Background Note on The Boilers Bill ,2023

December 12, 2023

Boiler is an essential tool for a number of industries including power plants, textile, feed, auto rice mills, government factories, sugar and the pharmaceutical industry. The Indian Boilers Act 1923 is scheduled to be re-enacted in the ongoing Winter Session 2023 as The Boilers Bill 2023. The former served as one of the crucial legislations in India focusing on the safety aspects of steam boilers used in various industrial settings. It was enacted in 1923 with a primary objective to ensure the safety of personnel working with steam boilers and to prevent accidents that may result from using boilers.

Historical Background

• In India, the Calcutta explosion of 1863, resulting in 13 fatalities, led to the implementation of Bengal Act VI of 1864 (which was passed to provide for the inspection of steam boilers), applicable to Calcutta and its suburbs. Subsequently, two accidents in Bombay prompted the enactment of Bombay Boiler Legislation Act, 1869, which was later extended after explosions in Broach and Ahmedabad in 1871 to prevent any further accidents in future.

• Between 1919 and 1935, a significant development for boilers in India occurred with the introduction of the Indian Boilers Act. In 1920, a Boilers Law Committee, presided over by F.D. Ascoli was established, and its report in 1921 paved the way for the Boilers Act of 1923. The Committee’s Report emphasized the need for boiler legislation due to the steam boiler’s inherent danger of exploding with severe consequences, attributed to design and construction flaws, wear and tear, and negligent handling during operation.

• Following the committee’s recommendations, the uniform all-India legislation, incorporating government inspection, was implemented through the 1923 Boilers Act. The Act applies to boilers used in factories, as well as to boilers outside factories that generate steam at a pressure greater than one kilogram per centimeter square gauge (1 kg/cm²). The primary purpose behind the enactment of the Indian Boilers Act 1923 was to ensure the safety of both individuals and property by mitigating the risks associated with steam boiler explosions.

Developments made in the 1923 Act so far

The Indian Boilers Act of 1923 was crafted during the British colonial era with the primary
objective of ensuring the safety of boiler users. However, over time, this antiquated legislation
became associated with widespread corruption issues. One significant flaw was that the law
granted inspectors the authority to arbitrarily shut down units for inspection.

Up to the year 2007, there had been no major amendments to the Act. In 2007, the Minister
of State in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) introduced amendments
to the Indian Boilers Act of 1923. The Indian Boilers (Amendment) Act, 2007 introduced
improvements in the provisions of the law to enhance safety norms to keep pace with
developments and changes in the technology of fabrication, testing, inspection, and operation
of boilers and also ensure uniformity in standards of inspection, expediting inspection and
reducing bureaucratic delays by decentralization of inspection of boilers during their
manufacture, erection and use by allowing inspection and certification by the independent
inspecting authorities.

• In 2014, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry communicated with various states, urging them
to abandon the inspectorial regime for boilers and transition to a self-certification system to enhance the ease of doing business.

• In 2019, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had permitted
self-certification and third-party inspection and certification of boilers in collaboration with
State Governments. However, the Act was not amended to include the same. Notifications
under section 34(3) of the Boilers Act, 1923, were provided to ensure boiler safety and enhance
the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB).

The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Act, 2023, recently passed by the Parliament,
encompasses amendments to the Indian Boilers Act, 1923. Under the Act, the penalties in terms
of monetary fines were increased under the Indian Boilers Act, 1923.

Some Important Provisions under the Indian Boilers Act, 1923

• Under the Indian Boilers Act-1923, the Indian Boilers Regulation-1950 has been formulated.
This Regulation outlines the materials, procedures, and inspection techniques for
manufacturing boilers, mountings, and fittings. Boilers are inspected according to the procedure
under IBR -1950, and if satisfactory, a certificate is issued for a maximum period of 12 months.
Boilers found unsatisfactory during inspection are repaired following the procedure under Indian
Boilers Regulation-1950 and re-inspected accordingly.

Registration of the Boiler: Boiler owners acquiring a new boiler apply for registration to the
Chief Inspector of Boilers, submitting inspection fees per regulation 385 of IBR-1950. Certificates
of manufacture (Form II, III & IV) issued by the Chief Inspector of Boilers of the manufacturing
state are also provided. The boiler undergoes inspection, and a Provisional Order (P.O.) is issued
for a maximum period of six months, allowing operation at the calculated maximum working
pressure. A certificate for 12 months is issued if the boiler passes the Steam Test. The Act lays
down the process for renewal of certificates as well.

Responsibilities of boiler owners: As per the Act, on a designated date, the owner of a boiler is
required to prepare it for examination and furnish the Inspector appointed by the State
Government with all necessary information and facilities, including drawings and specifications.
In the event of an accident, the owner or the person in charge must promptly report it in writing
to the Inspector within 24 hours, providing details of the incident and any resulting injuries.

Prohibition of boiler usage: Unless specified otherwise in the Act, no boiler owner is permitted
to use or allow the use of a boiler that is not registered, lacks a valid certificate or provisional
order, or operates at a pressure level exceeding the maximum stated in the certificate or order. Transferred boilers must not be used until the transfer is registered, and compliance with state
rules regarding proficiency or competency certificates for boiler operators must be ensured.

Revocation of certificates or provisional orders: The Chief Inspector, appointed under the Act,
holds the authority to withdraw or revoke any certificate or provisional order for boiler use if
obtained fraudulently, without sufficient examination, or if the boiler is damaged and no longer
in good condition. Revocation may also occur if the Chief Inspector deems the person in charge
of the boiler incompetent. In cases where state rules require proficiency or competency
certificates, the Chief Inspector may revoke the certificate or order if these requirements are not

Appeal against the orders of Chief Inspectors: An aggrieved person has the right to appeal to
an appellate authority within 30 days of receiving an order that refuses to register the boiler,
denies the issuance or renewal of a certificate or provisional order, or withdraws or revokes such
authorization. The Act establishes a framework for addressing disputes and challenging
decisions made by Chief Inspectors.

Limitations of application of this Act: The Act does not extend to steam vessels under the
Inland Vessels Act, 1917, or boilers under the control of the Indian army, navy, or air force. It also
exempts sterilizers or disinfectors commonly used in hospitals, provided the boiler’s capacity
does not exceed ninety-one liters. The Central Government or State Governments have the
authority to declare exclusions for boilers or steam-pipes under their administration through
official notifications in The Gazette of India.


DISCLAIMER:The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s). Swaniti makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but Swaniti does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete. Swaniti is a non-profit, non-partisan group. This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it. NOTE: The background note is prepared on the basis of information and materials available in media sources or public domain only. The Bill is yet to be introduced in the Parliament, hence, the note will be updated as and when a text of Bill is available.