayed by sentiments.

“In the recent case the youth were swayed by increased unemployment and issues like ethnic violence in Manipur. Earlier, during the era when former Congress chief minister Beant Singh supervised the wiping out of an entire generation of youth in fake encounters, few youth like Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana had taken particular steps for which they had been incarcerated for periods between 28 to 30 years.”

She said such inordinately long incarceration even after completion of their sentences was against the constitution and legal jurisprudence besides a violation of their human rights.

The MP also highlighted how the mercy petition of Rajoana which had been filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was pending for 12 years.

She said this petition would become infructuous if the revised bill was passed as a new clause made it mandatory for such a petition to be filed by a family member alone.

“If a person does not have a family how will he apply for the same?” she asked while demanding reconsideration of this clause.

She also highlighted how the union government had issued a notification to release eight Sikh detainees as well as commute the death sentence of Rajona to pave the way for his release on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019.

“Some detainees have got remissions following this. So why are they not set free?” she asked.

The MP also highlighted how the revised criminal Bills did not contain any clause to ensure justice for Sikhs who had suffered a “state sponsored genocide” at the hands of the then Congress government in 1984 and urged Home Minister Amit Shah to take this into account also.