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IPC Vs BNS: Major Changes And Concerns

This paper carries a detail enquiry into Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita,look at how this law came into being, starting from the time when India was ruled by the British. Explores why the law needed changes and how it aims to fit better with today's world. Author discuss the important parts of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita . It's like a puzzle with many pieces, and author look at each piece to see what it means.

One big change is that it removes something called "sedition," which was a way the government could punish people for saying things they didn't like. And also see new things added, like rules against terrorism and organized crime. The work analyses at what's good about these changes but also what worries some people. Work compares the old law with the new one to see what's different. The new law talks about new ways to punishment, like community service for smaller crimes. Can also see changes in how the law deals with crimes against women, children, and the human body.

There's a focus on stopping crimes like mob violence. Paper points the concerns some people have about the new law. For example, some worry it might be used in a bad way, or that it doesn't do enough to protect certain groups of people. Paper suggest ways to make the law better, like using fair language and making sure it protects everyone. It is hoped that this paper helps us understand why this new law is important, what it changes, and what we need to think about to make it work well for everyone in India.

Indian Penal Code 1860 is the criminal code of India, it is the document where various offences are classified on various heads, mentions the punishments for those offences,, the document covers a range of criminal acts such as property offences, offences against state, offences against persons and various other criminal acts and the code has been amended a number of times as per the change in social structure, legal interpretations and emerging challenges The genesis of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) can be traced back to the colonial era when it was introduced as a pivotal initiative to establish a uniform criminal code in India, aiming to rectify the perceived deficiencies of the prevailing law.

The roots of this legal framework predominantly lie in English law, but it also incorporates elements from the Napoleonic Code and the Louisiana Civil Code of 1825. The initial attempt to codify criminal laws took shape in 1827 with the introduction of the Elphinstone Code under the guidance of Governor Elphinstone.

The Charter Act of 1833 paved the way for the enactment of laws in India, leading to the establishment of the first Law Commission in 1834. Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, as the commission's chair, played a pivotal role in drafting the IPC, which was presented to the Parliament in 1856. Prior to its passage on 6th October 1860, Barnes Peacock proposed several amendments during discussions in the Legislative Assembly. The tumultuous events surrounding the revolt of 1857 contributed to a delay in the enactment of the law.

The IPC officially came into force on 1st January 1862, excluding the princely states that retained their distinct legal systems. Post-independence, India embraced this comprehensive legal code, codification done by the British Empire in the Criminal Law system and it was the longest serving law existing in the common law world, the similar kind of penal codes were implemented by Bruisers in their colonies where there a strong criticism was always there that the Indian Penal Code was made to impart their imperialist rule in the country and suppress the voices against them, it is also seen as a document that was used to oppress the people who were against the rule of British and to make them their slaves, looking at structure of the Indian Code it can be seen that it has totally 511 sections which is divided under 23 chapters and it has undergone 75 amendments .

India has moved a long 76 years after its Independence from the British and the Indian Penal Code is in operation more than 160 years, as previously mentioned the Penal code was enacted with an innuendo intention to suppress the revolt against the rulers where we can see the existing sedition law as a living example to do so and there arise the need to revamp the code and transfer the power shift from the rulers to the people, there was of committees that were constituted by various Government to reform the Criminal Justice system in India in 1993 Vohra Committee came up with recommendations such as to bring amendments in the code to deal with the Political crimes that is surging in the country and anti-social elements, in 2003 Malimath Committee came up with recommendation to introduce a new category of offence named 'social welfare offence' for small offences and to deal them by imposing smaller fines or with making to do community service, there is a number of recommendations that are made by law commissions and various other committees.

Many codes existing in the penal code are regarded to be outdated and also there exists a criticism that the code need some major changes in some of the areas because of the changes in the society, there is a number of marital rapes that has been reporting in various part of the country, but the thing is that till now Indian Penal Code there is no provision relating to this offence not even considered as rape in India, there is a need to change in languages in the sections of the code in a gender neutral manner, and also section 377 of the IPC has been struck down so the languages need to be amended considering these aspect also, Sedition law incorporated in the IPC was made by framers to defend the actions from the people against the British Government and to suppress the freedom fighters of India at that time even Mahatma Gandhi was send to jail for 6 years imposing this draconian section, but if we look after 76 years of Independence the law is used by the Government (ruling class) to suppress the voice of people who shows dissent against the Government many journalists, activists, students and academicians are arrested using this draconian law so a major amendment in this section is necessary to strengthen democracy of the country, provisions to control the match fixing in sports, provisions related to custodial torture and death, the analysts also points out there is a need to amend the provision related to capital punishment where some argues that it must be struck down since it is inhuman.

Home Minister Amit Shah on 11th of August 2023 introduced three laws in the lower house of the Parliament which proposed the complete transformation of country criminal law and he introduced three laws naming 1.Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Law 2023, which replaces the Indian Penal Code 1860, 2. The Bharathiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Law 2023, which replaces the CrPC, 1898, 3.The Bharathiya Sakshya Law 2023, which replaces the Indian Evidence Act 1872.The Law was introduced by the Government to revamp the colonial law existing in India and to formulate a law with the spirit of India Citizens and the provision to protect their rights.

The New Structure
The new ly put forward criminal law revamping law is a result of a committee established by Home Ministry of Central Government under the leadership of Prof Dr. Ranbir Singh who was the former Vice Chancellor of National Law University of Delhi. The committee constituted on 2020 submitted its final recommendations to the ministry of Home Affairs on February 2023

With all amendments and additions IPC is subdivided mainly into 26 chapters that included 576 section, where the new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Law introduced by the Home Minister of the Union Government comprises of an improved structure having 19 chapters and 356 sections, almost 175 provisions in the IPC is revised and a number of 8 new sections has been added in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Law 2023 (hereinafter mentioned as BNS Law 2023) Existing 22 provisions of IPC 1860 is deleted the new BNS Law 2023.The law with 356 amendments state that murder shall be the most prominent and grievous crime against the state. And for the first time the law covers the offences related to organized terrorism, there are a number of other changes in provisions related to punishments and new form of punishments which will be dealt in the upcoming area.

Major Changes Ipc 1860 Vs Bns 2023
Sedition Law
The existing provision dealing with offence of sedition is dealt under section 124 A which clearly states what is sedition that is something that can be exercised against individuals who in various forms such as written word, spoken or signs bring hatred or contempt or excites or attempt to excite the disaffection, while if we look at the new BNS 2023 there is no provision mentioning the offence sedition or the new law avoids the use of the word sedition but similar nature offence can be found in section 150 of new BNS 2023 where the person who intentionally of by his knowledge by means such as words, spoken, written, by financial mean or by electronic communication is exciting or trying to excite, armed rebellion or secession or any subversive activity or by encouraging the feeling of separatist activity or bring danger to the sovereignty of the country or its unity and diversity or indulging or committing any such activity is punished and punishment will be for an imprisonment for life that extend to 7 years, where in the IPC the punishment is for life imprisonment and extended to 3 years. Technically the sedition law has been completely repealed in the new proposal while and in the new proposal electronic mode of communication and using of the financial mean are included as new tools to perpetuate the act and act against the state .

Criminal Conspiracy
In the IPC the criminal conspiracy is defined under section 120 and it is elucidated as an agreement between two or more number of individuals for doing an illegal act for achieving a legal objective using an illegal means. Coming into the new code that the act is reflected as section 61 in the same title, the change that made is relating to the structure of the section, it was in IPC the definition part and punishment are provided as two individual provisions one was the definition part and other one the punishment part the new BNS 2023 bring it together in one section ie section 61 where the definition title is omitted

The provision for cheating has been changed from sec 420 to sec 316 in the BNS, cheating is defined in a more precise and proportionate way in the new law, the maximum sentence under the IPC is 7 years which is also similar in the new code but the minimum punishment has been reduced to six months comparing with the IPC provision and also it can be seen that the section consolidates the previous definition clause (415 of IPC) and punishment clause (420) together in section 316.

Further looking at new provision it can be seen that the new section sets out various degree of cheating on the basis of the injury and the harm suffered by the victim that can be seen in punishment also where whoever cheats will be punished for 3 years, whoever do it with a clear knowledge that such cheating causes or likely to cause wrongful losses shall be made punished for 5 years and in case of cheating relating to the property relating to delivery, alteration or destruction of any part of the valued security there the punishment is made upto 7 years.

Crime Against Women And Children
The primary thing to be noted is that the marital rape has not been categorized in the new BNS or not defined anywhere, in IPC the offences related to women and children was dealt under chapter 16 where it is substituted under chapter 5 in the new law under the title of Offence against women and sexual offences against children that are of sexual in nature. And new two section has been added in the new law where section 69 will be dealt relating to the offence of having sex in way of deceitful means that are by making promise to marry without intention to do so and person who commits it is made punishable for imprisonment for a term up to 10 years, the intent of the new added section is to deal with the issue relating to fake promise to marry.

Offence relating to disclosure of the identity of victim is also brought under this chapter in the new BNS where it is under chapter 11 dealing with offence relating to false evidence and public justice in the IPC, the new code also bring out provision relating to gang rape of women below 18 years under section 70(2) in the new Law and makes it punishable for a term of life imprisonment and with fine or death.

Offence Against Human Body
A number of changes can be seen related to offence against human body in the new law in the new law the offences are dealt under chapter 6 where it is on chapter 16 in the IPC, almost everything is retained in the new code relating to the description of the offences the new law has put forward changes or increase in punishment for some of the offence under the chapter, the new law has introduced a new provision named organized crime in the new law under section 109 and this section is mainly introduced to cracking down the traffickers lobby and syndicate operating behind it the section recognizes trafficking of human for prostitution as a crime, the section also deals with organized cybercrimes that is having consequences severe in nature, organized crime for trafficking of illegal drugs, weapons and law proposes for punishment according to the severity of the crime which may extend up to death punishment and life imprisonment if any crime under the section resulted in death of a person and on the other cases the imprisonment ranges to not less than five years. Categorizing human trafficking as an organized crime may help the system to crack down networks and lobbies operating behind such acts.

Offences related to currency, notes, coin, Government Stamp and Bank Notes
The new law provides with the same content in chapter 10 where it is in chapter 18 in the IPC, it can be seen that the penalty for offence under this category has been increased in the new law and a notable change can be seen that an addition is made that is 'government stamps and coin' in the new law and also under section 176 of the new law it is clearly defined what is coins and government stamps.

Community Service As A Corrective Measure
The new law introduces community service as punishment for petty offence and it is for the first time the criminal law in the country is introducing such a punishment method, earlier in the Indian Penal Code has dealt with other modes of punishments such as death, life imprisonment, rigorous and simple imprisonment and fine /forfeiture of property and now a new form that is community service has been added to the list, if we look into laws of western countries community service is seen as a common mode of punishment in petty offences in place of incarceration and other fines.

The offences such as defamation, public servant unlawfully engaging in any other trade, attempt to suicide are some of the offences where the new law introduces community service as one kind of punishment, it can be seen in relevant provisions of the law and this sort of punishment is introduced as a reformative kind of punishment for the accused for not committing any further offence, there were instances previously where Supreme Court have ordered community service of punishment for certain offences in 2019 the Supreme Court of India has ordered to a doctor who attempted to commit suicide to plant 100 trees as punishment.

Offences Related To Mob Lynching
The number of mob lynching crimes are increasing in the country and the Honorable Supreme Court of India has asked National Crime Records Bureau of India to submit data showing number of mob lynching crime reported in India, in this scenario it is vital to note that new BNS Law 2023 comes up with a clear provision to address the crime of mob lynching and it is dealt in section 101(2) of the new law the provision says that a crime when there a group of five or more than that murders anyone in the name of language, sex, caste, place of birth, community, personal belief or any other grounds each and every member of that group will be punished with imprisonment of life or death and the term of imprisonment shall not be less than 7 years, where sub clause 1 of section 101 deals with murder, the addition gains popularity because many infamous mob lynching cases are reported in the country in the name of food, allegation of theft, religion, etc. so classifying this offence separately will make help the authorities, researchers, police to look into the data and surge of such kind of crime and help to ensure proper law and order.

Provisions are also made in the section of hurt in the new law related to mob lynching where five or more than five person in name of caste, sex, race, place of birth, personal belief or language or by any other ground causes grievous hurt to the victim shall be punished for a term of maximum 7 years and fine. So the intent of the lawmakers is clear that the provision is added to address the increasing crime of mob lynching in various names. There are around 4 states of the country has already passed the law against the mob lynching in their respective legislative assemblies.

Provisions On Unnatural Sex And Adultry
The new law omits the sections related to unnatural sex and adultery. As we all know that these sections i.e. 377 and 497 has been already struck down by the Supreme Court the same is reflected in the new BNS Law 2023. Even if 497 or the crux of the section has been omitted in the new law the provision relating to taking away of married women and enticing are still recognised as crime under the new law and also same in the case of 377 where non-consensual act against the men that amount to unnatural sex is still an offence under the new code.

Other Major Changes
  • The new BNS Law 2023 has for the first time in history come up with the offense of terrorism, where it is defined in section 111 of the new law. A person who, from within or outside the country, intends to threaten the unity, security, and integrity of India and cause a security threat, if they intimidate the public and disturb public order, it is said that the person has committed the offense of terrorism.
  • The offense of snatching has been introduced by the new law under section 302 and it prescribes a punishment for a term of 3 years and a fine.
  • The offensive terminologies used in IPC 1860 such as 'lunatic' and 'unsound mind,' which are insulting to differently abled people, have been removed in the new law. A new form of addressing them is adopted in the new law; language such as 'mental illness' and 'person with intellectual disability' has been used in the new law to address those people.
  • Previously under section 366B, importing of girls under 21 for illicit intercourse only was an offense. In the new law, the law also recognizes importing of boys under the age of 18 for illicit intercourse as a crime under section 139. This shows the equality approach taken in the new law.

Definitions And Punishments
  • In the gender definition under section 2(9) male, female and transgender are included and trans genders will be having meaning of clause (k) of section 2 under Trans genders Persons Act 2019
  • Mental illness is added to definition under section 2(19) in the new law and meaning of the term can be interpreted using section 2 (a) of Mental Health Care Act 2017
  • In section 4(f) of definition part the community service is defined clearly as a mode of punishment. And also section 8 it is added that in case of offence where punishment is less than 2 months and fine 5000, four months and fine of 10000 rupees if default occurred in payment of fine community service shall be given as punishment.
  • In case of punishment of mentally ill people special status is provided under section 22, where nothing is considered as offence at the time of occurrence the person is mentally ill.

Major Concerns:
  1. Sedition Law:
    Prima facia the term sedition has been repealed from the new code, and it was major thing demanded by people from various sphere because it was a draconian law that has been introduced by the British to suppress the people so after independence having these provisions in the code will suppress the democracy of the country. Coming to the new law the issue is that the critics point out that it is only the term sedition has been removed in the new law, but many new additions has been made to the new variant of sedition and it is incorporated in the new law in more powerful and dangerous manner. The new section that is section 150 adds terms like 'encourage feeling of separatists activity', which is given in vague form without any definition, there is a possibility to include political speech and literatures under the ambit of it and may give power to rulers to arrest them, and also new ly included terms like 'use of financial mean' is used in vague form without any explanation.

    And also the critics points out that introduction of offences like Terrorist act is simply imparting UAPA law in the criminal code of the country and as per new provision activities that affects public order, damage or destruction to property has been added and that provides a wider ambit and it may allow the police to easily prosecute political protest, strikes and other sort of processions and will be labelled as terrorists. So the critics point out a concern that the new law has incorporated new offence under Section 150 and 111 which is more draconian than the existing sedition law, that is it is not an old wine in the new bottle but old wine more powerful in the new bottle.
  2. Organised Crime:
    In the case of Tehseen S Poonawalla the Supreme Court of India has made an observation that religion is one of the prominent reason for the occurrence of crime like mob lynching, and various states has pass anti mob lynching laws in their respective legislative assemblies. Coming into the new law where a new provision has been added to address the organized crimes that are under 101(2) and 115 (4) where in the first section deals with murder and other one grievous hurt, looking into these provision the law set out many grounds such as race, sex, caste� are said as the reasons for constituting organized crime, but they have not recognized religion as a ground for occurrence of organized crime, even though there are grounds such as personal belief and any other included in the new law, but these words lack a clarity in what falls under the ambit of it.

    And critics also points out that in the current scenario where mob lynching is increasing the framers would have tried to include a new offence under the category of mob lynching rather than making it a special category in the relevant section relating to murder and hurt.
  3. Transgenders Concern:
    Even though the new law removes the section 377 existed in the IPC, the people from the LGBTQ community criticize that there are no other mention about their community in the new law. In the case of Navtej Singh Johar where the 377 was struck down the court has observed that the government should take steps in a progressive way to realization of their social and economic rights, but the community feel that this objective of the law is not satisfied in the new law. They point out that their category should be included in the victim category of section of rape.
  4. Section 69 And False Promise To Marry:
    Experts have pointed out concern relating to one the new provision relating to false promise of marriage. The clause penalize false promise of promotion, employment and marriage after suppressing identity and inducing women to have sexual intercourse as an offence, the experts shares a concern that this clause will may be misused and men will be made liable or trapped in interfaith relationships .And they also point out that having sex by way of false promise is already an element that constitute rape and for minor victims also there are special provision to take care of it,so they points that there is no need of further provision in new law because there are possibility of misuse of these provision and also a possibility to affect fraternity between people.
  • There are many terms included in the new law, but it can be seen that women have been portrayed as victims in the new law. Also, the language of the law can be changed in such a way to avoid this approach. Men are also victims of rape; previously, there was IPC 377 to deal with it. So in the new law, since it has been omitted, the rape provision must have been drafted in such a way as to ensure protection for men and also to bring a gender-neutral approach. Justice Verma Committee, constituted in 2012, also proposed making offenses such as disrobing, voyeurism, and stalking gender-neutral.
  • In organized crimes, religion is not made a ground. It must be noted that India is a country witnessing a number of murders and assaults in the name of religion. In the new law, religion should also be made a ground that constitutes organized crimes like murder and hurt, so that religion-named crimes can be reduced and strengthen the secularist value of the state.
  • There are provisions in the new law to prevent the fabrication of evidence and giving false evidence, but there should be some provisions to protect the witness, that is, to protect them from threats from criminals. Witnesses are important in the trial proceedings of the case, so it is necessary to protect them. Also, provisions must be incorporated to provide financial assistance and accommodation to women.
  • There are a number of schemes such as the central victim's compensation fund to provide compensations for the victims, and these are mainly dealt with by legal aid authorities. There should be provisions directly incorporated in the new law to provide compensation for victims.

The death penalty has been abolished by many countries and it is not suitable for a civilized society, many western countries has completely abolished it, and it was found by a number of social scientists that death penalty has no deterrent effect or there is no decrease in heinous crimes. And also if we look at the approach of Supreme Court it has been setting aside death penalties in India set by the trial courts, so in the new law changes has to be made by taking away death penalty as a mode of punishment, and also should include reformative mode of punishments, like community service that has already been incorporated in the new law.

In conclusion, the new Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Law 2023 represents a significant overhaul of the Indian Penal Code, aiming to align the criminal law with the contemporary needs of society. The legislative initiative, introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, reflects the culmination of efforts by a committee led by Prof Dr. Ranbir Singh. The comprehensive changes in the law address various aspects of criminal law, ranging from sedition and conspiracy to offences against women, children, and the LGBTQ community.

The removal of the term "sedition" from the new law has garnered attention, yet concerns have been raised about the potential expansion of powers in dealing with activities that threaten the state's unity and diversity. The introduction of offences such as terrorism and organized crime aims to modernize the legal framework, but critics argue that ambiguous language may inadvertently allow authorities to suppress political dissent.

While the law introduces positive changes, it is not without its critics. The omission of specific provisions for the transgender community and concerns regarding the potential misuse of certain clauses, such as false promises of marriage, highlight areas that may need further refinement. Additionally, the absence of explicit protection for witnesses and the need for a gender-neutral approach in certain sections call for careful consideration.

Despite these concerns, the introduction of community service as a corrective measure, the explicit recognition of mob lynching as a distinct offence, and the removal of offensive terminology related to mental health demonstrate progressive steps. However, the law's impact on the LGBTQ community and potential misuses of certain provisions necessitate ongoing scrutiny and potential amendments to ensure a fair and just legal system.

In crafting a more inclusive and responsive criminal code, suggestions include adopting gender-neutral language, considering religion as a ground in organised crime, enhancing witness protection, and directly incorporating provisions for victim compensation. Furthermore, there is a call to revaluate the continued use of the death penalty and explore alternative, reformative modes of punishment like community service.

  • Sharma, Saloni, and Arshdeep Singh. "Revamping The British Era Laws: IPC, CrPC And Evidence Act." Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research 5, no. 4 (2023). URL:
  • Sahgal, Rishika. "Decolonizing criminal law in India." The Routledge International Handbook on Decolonizing Justice (2023). URL:
  • Pratiksha Basarkar, Bharathiya Nyaya Sanhitha 2023 A Substantive analysis, 2023. URL:
  • By the correspondent Hindustan Times, Capital punishment for mob lynching under new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Law, August 11 � 2023. URL:
  • Diya Jain, Comparative Analysis Between Indian Penal Code,1860 and Bharathiya Nyaya Sanhita,2023. URL:
  • Tariq Khan and Deesksha Dadu, Substantial change or linguistic imperialism, 2023, Live law. URL:
  • Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India, AIR 2008 SC 582
  • Bharathi Jain, Reintroduce in BNS adultery section in gender-neutral form- Times of India, October 26-2023. URL:
  • Shaurya Mani Pandey, India ready to overhaul the British-Era Criminal Laws: An overview of the proposed criminal legislation, Auguast 2023. URL:
  • Aditya Kahyap, Liberating justice from colonial legacy: decoding the nyaya surakshsa and sakshya law, August 29 2023. URL:

Written By: Anujus Pradeep, LLM 1st Year, Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur

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