The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 was enacted by the Parliament on 7th January 2009. It was brought into force on 11th June 2010. The Act repealed the Collection of Statistics Act, 1953. Rules under the Act, namely, the Collection of Statistics Rules, 2011 were notified on 16th May 2011.
Some of the salient features of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 and the Rules made thereunder are as follows: –
- 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.
- The Central/ State Governments, UT Administrations and the local governments such as Panchayats and Municipalities have been empowered to collect any statistics. Any of them may appoint a statistics officer for each subject of data collection and/ or for each geographical unit.
- Duplication of surveys has been a matter of concern, as it not only leads to wastage of resources on survey work, but also may give rise to conflicting statistics. The Act empowers the Central Government to make rules for avoiding duplication. The Rules made under the Act provide for designating a nodal officer at the Centre and in each State/ UT who would advice the concerned line Ministries on steps to be taken to avoid unnecessary duplication.
- The Act provides for all methods of data collection including oral interviews and filing of returns electronically.
- The information collected from any informant under the Act cannot be made use of for any purpose other than for prosecution under the Act or for statistical purposes. In other words, the information collected cannot be used as evidence for prosecution under any other law.
- 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).
- More importantly, the obligation to furnish information under the Act will not cease after conviction for an offence. If the concerned person continues to neglect or refuse to furnish information after the expiry of fourteen 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.
- The Act provides for stringent penalties for furnishing false information and for other serious offences in the form of simple imprisonment up to six months or with a fine or with both.
- The Act and the Rules made thereunder provide for adequate confidentiality for the data collected and for appropriate safeguards when data collection is outsourced. Disclosure of information collected from any person without suppressing the identification particulars of that person is not permitted under the Act.
- Prosecution for offences committed under the Act would be by way of a summary trial.