Criminal law in concurrent list, state legislature competent to make amendments: Chidambaram

Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday welcomed the Tamil Nadu government's decision to appoint a committee to suggest state-specific amendments to the three new criminal laws
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram

New Delhi | Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday welcomed the Tamil Nadu government's decision to appoint a committee to suggest state-specific amendments to the three new criminal laws and asserted that criminal law is a concurrent list subject which makes the state legislature competent to make amendments.

Chidambaram also stressed that there is stiff opposition, not only in Tamil Nadu, but in several other states to the three criminal laws.

"I welcome the decision of the government of Tamil Nadu to appoint a Committee to suggest state amendments to the three criminal laws that came into force on 1 July 2024," the former home minister said in a post on X.

Criminal Law is a subject in the concurrent list of the Constitution and the state legislature is competent to make amendments, Chidambaram said.

"I also welcome the appointment of Justice (retd) Mr K.Sathyanarayanan as the one-person Committee. I request the Committee to hold consultations with all stakeholders, including judges, lawyers, police, law teachers, scholars and human rights activists," he said.

Speaking with PTI later, Chidambaram said there is stiff opposition, not only in Tamil Nadu, but in several other states to the three criminal laws that were brought into force on July 1.

"We have grievances about the manner in which the laws were drafted, passed and brought into force...Criminal law is in the Concurrent List, which means that both Parliament and state legislatures can make a law on the subject of criminal law. In fact, the present IPC and CrPC have been amended several times by the state legislatures," the former home minister said.

It is the amended law that applies in that state, Chidambaram added.

"Therefore, the state govt of Tamil Nadu has decided, in view of the opposition to the three laws by various bodies, especially lawyers, to constitute a one-person committee - Justice (retd) K Sathyanarayanan - to suggest the changes which should be brought about," he said.

"These suggestions will be placed before the Tamil Nadu Legislature, and if the legislature passes that Amendment, according to me, under Article 254, it will prevail in the state of Tamil Nadu," Chidambaram said.

Taking the first step to effect Tamil Nadu-specific amendments to the new criminal laws, Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday ordered setting up of a one-man committee, to be led by the retired High Court judge, to study the three laws and make recommendations to the state government over making amendments.

After chairing a high-level consultative meeting at the Secretariat here to deliberate on state amendments to the central laws, Stalin directed officials to set up a one-man panel to be led by retired judge of the Madras High Court, Justice M Sathyanarayanan.

The panel would study the new laws to propose amendments, including 'state-level name change' for the three laws.

"This committee will clearly examine the new laws, hold consultations with stakeholders, including advocates, at the state-level and submit a report (on state-level amendments) within one month to the state government," an official release said.

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