Mamata Banerjee asks PM Modi to defer implementing three criminal laws

On Friday, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, voicing her concerns over the implementation of three newly enacted criminal laws. These laws, namely The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNA) 2023, The Bharatiya Sakhsya Adhiniyam (BSA) 2023, and The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) 2023, have stirred significant debate and concern across the political spectrum.


The new criminal laws were passed during the winter session of Parliament on December 21, 2023. This legislative change was significant as it aimed to overhaul the Indian criminal justice system by replacing the British-era Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent to these bills on December 25, 2023.

Details of the New Laws

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNA) 2023

The BNA 2023 seeks to modernize the penal system in India, introducing new definitions and reclassifying various offenses to better align with contemporary societal norms.

The Bharatiya Sakhsya Adhiniyam (BSA) 2023

The BSA 2023 revamps the rules of evidence, aiming to streamline the process of proving facts in court and enhancing the efficiency and fairness of trials.

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) 2023

The BNSS 2023 focuses on procedural laws, including arrest, bail, and trial processes, aiming to improve the overall administration of criminal justice in the country.

Concerns Raised by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Ethical Concerns

Mamata Banerjee highlighted the lack of proper debate and deliberation before the enactment of these laws. She stressed the need for these significant legislative changes to be reviewed by the newly elected Parliament to ensure thorough scrutiny and consensus.

Practical Concerns

Banerjee pointed out the practical challenges in implementing these new laws. She emphasized the need for adequate training for law enforcement personnel and judicial officers to ensure a smooth transition to the new legal framework.

Lack of Debate and Suspension of MPs

The passage of these bills was marred by controversy, as nearly 100 members of the Lok Sabha were suspended, and a total of 146 MPs from both Houses were expelled from the Parliament on the day the bills were passed. Banerjee described this as an authoritarian act that undermined the democratic process.

Comparison with Previous Legislation

Differences from British-Era Laws

The new laws aim to replace the outdated British-era legal framework, reflecting modern values and addressing contemporary issues that the old laws failed to cover adequately.

Implications for Legal and Judicial Systems

These changes are expected to have far-reaching implications for India’s legal and judicial systems, potentially improving efficiency but also requiring significant adaptation by those who enforce and interpret the law.

Response from Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin

M K Stalin, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, echoed similar concerns. He criticized the haste with which these laws were passed, without adequate deliberations and consultations with state governments, which hold a crucial role in the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution.

Implications for Federal Structure

Role of States in the Concurrent List

The concurrent list allows both the central and state governments to legislate on certain subjects. The lack of consultation with states before enacting these laws raised concerns about the erosion of federal principles.

Need for State Participation in Legislative Changes

Extensive consultation with state governments is essential to ensure that new laws are practical and considerate of regional variations and challenges.

Practical Challenges in Implementation

Training of Law Enforcement Personnel

Transitioning to the new legal framework will require comprehensive training for law enforcement personnel to understand and effectively implement the changes.

Judicial Officers’ Readiness

Judicial officers will also need thorough training to interpret and apply the new laws correctly, ensuring justice is served effectively.

Ethical Concerns

Democratic Processes and Fairness

Banerjee underscored the importance of maintaining democratic processes and fairness in enacting such significant legislative changes. Bypassing thorough debate and consensus can undermine the integrity of the legislative process.

Importance of Debate and Consensus

Debate and consensus are crucial for democratic legitimacy, ensuring that all voices are heard and considered before making substantial changes to the law.

Call for Deferment

Reasons for Postponement

Banerjee urged the Prime Minister to consider deferring the implementation of the new laws. She cited ethical reasons, emphasizing the need for a newly elected Parliament to deliberate on these changes, and practical reasons related to the readiness of law enforcement and judicial systems.

Potential Benefits of Delay

Delaying the implementation could provide the necessary time for thorough preparation, ensuring a smoother transition and more effective enforcement of the new laws.

Historical Context

Previous Instances of Significant Legislative Changes

India has seen several instances of major legislative changes. Learning from past experiences, it is clear that thorough preparation and consensus-building are crucial for successful implementation.

Lessons Learned from Past Experiences

Past legislative changes highlight the importance of involving all stakeholders, ensuring that the new laws are practical and widely accepted.

Political Reactions and Public Opinion

Reactions from Other Political Leaders

Several political leaders have voiced their concerns over how these laws were passed, calling for a more democratic process.

Public Sentiment and Media Coverage

The public and media have been actively discussing these changes, with many expressing apprehension about the potential impact on the justice system.

Future Steps

Possible Outcomes of the Deferment Request

If the request for deferment is accepted, it could lead to further deliberations and potential amendments to the new laws based on broader consensus.

Long-Term Implications for Indian Democracy

This situation underscores the need for robust democratic processes and the importance of involving all stakeholders in significant legislative changes, strengthening Indian democracy in the long run.


The concerns raised by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee regarding the implementation of the new criminal laws highlight critical issues related to democratic processes, ethical considerations, and practical challenges. The call for deferment, supported by other political leaders like Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, emphasizes the need for thorough preparation and consensus before enacting such significant changes. As India navigates this complex situation, it is essential to ensure that democratic principles are upheld and that the new laws are implemented in a manner that enhances the justice system effectively.

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