Harming Women’s Mental Health Is “Cruelty” Under New Criminal Code

The government has introduced two additional sections in the new criminal bill, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, designed to address crimes against women and intended as a replacement for the outdated Indian Penal Code and other criminal laws. In the prior version of the bill, Section 85 specified a three-year imprisonment term for subjecting a woman to cruelty by her husband or in-laws.

In the revised bill, a newly added Section 86 now defines \”cruelty,\” covering harm to a woman\’s mental health and physical well-being.

The second section focuses on safeguarding the identity of survivors of sexual assault. Unauthorized disclosure of the identity of a sexual assault survivor during court proceedings will now result in a two-year jail term.

Introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 11, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, along with the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam bills, seeks to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1898, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, respectively.

Home Minister Amit Shah, in three identical signed statements presented to parliament, clarified that the decision to amend the bills was made based on recommendations from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. These recommendations for changes were proposed after extensive consultations with domain experts and various stakeholders.

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