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New Crimes Added to Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita: Understanding the Amendments and Grey Areas


In a significant overhaul of the country’s criminal law framework, the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) has introduced new crimes and amended existing provisions. The changes aim to address emerging societal concerns and strengthen the justice system. However, some experts have raised concerns about grey areas in the new legislation, which may lead to interpretational challenges and potential misuse.

New Crimes:

1. Cyber Terrorism (Section 149A): The BNS now criminalizes cyber terrorism, punishable with life imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹1 lakh.
2. Sexual Harassment (Section 354E): The amended law expands the definition of sexual harassment to include unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct.
3. Stalking (Section 354F): Stalking is now a punishable offense, with a maximum sentence of three years and a fine of up to ₹50,000.
4. Voyeurism (Section 354G): The BNS criminalizes voyeurism, including the distribution of intimate images or videos without consent.
5. Online Child Pornography (Section 149B): The possession, distribution, or creation of child pornographic material is punishable with life imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹1 lakh.

Grey Areas:

1. Vagueness of Definitions: Some experts argue that the definitions of new crimes, such as cyber terrorism and voyeurism, are too broad and may lead to misuse.
2. Overlapping Provisions: The amended law creates overlapping provisions with existing laws, potentially causing confusion and jurisdictional issues.
3. Burden of Proof: The BNS places the burden of proof on the accused in certain cases, which may violate the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”
4. Discretionary Powers: The law grants significant discretionary powers to law enforcement agencies and courts, raising concerns about potential abuse.

While the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita’s amendments aim to address pressing societal concerns, the grey areas highlight the need for careful consideration and clarification to ensure that the law is effective and just. As the legislation comes into force, legal experts, law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary must work together to address these concerns and ensure that the law serves its intended purpose.

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