May 25, 2024
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This article has been written by Janani, student at The Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, SOEL


The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) marks a new era for Indian law. This paper explores how the BNS, with its blend of traditional wisdom and contemporary sensibilities, is applied in real-world legal cases. From clearer definitions of crimes to a focus on protecting vulnerable groups, the BNS promises a more streamlined and just legal system. The article examines BNS’s impact on cases involving cybercrime, child protection, and gender equality. However, challenges like balancing security and free speech remain. Overall, the BNS represents a significant step towards a future where ancient legal ideals meet the demands of modern India.


Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, or Indian Jurisprudence, stands as a testament to India’s rich legal heritage, deeply rooted in ancient wisdom and philosophy. While modern Indian legal systems have evolved, drawing heavily from British colonial laws and codified statutes, the foundational principles of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita continue to influence and shape contemporary legal thought and practice. The parliamentary committee has recommended including a gender-neutral provision that criminalizes Adultery. This move comes after the Supreme Court (SC) declared Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalized adultery, as unconstitutional in 2018. The panel seeks to protect the institution of marriage but in a gender-neutral way. Non-Consensual Sex and Bestiality: The committee is considering a clause to criminalize non-consensual sex between men, women, or transpersons, as well as acts of bestiality. This indicates an effort to address various forms of sexual offences comprehensively. This article aims to explore the application of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita in today’s legal scenarios, highlighting its relevance through specific provisions and examples.


Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) or Indian Jurisprudence and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) represent two distinct legal frameworks, each with its unique features and characteristics. While both BNS and IPC aim to regulate behaviour, maintain order, ensure justice and protect the rights and interests of individuals and society, they differ in their underlying principles, philosophies, approaches, and applications.

One unique feature of BNS that distinguishes it from IPC is its holistic and integrative approach to law, governance, morality and justice. Unlike IPC, which primarily focuses on punitive measures, criminal, criminal offences, and legal sanctions, BNS encompasses a broader spectrum of principles, guidelines, and provisions derived from ancient Indian texts, traditions, philosophies, and cultural heritage. The major changes included in BNS are, The definition of child is introduced, Transgender is included in the definition of gender, Electronic and digital records are included in the definition of document, a New chapter on offence against women and children is introduced
The definition of ‘movable property’ is widened to include property of every description, Attempt to commit suicide is deleted and so on, and the minor changes are included in BNS including Colonial remnants like ‘British calendar’, ‘Queen’, ‘British India, ‘justice of the peace’ have been deleted. ‘Court of Justice’ has been replaced with ‘Court’ and so on.


Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita is derived from ancient Indian texts such as the Dharmashastra, Manusmriti, and Arthashastra. These texts provide a comprehensive framework of guidelines and principles governing various aspects of law, governance, morality, and justice. The principles of dharma (righteousness), karma (action), and Nyaya (justice) form the cornerstone of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, emphasizing fairness, equity, ethical conduct, and societal harmony. Legal reforms are often driven by a confluence of factors, not just one isolated incident. The BNS reflects potential responses to broader trends in contemporary India, such as:

  • A need for a legal code that reflects modern realities and technological advancements.
  • A desire to address issues like crime against children and cybercrime.
  • A push for a more victim-centric and gender-neutral legal system.


  • Dharma (Righteousness)

Dharma encompasses moral and ethical duties, responsibilities, and obligations that individuals, communities, and rulers must adhere to. Courts often invoke the principle of dharma in interpreting personal laws, family disputes, and matters concerning ethical conduct, moral values, and societal norms. For instance, in inheritance disputes, the principle of dharma guides courts in ensuring equitable distribution of assets based on moral and ethical considerations.

  • Karma

Karma emphasises the significance of actions and their consequences. The principle of karma is reflected in criminal law, where individuals are held accountable for their actions. Courts consider the moral, ethical, and societal implications of actions, evaluating evidence, intent, and consequences to determine guilt, responsibility, and appropriate sentencing.

  • Nyaya (Justice)

 Nyaya represents the concept of justice, ensuring fairness, equity, and impartiality in legal proceedings. Nyaya plays a pivotal role in civil and criminal cases, guiding courts in upholding the rule of law, protecting individual rights, freedoms, and interests, and ensuring that legal decisions are fair, equitable, and reflective of natural justice.


The enduring principles and provisions of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita find resonance and application in various contemporary legal cases in India:

  • Personal Laws and Family Dispute

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita provides comprehensive guidelines and principles on marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and other family-related matters. Courts often refer to ancient texts and traditions in interpreting and applying personal laws, ensuring that legal decisions resonate with cultural, religious, and traditional practices, and reflect the values and beliefs of the parties involved.

  • Environment and Natural Resource Management

The principles of dharma and karma emphasize sustainable development, environmental conservation, and ecological balance. Courts invoke these principles to adjudicate cases related to environmental pollution, deforestation, wildlife conservation, and sustainable development, promoting environmental stewardship, harmonious coexistence with nature, and intergenerational equity.

  • Criminal law and sentencing

 The concept of Nyaya emphasizes fair, impartial, and proportionate justice. Courts consider the principles of dharma and karma when determining guilt, assessing evidence, evaluating mitigating and aggravating factors, imposing sentences, ensuring that justice is served, societal harmony is maintained, and the rights and dignity of victims, accused, and society at large are protected and upheld.

  • Alternative dispute Redressal (ADR)

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita advocates for peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue, mediation, conciliation, and reconciliation. ADR mechanisms, such as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation, draw inspiration from these ancient principles, offering parties a flexible, adaptive, participatory, and mutually beneficial means of resolving disputes outside the traditional adversarial and formalistic court system, promoting harmonious relationships, collaborative problem-solving, and social cohesion.


While the principles and provisions of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita offer valuable insights, perspectives, and solutions to contemporary legal challenges, their application in modern legal cases is not without challenges. The dichotomy between ancient principles and modern legal systems, evolving societal norms, values, and expectations, diverse interpretations and perceptions of dharma, karma, and Nyaya, and the need for balance between tradition and innovation, continuity and change, stability and dynamism, pose significant challenges to the application of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita in contemporary legal scenarios.

However, these challenges also present opportunities for dialogue, reflection, adaptation, and integration of ancient wisdom with modern knowledge, technology, and best practices, fostering a synergistic and transformative approach to law and justice. By embracing a multidisciplinary, inclusive, and participatory approach, leveraging technology, fostering collaboration and partnerships, promoting legal literacy, awareness, and education, and upholding the principles of transparency, accountability, integrity, and ethical conduct, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita can be effectively applied, contextualised, and revitalised in the contemporary legal landscape, contributing to the evolution, enrichment, and empowerment of Indian law, governance, and society


In conclusion, the principles and concepts of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, rooted in ancient Indian wisdom, philosophy, and culture, continue to inspire, guide, and shape the contemporary legal landscape of India. While modern legal systems and statutes provide the structural framework for governance, justice, and societal order, the timeless wisdom, values, and principles of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita serve as a moral compass, guiding light, and transformative force, ensuring that legal decisions, practices, and proceedings are grounded in fairness, equity, ethics, compassion, and human dignity.

As India navigates the complexities and challenges of the 21st century, the enduring relevance, adaptability, and resilience of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita in addressing contemporary legal issues, fostering harmonious relationships, promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights, freedoms, and interests, and upholding the rule of law, justice, and societal cohesion, underscore its integral role and contribution to the evolution, enrichment, and empowerment of Indian law, governance, and society, reflecting the enduring legacy, vitality, and universality of India’s rich legal heritage and cultural heritage.


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