Ministry: Commerce and Industry
Passed by Lok Sabha on 27/07/2023
Passed by Rajya Sabha on 02/08/2023
KEY FEATURES OF THE BILL
The bill decriminalizes 183 provisions across 42 Central Acts including The Patents Act, 1970, The Copyright Act, 1957, The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, Information Technology Act,2000 etc
The bill replaces imprisonment clauses with monetary fines and has modified several fines into penalties.
One or more Adjudicating Officers may be appointed, who will conduct inquiries into violations of the respective Acts and levy fines.
The fines and penalties to be periodically revised and increased by 10% of the minimum amount every 3 years.
An Appeal can be maintained against the orders passed by Adjudicating Officers, within a period of sixty days from the date of receipt of the order.
BROAD AIMS OF THE AMENDMENT
To reduce excessive compliances for the micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMSE’s) for essential approvals
Attempt to update and streamline the system and eliminate outdated laws, reducing unnecessary complexity and bolstering a ‘trust-based governance’.
Focus on minimizing the judicial burden and reducing the courts intervention by propagating methods like compounding, adjudication and administrative mechanisms.
To introduce alternate methods for minor mistakes and procedural lapses, making the legal process more efficient and effective.
India ranks poorly in the rankings of the Ease of Doing Business published by the World Bank. Though the rankings have been discontinued, India has made sincere attempts to improve. One of the important steps in this direction has been decriminalization of administrative or technical contraventions by imposing monetary fines or penalties
The Bill introduces compounding of some offences that allows for the settlement of a criminal case without going through a full trial or prosecution and is often used for minor or less serious offenses. The Bill aims to establish a balance between the severity of the offence/violation committed and the gravity of the prescribed punishment.
The Bill makes a brave effort to ease the process of doing business and conserve the resources, energy and time of the judiciary, the courts will continue to have a role in the process.
It is questionable that the Adjudicating Officer who would be from the Executive branch, would be competent to decide the penalties which is a Judicial function and would have the expert knowledge required.
There is also a real possibility that blanket decriminalizing may remove the deterrent effect and enable the miscreants.
While the intent of the Government is progressive, it remains to be seen if it meets the expectation of the industry while safeguarding the interests of the common man.