The President of India has on 11 August 2023 granted her assent to the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023. The Act seeks to decriminalise some 183 provisions in the 42 Central Acts administered by 19 Ministries/Departments. The Act provides for pragmatic revision of fines and penalties commensurate to the offence committed, establishment of Adjudicating officers and Appellate Authorities, and periodic increase in quantum of fines and penalties. Few amendments as being done in the Patents Act, 1970, Copyright Act, 1957, Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 are discussed below.
Copyright Act: Section 68 of the Copyright Act, 1957 is being omitted. It provides for penalty for making false statements for the purpose of deceiving or influencing any authority or officer.
Patents Act: Under Section 120, fine of INR one lakh is being substituted for a penalty extending to INR 10 lakh. The provision also provides, in case of continuing claim, a further penalty of INR one thousand for every day after the first during which such claim continues. Section 120 provides for unauthorised claim of patent rights.
Further Section 121 providing for imprisonment and fine for wrongful use of the words ‘patent office’, will be omitted once the date of effect of the provisions of the Amendment Act are notified. Section 122 imprisonment and fine in case of refusal or failure to supply information to the Central Government under Section 100(5) or to the Controller under Section 146, is also being amended to revise the quantum of penalty and for doing away with the provisions for imprisonment. Similarly, penalty provisions have been revised in Section 123 of the Patents Act.
It may be noted that the latest changes also provide for insertion of new Sections 124A and Section 124B providing for Adjudication of penalties, and appeal against such adjudication, respectively.
Trade Marks Act: Section 107 of the Trade Marks Act, providing for penalty for falsely representing a trademark as registered, is being amended to do away with the provisions for imprisonment to bring in provisions for imposition of penalty instead.
Further, Section 106, providing for penalty for removing piece goods, etc., contrary to Section 81; Section 108, providing for penalty for improperly describing a place of business as connected with the Trade Mark Office; and Section 109 providing for penalty for falsification of entries in the register, are being omitted.
Here also, just as provided in the Patents Act, provisions are being brought for Adjudication of penalties and for appeal against such adjudication.
Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act: Section 42 of the said Act, providing for penalty for falsely representing a geographical indication as registered, is being amended to do away with the provisions for imprisonment and fine. Instead, provisions are being brought in for imposition of penalty of a sum equal to one-half per cent. of the total sales or turnover, as the case may be, in business or of the gross receipts in profession as computed in the audited accounts of such person, or a sum equal to five lakh rupees, whichever is less.
Section 43 relating to penalty for improperly describing a place of business as connected with the Geographical Indications Registry; and Section 44 relating to penalty for falsification of entries in the register, are being omitted.
Here also, provisions are being brought for Adjudication of penalties and for appeal against such adjudication.