The Ministry of Finance has proposed decriminalization of several economic offences, including cheque dishonour under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, and has invited comments from all stakeholders on this.
The Ministry has said that this move is with the aim of “improving business sentiment and unclogging court processes” in the wake of the economic crisis caused due to lockdown.
The following offences are proposed to be decriminalized.
- Section 12, Insurance Act, 1938.
- Section 29, SARFAESI Act, 2002.
- Section 16(7), 32(1),PFRDA Act, 2013.
- Section 58B, RBI Act, 1934.
- Section 26(1),26(4), Payment and Settlement Systems Act,2007 .
- Section 56(1), NABARD Act, 1981.
- Section 49, NHB Act, 1987.
- Section 42, State Financial Corporations Act.1951.
- Section 23, Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005
- Section 23, Factoring Regulation Act, 2011
- Section 37, Actuaries Act, 2006.
- Section 36AD(2), 46, Banking Regulation Act, 1949
- Section 30, General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, 1972.
- Section 40, LIC Act, 1956.
- Section 21, Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, 2019.
- Section 76, Chit funds Act, 1982.
- Section 47, DICGC Act, 1961.
- Section 138, Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
- Section 4 &5, Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978.
Last month, Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, had announced thedecriminalisation minor economic offences as a part of “Atmanirbhar economic package’
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A statement in this regard said,
“Criminalizing procedural lapses and minor non-compliances increases burden on businesses and it is essential that one should re-look at provisions which are merely procedural in nature and do not impact national security or public interest at large. The following principles should be kept in mind when deciding on reclassification of criminal offences to compoundable offences:
(i) Decrease the burden on businesses and inspire confidence amongst investors;
(ii) Focus on economic growth, public interest and national security should remain paramount;
(iii) Mens rea (malafide/ criminal intent) plays an important role in imposition of criminal liability, therefore, it is critical to evaluate nature of non-compliance, i.e. fraud as compared to
negligence or inadvertent omission; and
(iv) The habitual nature of non-compliance”.
Stakeholders can propose and submit their comments/ suggestions regarding any particular Act or particular Sections of an Act, along with the rationale for the same.
The comments/ suggestions are to be submitted to the Department at the email address [email protected] within 15 days, i.e., by 23rd June, 2020.
Read the official notification here: