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A Comparative Analysis of the New Criminal Bills and the Existing Codes

21 Nov 2023

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The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 have been introduced to repeal and replace the existing Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. With an intent to overhaul the law enforcement and criminal justice system in India, these bills seek to consolidate existing offences and mandate timelines for investigation and trial. This newsletter summarises key divergences from the existing codes that have been proposed under the new regime.
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The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (Nyaya Sanhita Bill) and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023 (Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill) (collectively, New Codes) were introduced in the Lok Sabha on 11 August 2023 to repeal and replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

The wide-ranging changes to the existing criminal law regime proposed by the New Codes include consolidating the existing provisions of the IPC to make it concise and streamlined and introducing new offences in provisions pertaining to hate speech, terrorism and acts affecting the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of the nation. They also introduce provisions relating to timelines for conducting investigation and trial, and trial in absentia against absconders.

The New Codes were introduced to shift away from the colonial legacy of criminal justice administration which was geared towards punishing and repressing individuals, to a new system which promotes the idea of justice and safeguards the rights of Indian citizens.

Proposed Changes in the Nyaya Sanhita Bill

The landscape of economic offences such as cheating and falsification of accounts has undergone modifications in the Nyaya Sanhita Bill. Some of the changes include consolidating different provisions relating to the same offence in the existing IPC under a new umbrella provision in the Nyaya Sanhita Bill, and introducing a new provision relating to ‘organised crime‘.

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