ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Abortion and the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita

Ostensibly to decolonise and modernise India’s criminal justice system, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (which attempts to replace the Indian Penal Code) has been criticised for retaining much of the colonial language and approach that the IPC did. One of those areas is in relation to the law governing abortions in India, but the bill still presents an opportunity to modernise it.

The union government has proposed to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 with three new laws—the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill (BSB), respectively. The goal of the proposed new codes as stated by the union home minister on the floor of the Lok Sabha was to “safeguard constitutional rights and deliver justice” albeit with “an Indian soul” (Tripathi 2023).

On the face of it, this would seem like a worthwhile exercise since the colonial context in which the three laws have been introduced cannot be denied (Ahmed 2023). However, a look at the actual draft of the laws would suggest that there is little by way of substantive change to the laws that would suggest much by way of “decolonisation” or “Indianisation.” As other commentators have pointed out, the content of the three new bills seems largely drawn from the extant laws and on the whole reflect the same world view (Ahmed and Sharma 2023).

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Updated On : 25th Sep, 2023
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