‘Minor, technical’ offences may soon be decriminalised to aid ease of business | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Minor, technical’ offences may soon be decriminalised to aid ease of business

ByRajeev Jayaswal
Dec 04, 2023 09:02 AM IST

Rajesh Kumar Singh, secretary, DPIIT, said the purpose is to reduce compliance burden on businesses and citizens to ensure a hassle-free environment to work

New Delhi The government is working on decriminalising several “minor and technical” offences to promote ease of doing business and is expected to bring the proposal in the budget session of Parliament, two senior officials said, adding that states may also be incentivised to reduce compliance burdens at the local level.

The government is expected to bring a proposal in the budget session of Parliament on decriminalising several “minor and technical” offences to promote ease of doing business. (PTI)
The government is expected to bring a proposal in the budget session of Parliament on decriminalising several “minor and technical” offences to promote ease of doing business. (PTI)

“It is a work in progress. An inter-ministerial working group is on it. Smaller groups have been formed to examine specific matters expeditiously,” said Rajesh Kumar Singh, secretary, Department for Promotion of Internal Trade and Investment (DPIIT), an arm of the commerce and industry ministry.

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The Union budget may also provide incentives to carry similar reforms for both – citizens and businesses – at local levels by states as most of the central laws have already been streamlined under the Jan Vishwas Bill 1.0, a second official working in a different economic ministry said, requesting anonymity.

The Jan Vishwas Bill 2.0 is also considering to bring reforms in archaic explosive laws among others, the second official said. The objectives of the second version are broadly same as the one that was enacted in August this year. “The purpose is to reduce compliance burden on businesses and citizens to ensure a hassle-free environment to work. The move will eventually encourage entrepreneurial spirit among people,” he said.

Addressing a day-long conference on ‘ease of doing business’, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on November 8 asked the industry to come up with ideas to quickly reduce some more compliance burdens for both businesses and citizens. He said the government could quickly bring the second edition of the Jan Vishwas Bill soon in Parliament, provided stakeholders expeditiously give their suggestions and feedback. HT reported it on November 9.

The working group on this matter is an all-inclusive body of officials from various ministries, industry bodies, legal professionals and technical experts. Specialised agencies, such as National Housing Bank (NHB), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Central Pollution Control Board are also part of this group.

Goyal asked stakeholders to look for “some low-hanging fruits” that could immediately give some relief to the common man, small-scale industries, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), small traders and startups. He said that the move will boost entrepreneurship, encourage investments, inculcate spirit of innovation, and reduce cost of compliance. He said the Narendra Modi government believes in action and it trusts business communities as wealth creators for the nation. He, however, cautioned the industry not to misinterpret laws to justify unlawful activities.

“Usually laws get complicated when a set of people misuse the law, then somebody has to sit down to plug that issue, and that’s how the laws keep getting complicated,” he said.

The second official quoted above said decriminalising of minor offences will also reduce the burden on judiciary and prisons. He said there is a rise of criminal cases on trivial grounds of omission or commission that could be settled with a penalty. Citing data from the National Judicial Data Grid, he said, of the total 42,402,907 pending cases as on February 23 this year, 31,586,284 were in relation to criminal proceedings. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s prison statistics, 554,034 prisoners were confined in different prisons in India against a capacity of 425,609 as on December 31, 2021.

Speaking at an investment roadshow on August 29, 2023, DPIIT joint secretary Manmeet Nanda said that the department had already reduced 40,000 regulatory compliance burdens. The earlier version of the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 became a law on August 11, 2023. Besides decriminalising minor offences and repealing archaic laws, it rationalised various fines and penalties and introduced compounding of offences. It decriminalised more than 180 provisions in 42 central laws under 19 ministries.

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