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The Collection of Statistics Act 2008- A Bird’s-Eye View

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (“MOSPI”) came into existence as an Independent Ministry on 15.10.1999 after the merger of the Department of Statistics and the Department of Programme Implementation. The Ministry has two wings, one relating to Statistics and the other Programme Implementation. The Statistics Wing called the National Statistical Office (NSO) consists of the Central Statistical Office (CSO), the Computer centre and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation attaches considerable importance to coverage and quality aspects of statistics released in the country. The statistics released are based on administrative sources, surveys and censuses conducted by the centre and state governments and non-official sources and studies. The surveys conducted by the Ministry are based on scientific sampling methods. Field data are collected through dedicated field staff.

Since India is a member of the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”), fulfilment of the Special Data Dissemination Standards (SDDS) is mandatory and the MOSPI is ensuring that India fulfils these Standards. In order to continue its endeavour with regard to collection of statistics in a standard manner, MOSPI had notified The Collection Of Statistics Act 2008 (“the Act”), with an objective “to facilitate the collection of statistics on economic, demographic, social, scientific and environmental aspects, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto

Let us examine;

  1. Key Definitions

  2. Agency- "agency" includes a person or persons engaged by the appropriate Government, directly or by outsourcing, for collection of statistics.

    Appropriate Government- "appropriate Government" means–

    1. any Ministry or Department in the Central Government; or
    2. any Ministry or Department in a State Government or Union territory Administration; or
    3. any local government that is to say, Panchayats or Municipalities, as the case may be,in relation to the collection of statistics under a direction issued by it under section 3;

    Informant- "informant" means any person, who supplies or is required to supply statistical information and includes a owner or occupier or person in-charge or his authorised representative in respect of persons or a firm registered under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932 (9 of 1932) or a co-operative society registered under any Co-operative Societies Act or a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956/2013  or a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (21 of 1860) or any association recognised or registered under any law for the time being in force;

    Statistical Survey- "statistical survey" means a census or a survey, whereby information is collected from all the informants in the field of inquiry or from a sample thereof, by an appropriate Government under this Act or any other relevant Act, wholly or primarily for the purposes of processing and summarising by appropriate statistical procedures;

    Statistic officer- "statistics officer" means any officer appointed under section 4 for the purposes of any direction issued under section 3 of this Act;

  3. Method of Collecting the data-
  4. 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. The Statistics officer appointed under the Act serve a notice on the entity from which data is sought and assign a mutually convenient time for this.

  5. FAQs under The Statistics Act, 2008-
    • Is the Statistics officer authorized to collect information from the informant?
    Yes, as per the provisions of the Act, the Statistics officer has the power to;
    • serve or cause to be served on any informant a notice in writing asking him to furnish the information specified or cause a information schedule to be given to any informant for the purpose of its being filled up

    • cause all questions relating to the subject to be asked from any informant; or;

    • seek information through tele fax or telephone or e-mail or in any other electronic mode or in a combination of different modes for different sets of information so specified.

    • The statistics officer or any person authorised by him in writing in this behalf shall, for the purposes of collection of any statistics under this Act, have access to any relevant record or document in the possession of any informant required to furnish any information under this Act, and may enter at any reasonable time any premises where he believes such record or document is kept and may inspect or take copies of relevant records or documents or ask any question necessary for obtaining any information required to be furnished under this Act.

    • What are the duties of the Informants?

    The provisions of the Act are such that the informant is compelled to provide the information sought and the informants are bound to furnish the information sought in the prescribed manner to the best of knowledge and belief.

    • Is the information provided by the informant secured?

    Any information furnished to the statistics officer or to any person or agencies authorised under this Act, shall be used only for statistical purpose. Further the Statistics officer shall, while copying or recording any statistical information collected pursuant to this Act from individual returns, information schedules, worksheets or any other confidential source by means of cards, tapes, discs, film or any other method, whether using encoded or plain language symbols for processing, storage or reproduction of particulars, take and cause to take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the security provisions of this Act are complied with.

    • What are the restrictions on the use of information?

     The Act and the Rules made there under provide for adequate confidentiality for the data collected and for appropriate safeguards when data collection is outsourced.

    • To prevent misuse, it has been decided that information collected cannot be used as evidence for prosecution under any other law.

    • Disclosure of information collected from any person without suppressing the identification particulars of that person is not permitted under the Act.

    • No person who has access to any information because of his official position in the collection of any statistics shall be compelled in any proceedings whatsoever to give oral testimony regarding the information or to produce any schedule, document, or record with respect to any information obtained in the course of administering this Act, except in the manner provided under this Act.

    • What are the penal provisions?

    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.

    • Prosecution for offences committed under the Act would be by way of a summary trial.


  6. Tailpiece-
  7. The Act was passed to improve the assembling of data by Government with respect to the key official economic indicators like inflation and industrial output as the informants are compelled to provide accurate information. The Ministry on its part has also been encouraging the Government to invoke the powers that are available under the Act to get necessary data from firms and other entities that may be reluctant to share such numbers. However there has been an air of uneasiness ever since this enactment was passed as many of the stakeholders were faced with a dilemma relating to supply of information.

    Contributors:

  • By Revanth Gopidi  0 Comments   

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