In a step to ease doing business in India and giving relief to businesses amid ongoing economic crisis, the Finance Ministry has proposed to decriminalise a host of minor offences such as cheque bounce, non-repayment of loans, etc. The government has sought opinions from stakeholders to amend 19 acts of economic offences which come under the ambit of criminal offence and are subject to imprisonment, fines, and other punishments. The acts which the government aims to amend include Negotiable Instruments Act (cheque bounce), SARFAESI Act (repayment of bank loans), LIC Act, PFRDA Act, RBI Act, NHB Act, Banking Regulation Act, and Chit Funds Act.
Actions taken for the decriminalisation of minor offences are expected to go a long way in improving ease of doing business and helping unclog the court system and prisons, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. It added that the move would also be a significant step in the government’s objective of achieving ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Vishwas.
After the government receives feedback from the stakeholders, the Department of Financial Services will take a call on decriminalise the economic offences. Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had underlines that violations involving minor technical and procedural defaults would be decriminalised in an effort to further ease doing business in the country.
While decriminalising the above-mentioned acts are on the government’s top priority, it may also consider amending other minor offences such as Insurance Act, Payment and Settlements Systems Act, NABARD Act, State Financial Corporations Act, Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, and Factoring Regulation Act.
Meanwhile, the government said that it will take feedback from civil society, academicians, public and private sector organisations and members of the public. While coronavirus pandemic has hit all corners of the economy, Narendra Modi government announced may landmark decisions to provide some cushion to the ailing economy. With the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package worth Rs 21 lakh crore, the government had said that it is trying to make the benefits reach quickly on the ground.