Harming woman’s mental health defined as “cruelty” in new criminal code

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Centre Redefines Terrorism In New Criminal Code, Adds Fake Currency Cases

New Delhi:

The government on Tuesday revamped the legal definition of “a terrorist act”, including within it threats to the economic and monetary security of the country, through such actions as spreading counterfeit currency or kidnapping, injuring, or causing the death of a public functionary.

These are among tweaks proposed today 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.

The BNS and the two others – the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam – were first tabled in Parliament in August and referred to a committee for further scrutiny, but were withdrawn this week to include the committee’s recommendations.

The government has also included causing harm to mental health in its definition of “cruelty” towards women; in the previous iteration of the BNS, 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 earlier BNS section did not, however, define “cruel treatment”. That has been included, and the definition extends to harming the woman’s mental health as well as her physical well-being.

The revised Section 86 defines cruelty to women as “… any wilful conduct, which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide, or to cause grave injury, or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical)”.

A third addition prescribes a two-year jail term for revealing the identity of a sexual assault victim from court proceedings without their permission.

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