Chapter IX-XIII |Comparison between IPC and Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita

INDIAN PENAL CODE (1860) V. BHARATIYA NYAYA SANHITA (2023) – A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), unveiled on August 11th, 2023, with an effective date of July 1st, 2024, aims to transform India’s criminal justice system by replacing the outdated 1860 Indian Penal Code (IPC). Alongside the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya, which replace the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 respectively, the BNS embodies principles focused on prioritizing “citizen welfare, dignity, and justice” during its development.

In contrast to the IPC, which comprises 23 Chapters containing 511 Sections alongside all amendments, the BNS is crafted to be more succinct, containing 20 Chapters housing 358 Sections. Particularly, Chapter IX addresses offences concerning elections. Chapter X establishes provisions against offences involving coins, currency notes, bank notes, and government stamps. Chapter XI outlines offences against public tranquility, while Chapter XII addresses offences by or related to public servants. Chapter XIII outlines provisions for the contempt of the lawful authority of public servants.

CHAPTER IX

Chapter IX of BNS deals with offences relating to elections. It extends from Section 167 to Section 175. The provisions are largely identical to the provisions outlined in IPC, under Chapter IXA, extending from Section 171A to 171H. Under Section 174, regarding the illegal payments in connection with an election, the penalty of fine, has been increased from the extension up to Five Hundred rupees as per Section 171H of IPC, to Ten Thousand Rupees. Similarly, under Section 175 of BNS, regarding the failure to keep election accounts, the fine has been increased from Five Hundred Rupees, as per Section 171I of IPC, to Five Thousand Rupees.

In the case of K. Satwant Singh v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court clarified that Section 197 of the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure applies to certain offenses where it’s unclear if they were committed by public servants in the course of their official duties. Under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, offenses like bribery, cheating, or abetment lack a direct link to official duties. Only offenses falling within the ambit of Section 197 occur during duty performance.

CHAPTER X

As per Chapter X, which deals with offences relating to coin, currency notes, band notes and government stamps. Section 176 of BNS combines Sections 230 & 231 of IPC to give ‘counterfeiting coin, government stamps, currency notes/bank notes. Section 176 raises the penalty from just extending up to ten years, to imprisonment for life. Clause 3 adds the definition of ‘coin’ to the existing provision, referencing Section 2 of the Coinage Act, 2011. Under Clause 5, the Section also adds that the offence of ‘counterfeiting coin’ includes diminishing the weight or alteration of the composition or the appearance of the coin. 

Section 177 which adds to the existing provision regarding usage of genuine, forged or counterfeit coin, ‘government stamp, currency or bank notes, while Section 178 deals with possession of forged or counterfeit coin, ‘government stamp’, currency or bank notes. This addition is similarly made in Section 179 as well. 

Section 180 increases the penalty from extending upto Hundred Rupees to Three Hundred Rupees. While Section 184 largely maintains the provision as per Section 263A of IPC, under Clause 4, it recognizes that any persons duly authorised by law to administer executive Government in any part of India or in any foreign country, do come under the definition of ‘Government’.

In P.S. Kirubakaran v. Commr. of Police, Vepery, the Madras High Court addressed advocates involved in criminal activities as part of an unlawful assembly. The court ordered police to protect the petitioner’s property and compile a report identifying the advocates engaged in unlawful act.

CHAPTER XI

Chapter XI addresses offences against public tranquillity. It extends from Section 187 to 195 of BNS, in consonance with Sections 141 – 160 of IPC. Section 189(3) of BNS increases the penalty of offence for rioting with a deadly weapon (provided under Section 148 of IPC) from three years to five years. Under 191, the provisions includes the liability of owner, occupier, etc., of lawn on which an unlawful assembly with regards to riot as well. 

Under Section 193, the fine has been clearly emphasized for assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot,  as twenty-five thousand rupees, in comparison to Section 152 of IPC which does not mention the fine amount to be imposed as penalty.

Section 195, regarding imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration, has included Clause d, in comparison to the text of Section 153B of IPC, newly added that whoever by spoken or written words or signs makes or publishes false or misleading information jeopardising the sovereignty, unity and integrity or security of India, shall be punished with imprisonment extending upto three years, or fine, or both.

CHAPTER XII

Chapter XII outlines offences by or relating to public servants. The ambit is from Section 196 to 203 of BNS. Under this Chapter, Section 200 adds community service as a form of penalty for any public servant unlawfully engaging in trade. Under Section 202, the penalty for impersonating a public servant as been extended from 2 years under Section 170 of IPC to three years. Similarly, under Section 203 of BNS, regarding the wearing of garb or carrying token used by public servants with fraudulent intent, the fine amount has been increased from Two Hundred Rupees, under Section 171, to Five Thousand Rupees.

CHAPTER XIII

Chapter XIII outlines provisions for the contempt of the lawful authority of public servants. Under Section 204 of BNS regarding the absconding to avoid service or summons of other proceedings, the fine amount has been increased from Five Hundred Rupees to Five Thousand Rupees, and when production of document, including electronic records, is necessary, then the fine has been increased from Thousand Rupees to Ten Thousand Rupees.

Section 205, 206 and 208 similarly raises the penalty and includes the penalty for non-production of electronic record, for preventing service of summons or other proceeding, or preventing public,  non-attendance in obedience to an order from public servant, and omission to produce document to public servant by person legally bound to produce it, respectively. 

It is the similar case for Sections 209 – 213, 215,- 217 and 219 – 221. Section 207 includes community service as a form of penalty. The BNS also adds Section 224 as a fresh provision regarding the attempt to commit suicide to compel or restrain the exercise of lawful power.

The provision addresses the act of attempting suicide with the specific intent to coerce or hinder a public servant from carrying out their official duties. The provision outlines the consequences for such an action, stipulating that the individual involved may face punishment in the form of simple imprisonment, a fine, or both, as determined by the judicial authority handling the case. Additionally, community service may be imposed as an alternative penalty.

This provision underscores the seriousness with which the law regards any attempt to exploit or obstruct the functions of public servants through self-harm, emphasizing the importance of upholding the integrity of public service and ensuring that individuals cannot evade legal accountability through such actions.

CONCLUSION

Noteworthy enhancements include stricter penalties for electoral malpractices, counterfeiting, and offences against public tranquillity, reflecting a commitment to upholding democratic values, security, and social harmony. Furthermore, the inclusion of provisions such as community service as a form of penalty demonstrates a progressive approach towards rehabilitation and community engagement within the justice system.

By embracing these reforms, the BNS heralds a new era of legal governance, where the principles of justice, integrity, and public welfare serve as guiding pillars. As India adapts to evolving societal dynamics, the BNS stands as a testament to the nation’s unwavering dedication to fostering a fair, equitable, and law-abiding society.

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