The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 is a significant piece of legislation set to be discussed during the ongoing Monsoon Session.
This topic of “The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
Decriminalisation of Offences
- Aims to decriminalise approximately 180 offences that are currently covered under 42 different laws.
- The offences span across several domains, including environment, agriculture, media, industry, trade, publication, and others that impede the ease of doing business.
Replacement of Imprisonment with Monetary Fines
- Seeks to replace the clauses of imprisonment with monetary fines for offenders.
- Offenders found guilty of certain offences will be required to pay fines instead of facing imprisonment.
Removal of Offences and Penalties under the Indian Post Office Act, 1898
- All offences and penalties outlined in the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, will be removed.
Changes in Grievance Redressal Mechanisms
- Proposes changes in the grievance redressal mechanisms, introducing one or more Adjudicating Officers.
- Adjudicating Officers will be responsible for determining penalties and conducting inquiries into violations.
- These officers will have the authority to summon individuals for providing evidence.
Compounding of Offences
- Introduces the concept of compounding of offences in some provisions.
- Compounding will allow offenders to settle cases by paying a prescribed fee or penalty without going through a lengthy legal process.
Periodic Revision of Fines and Penalties
- Proposes periodic revision of fines and penalties for various offences listed in specified Acts.
- The revision will increase the minimum amount by 10% every three years.
The Indian Forest Act, 1927
- Current offences related to trespassing, permitting cattle to trespass, cutting timber, or causing damage in a reserved forest are punishable with up to 6 months of jail or a fine up to Rs 500, or both.
- The Bill removes the imprisonment clause and imposes a fine of up to Rs 500 along with compensation for damage to the forest.
- The jail term clause for burning trees near a reserved tree is also removed.
- JPC suggests increasing the penalty from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 for certain violations of the Act.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
- Lapses in compliance with air pollution control provisions will be liable for a penalty of up to Rs 15 lakh, replacing the current jail term of up to six years and a monetary penalty.
The Information Technology Act, 2000
- Section 66A, which provides punishment for sending offensive messages or false information through a communication service, will be removed.
- Breach of confidentiality and privacy will attract a penalty of Rs 5 lakh, replacing the current punishment of imprisonment up to two years, a fine up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
- Disclosing personal information in breach of a lawful contract will be punishable with a penalty of up to Rs 25 lakh, replacing the current imprisonment and/or fine.
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- Inadvertent compliance breaches, being unaware of excess discharge of pollutants under Sections 7 and 9 of the Act, will be penalized with Rs 1 lakh to Rs 15 lakh, replacing the current imprisonment of five years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
The Copyright Act, 1957
- The penalty for making false statements for deceiving or influencing an authority or officer will be omitted. The current punishment is imprisonment, a fine, or both.
The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
- Using a motor vehicle without a valid permit will face a jail term of up to six months. The Bill omits the compulsion of paying a fine of Rs 10,000.
The Railways Act, 1989
- The punishment clause for beggars caught begging or selling goods without a permit in a railway carriage or at a railway station is removed.
- Illegal hawkers may face a jail term of up to one year or a fine of a maximum of Rs 2,000, or both.
The Cinematograph Act, 1952
- Unauthorised tampering of an already certified film will be punishable with up to three years in jail, a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh, or both.
- Showing an adult movie (A-rated) to a minor may be penalized with a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
The Patents Act, 1970
- Wrongly claiming a patent on an article sold will result in a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh, and a further penalty of Rs 1,000 per day for a continuing claim.
The Agricultural Produce (Grading & Marking) Act, 1937
- Unauthorised marking of an article with a grade designation mark and its sale will be penalized with a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
The Trade Marks Act, 1999
- Falsely representing a trademark as registered may be penalized with a fine of Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
- For the sale of unsafe food, the Bill proposes imprisonment for three months with a fine of up to Rs 3 lakh, which is higher than the current punishment.
- Providing misleading or false information may be punishable by a fine extending to Rs 10 lakh.
The High Denomination Bank Notes (Demonetisation) Act, 1978
- The Bill decriminalizes offences under the Act and suggests its repeal as it has outlived its utility.
- The primary objectives of the Jan Vishwas Bill are to reduce the compliance burden and promote ease of living and doing business in the country.
- The bill seeks to achieve its goals by decriminalizing minor offences under 42 Acts, replacing imprisonment with monetary fines, and making changes to grievance redressal mechanisms.
- The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 was tabled by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry last year.
- It was then referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which subsequently gave its report.
- Most of the recommendations made by the JPC have been accepted and incorporated into the bill.