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The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, introduces significant amendments and provisions aimed at modernizing and enhancing India’s legal framework. This comprehensive legal reform emphasizes digital integration in judicial processes, strengthens judicial independence, expands civil rights protections, and enacts robust criminal justice reforms. Additionally, the Sanhita addresses economic regulations, environmental protections, social welfare measures, technological integration, public accountability, and international cooperation. By encompassing these diverse aspects, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, aims to create a more efficient, transparent, and equitable legal system in India. Here are the key points and highlights:

1.Introduction of Digital Legal Framework:

– Emphasis on digital documentation, filing, and processing of legal cases to streamline judicial processes.

– Provision for electronic evidence and authentication in legal proceedings.

2. Strengthening Judicial Independence:

– Measures to reinforce the autonomy and impartiality of the judiciary.

– Guidelines for transparent appointment processes and administrative reforms within the judiciary.

3. Expansion of Civil Rights:

– Broadening of civil rights protections, particularly for marginalized communities.

– Provisions for safeguarding privacy rights and personal data in line with international standards.

4. Enhanced Criminal Justice Reforms:

– Amendments aimed at expediting criminal trials and reducing case backlog.

– Introduction of stringent penalties for cybercrimes and offenses against women and children.

5. Economic and Commercial Regulations:

– New provisions promoting ease of doing business and investment climate.

– Measures to curb economic offenses and ensure fair competition in markets.

6. Environmental and Consumer Protections:

– Strengthening of environmental laws to address climate change and pollution concerns.

– Provisions to protect consumer rights and enhance product safety standards.

7.Social Welfare Measures:

– Initiatives to support social welfare schemes and entitlements for disadvantaged groups.

– Legal frameworks for ensuring equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

8.Technological Integration and Innovation:

– Embracing emerging technologies like AI and blockchain for legal applications.

– Frameworks for regulating technology-driven sectors to foster innovation while safeguarding public interest.

9.Public Accountability and Transparency:

– Measures to promote accountability in governance and public service delivery.

– Strengthening of mechanisms for citizen participation and grievance redressal.

10.International Cooperation and Treaties:

– Guidelines for harmonizing Indian laws with international conventions and treaties.

– Frameworks for cross-border legal cooperation and extradition procedures.

Summary of Part 1:

  • Title and Commencement: The act is titled “Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023” and will come into force on 1 July 2024 a date appointed by the Central Government.
  • Jurisdiction: It applies to all of India and to Indian citizens and entities outside of India, including offences committed beyond India.
  • Definitions: Provides detailed definitions for various terms such as “act,” “animal,” “child,” “document,” etc., which are crucial for the legal interpretation of the act.
  • General Provisions: Outlines the general principles of liability, punishments, and exceptions that apply throughout the act.

This section serves as the foundational framework for the entire act, establishing its scope, applicability, and key legal concepts.

Summary of Part 2:

  • Legal Exceptions: Describes circumstances where harm caused is not considered an offence if done in good faith for someone’s benefit without consent, under certain conditions.
  • Illustrations Provided: Offers examples where actions like medical procedures or defence against harm are not offences.
  • Right of Private Defence: Outlines the legal right to defend oneself or property against certain offences, with specific restrictions.
  • Abetment and Conspiracy: Defines abetment of offences, criminal conspiracy, and the corresponding legal consequences.

This section primarily deals with legal provisions related to consent, private defence, and abetment within the context of Indian law.

Summary of Part 3:

  • Sexual Offences: The section outlines various sexual offences, including abuse of authority to induce sexual intercourse, deceitful means for sexual intercourse, and gang rape, with specified punishments ranging from rigorous imprisonment to death.
  • Protection of Identity: It includes provisions to protect the identity of victims of sexual offences, with penalties for disclosing a victim’s identity without authorization.
  • Assault and Harassment: The document details crimes related to assault or criminal force against women with the intent to outrage modesty, sexual harassment, and voyeurism.
  • Offences Relating to Marriage: It addresses legal consequences for dowry death, deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage, and marrying again during the lifetime of a spouse.
  • This section emphasizes the legal repercussions for committing sexual offences and the protection of victims, along with specific laws related to marriage and women’s safety.

Summary of Part 4:

  • Petty Organised Crime: Defines acts like theft, snatching, cheating, and similar criminal acts by a group or gang as petty organised crime, with a punishment of 1 to 7 years imprisonment and fines1.
  • Terrorist Act: Outlines acts intended to threaten India’s sovereignty, unity, or security, including using explosives or weapons, with varying degrees of punishment based on the severity of the act.
  • Hurt and Grievous Hurt: Specifies what constitutes ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’, and the respective punishments, which can extend up to life imprisonment for grievous hurt2.
  • Wrongful Restraint and Confinement: Details the offences of wrongful restraint and confinement, with penalties ranging from simple imprisonment to several years based on the duration and intent of the confinement.
  • This section of the document provides a comprehensive overview of various crimes and their corresponding legal repercussions.

Summary of Part 5:

  • Secession and Subversion: It details punishments for activities that threaten India’s sovereignty and unity, including secession, armed rebellion, and subversive acts.
  • Government Assault: It outlines penalties for waging war against the Indian government or foreign states at peace with India.
  • Supporting Offenders: It specifies consequences for aiding escape, harbouring, or rescuing state prisoners or prisoners of war.
  • Mutiny and Desertion: It addresses the abetment of mutiny within the armed forces and the harbouring of deserters.
  • This section emphasizes the protection of national integrity and the maintenance of public order.

Summary of Part 6:

  • Simple Imprisonment or Fine: Individuals failing to attend court or disobeying orders from public servants face simple imprisonment or fines, with terms and amounts varying based on the nature of the summons or order.
  • Absconding Penalties: Penalties for absconding include imprisonment
    and fines, with harsher punishments for avoiding court appearances.
  • Non-Compliance Consequences: Non-compliance with public servant orders can lead to imprisonment, fines, or both, with specific terms outlined for different scenarios.
  • False Information Offences: Providing false information to public servants, especially regarding the commission of offences, carries significant penalties including imprisonment and fines.
  • This section outlines various offences related to non-compliance with legal obligations and the corresponding punishments.

Table 1: Illustrative list of overlap between and IPC, BNS and Special Laws

BNS/BNSS Special Law
Adulteration of food or drink for sale
Imprisonment up to 6 months, fine up to Rs 5,000, or both.

Non-Cognizable, bailable. (IPC Sec. 272, 273; BNS Clause 272, 273)

The Food Safety and Security Act, 2006: Imprisonment up to life, and a fine up to Rs 10 lakh for manufacture, storage, sale of unsafe food. Sentences proportionate to damage caused. (Sec. 59)
Adulteration of drugs, and sale of adulterated drugs
Adulteration penalised with imprisonment up to a year, fine up to Rs 5,000, or both.

Sale of adulterated drugs penalised with imprisonment up to 6 months, fine up to Rs 5,000 or both.

Non-Cognizable, bailable. (IPC Sec. 274, 275; BNS Clause 274, 275)

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940: Consumption of adulterated drugs causing death or grievous hurt penalised with imprisonment between 10 years and life, and fine of at least Rs 10 lakh, or 3 times the value of the seized drugs, whichever is higher.

In other cases, penalty is imprisonment of 3-5 years, and fine of at least Rs 1 lakh, or 3 times the value of the seized drugs, whichever is

more.    (Sec. 27)

Unlawful compulsory labour

BNS/BNSS Special Law
Imprisonment up to one year, fine, or both.

Cognizable, Bailable. (IPC Sec. 374; BNS Clause 144)

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976: Imprisonment up to 3 years and fine up

to Rs 2,000.   (Sec. 16, 17, 18).

Abandoning a child
Parent or guardian abandoning a child below the age of 12 is punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years, fine, or both.

Cognizable, bailable. (IPC Sec. 317; BNS Clause 91)

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015: Abandoning or procuring a child for abandonment is punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years, fine up to Rs 1 lakh, or both. Biological parents abandoning a child due to circumstances beyond their control are exempt. (Sec. 75)
Rash driving
Punishable with imprisonment up to 6 months, fine up to Rs 1,000 or both.

Cognizable, bailable, non- compoundable. (IPC Sec 279; BNS Clause 279)

The Motor Vehicles Act,

1988: Punishment for first offence: imprisonment up to 6 months, and/or fine up to Rs 5,000. Subsequent offence within three years: imprisonment up to 2 years and/or a fine up to Rs 10,000. Cognizable, bailable, compoundable. (Sec. 184)

Table 2: Recommendations related to offences against women

Recommendations Whether incorporated in BNS
Rape (IPC s.375) – Rape should not be limited to penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus. Any non- consensual penetration of a sexual nature should be included in the definition of rape. Exception to marital rape should be removed.9 No. Original provision retained in Clause 63.
Words, gesture, or act intended to insult modesty of woman (IPC s.509) – the section should be repealed. The offence of ‘eve-teasing’ can be charged under s.354 of the IPC (s.73). Remove the terminology ‘modesty of women’ from the IPC.9 No. Original provision retained in Clause 78.
Assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent to disrobe (IPC s.354B) – penalty should be increased to imprisonment for at least five years up to 10 years. No. Penalty is imprisonment for at least three years up to seven years (Clause 75).
Adultery (IPC s.497) – the section violates Articles 14 and 21. It creates a distinction between men and women based on gender stereotypes and is arbitrary. Adultery should not be treated as an offence as it violates the right to privacy.3 Yes. Adultery has been omitted. However, BNS retains s.498 of the IPC (Clause 83) which penalises a man for enticing the wife of another man so that she may have intercourse with any person.

Conclusion: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, represents a transformative step towards a more modern and just legal system in India. By integrating digital frameworks, enhancing judicial independence, expanding civil rights, and implementing comprehensive reforms across various sectors, the Sanhita addresses the evolving needs of Indian society. The focus on technological integration, environmental and consumer protections, and international cooperation underscores India’s commitment to global standards. This legal overhaul not only streamlines judicial processes but also ensures greater accountability, transparency, and protection for all citizens, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable legal landscape in India.


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