New Delhi- Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill which seeks to promote ease of business by decriminalising minor offences through amendments in 183 provisions of 42 Acts.
The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 was passed by Rajya Sabha by a voice vote.
Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on July 27.
The bill converts several fines to penalties, meaning that court prosecution is not necessary to administer punishments.
It also removes imprisonment as a punishment for many offences. All offences under the Post Office Act of 1898 are being removed.
Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal said the bill will promote the ease of doing business by decriminalising a number of offences.
The minister informed the Upper House that a working group has been formed to take the initiative forward.
He noted that the bill is not the end but the start of a process to bring in changes to enhance the ease of doing business.
The working group comprises representatives from industry associations, business chambers, legal professionals, legal experts and officials of seven ministries.
Besides, it has representatives of the National Housing Bank (NHB), National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the Central Pollution Control Board.
The bill seeks to amend 183 provisions of 42 Acts administered by 19 ministries to reduce the compliance burden on individuals and businesses.
Under the bill, both imprisonment and/or fine are proposed to be removed in some provisions; imprisonment is proposed to be removed and fine retained in a few provisions; and imprisonment is proposed to be removed and fine enhanced in certain provisions.
For effective implementation, the bill proposes measures such as pragmatic revision of fines and penalties commensurate to the offence committed; establishment of adjudicating officers; establishment of appellate authorities; and periodic increase in the quantum of fines and penalties.
Some of the Acts that will be amended through the bill are the Press and Registration of Books Act, the Boilers Act, the Indian Forest Act, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, the Warehousing Corporations Act, the Food Corporations Act, the Patents Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Food Safety and Standards Act.
Goyal said the government has also come up with a national single-window system to provide information about specific business segments.
He said the simplification of process would encourage people to become job-givers instead of being job-seekers.
Citing his own experience, Goyal noted that he faced a lot of harassment from officials when he tried to start his own business in 1980s.
The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 22 December 2022. The bill was sent to a joint committee of both Houses on the same day.
The committee report was presented in Lok Sabha on March 20 this year.
While introducing the bill in Rajya Sabha, Goyal noted that in the last nine years, 1,500 laws have been repealed, adding some of these laws originated from the British period.
The minister said around 40,000 provisions and procedures which had the possibility of creating problems for people were either simplified or removed by the Narendra Modi government over the last nine years.
More than 3,600 provisions have been decriminalised by the government, he said.
This is a continuous process that goes on with discussions with various stakeholders such as state governments and business communities, he said.
The minister said there were three dissent notes against the bill from three members of three different parties – the Trinamool Congress, Congress and the DMK.
The members of these parties were not present in the House as they boycotted Parliament proceedings over their demand for a debate on the situation in ethnic strife-tron Manipur under rule 267.
“If they were present and expressed their views, then I would have responded to them well… Their dissent clearly reflects they have neither trust in common man nor businessmen. They also do not trust the people operating MSMEs and SMEs,” Goyal said.
He also said one of the opposition members opposed the Hindi name of the bill, which reflects a slave mentality. (PTI)