Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill Set to Replace Indian Penal Code

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday introduced three redrafted bills to replace the existing criminal laws by including various recommendations made by a parliamentary panel.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill was one of the three bills introduced first in the Lok Sabha on August 11, along with Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam bills. They seek to replace the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1898, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

Why three bills were reintroduced

Shah said that the decision to withdraw the three bills and introduce them afresh was taken after the parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs made recommendations suggesting changes in the three bills following a series of discussions with domain experts and various stakeholders.

What is Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill?

Some of the key changes in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill include a new definition of terrorism.

“Whoever does 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…,” it says.

The bill has brought changes in Section 73, making it punishable to publish the proceedings of a court which may reveal the identity of victims of rape or that of similar offences without the court’s permission.

Section 73 now states, “Whoever prints or publishes any matter in relation to any proceeding before a court with respect to an offence referred to in Section 72 without the previous permission of such court shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.”

How government replaced mental illness in three bills

The government has introduced the term “unsound mind” in place of “mental illness” on the three bills.

“Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law,” the redrafted version said.

What BNS says about adultery, Section 377

Two key recommendations of the panel — to include a gender-neutral provision criminalising adultery and a clause that criminalises non-consensual sex between men, women, transpersons, and acts of bestiality in the BNS — have been rejected by the government and are not included in the revised bill as well.

What’s Modi government’s stance on adultery as India eyes criminal law reforms?

The government rejected the proposal of the panel to retain Indian Penal Code section 377 provisions related to carnal intercourse with minors and acts of bestiality in the proposed bills.

The panel had also suggested that the IPC provision related to adultery should be retained in the Sanhita by making it gender-neutral “for the sake of protecting the institution of marriage”.

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