The bureaucracy as prosecutor and judge – Jan Vishwas Act, 2022 and Separation of powers | 7 August 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the Jan Vishwas Act, 2022.


  • GS2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims

What is Jan Vishwas Act, 2022?

  • The Jan Vishwas Bill was introduced last December and subsequently referred to the joint committee of the Parliament.
  • The bill proposes to decriminalise 183 provisions in 42 legislations including over half a dozen colonial era laws to make doing business easier.
  • These Acts include: the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. It is now enacted into law by the Parliament.

Key Provisions of the Act:

  • Decriminalizing Certain Offences: Under the Bill, several offences with an imprisonment term in certain Acts have been decriminalized by imposing only a monetary penalty. For example, under the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937, counterfeiting grade designation marks is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to five thousand rupees. The Bill replaces this with a penalty of eight lakh rupees.
  • Revision of Fines and Penalties: In certain Acts, offences have been decriminalized by imposing a penalty instead of a fine. For instance, under the Patents Act, 1970, a person selling a falsely represented article as patented in India is subject to a fine of up to one lakh rupees. The Bill replaces the fine with a penalty, which may be up to ten lakh rupees.
  • Appointing Adjudicating Officers: As per the Bill, the central government may appoint one or more adjudicating officers for the purpose of determining penalties. The adjudicating officers may: Summon individuals for evidence. Conduct inquiries into violations of the respected Acts.
  • Appellate Mechanisms: The Bill also specifies the appellate mechanisms for any person aggrieved by the order passed by an adjudicating officer. For instance, in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, appeals may be filed with the National Green Tribunal within 60 days from the order.


  • This act is against the separation of powers between the various organs of the state. In this case, the judiciary and executives must be separated. While the Constitution does not explicitly mandate this separation, Article 50 directs the state to achieve it.
  • Now, provisions of this act dilute the judicial powers further and give bureaucracy, the part of executive, entry into the judicial domain.
  • There are numerous instances in the past where the same thing has happened. These include:
  • Tribunals:
    • Different Ministries began creating judicial tribunals to take over various judicial functions hitherto exercised by the judiciary.
    • Most of these tribunals were created in a manner to give bureaucrats an opportunity to be appointed to the tribunals as “technical members”.
  • Quasi Judicial Regulatory Commissions:
    • The Union government began creating a new class of statutory regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which had powers to punish the private sector with punishing fines.
    • Virtually all these regulators ended up being headed by senior bureaucrats.
  • Offices of adjudicatory officers:
    • The Union government started creating the role of adjudicatory officers in a number of legislations such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the Information Technology Act, 2001 and the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
    • These adjudicatory officers were always bureaucrats who were given powers to either confirm “attachment orders” for properties or impose penalties on businesses.
    • The Jan Vishwas Act carries forward this specific model of creating “adjudicatory officers” within the bureaucracy to impose penalties.

Way Forward:

  • We must analyse the provisions of the Act and ensure that the provision of the Article 50 must be adhered to.

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