Context: The Union Government has tabled the Jan Vishwas Bill, 2022 in Parliament with the objective of “decriminalizing” 183 offences across 42 legislations and enhancing the ease of living and doing business in India.
Key Provisions of the Bill:
- Decriminalizing Certain Offences: Under the Bill, several offences with an imprisonment term in certain Acts have been decriminalized by imposing only a monetary penalty.
- For example, under the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937, counterfeiting grade designation marks is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to five thousand rupees.
- The Bill replaces this with a penalty of eight lakh rupees.
- Revision of Fines and Penalties: In certain Acts, offences have been decriminalized by imposing a penalty instead of a fine.
- For instance, under the Patents Act, 1970, a person selling a falsely represented article as patented in India is subject to a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
- The Bill replaces the fine with a penalty, which may be up to ten lakh rupees.
- Appointing Adjudicating Officers: As per the Bill, the central government may appoint one or more adjudicating officers for the purpose of determining penalties. The adjudicating officers may:
- Summon individuals for evidence.
- Conduct inquiries into violations of the respected Acts.
- These Acts include: the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
- Appellate Mechanisms: The Bill also specifies the appellate mechanisms for any person aggrieved by the order passed by an adjudicating officer.
- For instance, in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, appeals may be filed with the National Green Tribunal within 60 days from the order.
Significance of the bill:
- The government’s goal is to achieve “Minimum Government Maximum Governance” through ease of living and ease of doing business reforms.
- This involves simplifying, digitizing, and rationalizing compliances to reduce the compliance burden and improve the ease of living for people.
- The government aims to boost investor confidence and make India the most preferred global investment destination by decriminalizing minor offences and replacing them with monetary penalties.
- This will not only make lives and businesses easier but also reduce the judicial burden.
- The proposed bill includes the rationalization of monetary penalties based on the gravity of the offence and an increase in the minimum amount of fine and penalty levied by ten percent after every three years.
- This will bolster trust-based governance.
Criticisms against the bill:
- The Bill might undertake ‘quasi-decriminalisation’.
- The Observer Research Foundation’s report titled Jailed for Doing Business found that there are more than 26000 imprisonment clauses in a total of 843 economic legislations, rules and regulations which seek to regulate businesses and economic activities in India.
- In this light, the number of offences deregulated under the bill seems to be a mere drop in India’s regulatory framework.
- The regulatory offences to be considered for ‘decriminalisation’ need to be prioritised not only from the point of view of the ease of doing business but also from the points of view of the ills that plague our criminal justice system itself.
- The bill conforms to the understanding of the government that decriminalization should be limited to regulatory domains.
- Decriminalization of minor offences will not only ensure that disproportionate punishment is not meted out for advertent and inadvertent wrong doings that could be considered ‘minor’, but would also de-clog the courts.
- In addition to the Parliamentary Joint Committee conducting meetings with stakeholders, multiple ministries and departments have been directed to engage with various associations and provide their inputs.
- While the current version of the Jan Vishwas Bill is fairly comprehensive, any necessary minor changes or additions may be made based on the feedback received.
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017? (2020)
- Pregnant women are entitled for three months pre-delivery and three months post-delivery paid leave.
- Enterprises with creches must allow the mother minimum six creche visits daily.
- Women with two children get reduced entitlements.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) What is the purpose of ‘Vidyanjali Yojana’? (2017)
- To enable the famous foreign educational institutions to open their campuses in India.
- To increase the quality of education provided in government schools by taking help from the private sector and the community.
- To encourage voluntary monetary contributions from private individuals and organizations so as to improve the infrastructure facilities for primary and secondary schools.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 2 only
- 3 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
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