How New IPC is Different from Old IPC?

26 Jun 2024  Read 1279 Views

Who could have imagined 100 years ago that cybercrime would become a serious offence? Just like how crimes and criminals have changed a lot over the past century, our laws also need to keep up and change.

In 1860, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was introduced to define what actions are considered crimes and what punishments could be given. But it had its problems. The laws were based on old British rules and mostly focused on punishing people instead of seeking justice or helping them improve.

This approach didn't always fit well with modern times and the needs of society. So, the Parliament introduced Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS), repealing and replacing the 163-year-old IPC as the new penal code of the country. 

Let's understand the key differences between the IPC and the BNS, highlighting the BNS's major changes and loopholes and what they mean for India's legal system.

What are the New Offences Introduced in BNS?

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita has 358 sections and 20 chapters, while the Indian Penal Code has 511 sections and 23 chapters. 175 sections were changed, 8 new sections were added, and 22 sections were removed.

The BNS has fewer provisions than the IPC and aims to be clearer and more consistent. It focuses on current issues, like crimes against women, children, and the state. It even introduces community service as a form of punishment, showing a move towards rehabilitation and involving the community.

Here is the list of newly introduced sections in BNS:-

SECTION HEADING

Section 2(3)

Definition of child

Section 4(f)

Inclusion of "Community Service" as punishment

Section 48

Abetment outside India for offence in India

Section 69

Sexual intercourse by employing deceitful means, etc

Section 95

Hiring, employing or engaging a child to commit an offence

Section 103(2)

Mob lynching( The BNS adds murder or grievous hurt by five or more people on specified grounds)

Section 106(2)

Hit-and-run cases cover all rash/negligent homicides where the offender escapes from the scene of a crime or does not report the crime to the Police/Magistrate.

Section 111

Organized crime

Section 112

Petty Organized crime

Section 113

Terrorist act

Section 117(3)/(4)

Voluntarily causing grievous hurt

Section 120

Intentionally causing bodily harm or great bodily harm when provoked

Section 152

Acts endangering the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India

Section 195(2)

Assaulting or obstructing public servants when suppressing riots, etc.

Section 197(1)(d)

Imputation, assertion prejudicial to national integration

Section 226

Attempt to commit suicide to compel or restrain the exercise of lawful power

Section 304

Snatching

Section 324(3)

Mischief

Section 341(3)/(4)

Making or possessing counterfeit seals, etc., with intent to commit forgery punishable under section 338.

Major Highlights of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023

1. Definition Clause

  • In the IPC, there was not a specific section for definitions. Instead, interpretation clauses were scattered across sections 8 to 52A. BNS has kept most of these clauses unchanged, organizing them neatly in Section 2 in alphabetical order for easier reading and reference.
  • Here's what's new: Section 2(3) of BNS defines a 'child' as someone under 18 years old. Also, Section 2(8) includes 'electronic and digital records' in its definition of 'documents.'
  • Plus, BNS acknowledges transgender as a gender in Section 2(10) and gives it a clear definition, something IPC didn't do in Section 8. Quite a change, right?

2. Community service as Punishments 

  • BNS introduces community service as a new punishment under Section 4(f).
  • It aims to reduce prison overcrowding by allowing offenders to perform community work instead of serving jail time.
  • Offenders convicted of minor offences such as attempt to commit suicide to compel or restrain the exercise of lawful power, petty theft, public misconduct under the influence of alcohol, defamation, etc., may be sentenced to community service.

3. Offences Against Women and Children

Under the new BNS, all crimes against women and children, especially sexual offences, are now grouped together in Chapter V. This brings together these offences that used to be scattered throughout the IPC.

There is also a major change in Bail Provisions in the new CrPC; click here to know more!

4. Sexual Intercourse By Employing Deceitful Means, etc.

  • BNS makes it an offence to have a sexual act with a woman by tricking her or promising to marry her without intending to do so.
  • This law applies when the sexual act does not amount to rape.
  • The punishment can include imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine.

5. Punishment in Case of Gangrape of 18 Years of Victim

  • If a girl under 18 is gang-raped by a group or individuals with a common intention, each person involved will be considered guilty of rape.
  • They face life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
  • Section 376DA of IPC enhanced punishment for victims under 16 years old.

6. Organised Crime

The IPC did not have provisions for organised crime, though some states like Maharashtra had laws like the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999. 

Organised crime includes continuing unlawful activities like kidnapping, robbery, cyber crimes, and more carried out by individuals or groups using unlawful means to gain material benefits. It involves using violence or threats to gain financial or other benefits.

 Punishment for Organised Crime:

  • If Death Results: Death penalty or life imprisonment, plus a fine of at least 10 lakh rupees.
  • Otherwise: Imprisonment for at least 5 years, extendable to life, and a fine of at least 5 lakh rupees.

7. Snatching As a New Offence

  • In BNS, theft is considered snatching if the offender forcefully takes movable property from someone's possession.
  • Snatching can lead to imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine.

8. Stricter Punishment For Hit and Run Cases

  • If a driver causes someone's death due to reckless driving and doesn't report it to the police or court right away.
  • They could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine.

9. Mob Lynching

  • Mob lynching is now a separate crime under BNS.
  • If a group of five or more people murders someone based on reasons like race or religion, each member faces either death or life imprisonment, plus a fine.

Effects of Supreme Court ruling and Law Commission Report on BNS

Effects of Supreme Court ruling and Law Commission Report on BNS

Loopholes in BNS

While many of the changes in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) are beneficial, some reforms have raised serious issues, and some areas remain unaddressed.

Community Service Not Defined

One positive change in the BNS is the introduction of community service as a punishment. However, the Act does not define what community service entails. Without clear guidelines, there could be disputes over sentencing.

In a few cases, strange forms of community service were ordered, such as donating money to a gaushala, distributing copies of the Quran, or performing temple service. Although some of these orders were later revoked, there is a risk of similar directives with religious or patriarchal biases.

Lack of Gender Neutrality in Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

Gender neutrality in rape and sexual assault laws means recognising that men, women, and transgender people can be both perpetrators and victims. In 2019, a Criminal Law Amendment Bill was introduced to make Indian criminal laws gender-neutral.

However, like the IPC, the BNS only recognizes women as victims and men as perpetrators of rape and sexual assault.

Removed Sedition Law 

The IPC defines sedition as actions that incite hatred or contempt against the government. The BNS removes the specific sedition charge but introduces a new offence. This new offence includes (i) Inciting or trying to incite secession, armed rebellion, or subversive activities, (ii) Encouraging separatist activities, or (ii) Threatening India's sovereignty or unity.

These actions can involve words, signs, electronic communication, or financial means. Some argue that this new provision still covers aspects of sedition and expands the range of activities that could be seen as threats to India. Terms like "subversive activities" are not clearly defined, making it unclear what actions fall under this category.

Conclusion

In short, the BNS is a major update from the IPC. The IPC was based on outdated British laws and focused mainly on punishment. The BNS aims to address modern issues with clearer and more consistent rules.

The BNS introduces community service as a punishment, groups crimes against women and children together, and includes new offences like mob lynching and organised crime. However, there are still some issues. For example, the law doesn't clearly define what community service means, and it doesn’t recognize that men and transgender people can also be victims of rape and sexual assault.

Some argue the new sedition law is still similar to the old sedition law and is too broad.

Overall, the BNS is a step forward, but it needs further improvements to ensure fairness and justice for everyone in today’s world.

About the Author: Anirudh Nikhare | 66 Post(s)

Anirudh did his Bachelor's in Law and has practical experience in IPR, Contracts, and Corporate. He is your go-to legal content writer turning head-scratching legal topics into easy-to-understand gems of wisdom. Through his blog, he aims to empower readers with knowledge, making legal concepts digestible and applicable to everyday life.

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