Major Differences Between the Indian Penal Code 1860 And Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita

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Major Differences Between the Indian Penal Code 1860 And Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita

Written by Nakshatra Sandeep Dapse


On August 11, 2023, Amit Shah, the Minister of Home Affairs, introduced three bills in the Lok Sabha. These bills are intended to replace the current Indian Penal Code (1860), Indian Evidence Act (1872), and Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Saksh Bill, and Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita respectively. The proposed laws have been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for further discussions.[1]

In this article, we will refer Indian Penal Code and Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita as IPC and BNS respectively. The most significant amendments sought by the Bill are the consolidation of certain provisions of the IPC to make it more concise (356 sections as opposed to 511 in the IPC); and the addition of new offences such as hate speech and terrorism, while re-characterizing sedition as acts threatening India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which initially came to be considered to offer a complete criminal law framework, has seen various social, technical, and legal developments since its beginnings. In response to these developments, the proposed amendment aims to modernize and adapt the legislation to address growing difficulties while guaranteeing justice, efficacy, and individual rights protection.[2]


IPC has been divided into 26 chapters with 576 Sections, including alterations and amendments.

In contrast to the IPC’s complex structure, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita has a better structure with 19 chapters and 356 Sections. Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita suggests the elimination of 22 IPC provisions in addition to revising 175 existing provisions and adding 8 new sections.[3]

The positive changes and the major differences that are made in the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita are as follows:

  • Penalties for sex-related crimes

Section 64 of the BNS, which corresponds to Section 376 of the IPC, has increased the maximum sentence for sexual offenses, including rape, from seven to ten years. Section 376 of the IPC formerly stated that “whoever commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either description.” The BNS now specifically states in Section 64, “Whoever commits rape shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment.” Section 70 of the BNS, which is equivalent to Section 376DB of the IPC, mandates the death punishment for gang rapes of women under the age of 18.

Furthermore, Section 72 of the BNS includes a new clause that protects the identities of sexual assault victims. A new section prohibits crimes against women and children[4].

  • Terrorism

Terrorism is when someone does something to harm or scare people. – This criminal act undermines national security and engenders tumult. Terrorist acts are when people use guns, bombs, or dangerous chemicals to kill or make people feel scared. They can also destroy things or make important services stop working. Engaging in activities such as hijacking airplanes or kidnapping people against their will are also regarded as acts of terrorism.

The BNS recommendation that “Sedition law will be completely repealed” stood out the most. Provisions from the planned repeal of the Sedition Act would be kept in Section 150 for activities undermining India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity.[5]

  • Fighting Mob Lynching

The insertion of a capital penalty for the crime of mob lynching is a significant addition to the law. Offenders might now face the death penalty or a jail sentence ranging from seven years to life. This firm stance demonstrates the government’s commitment to reducing mob violence and ensuring individuals’ safety and dignity.

  • Sedition

Sedition is defined under the IPC as bringing or attempting to cause hatred or contempt for the government, or inciting disaffection against the government.  It is punished by imprisonment for a period ranging from three years to life, as well as a fine.  This offence is abolished by the Bill.  Instead, it penalizes the following: (i) advocating or attempting to encourage secession, armed revolt, or subversive operations, (ii) inciting emotions of separatism, or (iii) jeopardizing India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity.  These offenses may entail the interchange of words or signals, internet communication, or the use of money.  These will be penalized by up to seven years in jail or life in prison, as well as a fine.

  • Increasing Women’s Rights

The BNS Bill recognizes the need to protect women against exploitation disguised as marriage, job offers, or promotions. Such exploitation is now illegal, showing a more progressive approach to women’s rights and protection.

  • The Bhartiya Niyaya Sanhita has significantly changed its terminology, replacing offensive terms like “lunatic person” and “person of unsound mind” with more delicate terms like “person suffering from mental illness” or “having an intellectual disability.” This change is reflected in Section 22 of the BNS, which corresponds to Section 84 of the IPC, and Section 28(b), which corresponds to IPC Section 90(b). Additionally, Section 139 of the BNS, which corresponds to Section 366B of the IPC, now states that importing boys under 18 for illegal intercourse is also a crime. This change is seen as a step towards criminal law equality and introduces organized crime and minor organized crime, i.e., Sections 109 and 110 of the BNS.


The introduction of bills may raise concerns among stakeholders, but proactively engaging with them through open dialogues and clear communication of intentions is crucial for progress. Addressing apprehensions and showcasing benefits can lay the groundwork for broad-based support. To ensure robust legislative passage, a multi-pronged approach is needed, including comprehensive outreach to lawmakers, highlighting the bills’ merits, and seeking cross-party backing. Ensuring the integrity and intent of the bills is also vital, with vigilantness against dilution or delays.

The transition from legislative approval to implementation can be complex, requiring a phased and time-bound strategy. This includes targeted awareness campaigns, inter-agency coordination, and stakeholder involvement. Adapting to unforeseen consequences is crucial, and periodic assessments and reviews can identify gaps and enable swift corrective action. By addressing stakeholder concerns, securing legislative support, strategizing implementation, and proactively addressing unforeseen consequences, bills can overcome obstacles and become instruments of positive change.


In summary, the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) represents a revamp of India’s legal framework to simplify and modernize the existing system. This comprehensive legislative endeavor addresses an array of issues, such, as imposing penalties for sex-related crimes and tackling terrorism and mob lynching. It also emphasizes women’s rights and updates language to align with evolving norms.

While these changes indicate a thinking approach to law the introduction of the BNS also raises concerns and challenges among various stakeholders. To ensure its acceptance and effective implementation it is crucial to engage communicate clearly and address any apprehensions that may arise. Moving from approval to implementation necessitates planning, coordination among different agencies, and public awareness campaigns. Regular assessments and reviews will be crucial in addressing any consequences that may emerge. By navigating these challenges the BNS has the potential to become a symbol of reform that fosters a fairer and more equitable society in India. Through efforts and vigilance, these bills can pave the way for change while upholding principles of justice and equality, within our nation’s legal system.

[1] Utkarsh Mishra, Govt introduces bills to replace IPC, CrPC in Lok Sabha, Rediff (2023), (last visited Oct 3, 2023).

[2] Priya Sepaha, Post | Shaping Justice: The Proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Amendment Bill, @Law Colloquy (2023), (last visited Oct 3, 2023).

[3] Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Wikipedia (2023), (last visited Oct 3, 2023).

[4] Pratiksha Basarkar et al., Project 39A Team, (2023), (last visited Oct 4, 2023).

[5] Ritika Shah, Sedition law to be scrapped, says Amit Shah, punishment enhanced in new provisions, India Today (2023),