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December 24, 2022

Piyush Goyal introduces a bill to decriminalise offences in 42 laws

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in Income Tax

Piyush Goyal introduces a bill to decriminalise offences in 42 laws

Commerce and industry minister  tabled a Bill in the Lok Sabha which proposes to decriminalize 183 provisions in 42 Acts administered by 19 ministries including finance, commerce, environment, road transport and highways, ports and electronics including over half a dozen colonial era laws to make doing business easier.

Piyush Goyal, minister of trade and industry, emphasised this point when introducing the Jan Vishwas Bill, pointing out under outdated law, people and businesses are compelled to go to court for minor offences. The Bill is aimed at ensuring greater ease of doing business, reducing compliance burden of firms and work load of the judiciary, and promoting ease of living, the minister highlighted

We have to trust people. For minor mistakes, people should not be penalised/jailed. For minor offences, there should be a provision for paying fines, Goyal said as per news and media report About 1,500 old laws have been repealed, 39,000 compliances have been simplified and about 3,500 norms were introduced to decriminalise offences. The 108-page Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022 covers he Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940; Public Debt Act, 1944; Pharmacy Act, 1948; Cinematograph Act, 1952; Copyright Act, 1957; Patents Act, 1970; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; and Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The other laws include Trade Marks Act, 1999; Railways Act, 1989; Information Technology Act, 2000; Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002; Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006; Legal Metrology Act, 2009; and Factoring Regulation Act, 2011.

It added that India needs to shed the baggage of antiquated laws that adversely affect developmental trajectory. The fear of imprisonment for minor offences is a major factor hampering the growth of the business ecosystem and individual confidence, it said as per news and media report.

Besides decriminalization of minor offences, the Bill envisages the rationalization of monetary penalties. It proposes a 10% increase in the minimum amount of fine and penalty levied, after every three years of enactment of the Act. For instance, there was a two-year imprisonment under Indian Post Office Act 1898 for sending unpaid postal articles which has been proposed to be removed. There was provision of six-month jail for carrying non-biodegradable plastic in a (military) cantonment under the Cantonments Act, 2006 that has been changed to penalty.

The members from the Lok Sabha include P P Chaudhary, Sanjay Jaiswal, Rajendra Agrawal, Poonam Pramod Mahajan, Gaurav Gogoi, A Raja and Sougata Ray. The names of 10 members from the Rajya Sabha will be announced later . The Bill has been referred to a 31-member joint Parliamentary committee for scrutiny. The committee will submit its report to parliament by the second part of the Budget session in 2023.

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