TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, aims to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC) with comprehensive revisions and transformative changes in criminal laws, departing significantly from the existing framework.
- This legislation introduces new offences, abolishes outdated provisions, and modifies existing laws to adapt to contemporary societal and legal dynamics.
New Offences Introduced
- Promise to Marry
- Clause 69 criminalizes deceitful promises of marriage leading to consensual sexual activity, addressing concerns related to “love jihad” narratives.
- It broadens the ambit of sexual offences by penalizing individuals engaging in sexual intercourse with false promises.
- Mob Lynching
- The BNS codifies offences linked to mob lynching and hate-crime murders, prescribing severe punishments, including life imprisonment to death, for murder committed by mobs based on factors like race, caste, or personal belief.
- Organized Crime
- For the first time, organized crime comes under ordinary criminal law.
- It includes provisions for cases involving death, imposing penalties ranging from life imprisonment to death, and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for non-fatal incidents.
- The BNS incorporates language from stringent anti-terrorism laws, bringing terrorism under the purview of ordinary criminal law, broadening the definition of terror activities and terror financing.
- Attempted Suicide in Protests
- A provision criminalizing suicide attempts with the intent to restrain public servants from discharging duties aims to prevent self-immolations or hunger strikes during protests.
Deletions and Modifications
- Repealing Section 377
- The BNS repeals Section 377, decriminalizing homosexuality.
- However, concerns exist about its omission, as it was also used to tackle non-consensual sexual acts, while current rape laws remain gendered.
- Adultery, previously deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, is omitted under the BNS.
- Thugs and Gender Neutrality
- The provision labelling habitual associates as “thugs” is eliminated due to its colonial connotations.
- Gender neutrality is introduced in various laws concerning children and crimes against women.
Other Notable Changes
- Fake News and Sedition
- The BNS introduces provisions to criminalize publishing false information and revises sedition laws, broadening the definition and incorporating financial aid to subversive activities.
- Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Fines
- The legislation introduces mandatory minimum sentences in several cases, limiting judicial discretion.
- Offences related to public property damage now carry graded fines corresponding to the extent of damage.
- The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, signifies a monumental shift in India’s legal landscape, aiming to modernize criminal laws, address societal concerns, and adapt to contemporary challenges.
- While it introduces progressive changes, the legislation also raises questions about its nuanced implementation, judicial discretion, and potential impacts on civil liberties and justice delivery.