New BNS Bill goes easy on unnatural sex, adultery

New BNS Bill goes easy on unnatural sex, adultery

One-liner: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill which is proposed to replace the British-era IPC does away with two contentious provisions on unnatural sex and adultery that were diluted and struck down respectively by the SC in 2018.

Carnal intercourse: Under the IPC, Section 377 says: "Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine"

  • On Sept 6, 2018, a five-judge bench unanimously decriminalised a part of Section 377. However, the provision still stood in the statute book to deal with unnatural sexual offences against minors, against their consent and bestiality

On adultery: On Sept 27, 2018, a five-judge bench of the SC unanimously struck off from the statute books Section 497 of the IPC which made adultery a criminal offence for men but did not penalise women.

Sec 497: Under Section 497, "Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery."

Acts of adultery not a crime: The top court had said that acts of adultery will not qualify as a crime, although they would still be grounds for a civil action and divorce. Under the BNS Bill, there is no provision related to the offence of adultery.

  • The new bill does have Section 224 which criminalises an attempt to commit suicide to compel or restrain the exercise of lawful power

On sedition: One of the highlights of the BNS Bill, 2023, is that it seeks to repeal the offence of sedition under the IPC and provides capital sentence as the maximum punishment for crimes such as mob lynching and rape of minors.

  • For the first time, the word terrorism has been defined under the BNS Bill which was not there under the IPC

Terrorist act: As per provision 111 of the BNS Bill, "A person is said to have committed a terrorist act if he commits any act in India or any foreign country with the intention to threaten the unity, integrity and security of India."

Offence of defamation: Now, in the BNS Bill, the offence of defamation carries a simple imprisonment of up to two years or a fine, or both or with community service.