Jan Vishwas Act, 2023

Jan Vishwas Act, 2023

News: Recently, the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Act, 2023 was passed and it has the potential to promote a business-friendly environment in the country.

Background:
• It will improve ease of doing business.
• It reduces compliance requirements and does away with fear of imprisonment for minor offences.
• The Act amends 42 Acts such as the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991, the Information Technology Act, 2000, the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Patents Act, 1970, etc.

What are the features of the Jan Vishwas Act, 2023?
• Amendment of Provisions: The Act proposes to amend 183 provisions in 42 Central Acts administered by 19 Ministries/Departments, covering various domains such as environment, agriculture, media, industry, trade, information technology, copyright, motor vehicles, cinematography, food safety, etc
• Decriminalization: The main objective of the Act is to decriminalize minor offences that do not involve any harm to the public interest or national security and replace them with civil penalties or administrative actions. For example, under the IT Act, 2000, disclosing personal information in breach of a lawful contract is now punishable with a penalty of up to Rs 25 lakh instead of imprisonment of up to three years.
• Compounding of Offences: The Act introduces compounding of offences in some provisions, which means that the offenders can settle their cases by paying a certain amount without going through a court trial.
• Removal of Obsolete Acts: The Act removes all offences and penalties under the Indian Post Office Act, of 1898, which is considered to be obsolete and irrelevant in the present context.
• Penalties and Fines: The Act seeks to remove imprisonment clauses and/or fines in some provisions and convert them into penalties in some others. The penalties will be determined by adjudicating officers appointed by the respective Ministries/Departments.
• An appellate mechanism is introduced for grievance redressal regarding the decision of the adjudicating officer.
• Periodic Revision of Penalties: The fines and penalties will be increased by 10% of the minimum amount every 3 years.

Need for Jan Vishwas Act. 2023:
• Does away with Bureaucratic hurdles that hinders flow of ideas, money and entrepreneurship potential.
• Excessive regulations, lengthy processing times act as deterrent for possible investments.
• As per the National Judicial Data Grid, 3.3 crore cases out of the 4.4 crore pending cases are criminal proceedings.
• Excessive compliances have impacted the MSME’s in India the most. Roughly 1500 laws which translate into 70,000 compliances govern doing business in India.

What are the advantages of Jan Vishwas Act?
• It rationalizes criminal provisions which will lead to fewer people being taken to court for minor offenses or unintended violations.
• It maintains a balance between the severity of the offence/violation committed and the prescribed punishment.
• As barriers and bureaucratic hurdles to doing business will be reduced it will propel growth and business opportunities in the country.
• Provisions of decriminalization will ensure that it reduces burden on judiciary as it also hampers their focus on proceedings of serious offenses.
• It will provide level playing field for MSME’s in India.
• It will promote trust based governance.

Challenges of Jan Vishwas Act, 2023
• Quasi-Decriminalization: The Act replaces imprisonment with fines or penalties, which some experts argue is not enough for true decriminalization. They believe that the Act represents a ‘quasidecriminalization’, and more efforts are needed to institutionalize true decriminalization.
• Removal of Deterrence Effect: The blanket removal of imprisonment provision might remove thedeterrence effect of the environmental legislation, especially for large corporations profiteering from the offence.
• Technical Competence of Adjudicating Officers: Concerns were raised about the appointment of adjudicating officers under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, questioning their technical competence for such legal proceedings.
• Questions raised on the independence of Adjudicating officers

Conclusion
• These concerns highlight the need for a balanced approach in the implementation of the Act to ensure that it achieves its intended objectives without compromising the rule of law or the environment. 

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