The Ministry of Finance has proposed decriminalizaiton of several economic offences, including the offence of dishonour of cheque 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 economic crisis caused due to lockdown.
The following offences are proposed to be decriminalized.
Last month, Union Finance Minster, Nirmala Sitharaman, had announced the decision to decriminalize minor economic offences as a part of "Atmanirbhar economic package'
A statement from the Ministry 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 decriminalisation of a particular Act or particular Sections of an Act, along with the rationale for the same.
The comments/ suggestions may kindly be submitted to the Department at the email address email@example.com within 15 days, i.e., by 23rd June, 2020.
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Read the statement of Ministry of Finance