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Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill 2022

Context:

Recently, the Union Government tabled the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022 in Parliament.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Highlights of the Bill
  3. Why has the Bill been Introduced?

Details:

  • The objective is to “decriminalize” 183 offences across 42 legislations and enhance the ease of living and doing business in India.
  • Some Acts that are amended by the Bill include:
    • Indian Post Office Act, 1898, 
    • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, 
    • Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991, 
    • Information Technology Act, 2000.

Highlights of the Bill

Decriminalizing a number of offences:
  • The Bill reduces the number of offences that carry a jail sentence under some Acts to those that merely carry a fine.
  • For instance:
  • The Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937, states that forging grade designation markings is punishable by up to three years in prison and a five thousand rupees fine. According to the 1937 Act, a grade designation mark designates an item’s quality.
    • The Bill proposes to replace this with an eight lakh rupee fine.
  • According to the Information Technology Act of 2000, revealing personal information in violation of a valid contract is punishable by a maximum three-year prison sentence, a maximum five-lakh rupee fine, or both.
    • The Bill substitutes a penalty of up to 25 lakh rupees for this.
  • By imposing a penalty rather than a fine, several Acts have decriminalised specific offences.
  • For instance, a violation of the Patents Act, 1970 could result in a punishment of up to one lakh rupees for someone who misrepresents an item as being patented in India.
    • The Bill replaces the fine with a penalty, which may be up to ten lakh rupees. In case of a continuing claim, there shall be an additional penalty of one thousand rupees per day.
Revision of Fines and Penalties:
  • The Bill raises the fines and penalties for a number of offences under the relevant Acts, and every three years, these fines and penalties would rise by 10% of the minimum amount.
Appointing Adjudicating Officers:
  • The central government may choose one or more adjudicating officers to decide on the appropriate sanctions, in accordance with the Bill.
  • The adjudicating officers have the authority to
    • summon individuals for evidence,
    • conduct inquiries into violations of the respected Acts.
Appellate Mechanisms:
  • The Bill also outlines the appeals processes for anyone who feels aggrieved by an adjudicating officer’s decision.
  • For instance, The National Green Tribunal will accept appeals within 60 days of the order under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.

Why has the Bill been Introduced?

  • Legal scholars have been worried about the unprincipled expansion of criminal law for many years.
  • Nearly 3.2 crore of the 4.3 crore cases that are still waiting, according to the National Judicial Data Grid, are connected to criminal procedures.
  • Criminalization frequently becomes a weapon for governments to present a powerful image rather than being used to punish wrongdoing.
  • Governments don’t provide many arguments for such decisions. Scholars have referred to this issue as “overcriminalization.”
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2021 Prison Statistics, 5.54 lakh prisoners were housed in jails, compared to a 4.25 lakh capacity.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2023
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