January 2, 2024
Statue of Lady Justice


To meet the needs of modern society, the Indian Parliament recently replaced decades-old colonial, archaic, outdated, and outmoded criminal laws (namely the Indian Penal Code, 1860; the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; and the Code of Criminal Law, 1973) with recent, modernistic, and contemporary laws. The new criminal laws are known as-

  • Bharatiya Sakshaya Adhiniyam (BSA)—Indian Evidence Act.
  • Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS): Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS): Indian Penal Code.

The government mentioned eliminating the colonial era and bringing Indianness as the rationale for replacing old laws with new ones. As a result, certain changes have been implemented. The purpose of this article is to present to the readers the changes brought about by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 (BNS), or the difference between the new and old Indian Penal Code, and the reason for those changes.


The BNS, also known as the New Indian Penal Code, was enacted for the following reasons:

  • Change in Indian society: Law is a reflection of society. Society changes and the law need to adapt itself to the changing society. Due to that, the Indian Parliament felt the need to incorporate some changes in the current criminal law and some new provisions, like:
  1. Organised crime
  2. Mob Lynching
  3. Gender-neutral provisions for sexual offenses
  4. Updating provisions with appropriate fines and punishment: The IPC contained many provisions related to fines and punishment that were not in consonance with contemporary times, so enhanced punishment was required for those provisions.
  • Combination and addition of specific provisions: The BNS also aims to club various related provisions under a single provision, as those were scattered under the different provisions of the IPC. For example, provisions related to hurt, fine.
  • Updating examples: BNS also aims to update certain examples with the present-situation examples that were mentioned under the IPC.

List of Modifications

  1. Merging of Sections 1 to 5 (IPC) under Section 1 (BNS): All the sections ofthe IPC from Sections 1 to 5, which were chapter one (the introductory chapter), have been merged under Section 1 of the BNS, and the marginal note now reads as Short Title, Commencement, and Application. It is to be noted that content-wise, the provisions remain the same.
  2. All the definitions have been merged into the same section. Earlier, the IPCcontained definitions from Sections 6 to 52-A, which are now contained under Section 2 itself. There is a separate clause for each definition, numbered alphabetically. The following new definition has been added:
  • The definition of child includes any person below the age of 18 years.
  • Definition of man to include transgender

It is to be noted that other provisions under the IPC are mentioned under Sections

  • 34. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention
  • 35: When such an act is criminal as done by criminal knowledge or intention
  • 36. Effects caused partly by acts and partly by omission
  • 37. Co-operation by doing one of several acts constituting an offense has been added as an explanation to Section 2 itself.
  1. The new addition of punishment—BNS provides a different punishment from others as mentioned under the IPC. The added punishment is community service. This punishment is provided for the following offenses:
  • Non-appearance in response to a lawful order of a public servant by a proclaimed offender
  • Attempt to commit suicide
  • Intoxication and appearance in public
  • Public servants unlawfully engaging in trade
  • Committing theft on a property whose value is below Rs 5,000 and there is a promise to return
  • Defamation
  1. Deletion of Section 53A, which provided for punishment of transportation and transportation for life.
  2. Clubbing of all the Sections of Fine: Earlier, the IPC contained various Sections of Fine from Sections 63 to 70. Now all these sections have been clubbed under the single section e. 8 under the BNS. However, the following changes have been made with respect to fines:
Amount of finePeriod of imprisonment not to exceed
5000 Rs 10000 Rs Any other amount2 months 4 months One year
  1. Changes in the sexual offenses: sexual offenses have been retained from the IPC with the following changes:
  • Marital rape has been retained, with the exception that the age of the wife should not be below 18 years.
  • Having sexual intercourse by deceitful means or making a promise to marry without any intention to fulfillfulfill has been made punishable.
  • Non-disclosure of the identity of the victim and non-reporting of such court proceedings without first obtaining the permission of the court.
  • Additionally, all the offenses relating to women have been clubbed under the same chapter, like Section 511 and Sections 354A to 354D of the IPC.
  • Other women-related offenses like cruelty, dowry death, and offenses related to marriage have been placed together.
  1. Offences related to children: The following offenses related to children have been included under the BNS:
  • Fixing, employing, and engaging a child to commit an offense
  • Inducing any child to go from one place to another for the purpose of illicit intercourse
  • Provisions related to child prostitution have been made gender-neutral.
  1. Changes related to offenses against life: These offenses have now undergone the following changes:
  2. Minimum punishment for culpable homicide: Minimum punishment for culpable homicide, i.e., 5 years, has been provided under the BNS.
  • Enhancement for the punishment of death by negligence: Now death by negligence is punishable with imprisonment for 5 years. Medical negligence is punishable with imprisonment up to 2 years.
  • If someone drives a vehicle rashly and negligently and causes death and doesn’t report it, they are liable for punishment up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine.
  • Sections 110 and 111 of the IPC (definition and punishment for thugs) have been deleted.
  • A new offense in the form of organized crime: organized crime has been divided into two separate offenses. Organized crime for committing kidnapping, robbery, extortion, or cybercrime, where even the death penalty may also be awarded. Organized crime for petty offenses like theft, snatching, and cheating.
  • The offense of terrorist activities has been added as a new offense under the BNS, punishable with death.
  • Change in hurt provisions: If by causing hurt permanent disability or the victim is in a permanent vegetative state, then the punishment should not be less than 10 years.
  • If hurt is caused by five or more persons on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth (mob lynching), then punishment up to 7 years of imprisonment and a fine.
  • Provisions related to wrongfully confinement have been clubbed, and enhanced punishment is provided.
  • For the offense of kidnapping, the same age has been provided for both males and females, i.e., 18 years.
  • Change in the grounds of the offense of sedition: words or actions that have the tendency to seize any territory, armed rebellion, or separatist activity are punishable with life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10 years and a fine.
  1. Offenses against property: A separate provision has been added for snatching, punishable with imprisonment of three years and a fine.
  2. If theft is committed on the following items, then the person shall be liable for enhanced punishment, i.e., 7 years of imprisonment.
  • means of transport
  • Of idol, in place of worship
  • Government property
  1. Inclusion of Aadhar cards in forging instruments

The enforcement date of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) has not been notified.


Though IPC now has a different name and a different number of sections, in sum and substance, the provisions remain the same. Except for some modifications by way of addition or deletion, other provisions are just exact replicas of the same provisions. The changing times necessitated changes, and therefore the Parliament came up with a new law. Therefore, the judiciary aspirants would not face much difficulty in adopting the required changes, and with little effort, they would equip themselves with the new changes in criminal law.

Written and analyzed by Naina Agarwal

(Faculty of Law at Jyoti Judiciary)

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