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New Law On Crimes: How It Is Different From IPC

Crime and Punishment has always been the most important aspect of Rule of Law. A proper understanding of crimes, methods of controlling them and the reasons for their existence is extremely important to build a just and humane society. The Indian Penal Code is the official criminal code of India, which was drafted way back in 1860. Its objective is to provide a general penal code for the country.

It provides list of crimes along with their definitions and punishments. First, the definition of the offense is laid down, and then the punishment for the offense is provided. The IPC has been amended several times and is now supplemented by other Acts. The objective of the Indian Penal Code is to lay what is right and what is wrong and to lay down the punishment for committing such wrong.

The history of codification of modern criminal law in India generally begins from the advent of the British rule. However, its roots date back to the Vedic age and the rule of various Hindu and Muslim dynasties.

The modern criminal justice system is based on English laws and practices. These practices are practical as well as contemporary. As a result, a major chunk of criminal laws that exist today still relies on the British-era laws.

The government decided to change "old wine into new bottle." Here colonial IPC 's name has been change into BNS (BHARTIYA NYAYA SANHITA) Act 2023 which itself reflects to give Nyaya to the citizen of a country.

Critical Analysis Of B.N.S:
The Chapters and offences against women and children, murder have been given precedence. Further, the offences against women and children which were scattered throughout in the erstwhile Penal Code, 1860 have been brought together and have been consolidated under Chapter-V. In the same manner, the offences affecting the human body are also brought up in the order and placed after the Chapter on offences against women and children.

BNS has been streamlined and it will now consist of only 358 Sections as opposed to 511 Sections in IPC, 1860. All three incomplete category offences i.e. Attempt, Abetment and Conspiracy are brought together under one Chapter- IV of the BNS, 2023. Earlier these offences were part of different Chapters. For the first time, 'Community Service' has been introduced as one of the punishments in Section 4 of the BNS, 2023.

It has been specifically provided for 6 petty offences, like non-appearance in response to a proclamation, attempt to commit suicide to compel or restraint exercise of lawful power of public servant, petty theft on return of theft money, misconduct in public by a drunken person, defamation, etc. It introduces the reformative approach in the punishment scheme which is aimed towards achieving 'Nyaya' in the society.

Abetment of an offence committed in India by a person outside India has now been made an offence under Section 48 of the BNS, 2023. This will criminalise the Acts of those persons who sit outside India and conspire to commit an offence in India.

A new offence for having sexual intercourse on false promise of marriage, employment, promotion or by suppressing the identity etc. Has been created in Section 69 of the BNS, 2023. This provision will be a deterrent for the people who employ deceitful means like false promise of marriage, concealment of identity etc. To take consent of the woman and involve in sexual intercourse. It aims to protect the rights of women.

Progressive Changes in BNS include:

  • Sexual intercourse by deceitful means or false promise to marry will be considered as Crime under Section 69 of BNS. It will be punishable with simple or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years, and a fine.
  • Terrorism and Terrorist Act have been defined under law for the first time and also regarded as an offence in Section 111 of BNS.
  • New Provision on 'Snatching' under Section 302. It says that whoever commits snatching shall be punished with imprisonment of up to three years, and shall also be liable to a fine.

Section 101(2):
A separate provision of mob lynching provided for seven years imprisonment, life imprisonment, and death sentence as a punishment:

  • The BNS has also changed significantly in that archaic and insulting phrases like "lunatic person" and "person of unsound mind" have been replaced. All of these references have been labelled with more delicate language, such as "person with mental illness" or "having intellectual disability." Section 22 of the BNS, which corresponds to Section 84 of the IPC, reflects this modification.
  • A similar modification has been made to Section 28(b) of the BNS, which corresponds to Section 90(b) of the IPC.
  • Earlier, importing girls under the age of 21 years for illicit intercourse with another person is an offence.
  • Now the revised Section 139 of BNS which corresponds to Section 366B of IPC specifies that importing boys under the age of 18 years for illicit intercourse with another person will also be an offence. This could have a positive impact as it is a way towards equality in criminal law.
  • Introduction of organized crime and petty organized crime or organized in general, i.e., Section 109 and 110 of BNS respectively.

Stricter laws on Sexual Offences
Stricter laws on Sexual Offences in BNS include:

  • Punishment for rape has been enhanced from seven years to ten years as given in Section 64 of BNS which corresponds to Section 376 of IPC.
  • Earlier, Section 376 of IPC provides "Whoever commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either description". Now, Section 64 of BNS explicitly states that "Whoever commits rape shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment."
  • Death Penalty for gang rape of women below 18 years of age as per Section 70 of BNS, which corresponds to Section 376DB of IPC.
  • Additionally, a new law protecting the identities of sexual assault victims has been introduced which can be seen in Section 72 of BNS.
  • A new provision i.e., Section 69 has been added to BNS in the Chapter governing offences against women and children.

Community Service as a punishment
Section 53 of IPC explicitly provides five kinds of punishments to which offenders are liable:

  • Death
  • Imprisonment for life
  • Imprisonment, which is of two descriptions, namely:
    • Rigorous, that is, with hard labour
    • Simple
  • Forfeiture of Property
  • Fine

Section 4 of BNS, which corresponds to Section 53 of IPC provides Community service as a punishment in addition to five aforementioned punishments. Community service, to put it simply, is unpaid labors that offenders may be required to perform as a form of punishment rather than being imprisoned. The BNS calls for community service as a punishment for petty offences. Following this, some section-by-section changes include:

  • A public servant who violates their legal obligation to refrain from conducting trade will be subject to simple imprisonment for up to a year, a fine, both, or community service as given in Section 200 of BNS, which corresponds to Section 168 of IPC.
  • Defamation is an offence that carries a simple sentence of up to two years in jail, a fine, both, or community service as per Section 354 of BNS, which corresponds to Section 499 of IPC.
  • Community Service as a punishment in Attempt to Suicide.

If not given a 24-hour prison sentence, people accused of making a public nuisance while under the influence of alcohol may be required to perform community service.

Sedition law will be repealed and replaced:
The proposal in the BNS that:
"Sedition law will be completely repealed" stands out the most. Provisions under the sedition law - proposed to be scrapped will be retained in Section 150 for acts of endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.

Section 150 of BNS provides:
"Whoever, purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial mean, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite, secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India; or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine." [ix]

Causing Death by Negligence:

  1. S.106 of BNS provides for negligent acts not amounting to culpable homicide, and the new law increases the punishment from a maximum of 2 years to 5 years. Further, S.106(2) introduces a new provision which addresses situations where the offender escapes from the scene of the incident without reporting it to a police officer or magistrate after the incident, and the punishment for it is very severe, with a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years with fine.
  2. Considering the high frequency of hit-and-run cases in the country, S.106(2) covers hit-and- run accidents and ensures its reporting immediately. This has been introduced with the aim of saving the victim within the critical 'Golden Hour'.
    1. Another addition is that in the case of a registered medical practitioner who acts negligently while performing a medical procedure shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to two years and shall also be liable to a fine.

Negative Changes and Loopholes:
While the majority of the modifications in BNS may be seen as beneficial, some of the reforms have also given rise to serious issues while some are still untouched by the BNS.

  1. No Definition of Community Service
    As abovementioned, one of the positive change in BNS is the introduction of Community service as a punishment. But what the Bill fails to do, though, is define just what community service entails. Without such a prescription, it is impossible to rule out the potential of sentencing disputes.

In a few isolated instances, strange forms of community service were mandated. For instance, a directive to donate money to a gaushala, distribute copies of the Quran, or do temple service.

Even though some of these directives were later revoked, it is still possible that there were more directives with similar religious overtones or that promoted patriarchal (or other harmful) standards.

Thus, a list of possible community service activities or guidelines for conduct may be useful.

No Proper Step toward Gender Neutrality in Rape and Sexual Assault:
Gender neutrality in rape and sexual assault legislation refers to the concept that the criminal code should recognise that men, women, and transgender people can both commit and be victims of rape.

In 2019, the Criminal law amendment Bill was introduced as private member's bill which suggested major changes, in order to make the Indian criminal laws gender neutral.

But, BNS like IPC recognizes only the women as victim of rape and sexual assault while men as perpetrators in same.

No major Change in Sedition Law:
The proposed Section 150 maintains the criminalization of any act that "excites or attempts to excite" secessionist activities or "encourages feelings of separatist activities" without making incitement to violence or disruption of public order a prerequisite to bringing charges.

Almost everything that Section 124A of the IPC now classifies as sedition is covered under Section 150, including speeches, newspaper articles, books, and plays.

B.N.S and IPC has a lot difference unlike IPC which drafted under colonial era but it's applicability is relevant today's world also, as time change law too need to be change, changes has been done in the form of B.N.S, which word itself reflect to give NYAYA not to penalize. In B.N.S offences against women and children, murder have been given precedence. For the first time it has been properly define, arranged and organized.

However, at the same time, many positive changes have been introduced like gender neutral and inclusion of new definitions and offences yet some of the things that have been in discussion for decades, recommendations of Law Commissions, etc., have not been implemented which was much expected from a new criminal law.


  • Comparative Analysis of Indian Penal Code (1860) and Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (2023) › The Legal Lock

Written By: Shivam Kumar Sahu, 2nd Year From Central University Of Kashmir

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