Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has lauded the passage of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 by the Parliament and called it a historic moment in India’s history. The Prime Minister said that these legal reforms redefine India’s legal framework to be more relevant and empathy-driven in the Amrit Kaal. He also shared a video of Union Home Minister Amit Shah discussing the three bills in Rajya Sabha.
The passage of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023 is a watershed moment in our history. These Bills mark the end of colonial-era laws. A new era begins with laws centered on public service and welfare.
Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 – Highlights
- The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (BNS2) retains most offences from the IPC. It adds community service as a form of punishment.
- Sedition is no longer an offence. Instead, there is a new offence for acts endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
- The BNS2 adds terrorism as an offence. It is defined as an act that intends to threaten the unity, integrity, security or economic security of the country, or strike terror in the people.
- Organised crime has been added as an offence. It includes crimes such as kidnapping, extortion and cyber-crime committed on behalf of a crime syndicate. Petty organised crime is also an offence now.
- Murder by a group of five or more persons on grounds of certain identity markers such as caste, language or personal belief will be an offence with penalty life imprisonment or death, and with a fine.
Key Issues and Analysis
- Age of criminal responsibility is retained at seven years. It extends to 12 years depending upon the maturity of the accused. This may contravene recommendations of international conventions.
- The BNS2 defines a child to mean a person below the age of 18. However, for several offences, the age threshold of the victim for offences against children is not 18. The threshold for minority of the victim of for rape and gangrape is different.
- Several offences overlap with special laws. In many cases, both carry different penalties or provide for different procedures. This may lead to multiple regulatory regimes, additional costs of compliance and possibility of levelling multiple charges.
- The BNS2 removes sedition as an offence. The provision on endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India may have retained aspects of sedition.
- The BNS2 retains the provisions of the IPC on rape and sexual harassment. It does not consider recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee (2013) such as making the offence of rape gender neutral and including marital rape as an offence.
- The BNS2 omits S. 377 of IPC which was read down by the Supreme Court. This removes rape of men and bestiality as offences.