The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 was passed in Lok Sabha on 27th July, 2023. The Ministry of Commerce & Industry had issued a press release on the .
The Bill was first introduced in Lok Sabha on 22nd December 2022. Subsequently, it was referred to the Joint Committee of the Parliament. The Joint Committee on the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022 held detailed discussions with all the 19 Ministries/Departments along with Legislative Department and Department of Legal Affairs. The Committee conducted clause-by-clause examination of the Bill through a series of 9 sittings between 09.01.2023 and 17.02.2023. The Committee finally adopted its Report in its sitting held on 13.03.2023.
The proposed legislation seeks to decriminalize a total of 183 provisions found in 42 Central Acts that are administered by 19 Ministries/Departments. The main objective is to ensure that citizens, businesses, and government departments operate without the fear of imprisonment for minor, technical, or procedural defaults.
The Amendment Bill, if enacted, will bring about the following changes to the existing provisions:
(i) Removal of Both Imprisonment and/or Fine in Some Provisions: Certain provisions will see the elimination of both imprisonment and fines as penalties for non-compliance or offenses.
(ii) Retaining Fine and Removing Imprisonment in Few Provisions: In a few cases, fines will be retained as penalties, while the option of imprisonment will be removed.
(iii) Enhancing Fine and Removing Imprisonment in Few Provisions: For certain offenses, the proposed amendments will lead to an increase in fines while removing the possibility of imprisonment.
(iv) Converting Imprisonment and Fine to Penalty: In some provisions, imprisonment and fines will be replaced by penalties.
(v) Introducing Compounding of Offences: The Amendment Bill also proposes the introduction of compounding of offenses for specific cases, which would allow offenders to pay a fine instead of facing criminal prosecution.
The Jan Vishwas Amendment Bill emphasizes the need for the degree and nature of punishment to be commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. By striking a balance between the severity of the offense/violation committed and the gravity of the prescribed punishment, the proposed amendments aim to ensure adherence to the law without compromising its rigor.
The benefits of the Amendment Bill are numerous:
- Promotion of Ease of Doing Business: Decriminalizing minor, technical, or procedural defaults will enable citizens and businesses to operate without the constant fear of imprisonment, fostering a more conducive environment for economic growth and investment.
- Balancing Severity and Punishment: The legislation ensures that penalties match the gravity of the offense, preventing excessive punishment for minor violations while maintaining the deterrent effect for more serious offenses.
- Efficient Justice Dispensation: By reducing the burden on the justice system through administrative adjudication, the Amendment Bill aims to expedite the resolution of cases and enhance the efficiency of the justice delivery system.
- Citizen Empowerment: Decriminalization of provisions affecting citizens and certain government employees will provide relief from the threat of imprisonment for minor infractions, fostering a sense of security and compliance.
- Facilitating Future Amendments: The enactment of this legislation will set a precedent for rationalizing laws and removing barriers, providing a guiding principle for future amendments in various laws. This consolidation will save time and costs for both the government and businesses alike.