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Indian Penal Code Replaced By Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023



  Dec 22, 2023

Indian Penal Code Replaced By Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023



Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860

Primary Criminal Law: The IPC is the main legislation governing criminal offenses in India.

Coverage of Offenses: Includes crimes related to the human body (e.g., assault, murder), property (e.g., theft, extortion), public order (e.g., rioting), public health, safety, decency, morality, religion, defamation, and offenses against the state.

Amendments Over Time: The IPC has been updated to add new offenses, modify existing ones, and alter punishments.

Decriminalization by Courts: Certain offenses like consensual same-sex intercourse, adultery, and attempted suicide have been decriminalized.

State Amendments: Some states have implemented specific changes for crimes like sexual offenses, selling minors for prostitution, food and drug adulteration, and sacrilege of religious texts.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS)

Retention of IPC Provisions: The BNS largely maintains the provisions of the IPC.

Addition of New Offenses: Introduces some new crimes to address contemporary issues.

Removal of Court-Struck Offenses: Eliminates offenses that have been declared unconstitutional or otherwise invalidated by court rulings.

Increased Penalties: Enhances punishments for several offenses to reflect current societal norms and legal perspectives.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023

Key Highlights of the Bill

Retention of Offences: Maintains most offenses from the IPC, with the addition of community service as a form of punishment.

Removal of Sedition: Sedition is replaced by a new offense for acts endangering India's sovereignty, unity, and integrity.

Inclusion of Terrorism: Defines terrorism as acts threatening the country's unity, integrity, security, or causing terror among people.

Organized Crime as Offence: Encompasses crimes like kidnapping, extortion, and cyber-crime done on behalf of a crime syndicate. Includes petty organized crime.

Group Murder Penalties: Murder by a group of five or more based on identity markers like caste or language is punishable by life imprisonment or death, with a fine.

Key Issues and Analysis

Age of Criminal Responsibility: Retained at seven years, extendable to 12 based on the maturity of the accused, potentially conflicting with international conventions.

Definition of a Child: Defined as a person below 18, but for certain offenses, the age threshold for victims is not consistent.

Overlap with Special Laws: Potential for multiple regulatory regimes due to overlapping offenses with different penalties or procedures.

Sedition Provision Replacement: The new provision on endangering India's sovereignty might retain aspects of the old sedition law.

Rape and Sexual Harassment Provisions: Retains existing IPC provisions without incorporating recommendations like making rape gender-neutral or recognizing marital rape.

Omission of Section 377: Excludes rape of men and bestiality as offenses, following the Supreme Court's reading down of the section.

Explained: Age of Criminal Responsibility in The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023

Concept of Age of Criminal Responsibility

The age of criminal responsibility refers to the minimum age at which a person can legally be held accountable for their actions in a court of law. This concept is crucial because it demarcates a line between childhood, where individuals are generally considered incapable of fully understanding the consequences of their actions, and adulthood, where they are.

Age of Criminal Responsibility in The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023

Minimum Age: The bill retains the age of criminal responsibility at seven years. This means that children under the age of seven are presumed incapable of committing a crime under the law.

Extension Up to 12 Years: The bill extends the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years, depending on the maturity of the accused. This implies that the legal system can consider children between seven and 12 years old capable of criminal responsibility if they are deemed mature enough to understand the nature and consequences of their actions.

International Conventions and Concerns

International Standards: Many international conventions recommend a higher age of criminal responsibility. For instance, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has advocated for the minimum age to be at least 12 years, preferably higher.

Potential Contravention: By setting the minimum age at seven and extending it variably to 12 based on maturity, The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, may conflict with these international recommendations. This discrepancy could raise concerns about India's alignment with global standards regarding child rights and juvenile justice.

Conclusion

The decision to retain a lower age of criminal responsibility while allowing for its extension based on maturity reflects a balance between recognizing the evolving capacities of children and the need to hold them accountable in certain situations. However, it also highlights the ongoing debate about the appropriate age threshold for criminal responsibility, considering the developmental and psychological aspects of childhood.


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