Jan Vishwas Bill: To reduce 35,000 compliances, decriminalize 3,400 offenses

The upcoming Monsoon Session will address several bills, such as Jan Vishwas and Forest Conservation, which have faced opposition in the past.

Latest Updates: In New Delhi, the Congress party has announced its opposition to the Centre's ordinance on control of services in Delhi, stating that it will oppose any attacks by the Narendra Modi government on the constitutional rights of democratically elected state governments. Meanwhile, the BJP is gearing up for the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament, where several bills, including Jan Vishwas and Forest Conservation, will be discussed. These bills have previously faced opposition from the Opposition.

The Jan Vishwas Bill 2022 aims to amend 181 provisions across 42 laws and streamline criminal provisions. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, while introducing the bill in the last Parliament session before it was sent to the joint committee, highlighted the presence of numerous laws that punish minor offenses, forcing individuals to seek judicial intervention. Removing outdated provisions from these laws would alleviate the burden on the courts.

The primary objective of the bill is to boost investor confidence, enhance the country's ease of doing business rankings, and address concerns about imprisonment for minor offenses, which hinder business growth and erode individual confidence, according to the draft. Consultations involving 19 ministries have taken place to bring about these changes. Reports suggest that an average manufacturing firm with over 150 employees deals with 500-900 compliances per year, incurring costs of nearly ₹16 lakh annually. Additionally, some entrepreneurs face criminal action, which negatively impacts the confidence of domestic and international investors.

A senior official stressed the necessity of the Jan Vishwas bill, stating that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report has recommended reducing the burden of over 35,000 compliances across 42 laws and decriminalizing 3,400 legal provisions with monetary penalties. Approximately 30 of these laws are directly associated with industry and trade, such as the Industries Act, Trade Marks Act, Food Safety Act, and IT Act. The aim is to introduce reasonable penalties through the Jan Vishwas Bill.

The government has prioritized this bill to replace the ordinance on Delhi services, which restricts the state government's powers over bureaucracy. The issue has become politically contentious, with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal meeting heads of various opposition parties to garner support against the bill. AAP will heavily rely on the Congress, the largest opposition party in the upper house with 31 members, as the BJP-led NDA holds the support of 109 MPs in the Rajya Sabha out of 238. They also expect support from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and YSRCP, each having nine MPs in the upper house.

Personal Data Protection Bill to have implication on privacy

The Centre is gearing up to introduce several crucial bills in Parliament, with significant implications for various areas. One such bill is the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2023, which has been in discussion since 2019. This bill will have far-reaching effects on how personal data is stored and processed within the country. It aims to address concerns related to permissions sought by apps and impose penalties on companies in case of data breaches. The bill seeks to establish a comprehensive legal framework for digital personal data protection in India. This comes after the previous version of the bill was put on hold by the government last year.

NRF Bill to boost investment in research 

In addition, the Centre plans to bring forth the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, which aims to boost research investment across sectors in the country. The government has allocated around ₹50,000 crore for the NRF over a five-year period. The bill intends to improve the participation of the private sector in mainstream research and create a coordinating agency to streamline research in science and technology. While the government emphasizes the importance of private sector involvement, concerns have been raised by the Congress party regarding this aspect. The NRF Bill is significant as research has been a key focus area during the Prime Minister's foreign visits, with collaborations in fields such as jet technology, quantum research, and semiconductor research. The NRF aims to bridge the research funding gap between India and countries like China, Korea, and the US, which heavily invest in research and development.

Crucial Bills on environment likely to come up

The Monsoon Session of Parliament is also expected to address crucial bills related to the environment. One such bill is the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021. This bill aims to address concerns from traditional Indian medicine practitioners, the seed industry, and research organizations by removing research and bio-survey activities from benefit-sharing requirements. It also decriminalizes certain offenses and exempts registered AYUSH practitioners and individuals accessing traditional knowledge from benefit-sharing obligations. However, activists and environmentalists have expressed concerns, alleging that the proposed amendments prioritize trade over conservation.

The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 is another contentious bill likely to be taken up during the session. This bill has faced criticism from rights groups. Its main objective is to exclude forest land within 100 km of India's international borders, including the Line of Actual Control (LAC), from the Forest Conservation Act. The purpose is to utilize such land for national security projects, public roads, and strategic initiatives. The bill redefines the scope of "non-forest purpose" exemptions. The Congress party previously opposed the decision to refer the bill to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) instead of a standing committee on science and technology, environment, forests, and climate change.

Other Important Bills

Apart from these significant bills, there are several others on the agenda. One bill aims to centralize data-keeping of birth and death records, strengthening the civil registration system, particularly considering the delay in the Census due to COVID-19. Other bills include the Postal Services Bill, 2023, which addresses fundamental aspects of postal services, and bills related to repealing the International Monetary Fund and Bank Act, 1945, and the provisional collection of taxes. Additionally, bills to establish the National Dental Commission, the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission, and a bill to boost the cooperative sector are also expected to be introduced.

Overall, the Monsoon Session presents an opportunity for the Centre to address crucial legislative matters across various sectors, such as data protection, research investment, environment, and social sector policies.