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302 is not murder, 420 is not cheating: How IPC Section numbers will change in proposed new Code

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, which will repeal and replace the more than 160-year-old Indian Penal Code (IPC), will contain new numbers for some of the most commonly used sections of the Code — section numbers that have long been part of dialogues in films, aspects of popular culture, and the language of common people.

Think, for example, “dafaa 302” for murder, “420” for cheating, or “376” for rape — sections of the IPC that are invoked for these offences. Now, under the BNS, the proposed successor to the IPC, these sections will be numbered differently.

Here’s a list of the old and new section numbers. Note though, that these new numbers are not as yet final — they may change after the Bill is considered by the Standing Committee, and is debated in Parliament.

IPC Section 420: Cheating

IPC Section 420 (“Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property”), says, “Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces [a] person…to deliver any property…, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed…shall be punished with imprisonment…which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: There is no Section 420 in the proposed Sanhita. The offence of cheating is covered under Section 316.

Section 316 (1) says: “Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person…to deliver any property…, or intentionally induces the person…to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.”

Under Sections 316(2), (3), and (4), the punishment for cheating may extend upto three years, five years, or seven years, along with a fine.

IPC Section 124A: Sedition

IPC Section 124A states: “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards…the Government established by law…shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: Section 124 in the proposed Sanhita relates to the offence of wrongful restraint.

The word sedition does not exist in the proposed Sanhita. Offences of the nature described as “sedition” in the IPC are covered in Section 150 of the proposed Sanhita, as “Acts endangering sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”.

It is a more detailed provision than IPC Section 124A.

Section 150 of the proposed Sanhita says: “Whoever, purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial mean, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite, secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India; or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.”

IPC Section 302: Murder

IPC Section 302 prescribes the punishment for murder: “Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: Section 302 in the proposed Sanhita describes the offence of “Snatching”. Section 302(1) says: “Theft is “snatching” if, in order to commit theft, the offender suddenly or quickly or forcibly seizes or secures or grabs or takes away from any person or from his possession any moveable property.”

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In the proposed Sanhita, murder is covered under Section 99, which identifies the distinction between culpable homicide and murder.

Punishment for murder is laid down in Section 101, which has two sub-sections.

Section 101(1) says: “Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section 101(2) of the proposed Sanhita says: “When a group of five or more persons acting in concert commits murder on the ground of race, caste or community, sex, place of birth, language, personal belief or any other ground each member of such group shall be punished with death or with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

This second sub-section refers to murder by a group, which would include lynching.

IPC Section 307: Attempt to murder

IPC Section 307 says: “Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge, and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if hurt is caused to any person by such act, the offender shall be liable either to imprisonment for life, or to such punishment as is hereinbefore mentioned.”

IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: Section 307 in the proposed Sanhita describes the offence of robbery and the punishment for it.

Attempt to murder is covered under Section 107 of the proposed Sanhita, which also prescribes the punishment for the offence.

IPC Sections 375 and 376: Rape

IPC Section 375 defines the offence of rape, and what constitutes rape. It includes the key exception for “marital rape”: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”

IPC Section 376 lays down the punishment for rape, which is seven years to life imprisonment, with separate, tougher punishments for some kinds of convicts.

Both IPC Sections 375 and 376 are under the subhead “Sexual offences” under Chapter XVI of the Code, “Of Offences Affecting the Human Body”.

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IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: The proposed Sanhita does not have a Section 376.

The offence of rape is defined under Section 63 of the proposed Sanhita. The seven conditions of forced sexual intercourse, which constitute the offence of rape under the IPC, have been retained in the proposed Sanhita.

The exception for marital rape has also been retained: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”

IPC Section 120B: Criminal conspiracy

On the punishment for criminal conspiracy, the IPC states, “Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.”

IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: In the proposed Sanhita, Section 120 relates to “voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt on provocation”.

Criminal conspiracy is covered by Section 61(1): “When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done–– (a) an illegal act; or (b) an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy”. Section 61(2) of the proposed Sanhita lays down the punishment for criminal conspiracy.

IPC Section 505: Statements creating or promoting enmity

In the IPC, this section refers to “Statements conducing to public mischief”, and statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes. It also covers an offence committed under sub-section (2) (of creating or promoting enmity) committed in a place of worship, a religious ceremony, etc.

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IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: There is no section 505 in the proposed Sanhita.

Section 194 in the proposed Sanhita describes the offence of “Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.

IPC Section 153A: Promoting enmity between different groups

This section in the IPC covers the offence of “Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”, and includes offences committed in a place of worship, etc.

IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: Section 153 in the proposed Sanhita describes the offence of “Receiving property taken by war or depredation mentioned in sections 153 and 154”.

The offence of promoting enmity in the proposed Sanhita is covered under Section 194.

IPC Section 499: Defamation

This section of the IPC, under which a court in Gujarat convicted and sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in prison, triggering the provision that led to his (now stayed) disqualification from Parliament, defines defamation as follows:

“Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.”

IPC Section 500 lays down the punishment for defamation: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

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IN PROPOSED BNS, 2023: The proposed new Sanhita does not have Section 499.

The offence of defamation is covered under Section 354 (1) of the new Sanhita. Section 354(2) of the proposed Sanhita describes the punishment for defamation, and includes “community service”. It says: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both or with community service.”

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