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Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill 2023

Context:

Recently, the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 was passed in Lok Sabha during the monsoon session and aims at giving a boost to Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023
  2. Need
  3. Benefits
  4. Concerns

Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023:

  • The Jan Vishwas Bill aims to amend 183 provisions in 42 Central Acts administered by 19 Ministries/Departments, covering diverse sectors like environment, agriculture, media, industry, trade, information technology, copyright, motor vehicles, cinematography, and food safety, among others.
  • The primary objective of the Bill is to decriminalize minor offenses that do not pose any threat to public interest or national security. Instead, these offenses will be replaced with civil penalties or administrative actions.
  • Background:
  • The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on 22nd December 2022 and has been referred to the Joint Committee of Parliament for further review and consideration.
Key Features of the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023:
  • Conversion of Offences: The Bill aims to replace imprisonment clauses and/or fines in certain provisions with penalties.
  • Adjudicating Officers: Penalties will be determined by adjudicating officers appointed by the respective Ministries/Departments.
  • Compounding of Offences: The Bill introduces compounding of offenses in certain provisions, allowing offenders to settle cases by paying a certain amount without going through a court trial.
  • Periodic Revision: Fines and penalties will be revised every three years, with an increase of 10% of the minimum amount for various offenses in specified Acts.
  • Repealing Obsolete Provisions: The Bill removes all offenses and penalties under the outdated Indian Post Office Act of 1898.

Need:

The key reasons for introducing the Jan Vishwas Bill are as follows:

  • Rationalize criminal provisions to ease the burden on the justice system by focusing on more serious offenses.
  • Address technical and procedural defaults without imposing harsh penalties.
  • Achieve a balanced approach that matches the severity of the offense with the prescribed punishment.
  • Foster a favorable legal environment that promotes business growth by eliminating barriers and hindrances.

Benefits:

  • Efficient Justice System: The introduction of administrative adjudication mechanisms reduces pressure on the justice system and helps in reducing case pendency, ensuring more efficient justice dispensation.
  • Trust-Based Governance: The Bill promotes trust-based governance by assuring citizens, businesses, and government departments that minor, technical, or procedural defaults will not lead to imprisonment.

Concerns:

  • Quasi-Decriminalization: Critics argue that the Bill represents a form of ‘quasi-decriminalization,’ and more efforts are needed to achieve true decriminalization.
  • Technical Competence: Concerns were raised about the technical competence of adjudicating officers under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, for handling legal proceedings.

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