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New Era in Indian Criminal Law: Introduction of BNS, BNSS, and BSA

India's new legal framework, encompassing the BNS, BNSS, and BSA, marks a significant shift from colonial-era laws to modern statutes addressing contemporary legal needs. The BNS adds new offences and reforms punishments, the BNSS enhances accused rights and improves procedural efficiency, and the BSA updates evidence handling. While these laws aim to streamline justice and address modern challenges, they also face criticism regarding certain provisions and potential ambiguities.

By Shreya Rajvanshi Gangal

New Era in Indian Criminal Law: Introduction of BNS, BNSS, and BSA

Today marks a new era as we embrace the introduction of three pivotal laws: the BNS, BNSS and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam - 2023. These reforms shift the focus from mere punishment to true justice, capturing the essence of our society's evolving dynamics.- DGP UP posted on Platform X. Based on his words it won't be wrong to say that India now has its own set of Laws to fight against injustice and crimes. But the biggest question still stands "What are these Laws? Where are they implemented?", So let's get these 3 Sets of laws a little bit better.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS)

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) is the new criminal code for the Republic of India, replacing the IPC, which had been in place since the British colonial period. Passed by the Parliament in December 2023, the BNS introduces several significant changes:

Key Changes in BNS

  1. New Offences and Enhanced Punishments: The BNS incorporates 20 new offences, drops 19 provisions from the IPC, increases imprisonment for 33 offences, and raises fines for 83 offences. Additionally, it introduces mandatory minimum punishments for 23 offences and community service sentences for six offences.

  2. Offences Against the Body: While retaining IPC provisions on murder, abetment of suicide, assault, and causing grievous hurt, the BNS adds offences like organized crime, terrorism, and group violence based on specific grounds.

  3. Sexual Offences Against Women: The BNS retains IPC provisions on rape, voyeurism, stalking, and insulting the modesty of a woman. Notably, it raises the age threshold for classifying a victim as a minor in gang rape cases from 16 to 18 years.

  4. Offences Against Property: Alongside retaining IPC provisions on theft, robbery, burglary, and cheating, the BNS introduces new offences such as cybercrime and financial fraud.

  5. Offences Against the State: The BNS removes the offence of sedition, replacing it with a new offence related to acts endangering India's sovereignty, unity, and integrity.

  6. Offences Against the Public: New offences like environmental pollution and human trafficking are included.

Criticisms of BNS

Despite its progressive elements, the BNS has faced criticism. It retains the marital rape exception and the phrase "outraging the modesty of women" instead of adopting gender-neutral terms like "sexual assault." Additionally, it lacks provisions for the rape of males and transgender individuals and provides inadequate protection against non-consensual intimate imagery. The clause on acts endangering "sovereignty or unity and integrity of India" is seen as potentially ambiguous, with concerns about its impact on freedom of speech and dissent.

Structure of BNS

The BNS is structured into 20 chapters with 358 sections, closely resembling the structure of the IPC. It encompasses a comprehensive range of offences, including those against women and children, the human body, the state, property, and public tranquillity.

Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) serves as the principal legislation for administering substantive criminal law, replacing the CrPC. It aims to consolidate and simplify criminal procedural law, enhance the rights of the accused, and improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system.

Key Changes in BNSS

  1. Rights of the Accused: The BNSS strengthens safeguards for the accused, including the right to a lawyer during interrogation and the right to be informed of the grounds for arrest. It mandates a medical examination of the arrested person soon after the arrest.

  2. Arrest and Investigation: The BNSS expands the grounds for arrest without a warrant and grants police greater powers for investigation, including a specified time frame for completing investigations.

  3. Trial Process: The BNSS streamlines the trial process, setting time limits for case disposition.

Criticisms of BNSS

Critics argue that the BNSS makes it more difficult for the accused to secure bail and limits plea bargaining. It empowers police officers to compel the accused to produce digital devices for investigation and allows property seizure before trial, raising concerns about potential abuse.

Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA)

The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) updates the Indian Evidence Act, consisting of 170 sections. It aims to modernize evidence law but has faced criticism for potentially making it harder for defendants to defend themselves in court and encouraging the use of dubious evidence by prosecutors.


The introduction of the BNS, BNSS, and BSA represents a significant overhaul of India's criminal justice system, reflecting a shift towards addressing contemporary legal challenges. While these laws bring many progressive changes, they also face scrutiny and criticism, highlighting the need for ongoing dialogue and potential future amendments to ensure justice and fairness in the legal process. As India transitions into this new era of criminal law, the impact of these changes will be closely watched and evaluated.

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