The Finance Ministry has put forward a proposal to decriminalize a host of minor offences. According to a statement given by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, offences of minor nature pose as a hindrance to ease of doing business. With the lockdown affecting businesses vastly, this measure seems much called for.
The minor offences that the Finance Ministry suggests legitimizing includes offences that attract less imprisonment and fine. Such as, cheque bounce-mainly due to insufficient amount in the bank account which mentioned in the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 and attracts punishment.
A list revealed by the Department of Financial Services includes section 36 AD (2) and section46 of the Banking Regulation Act, and section 58B (1), 58B (4A), Section 58B (5) and section 58B (5A) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
The proposal enlists 19 legislations to be considered while decriminalizing minor offences. The legislations are-SARFAESI Act, RBI Act, NHB Act, Banking Regulation Act and Chit Funds Act. Negotiable Instruments Act.
The list goes as long as to include Insurance Act, Payment and Settlements Systems Act, NABARD Act, State Financial Corporations Act, Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, and the Factoring Regulation Act.
The proposal may review minor offences under the following acts as well-Actuaries Act, the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, the DICGC Act and the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act.
Reasons behind the proposal
Offences although of minor nature, attract liability and punishment. In the atypical time of lockdown, liability for minor offences suffocates a smooth functioning of the courts. And consequently, of the economic sector. The ease of doing business gets hampered, and offences of technical nature are difficult to navigate through. The ministry believes this measure will bring social equity, and cut some slack for business to boom after the COVID-19 pandemic.