This article is written by Shriya Sehgal, a first-year student pursuing BBA.LLB. from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This is an exhaustive article dealing with the various aspects of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. A comparison is also made between the 1953 Act and the 2008 Act.

Introduction

The collection of statistics is considered to be an essential task across the world for various governments and organisations. It is implied that the government needs to be aware of the complete reality in order to formulate a solid policy and to have an effective implementation of the same. In order to impose a new policy or plan it is imperative for the policymakers to understand the issues before they find a solution to the same by making relevant provisions. In India, there are two legal acts conducting the data collection directly: 

  1. Census Act, 1948
  2. Collection of Statistics Act, 2008

The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 is considered to be primary and principal legislation in India for the collection of economic, social, demographic, scientific, and environmental data. Under this Act, the government is empowered to make the rules and pass instructions for the collection of statistical data.

Under Section 33 of the Act, the Central Government is empowered to make the rules. Consequently, the Rules have been made under the Collection of Statistics Rule, 2011. It consists of 16 Rules which are read along with the Act.

Timeline of Notifications

Object and scope

Scope

The Act extends and applies to the whole of India.

Earlier this Act was not applied to Jammu and Kashmir, however after the Collection of Statistics (Amendment) Act, 2017, the jurisdiction has been extended to Jammu and Kashmir as well.

Objective

The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 enhances the scope of data collection as well as overcomes the limitations of the Collection of Statistics Act, 1953. It has done the same in the following ways:

Collection of Statistics Act, 1953

Collection of Statistics Act, 2008

The Central and the State Government had the power to issue notification for collection of statistics on any subject on the industrial or commercial concern.

The Central, State and Local Government has the power to collect all kinds of statistics including households and individuals.

No mechanism has been provided for avoiding duplication of surveys and ensuring standards for the collection of statistics.

The Central Government has the power to make rules in order to avoid duplication of surveys and ensure technical standards in data collection.

The Central and State Government had the power to appoint the statistics authority.

Any government department or organisation at the Central or the State or the local level have the power to appoint the statistic officer for each geographical unit and for collection of each subject.

The mode of data collection was in the form of return which could be obtained by statistic authority after issuing industrial and commercial concern.

The mode of data collection has been extended to oral interviews and filing of returns electronically.

The penalties were very merger and procedure for the prosecution was complicated.

The penalties have been enhanced and rationalised. The procedure for prosecution has been simplified to eliminate the burden of proof on data collection agencies.

The data collected under the Act cannot be used for any other purpose other than a prosecution under the Act or Indian Penal Code.

The data collected under the Act would be used only for statistical purposes and for prosecution under the Act.

 

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Collection of Statistics

Chapter II (Section 3 to Section 8) of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 deals with the ‘Collection of Statistics’. It states that the appropriate government can direct the collection of statistics on various topics including the following:

  1. Matters related to industry or class of industries;
  2. Matters related to commercial or industrial concern or class of commercial or industrial concerns and in particular, any matter relating to factories;
  3. Matters related to the welfare of labours or condition of labours including:
  • Price of commodities;
  • Attendance; 
  • Indebtedness; 
  • Rent (of dwelling house); 
  • Wages (and other earnings);
  • Provident fund (and other funds provided to the labour);
  • Hours of work;
  • Benefits and amenities to labour;
  • Living conditions (including housing, water supply, and sanitation);
  • Industrial and labour disputes;
  • Labour turnover;
  • Employment and unemployment;
  • Trade unions. [1]

Exceptions to the Provisions of this Act

  1. Nothing in this Section authorizes a State Government to issue any direction under this Act with respect to the collection of statistics relating to matters falling under the entries specified in List I(Union List) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution;
  2. Where the Central Government has issued any direction under this Section for the collection of statistics relating to any matter, no State Government shall, except with the previous approval of the Central Government, issue any similar direction for so long as the collection of statistics by the Central Government remains to be completed;
  3. Where a State Government has issued a direction under this Section for the collection of statistics relating to any matter, the Central Government shall not issue any similar direction for so long as the collection of statistics by the State Government remains to be completed, except in cases where statistics have to be collected with reference to two or more States.

Appointment of Statistics Authority

Section 4 of the Act deals with the ‘Power of appropriate government to appoint statistics officer, etc.’ 

  • The appropriate Government may appoint an officer to be the statistics authority.
  • They are appointed for the purpose of collecting statistics directed by the government to be collected.
  • The officer can be appointed for any geographical unit for the purpose of collecting statistics directed by the government to be collected.

Power of Statistics Authority to call for Information or Returns

Section 5 of the Act deals with the ‘Power of statistic officer to call for information’. It provides for following provisions

  1. The owner of an industrial or commercial concern or on any other person may serve or may be caused to serve a notice requiring him to furnish information or returns as may be prescribed. Such information or returns can be related to any matter in respect of which statistics are to be collected.
  2. The information or returns should be furnished in a prescribed form and manner in the particulars to the designated person or authorities.
  3. The notice referred above may be served or communicated through telephone, or email, or telefax, or any electronic mode. It can also be communicated in a combination of different modes for different sets of information.

The returns which the owner may be required to furnish under the notice shall contain certain particulars, as indicated in the notice. Such particulars include: 

  • Identification particulars; 
  • Nature of ownership and management;
  • Number and strength of motors;
  • Installed capacity;
  • Sales to different types of customers;
  • Stocks of fuels materials and products; etc.

Right of Access to Records or Documents

Section 8 of the Act deals with ‘Right of access to records or documents’. It states that for the purpose of collection of any statistics under the Act, the statistics authority, or any person authorised by him have access to any relevant record or document. Such authorisation must be given in writing.

Such information or return can be furnished only when the statistic authority or a person authorised by him:

  • Enter at a reasonable time;
  • Enter any premises, where he believes such document or record to be;

He may inspect or take copies of such records or documents. He is also authorised to ask any necessary questions for obtaining any information, provided such information is furnished under the Act.

Restrictions on the Publication of Information and Returns

Chapter III (Section 9 to Section 14) of the Act deals with ‘Disclosure of information in certain cases and restriction of their use’.  This chapter states that the following cannot be published:

  • Information; 
  • Individual return;
  • Part of an individual return;

With respect to any particular industrial or commercial concern given for the purpose of this Act, provided, there is previous consent of the owner in writing. 

No person shall be permitted to see any information or records referred above, who is not engaged in the collection of statistics under this Act. One can only be permitted to see the information or records for the purpose of prosecution under this Act or under the Indian Penal Code.

Penalties

Chapter IV of the Act deals with ‘Offences and penalties’. Provisions for penalties against the informant are included in the following sections:

Section

Offence 

Penalty 

Section 15(1)

Failure to produce any books of accounts, documents, or other business records.

Punishable with a fine of up to one thousand rupees, or in the case of a company, a fine of up to five thousand rupees.

Section 15(1)

Neglecting or refusing to answer any question asked from him.

Punishable with a fine of up to one thousand rupees, or in the case of a company, a fine of up to five thousand rupees.

Section 15(1)

Neglecting or refusing to fill in and supply the particulars required in any information or records given to him.

Punishable with a fine of up to one thousand rupees, or in the case of a company, a fine of up to five thousand rupees.

Section 15(2)

Failure to give the required particulars and continue to neglect or refuse to fill in and supply the particulars, after the expiration of fourteen days.

Punishable with a fine of up to one thousand rupees, or in case of a company with a fine of up to five thousand rupees, for each day after which the failure continues.

Section 16

Making any false or misleading statement or material omission in any information or return filled in or supplied, or in answer to any question asked to him.

Punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to six months or with a fine of up to one thousand rupees or, in the case of a company, with a fine up to

five thousand rupees or with both.

Section 17 

Destroying, defacing, removing, or mutilating any information, form, or other document containing particulars collected.

Punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to six months or with a fine of up to two thousand rupees or, in the

case of a company with a fine of up to ten thousand rupees or with both.

Section 18

Interfering with, hindering, or obstructing any employee in the exercise of any power.

Punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to six months or with a fine of up to two thousand rupees or, in the case of a company with a fine of up to ten thousand rupees or with both.

Section 19

Acting in contravention of or failing to comply with any provision or willfully deceiving or attempting to deceive any statistics officer or any agency or any employee.

Punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to six months or

with a fine of up to two thousand

rupees or, in the case of a company with a fine of up to ten thousand rupees or with both.

Section 22

Any other offence

Offences under Section 17, 18 and 19 are also applicable to persons other than informants.

Punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to six months or with a fine of up to two thousand rupees or, in the case of a company with a fine of up to ten thousand rupees or with both.

Offences by Companies

Section 23 of the Act deals with the ‘Offences by companies’. Under this Section, a ‘company’ refers to any body corporate, including a firm or other association of people whereas a ‘director’ refers to a partner in the firm.

This Section provides that in case an offence is committed by the company then every person is deemed to be guilty if he was responsible for and in charge of the company for the conduct of the business of the company as well as the company. Thus, they should be held liable and proceeded against and punished accordingly.

However, a person may not be held liable to any punishment under this Act if he proves that:

  1. The offence was committed without his knowledge; or
  2. He exercised all his due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

If an offence is committed by a company under this Act, and it is proved that the offence is committed with the:

  • Consent; or
  • Connivance; or
  • Is attribute to any neglect;

On the part of any director, secretary, manager or any other officer of the company, then such person shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence. Thus, they should be held liable and proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Penalty for Improper Disclosure of Information or Return

Section 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 of the Act deal with provisions relating to disclosure of information and restrictions to their use. These rules should be effective during the period of collection of statistics and govern the use of information collected under the Act.

A person who is engaged in the collection of statistics, directly or indirectly, under this Act and willfully discloses any information or contents of any return given or made under this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of six months, or with a fine of one thousand rupees, or both. However, this doesn’t stand true in case the information is disclosed:

  • In the execution of a person’s duties under this Act; or
  • For the purpose of prosecution of an offence under this Act; or
  • Under the Indian Penal Code.

Cognizance of offences

Section 24 of the Act deals with ‘Cognizance of offences’. This Section states that the cognizance of an offence can be taken under this Act only when a complaint is made by the appropriate Government. Also, any offence punishable under this Act can be tried by:

  1. The statistic officer; or 
  2. A metropolitan magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class (no court inferior to these can try an offence under this Act)

No prosecution of offence can be instituted without the sanction of the statistic authority and without the consent of the appropriate government, as the case may be.

Power of Central Government to give directions

Section 28 of the Act deals with ‘power to give directions’ and is a part of Miscellaneous Chapter (chapter VI). This Section states that the Central Government has the power to give directions to the following bodies or institution regarding the implementation of provisions of this Act:

  1. State Government,
  2. Union territory administration,
  3. Local Government (Panchayats or Municipalities).

Protection of action taken in good faith

Section 31 of the Act deals with ‘Protection of action taken in good faith’ and is a part of the Miscellaneous Chapter (chapter VI). This Section states that no suit or legal proceeding should lie against the following bodies or institutions when something is done in good faith or done in pursuance of this Act or rules and regulations issued under this Act:

  • Statistic authority, or
  • Appropriate government, or
  • Any other person acting under the authority of an appropriate government or the statistic authority.

Power to make rules

Section 33 of the Act deals with ‘Protection of action taken in good faith’ and is a part of the Miscellaneous Chapter (chapter VI). This Section states that the appropriate Government has the power to make rules for the purpose of this Act, subject to the previous publication by notification in the Official Gazette.

Rules may be made under this Section without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power on any of the following:

  • The form and manner in which the information and returns may be furnished;
  • The particulars which the information and returns contain;
  • The intervals within which and the authority to which the information or returns may be published;
  • The manner in which the right of access to documents and the right of entry conferred by Section 6 may be exercised;
  • Any other matter which is prescribed under this Act.

In cases where the rule is made by the State Government, it shall be laid before the State Legislature as soon as it is made.

In cases where the rule is made by the Central Government, it shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as it is made. The rule should be laid down for a period of thirty days while the House in session. If both houses agree that the rule should not be made then the rule shall have an effect either by modification or have no effect by annulment.

Collection of Statistics (Amendment) Act, 2017

The Collection of Statistics (Amendment) Act, 2017 was introduced by Mr.D.V.Sadananda Gowda, the ‎Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation, in Lok Sabha on March 20, 2017. [2]

This Act seeks to amend the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. The purpose of this Act was as follows:

  • To facilitate the collection of statistics related to social, economic, demographic, scientific and environmental aspects governments at all levels, that is, central, state and local governments.
  • To extend its jurisdiction to Jammu and Kashmir for collection of statistics as the 2008 Act was not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. The collection of statistics was related to the subjects contained in Union List and the Concurrent List including citizenship, education, labour, banking etc.
  • Under the 2008 Act, the information collected under this Act could only be used for statistical purposes and nothing else. However, the Bill removed this provision and gave the Central Government the power to determine the manner in which such collected information can be used.
  • Provision for appointment of nodal officers by the State or Union Government was added by this Bill. The Union Government can determine the power and duties of such officers. The main function of the officer is to coordinate as well as supervise statistical activities under the government who has appointed him.

Conclusion

The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 enhances the scope of data collection as well as overcomes the limitations of the Collection of Statistics Act, 1953. For instance, the scope of the collection of data has been enhanced to the Local Government, that is, panchayats and municipalities. The statistic authority could earlier be appointed only by Central or Government but now, statistic officer can be appointed for each geographical unit and for each subject of data collection by any other government organisation or department in the Central or the State or the Local government. Many more improvements have been made by the Act, thus enhancing the scope of data collection.

 References

  1. http://www.mospi.gov.in/1412-collection-statistics-act1953/#Collection_of_statistics
  2. https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/collection-statistics-amendment-bill-2017

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