The Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023 is a proposed legislation in India that seeks to establish a comprehensive, accessible, and efficient legal system in the country. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) was introduced on August 11, 2023 to replace the IPC. It was examined by the Standing Committee on Home Affairs.  The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023 (BNS2) was introduced on December 12, 2023 after the earlier Bill was withdrawn. It incorporates certain recommendations of the Standing Committee. The BNS2 largely retains the provisions of the IPC, adds some new offences, removes offences that have been struck down by courts, and increases penalties for several offences.
is one of the three criminal law bills introduced by the Union Government to replace the era-old Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). BNS was passed in Lok Sabha on 20th December 2023 and in Rajya Sabha on 21st December 2023. Apart from amendments, it aims to add several offences in the ordinary law which were either part of any statute or was an offspring of precedents declared by the Supreme Court of India.
This article aims to provide a detailed overview of the bill, its objectives, and the potential impact on India’s judicial landscape.
Streamlining the judicial process: The bill aims to simplify and streamline the judicial process by reducing delays, improving efficiency, and ensuring a more accessible legal system for all citizens.
Enhancing transparency & accountability: By implementing digitalization and automation, the bill seeks to increase transparency in the judicial process and ensure that all parties involved have access to relevant information.
Strengthening the legal framework: The bill proposes to strengthen the legal framework by establishing a robust system of checks and balances, promoting accountability, and reducing corruption.
Enhance access to justice: The bill seeks to ensure that all citizens have equal access to justice by simplifying legal procedures and reducing the financial burden on litigants.
Promote alternative dispute resolution: The bill encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation and arbitration, to resolve conflicts outside the court system.
Enhanced training and professional development: The bill proposes the establishment of a Judicial Academy to provide comprehensive training and professional development opportunities for judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals.
Establishment of a National Judicial Service Commission: The bill proposes the creation of a National Judicial Service Commission, which would be responsible for the appointment, promotion, and transfer of judges in the lower and higher judiciary. This would help ensure a more transparent and merit-based judicial system.
Introduction of a Fast Track Court System: The bill proposes the establishment of Fast Track Courts to handle specific types of cases, such as those involving economic offenses, environmental crimes, and sexual harassment. These courts would be designed to expedite the judicial process and reduce delays.
Digitalization and automation: The bill emphasizes the use of technology to streamline the judicial process. This would include the use of electronic case management systems, online filing of court documents, and video conferencing for hearings.
The Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023 addresses emerging threats and challenges by incorporating provisions related to national security, terrorism, organized crime, and other transnational offenses. This reflects a proactive approach towards addressing evolving forms of criminal activities that pose a threat to public safety and national security
Promise to Marry:
Clause 69 of BNS provides punishment for Sexual intercourse by employing deceitful means, etc.
It states that whoever, by deceitful means or by making promise to marry to a woman without any intention of fulfilling the same, has sexual intercourse with her, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.
Clause 113 of BNS punishes terrorism by any act with the intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, sovereignty, security, or economic security of India or with the intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country.
Clause 197 punishes acts including imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration which covers false news. Clause 197 (1) (d) states that whoever, by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or through electronic communication or otherwise, makes or publishes false or misleading information, jeopardising the sovereignty, unity and integrity or security of India, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Attempt to Suicide:
Clause 226 of BNS covers punishment for attempt to commit suicide to compel or restrain exercise of lawful power. It states that whoever attempts to commit suicide with the intent to compel or restrain any public servant from discharging his official duty shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both, or with community service.
Clause 103 of BNS provides punishment for murder. Sub-clause (2) of Section 103 states that when a group of five or more persons acting in concert commits murder on the grounds of race, caste or community, sex, place of birth, language, personal belief or any other similar ground each member of such group shall be punished with death or with imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Clause 152 states that 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.
Clause 111 of BNS punishes Organized Crime
Acts of unlawful activity including kidnapping, robbery, vehicle theft, extortion, land grabbing, contract killing, economic offences, cyber-crimes having severe consequences, trafficking in people, drugs, illicit goods or services and weapons, and human trafficking racket for prostitution or ransom shall constitute organized crime.
It must be done by the effort of groups of individuals acting in concert, singly or jointly, either as a member of an organised crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate.
Clause 112 punishes Petty organized crime or organized crime in general
Petty organized crime includes crime that causes general feelings of insecurity among citizens relating to theft of vehicle or theft from vehicle,domestic and business theft, trick theft, cargo crime, theft (attempt to theft, theft of personal property), organized pickpocketing, snatching, theft through shoplifting or card skimming and Automated Teller Machine thefts or procuring money in unlawful manner in public transport system or illegal selling of tickets and selling of public examination question papers and such other common forms of organized crime.
It must be committed by organized criminal groups or gangs.
And it shall include the said crimes when committed by mobile organized crime groups or gangs that create network of contacts, anchor points, and logistical support among themselves to carry out number of offences in region over a period before moving on.
Whoever commits or attempts to commit any petty organised crime, under this shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
The Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023 could potentially have a significant impact on India’s judicial system. By streamlining the process, increasing transparency, and strengthening the legal framework, the bill could help reduce delays, corruption, and inefficiencies in the system. Moreover, the proposed reforms could lead to improved access to justice for all citizens, irrespective of their socio-economic background.
The Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023 is a comprehensive and ambitious proposal aimed at transforming India’s legal system. By addressing key issues such as delays, transparency, and corruption, the bill has the potential to create a more efficient and accessible judicial system for all citizens. However, it is essential that the implementation of the bill is carefully planned and executed to ensure that the intended benefits are realized.