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New Criminal Laws Under Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita: What Remains And What Was Removed

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) replaces the Indian Penal Code (IPC), reducing the number of sections from 511 to 358 and adding 21 new offences, including hate crimes and mob lynching. It also introduces offences like terrorism, organized crime, and hate speech.

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New Criminal Laws Under Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita: What Remains And What Was Removed - Key Changes You Should Know
New Criminal Laws Under Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita: What Remains And What Was Removed – Key Changes You Should Know

On July 1, 2024, India entered a new era in its criminal justice system with the enactment of three groundbreaking laws, replacing outdated colonial-era legislations. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) which replaced the Indian Penal Code (IPC), aims to address contemporary issues like organized crime and economic offences.  The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) has replaced the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and introduces provisions such as Zero FIR, online police complaint registration, and summoning via electronic modes like SMS.  The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) replaces the Indian Evidence Act (IEA) and introduces community service as a form of punishment. This innovative approach aims to promote rehabilitation and societal reintegration. These new laws are set to revolutionize India’s criminal justice system, ensuring efficiency and fairness.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita will replace the 163-year-old Indian Penal Code while Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita will make way for the 126-year-old Criminal Procedure Code and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam replaces the 151-year-old Indian Evidence Act. A large part of the existing codes were retained.

What are the sections?

  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita: 358 IPC: 511
  • Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita: 531 CrPC: 478
  • Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam: 170 IEA: 167

About Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) replaces the Indian Penal Code (IPC), reducing the number of sections from 511 to 358 and adding 21 new offences, including hate crimes and mob lynching. It also introduces offences like terrorism, organized crime, and hate speech and redefines sedition as acts endangering national integrity (treason). Further, it expands scope of theft to include data and intangible items.

Unlike the IPC, the BNS has brought about a new chapter on offences against women. The new additions can be categorised as–new provisions, new offences and new definitions.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita: Key Changes You Should Know

  1. Section 377 Removed: The old law that criminalized certain sexual acts is no longer an offense.
  2. Organized Crime: Section 111 of BNS has a new provision dealing with Organised Crime. It elaborates to identify the ingredients of Organised crime—these are kidnapping, robbery, vehicle theft, extortion, land grabbing up until human trafficking.
  3. Mob Lynching: A new offense that can be punishable with the death penalty under Section 103(2) of the BNS.
  4. Terrorist Acts: Acts of terrorism are now explicitly included as offences.
  5. Terrorism-Related Acts: New provisions cover being part of a terrorist organization, harboring terrorists, training for terrorism, and handling money from terrorist acts.
  6. Community Service: A fresh introduction and a concept that didn’t exist in India before. For minor offences like petty theft, community service can be a punishment instead of jail time.
  7. Hit and Run Punishments: Increased punishment for causing death in hit-and-run cases from a maximum of 2 years to 5 years.
  8. Treason Instead of Sedition: The offense of sedition has been replaced with treason, targeting acts that endanger national integrity.
  9. Theft Includes Digital Items: The definition of theft now includes data theft and identity theft.
  10. Medical Negligence: Specific provisions have been added to address medical negligence.
  11. Economic Offences: The term “economic offense” is now specifically defined. Now it will include the offences committed for obtaining monetary benefits in any form of breach of trust, forgery, counterfeit, mass marketing fraud, digital scams and more.
  12. Clause 69: It criminalizes sexual intercourse under “deceitful means”; could face imprisonment of up to 10 years, accompanied by fines.
  13. Clause 103: categorizes murder on grounds of race, caste, or community as a distinct offence.

First FIRs Under New Laws

Following the enforcement of the new criminal laws, significant cases have been reported. The first FIR under the BNS was filed in Gwalior for a motorcycle theft. In Delhi, the police lodged the first FIR against a street vendor in Kamala Market, showcasing the proactive enforcement of the new legal provisions.

Himachal Pradesh’s first FIR pertained to an alleged assault case and was registered at the Dhanotu Police Station in Mandi.





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