[CPI(M) Manifesto] Repeal Sedition law, Death Penalty, bring in NJAC: How the Left wants to change Indian laws
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[CPI(M) Manifesto] Repeal Sedition law, Death Penalty, bring in NJAC: How the Left wants to change Indian laws

Aditya AK

The Communist Party of India (CPI(M)) today released its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. While calling the rule of the BJP an “unmitigated disaster for the country”, the CPI(M) has called upon the people of India to elect an “alternative secular government” in the 2019 elections.

Political speak aside, the manifesto provides a glimpse into which laws the party will change on the off-chance that it comes into power.

So, what contents of the manifesto are relevant to the legal field? Which new laws does it propose to bring in, and which ones does it want to scrap?

Free Speech

The CPI(M) mourns the recent persecution of intellectuals and lawyers branded as “anti-nationals”.

“Attacks on media and those critical of the government on the social media and elsewhere; the indiscriminate branding of those critical of the RSS/BJP as being anti-national. The criminalization of democratic dissent; harassment and intimidation of intellectuals and lawyers standing up in support of those targeted by the government like Dalits etc.”

It also addresses the crackdown on dissent through various provisions in the statute books. With respect to these, it promises to:

  • Repeal the colonial era Sedition Law, Section 124A of IPC
  • Repeal Section 499 of IPC relating to defamation
  • Suitably amend the definition of “criminal contempt” in order to prevent its misuse in suppressing dissent.

Judicial Reforms

The manifesto also calls for a number of judicial reforms, including the constitution of a National Judicial Commission for appointments, transfers and to examine instances of “commission/omission of judges”. This body will have representatives from the judiciary, the executive, the legislature and the Bar. CPI(M)

The other reforms envisioned include:

  • Reforming the judicial system to provide speedy relief at affordable cost to the common people; filling up vacancies in the judiciary.
  • Public declaration of their assets by the Judges to be made mandatory.
  • Ensuring adequate representation and diversity in the judiciary at all levels

Curbing Communal Violence

The CPI(M) wants to enact a comprehensive law on curbing communal violence. This includes ensuring speedy justice and adequate compensation and State support to the victims of communal violence.CPI(M)

Further, it calls for the banning of all “illegal private armies and vigilante groups like the various ‘senas’ that are attacking dalits and minorities in the name of cow protection and spreading communal hatred”.

It aims to enact laws to rein in organisations that spread communal hatred, as well as a law to deal with the menace of lynching.

Police/Army excess

To address the issue of excessive force used by police and the Army, the manifesto calls for:

  • Repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and replace it with a suitable law which provides a legal framework for the operation of the armed forces without the draconian provisions
  • Repeal/amend the National Security Act
  • Ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Women’s Rights

The CPI(M) calls for the criminalization of marital rape, something the present government has refused to do when it appeared in courts where the issue was brought up. The manifesto also calls for a standalone law to curb honour crimes.

With regard to property and marital rights of women, the CPI(M) aims to:

“Enact a law for equal rights in marital and inherited property for all women; strengthen laws relating to maintenance for women and children; ensure protection and adequate maintenance and rehabilitation for all deserted women including those who are victims of instantaneous talaq.”

Corruption

The manifesto calls for the strengthening of the Right to Information Act, including strict implementation of Section 4 of the Act. It calls for a “transparent and participatory pre-legislative process soliciting citizen feedback before laws are passed”.

To tackle the issue of corruption, the CPI(M) calls for the amending of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Lokpal Act to bring under their purview all contracts, agreements or MOUs of any kind between the government and the private sector.

With the recent constitution of the Lokpal, the manifesto aims to bring private financial sector institutions – banking and insurance companies in particular- under the purview of Lokpal Act, Whistleblowers Protection Act and other related anti-corruption legislation.

The other amendments to laws called for include:

  • Amend the Indian Penal Code and other statutes to remove the death penalty from the statutes.
  • Scrapping of the use of Aadhaar and biometrics for all social welfare measures.
  • Amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 to ensure its universal application on all laws requiring land acquisition, rigorous definition of public purpose, full and prior informed consent from all affected persons, binding social impact assessment and compensation and R&R in such manner as to ensure a far better quality of life and share in enhanced land value.
  • The food supplies through ICDS and Mid-Day Meal Schemes will get higher allocations to ensure hot cooked nutritious meals and be brought under the Food Security law as a legal right.
  • Harmonising all laws in the country in tune with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Reviewing and amending the National Disability Policy
  • Defend India’s patent laws and ensure no dilution.

Read the full manifesto here.

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