Why SLLs also need to be reformed

Context- Law reforms. It also highlights the reasons behind the need for reform in SLLs.

  • Special and Local Laws (SLLs) include “Special laws” enacted by the Parliament to deal
    with a specific subject. “Local laws” are laws local to a particular region or a state.
  • SLLs have been kept away from the ongoing reform process, with respect to the Indian
    Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Indian Evidence Act (IEA).
    What is the significance of SLLs?
    SLLs have immense relevance in the Indian criminal justice system.
  • In quantitative terms: Nearly 40% of all cognisable offences registered in 2021 were
    under SLLs, as per the Crime in India Statistics of 2021.
  • In qualitative terms: SLLs have given rise to several important debates regarding the
    limits on the state’s power of criminalisation especially in the context of violation of
    individual rights and liberties.
    Why is there a need for reform in SLLs?
  • Ambiguous and vague definitions of offences: For e.g. terms such as ‘terrorist act’,
    ‘unlawful activity’ etc. in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA).
  • Issues with application of laws: For e.g., POCSO Act, 2012 being applied to consensual
    sexual activities between minors.
  • Excessive criminalisation of mere civil or regulatory wrongs
  • Dilution of due process of law: For e.g. The stringent provisions provided for under
    Section 43 of the UAPA make it impossible to get bail.
    What should be done?
  • SLLs should find a place as separate chapters within the larger structure of the IPC or the
  • Reforms should be brought in to address the non-inclusion of the substantive and
    procedural aspects of the SLLs in the ongoing reform project.