Unlike other states ruled by opposition parties, the AAP-ruled Punjab government has not yet objected to the three new criminal laws that came into effect on Monday.

Even though the AAP had earlier joined the INDIA bloc MPs to protest against the new criminal laws in Parliament, sources said that Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is yet to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In fact, the state has not only provided iPads, cellphones, and translations of the new criminal laws to police stations across the state to ensure seamless transition, but has also started registering cases under it.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah have written to the Center against the implementation of the new laws. While Banerjee has asked for pausing the new laws, Siddaramaiah had said that he was considering amending them at the state level. However, like Punjab, neighboring Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh has also started registering cases under the new laws.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, has replaced the Indian Penal Code, 1860; the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, replaced the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, has been implemented in place of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882.

Meanwhile, an AAP leader said that even though they wanted to protest the implementation of the new laws, the state leadership was busy with Lok Sabha elections earlier and now with Assembly bypolls and hence, didn’t get the time to do so.

Festive offer

A Punjab government official said that they procured iPads and cellphones and handed those over to senior police officers so that they can distribute it to record digital evidence. “We have already circulated the SOPs and training manuals so that there are no hiccups,” he said, adding that the state government had set up eight committees around five months ago to all understand legalities. These committees were headed by SGP and ADGP level officers and the training part was handled by MGSIPA.

As the laws were not provided by the Center in Punjabi, the state has assigned the Legal Remembrancer for the translation. “The translation will take some time. However, only a few provisions have been changed, several have just been renumbered. The translation is being vetted by legal experts. Generally, states should not translate these Acts. It is the responsibility of the issuing authority of the Acts to give the versions. Generally, all these Acts are issued in Hindi initially and are later issued in vernaculars,” the official added.

Meanwhile, democratic and public organizations have expressed their concerns about new criminal laws, which according to them give more power to the police. Association for Democratic Rights, Tarksheel Society and others will be holding a convention and protest at Desh Bhagat Yadgaar hall, Jalandhar, on July 21.

The organizations took out rallies on Monday at district/tehsil and town level in many parts of the state and also burnt copies of notification of three new laws. A memorandum was also sent to the President demanding immediate cancellation of the cases registered under it.

Prof Jagmohan Singh from AFDR said, “These laws give more power to police to keep a person for up to 90 days in police custody against the earlier 15 days while they have been given more powers to use force on demonstrating people. In a way, they are trying to gag the voice of the common man.”

Rajinder Bhadaur, another speaker from AFDR added, “We strongly condemn the Punjab government for organizing training camps for regular officials in order to implement these oppressive laws. Don’t know why they are in a hurry.”

Pritpal Singh from Tarksheel Society said that by renumbering IPC sections, they are trying to fool the masses.

They also protested against filing of a case under UAPA by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi against writer Arundhati Roy and Prof Sheikh Shaukat Hussain on the basis of their 14-year-old speech. Jagmohan said that this is an attack on the fundamental, constitutional and democratic rights of citizens to express their opinions through writing and speech and is a step towards suppression of dissenting opinions.