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The  Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) (earlier known as The Indian Penal Code,1860)

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) of 2023 is a significant overhaul of India’s criminal law. It completely replaces the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860. The BNS takes a more comprehensive approach to crime and punishment. 

  • Modernized Framework: The BNS revises existing laws, removes outdated ones, and adds entirely new sections. This creates a more relevant legal framework for addressing contemporary crimes.
  • Focus on National Security: The BNS prioritizes national security by introducing a specific offense for actions that threaten India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity.
  • Combating Modern Threats: The law recognizes new challenges like terrorism and organized crime. It establishes these as distinct offenses and prescribes stricter punishments for them.
  • Graduated Penalties: The BNS differentiates between serious and minor offenses. Harsher punishments are reserved for severe crimes, while lesser offenses might involve community service as a form of rehabilitation. This promotes a more balanced approach to justice.
  • New Offenses: The BNS recognizes “snatching” as a specific criminal act under Section 304. This ensures appropriate legal recourse for victims of snatching incidents. According to this Act, a theft is snatching if the offender “suddenly or quickly or forcibly seizes or takes away from any person or from his possession any movable property.” The offence is punishable with up to three years’ imprisonment.

In simpler terms, the BNS is a modernized criminal code that addresses both traditional and emerging crimes with a focus on national security, differentiated punishments, and rehabilitation.

Difference Between Indian Penal Code And Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita(BNS)

Enacted in 1860, a relic of British colonial rule. Introduced in 2023, aims to be more modern and reflective of current Indian society.
Broader focus on criminal offenses. Places emphasis on offenses against women and children, along with those against the state.
There was no such provision of community service under IPC.It relied on more traditional punishments like imprisonment and fines. Community Service: For minor offenses, BNS allows courts to sentence offenders to community service. This could involve tasks like cleaning public spaces, working in community centers, or environmental projects. This aims at rehabilitation and giving back to society.
Primarily focused on deterrence through imprisonment and fines. Rehabilitation wasn’t a major consideration. Revised Fines and Imprisonment: BNS likely revises the existing fine amounts and imprisonment terms for various crimes. The extent of revision would depend on the specific offense. Generally, we can expect:Increased fines, especially for offenses that cause financial harm(example -Theft,fraud).Reduced imprisonment terms for less serious crimes, focusing on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.(example- petty theft)Increased imprisonment terms for major offenses, aiming for stronger deterrence.(example-murder, rape)
Section 124A: The IPC had a specific section dedicated to sedition, criminalizing speech or actions that “excite or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India.”
This provision was often criticized for its vague definition and potential misuse to suppress dissent and criticism of the government.
Sedition Removed: The IPC had a controversial section on sedition (Section 124A), which criminalized speech against the government. The BNS removes sedition as a separate offense.Introduced National Unity Clause: However, the BNS likely introduces a new provision that penalizes acts that endanger national unity. This might be similar to sedition but with a narrower focus on actions that directly incite violence or threaten the sovereignty of India.
Under the IPC, judges had limited discretion when it came to the death penalty for certain offenses like murder. In many cases, a death sentence was mandatory upon conviction. Death Penalty:The IPC had limited discretion for judges in death penalty cases. The BNS likely grants judges more flexibility in deciding capital punishment. This could involve:Considering mitigating factors like the age or mental state of the offender.Offering the possibility of life imprisonment without parole for repeat offenders, instead of a mandatory death sentence.