The Government today said the Collection of Statistics Act 2008 which makes companies and individuals liable to punishments, including monetary penalty and imprisonment for unwillingness to furnish information, would improve assembling of data in the country.
The Government today notified the rules of the Act, which was enacted by Parliament in January 2009, and repeals the archaic Collection of Statistics Act of 1953.
"The coverage of the Act is much better than the old Act... We hope other ministries and state governments will make provisions of this Act to improve data collection," country's Chief Statistician T C A Anant told reporters here.
He said besides the penalties laid down in the provisions, the new Act also provides lot of protection to the people who provide data to the Government and also certain enabling powers to government agencies engaged in data collection.
Under the new Act, failure to provide information could entail penalty of up to Rs 1,000 in case of individuals and Rs 5,000 in case of a company, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) said while notifying the rules.
"The Act provides penalties for neglect or refusal to furnish information. The penalty is up to Rs 1,000 for individuals (Rs 5,000 in case of a company)," it said.
To ensure confidentiality of data under the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008, any disclosure of information collected from any individual or entity without ensuring secrecy of the identity of the respondent is prohibited.
The Act provides for collecting statistics on economic, demographic, social, scientific and environmental aspects not only from industrial and commercial concerns but also from individuals and households.
To prevent misuse, it has been decided that information collected cannot be used as evidence for prosecution under any other law.
However, any person or company convicted of neglects or refuses to provide information will not escape just by payment of the one-time fine.
"If the concerned person continues to neglect or refuse to furnish information after the expiry of 14 days from the date of conviction, then he may be punished with a further fine up to Rs 1,000 (Rs 5,000 in case of a company) for each day after the first during which the failure continues," MOSPI added.
Prosecution for offences committed under the Act would be by way of a summary trial.
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Jaitley, however, cautioned things may go from bad to worse if the country gave a fractured mandate in the ensuing general elections