Laws and order – Decriminalisation will improve business environment

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Source: The post is based on the article “Laws and order – Decriminalisation will improve business environment” published in Business Standard on 27th December 2022. 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance.

Relevance: Key provisions of the Jan Vishwas Bill.

News: The government has come up with Jan Vishwas Bill in the Parliament. The bill aims at decriminalizing certain offences, thereby, improving the ease of doing business and reducing the judicial burden. 

What are the key provisions of the bill? 

The Bill proposes to remove a two-year imprisonment term under the India Post Office Act of 1898 for sending unpaid postal articles. 

It proposes to omit Section 66A of the IT Act. This provision punishes any person who sends offensive information using a computer or electronic device and sends false information.  

This provision of the IT Act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and was struck down in 2015. However, still, various state jurisdictions continued to make arrests under this section. 

Further, the bill also aims to decriminalise certain offences under the Environment Act.  

For example, discharging pollutants in excess of specified standards, handling hazardous substances without adequate safeguards and not allowing the central government to investigate an offence attracted imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of Rs 100,000, or both.

The draft bill has done away with the imprisonment but retains a fine ranging from Rs 500,000 to Rs 5 crore with daily fines for continuous compliance violations. 

These amendments aim at ensuring ease of doing business. However, decriminalising certain offences in the environmental law will degrade India’s natural resources as industries hardly comply with the laws. 

What is the way ahead? 

There is an urgent need for both the Centre and states to ensure that their respective enforcement agencies are informed about the amendments and the latest decision of the SC regarding it.  

This will ensure proper implementation of the laws while improving the ease of doing business. 

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