Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita overview

In 1834, the inaugural Indian Law Commission, led by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, was formed to assess and propose reforms to the legal system, culminating in the enactment of the Indian Penal Code in 1860.

In light of contemporary needs, the Indian government now seeks to revamp criminal laws, prioritising citizen-centricity and efficient legal procedures.

Bare Act PDFs

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 replaced the Indian Penal Code, 1860, emphasising community service for minor offences and addressing crimes against women, children, murder, and offences against the state. Notably, the legislation introduces gender-neutral provisions, stringent penalties for organised crime and terrorism, and new offences related to secession and activities endangering India’s sovereignty and unity. Additionally, fines and punishments for various offences are proposed to be increased.

Transformative Legislation Introduced by Union Home Minister

Union Home Minister Amit Shah presented three crucial bills in Parliament on 11 August 2023, signalling a transformative overhaul of India’s criminal justice system.

These bills, namely the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023; the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023; and the Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, aim to replace the antiquated British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Indian Evidence Act, and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The proposed changes, meticulously crafted by the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws under the Ministry of Home Affairs, target offences related to terrorism, crimes against women, corruption in elections, and acts against the state.

These bills were introduced during the last day of the monsoon session, designed to usher in a paradigm shift, ensuring expeditious justice, bolstering evidence integrity for higher conviction rates, and reducing case pendency. The bills were then forwarded to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for further deliberations, reflecting a thorough examination and scrutiny commitment.

Bare Act PDFs

Brief History of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSB) to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS)

You will now read about the legislative journey from the introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSB) to its evolution into the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS), noting key dates, stages, and the subsequent enactment details of the consolidated and amended law, which repeals the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Here are the three small tables presenting these facts.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSB)

Introduced in Lok Sabha (House of People)11 August 2023
Referred to Standing Committee11 August 2023
Report of Standing Committee10 November 2023
Withdrawn12 December 2023

The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BSNB)

Introduced in Lok Sabha12 December 2023
Passed in Lok Sabha20 December 2023
Passed in Rajya Sabha21 December 2023
Received Assent of President Droupadi Murmu25 December 2023

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS)

Act Details

Act Name/Short TitleThe Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS)
Long TitleAn Act to consolidate and amend the provisions relating to offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Act No.45
Act Year2023
Enactment Date25 December 2023
MinistryMinistry of Law and Justice
Enforcement Date1 July 2024
Repealed ActThe Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860)

Structure of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS)

  • Total Sections: 358
  • Total Chapters: 20


  • Chapter 1 – Preliminary (Sections 1 to 3)
  • Chapter 2 – Punishments (Sections 4 to 13)
  • Chapter 3 – General Exceptions (Sections 14 to 44)
  • Chapter 4 – Abetment, Criminal Conspiracy and Attempt (Sections 45 to 62)
  • Chapter 5 – Offences Against Woman and Child (Sections 63 to 99)
  • Chapter 6 – Offences Affecting the Human Body (Sections 100 to 146)
  • Chapter 7 – Offences Against the State (Sections 147 to 158)
  • Chapter 8 – Offences Relating to the Army, Navy and Air Force (Sections 159 to 168)
  • Chapter 9 – Offences Relating to Elections (Sections 169 to 177)
  • Chapter 10 – Offences Relating to Coin, Currency-Notes, Bank-Notes, and Government Stamps (Sections 178 to 188)
  • Chapter 11 – Offences Against the Public Tranquillity (Sections 189 to 197)
  • Chapter 12 – Offences by or Relating to Public Servants (Sections 198 to 205)
  • Chapter 13 – Contempts of the Lawful Authority of Public Servants (Sections 206 to 226)
  • Chapter 14 – False Evidence and Offences Against Public Justice (Sections 227 to 269)
  • Chapter 15 – Offences Affecting the Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals (Sections 270 to 297)
  • Chapter 16 – Offences Relating to Religion (Sections 298 to 302)
  • Chapter 17 – Offences Against Property (Sections 303 to 334)
  • Chapter 18 – Offences Relating to Documents and to Property Marks (Section 335 to 350)
  • Chapter 19 – Criminal Intimidation, Insult, Annoyance, Defamation, etc. (Section 351 to 357)
  • Chapter 20 – Repeal and Savings (Section 358)

Salient Features/ Key Changes/ Key Amendments in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS)

You will now read about the critical changes in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS), including a significant reduction in sections, updates, additions, and deletions, as well as noteworthy modifications in offences against the body, sexual offences against women, sedition, terrorism, organised crime, mob lynching, and alignment with Supreme Court rulings.

Here are the salient features of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS).

Reduced Sections

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) comprise 358 sections, marking a notable reduction from the old Indian Penal Code (IPC), which contained 511 sections.

Section Updates

A substantial overhaul is witnessed in the BNS, with 175 sections undergoing updates to align with contemporary legal considerations and societal needs.

New Sections Introduced

The BNS incorporates eight new sections, addressing emerging legal dimensions and challenges, reflecting the evolving nature of offences in the contemporary context.

Section Deletions

In a streamlined approach, the BNS discards 22 sections from its predecessor, possibly to eliminate redundancy or to adapt to the changing legal landscape. This deletion signifies a focused effort to refine and simplify the legal framework.

Offences Against the Body

The Indian Penal Code addresses acts like murder, suicide abetment, assault, and grievous hurt, all retained in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. Additionally, the BNS introduces new offences, encompassing organised crime, terrorism, and group-based murder or grievous hurt on specific grounds.

Sexual Offenses Against Women

The IPC criminalises rape, voyeurism, stalking, and insulting a woman’s modesty, provisions upheld in the BNS. Notably, the BNS criminalises sexual intercourse with a woman through deceitful means or false promises.


The BNS eliminates the offence of sedition, replacing it with penalties for

  • exciting or attempting to excite secession, armed rebellion, or subversive activities,
  • encouraging separatist activities, or
  • endangering India’s sovereignty or unity.

These offences may involve various means, including words, signs, electronic communication, or financial transactions.


Defined in the BNS as acts intending to threaten the country’s unity, integrity, and security or intimidate the public, terrorism attracts severe penalties. Attempting or committing terrorism may result in death, life imprisonment, or a fine of Rs 10 lakh, or imprisonment between five years and life, with a minimum fine of five lakh rupees.

Organized Crime

Covering offences like kidnapping, extortion, contract killing, land grabbing, financial scams, and cybercrime on behalf of a crime syndicate, organised crime under the BNS is punishable by death, life imprisonment, or a fine of Rs 10 lakh in case of death. Alternatively, imprisonment between five years and life, with a minimum fine of five lakh rupees, is prescribed.

Mob Lynching

The BNS introduces murder or grievous hurt by five or more people on specified grounds, such as race, caste, sex, language, or personal belief, as an offence. The prescribed punishment for such murder includes a minimum of seven years imprisonment to life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Supreme Court Rulings

The BNS aligns with certain Supreme Court decisions, notably omitting adultery as an offence and introducing life imprisonment, alongside the death penalty, for murder or attempted murder by a life convict.


While the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, reflects a commendable effort to modernise the Indian Penal Code of 1860 and adapt it to contemporary needs, a few aspects warrant critical consideration.

Rapid Legislative Process

The introduction, passage, and enactment of the legislation within a short timeframe may raise concerns about the thoroughness of the deliberative process. This significant overhaul requires comprehensive scrutiny and stakeholder input to ensure well-informed decisions.

Lack of Public Consultation

The absence of extensive public consultations or open discussions on the proposed changes raises questions about the inclusivity of the legislative process. Public input is crucial for laws that profoundly impact society and justice systems.

Paradigm Shift Impact

The ambitious goal of bringing about a paradigm shift in the justice system, though laudable, necessitates careful implementation and monitoring to gauge its impact on expeditious justice, evidence integrity, and case pendency.


The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, represents a significant and transformative step in the evolution of India’s criminal justice system, aiming to address contemporary needs and streamline legal procedures. The legislative journey from the introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 (BNSB) to its enactment as the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS) reflects a comprehensive effort to modernise and consolidate criminal laws.

The legislation, introduced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, encompasses critical changes such as a reduced number of sections, updates, additions, and deletions, with a focus on addressing offences against the body, sexual offences against women, sedition, terrorism, organised crime, mob lynching, and alignment with Supreme Court rulings.

However, it is crucial to critically examine certain aspects of the legislative process, such as the rapid pace of development and the limited scope of public consultation. While commendable, the transformative nature of the changes should be implemented with caution to ensure effective results. The goal of expeditious justice, evidence integrity, and reduction of case pendency is ambitious and requires careful monitoring and evaluation.

In essence, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to reform India’s legal framework, and its success will depend on diligent implementation, continuous evaluation, and responsiveness to the evolving needs of society.


Dinesh Verma
WritingLaw » Law Notes » Overview of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 Law Study Material
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