The 2023 Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill has raised concerns as it excludes legislation protecting animals from sexual abuse. The new bill will replace the current Indian Penal Code (IPC) in India.
IPC currently contains laws related to various crimes. The BNS bill aims to replace it with a new legal framework. While the BNS Bill shares similarities with the IPC, it includes different legal rules.
The BNS Bill was reintroduced to Parliament on Tuesday, and it has gained attention for its exclusion of Section 377, which criminalizes sexual offenses against animals.
Section 377 protects animals
Since 1860, Section 377 of the IPC has criminalized the sexual abuse of animals. There is no comparable legislation under the new BNS bill to protect animals from sexual abuse.
“If the BNS is passed in its current form, sexual abuse of animals will be decriminalized. This will lead to abusers not being booked or punished, and more animals being raped,” Meet Ashar, the cruelty case division legal advisor and manager at animal welfare organization PETA India, warned.
While a Parliamentary Committee had previously recommended keeping Section 377, it was still excluded from the new bill.
“Animal victims of rape and sexual assault will get no justice if the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 is passed,” the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIOPA) said on Saturday, adding that “every 8th case of violence against animals is sexual assault or rape” in India.
Harming animals linked to harming humans
Ashar warned that if the bill is passed without legislation addressing animal abuse, cruelty would become legal in India. He emphasized that those who harm animals are more likely to commit similar crimes against humans. He referred to a study published in Forensic Research and Criminology International Journal.
“When crimes against animals already go unnoticed and unpunished, not having a law against animal sexual assault will have devastating consequences. We risk opening the floodgates to sexual crimes against animals. BNS cannot be passed without addressing the plight of animals,” FIAPO said.
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