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Community Service, 'New' Sedition, More Tech: What Could Change in IPC, CrPC?

However, the proposed legislation will reportedly be sent to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced three new bills in the Lok Sabha on Friday, 11 August, to replace major sections of the law such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) and the Indian Evidence Act.

Shah claimed that the following three bills would overhaul India's criminal justice system:

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (to replace Indian Penal Code)

  • The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 (to replace The Indian Evidence Act, 1872)

  • The Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 (to replace The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973)

While the proposed bills continue to court controversy, here's a lowdown on the key changes.

Brief Overview

  • 'Sedition' might have been repealed but a new section describes & prescribes punishment for "Acts endangering sovereignty unity and integrity of India"

  • In the IPC, Section 302 outlines punishment for murder; In the Sanhitas Section 302 covers snatching

  • Section 420 is for 'cheating' in the IPC, but there is no section 420 in the Sanhitas

  • There is no specific provision in the IPC that talks about sexual intercourse on the pretext of a false promise of marriage, but in the proposed bills there is a specific provision

  • The new bills prescribe a minimum of 20 years in prison for a person convicted of gang rape, with the maximum punishment being life imprisonment

  • The new bills propose "death penalty for rape of a minor"

  • Community service has been introduced as a punishment for offences like defamation, small theft, attempting suicide etc.

  • Proposed bills might make mob lynching punishable with 7 years or life imprisonment or death penalty. Note: Mob lynching hasn't been specified in the bill, it has instead been defined as "murder by 5 or more persons"

  • The entire process, starting with the registration of an FIR and extending to the upkeep of the Case Diary and submission of a Charge sheet, will be digitised

  • A comprehensive trial, including Cross-examination and appeals, will be facilitated through the utilisation of Video conferencing.

  • It is mandatory to employ videography when recording statements from victims of sexual crimes

Community Service, 'New' Sedition, More Tech: What Could Change in IPC, CrPC?

  1. 1. Sedition Gone?

    One of the key legislative changes that has been proposed, according to Shah, is to repeal the controversial, colonial-era sedition law (Section 124A of IPC) that led to the arrests of 86 people across the country in 2021, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

    Yes, but: lawyers and criminal law experts The Quint spoke to argued that the new Bill has provisions for punishment for offences similar to those under the sedition law.

    For more, read this.

    Expand
  2. 2. 'Murder' ≠ Section 302?

    Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code elaborates on the punishment for murder: “Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

    However, in the new bill: Section 302 covers 'snatching'. It says:

    “Theft is “snatching” if, in order to commit theft, the offender suddenly or quickly or forcibly seizes or secures or grabs or takes away from any person or from his possession any moveable property.”

    Expand
  3. 3. 'Cheating' ≠ Section 420?

    The offence of 'Cheating, in the Indian Penal Code comes under Section 420, according to which:

    “Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces [a] person…to deliver any property…, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed…shall be punished with imprisonment…which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

    But, in the new bill: There is no Section 420 and Cheating comes under Section 316.

    Expand
  4. 4. Imprisonment for False Promise to Marry

    "Whoever, by deceitful means or making by promise to marry to a woman without any intention of fulfilling the same, and has sexual intercourse with her, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine," the proposed BNS lists.

    In IPC: There is no specific provision in the IPC that talks about sexual intercourse on the pretext of a false promise of marriage. However, it is considered ‘misconception of fact’ within the meaning of Section 90.For more, read this.

    Expand
  5. 5. Minimum 20 Years for Gang Rape

    According to the proposed Bill, a person convicted of gang rape will get a minimum of 20 years in prison, with the maximum punishment being life imprisonment.

    The range of punishment: "Rigorous imprisonment for not less than 20 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life and with fine," the bill reads.

    Expand
  6. 6. Death Penalty for Rape of Minor

    While tabling the bills in Parliament, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the central government now proposes "death penalty for rape of a minor."

    "Where a woman under eighteen years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with 20 imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine, or with death."

    Expand
  7. 7. Community Service for Defamation?

    This particular segment (Section 499) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was invoked in the case that led to the conviction and Gandhi's subsequent (now-revoked) disqualification.

    Additionally, IPC Section 500 prescribes the penalties for defamation, outlining that: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

    In the new bill: But, the proposed new Sanhita does not have Section 499. Instead, it comes under Section 354 (1) and Section 354(2) details out the punishment including "community service."

    “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both or with community service.”

    That's not all: Defamation is not the only offence punishable by community service. Small theft and attempting to commit suicide, causing public nuisance under the influence of intoxicants are a few others where community service could become a probable punishment under the new bills.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Sedition Gone?

One of the key legislative changes that has been proposed, according to Shah, is to repeal the controversial, colonial-era sedition law (Section 124A of IPC) that led to the arrests of 86 people across the country in 2021, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Yes, but: lawyers and criminal law experts The Quint spoke to argued that the new Bill has provisions for punishment for offences similar to those under the sedition law.

For more, read this.

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'Murder' ≠ Section 302?

Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code elaborates on the punishment for murder: “Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

However, in the new bill: Section 302 covers 'snatching'. It says:

“Theft is “snatching” if, in order to commit theft, the offender suddenly or quickly or forcibly seizes or secures or grabs or takes away from any person or from his possession any moveable property.”

0

'Cheating' ≠ Section 420?

The offence of 'Cheating, in the Indian Penal Code comes under Section 420, according to which:

“Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces [a] person…to deliver any property…, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed…shall be punished with imprisonment…which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

But, in the new bill: There is no Section 420 and Cheating comes under Section 316.

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Imprisonment for False Promise to Marry

"Whoever, by deceitful means or making by promise to marry to a woman without any intention of fulfilling the same, and has sexual intercourse with her, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine," the proposed BNS lists.

In IPC: There is no specific provision in the IPC that talks about sexual intercourse on the pretext of a false promise of marriage. However, it is considered ‘misconception of fact’ within the meaning of Section 90.For more, read this.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Minimum 20 Years for Gang Rape

According to the proposed Bill, a person convicted of gang rape will get a minimum of 20 years in prison, with the maximum punishment being life imprisonment.

The range of punishment: "Rigorous imprisonment for not less than 20 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life and with fine," the bill reads.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Death Penalty for Rape of Minor

While tabling the bills in Parliament, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the central government now proposes "death penalty for rape of a minor."

"Where a woman under eighteen years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with 20 imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine, or with death."

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Community Service for Defamation?

This particular segment (Section 499) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was invoked in the case that led to the conviction and Gandhi's subsequent (now-revoked) disqualification.

Additionally, IPC Section 500 prescribes the penalties for defamation, outlining that: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

In the new bill: But, the proposed new Sanhita does not have Section 499. Instead, it comes under Section 354 (1) and Section 354(2) details out the punishment including "community service."

“Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both or with community service.”

That's not all: Defamation is not the only offence punishable by community service. Small theft and attempting to commit suicide, causing public nuisance under the influence of intoxicants are a few others where community service could become a probable punishment under the new bills.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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