The government has added two new sections to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, or BNS, which is one of three bills meant to replace current criminal laws, including the Code of Criminal Procedure. According to the PRS Legislative Research, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) replaces the IPC. It largely retains the provisions of the IPC, adds some new offences, removes offences that have been struck down by courts, and increases penalties for several offences. It was examined by the Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
The first – Section 86 – of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, or BNS – includes harming a woman’s mental health in its definition of “cruelty”. The BNS takes into account the study regarding the social structure and set up of families in Indian society and who is vulnerable, etc.
In Indian society, mostly (with some exceptions) the newly married woman moves in with her husband and likely also with the in-laws staying in the same setup. In the previous version of the bill, Section 85 provided a three-year jail term for a husband, or members of his family, found guilty of subjecting his wife to cruel treatment.
The first – Section 86 – did not, however, define “cruel treatment”. That has now been included, and the definition, significantly, extends to harming the woman’s mental health as well as her physical well-being.
The second edition prescribes a two-year jail term for revealing the identity of a sexual assault victim from court proceedings without their permission.