SPR 2020: Important Acts and Policies in News

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SPR 2020: Important Acts and Policies in News
Act/Policy Information
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 
  • Context:
    • It is an act of the Parliament of India. 
    • It contains provisions to reconstitute the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, into two Indian-administered union territories, one to be called Jammu and Kashmir, and the other Ladakh. 
  • Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir:
    • The Bill reorganises the state of Jammu and Kashmir into
      1. the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and
      2. the Union Territory of Ladakh without a legislature. 
    • The Union Territory of Ladakh will comprise Kargil and Leh districts, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will comprise the remaining territories of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • Lieutenant Governor:
    • The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be administered by the President, through an administrator appointed by him known as the Lieutenant Governor. 
    • The Union Territory of Ladakh will be administered by the President, through a Lieutenant-Governor appointed by him. 
  • Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir:
    • The Bill provides for a Legislative Assembly for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.  The total number of seats in the Assembly will be 107. 
    • Of these, 24 seats will remain vacant on account of certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir being under the occupation of Pakistan. 
    • Further, seats will be reserved in the Assembly for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. 
    • In addition, the Lieutenant Governor may nominate two members to the Legislative Assembly to give representation to women, if they are not adequately represented.     
  • Terms:
    • The Assembly will have a term of five years, and the Lieutenant Governor must summon the Assembly at least once in six months.
    • The Legislative Assembly may make laws for any part of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir related to
      1. any matters specified in the State List of the Constitution, except “Police” and “Public Order”, and
      2. any matter in the Concurrent List applicable to Union Territories. 
    • Further, Parliament will have the power to make laws in relation to any matter for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Council of Ministers:
    • The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Council of Ministers of not more than ten percent of the total number of members in the Assembly. 
    • The Council will aide and advise the Lieutenant Governor on matters that the Assembly has powers to make laws.  The Chief Minister will communicate all decisions of the Council to the Lieutenant Governor.        
  • High Court:
    • The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. 
    • Further, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have an Advocate General to provide legal advice to the government of the Union Territory.   
  • Legislative Council:
    • The Legislative Council of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be abolished.  Upon dissolution, all Bills pending in the Council will lapse.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner:https://samajho.com/upsc/jammu-kashmir-reorganisation-act-2019/  
Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020
  • Context:
    • The Central government passed Jammu And Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020 recently. 
  • About:
    • The order defined a new domicile rule for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) according to which a person residing in J&K for at least 15 years will now be eligible to be a domicile of the Union Territory.
    • If a person has studied for a period of 7 years and appeared in class 10th or 12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K will also be considered as the domicile of the UT. 
    • Tehsildar shall be the competent authority for issuing the domicile certificate, as opposed to Deputy Commissioner.
    • Section 5-A states that no person shall be eligible for appointment to a post carrying a pay scale for not more than level 4 unless he is a domicile of UT of J&K.
    • Through the same order, the Centre has repealed the J&K Civil Services (Special Provisions) Act.
Dadra & Nagar Haveli And Daman & Diu (Merger Of Union Territories) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman merged into one Union Territory named as Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
    • This was done in view of fruitful utilization of manpower, improve administrative efficiency, reduce administrative expenditure, and improve service delivery as well as facilitate better monitoring of schemes.
  • Key Provisions of the Act:
    • Amendment of the Constitution:
      • The First Schedule to the Constitution specifies the territories that come under various states and UTs.
      • The Act amends the First Schedule to merge the two union territories into the UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
      • But since the amendment is only related to the status of union territories, such an amendment to the constitution shall not be recognised as a constitutional amendment under ARTICLE 368 of the constitution.
      • Article 240(1) of the Constitution allows the President to make regulations for certain UTs, including the UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. The Act amends the Article to replace these two UTs with the merged UT.
    • Representation in Lok Sabha:
      • The First Schedule to the Representation of the People Act, 1950 provides one seat in Lok Sabha to each of the two UTs. The Bill seeks to amend the Schedule to allocate two Lok Sabha seats to the merged UT.
    • Jurisdiction of High Court:
      • The Bill provides that the jurisdiction of the High Court of Bombay will continue to extend to the merged UT.
126th Constitution Amendment Bill

  • Context:
    • The reservation given to SCs, STs, and the Anglo-Indian community for the past 70 years is to end on January 25, 2020
    • The 126th Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to extend by 10 years reservation to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies
    • The reservation has been included in Article 334 and therefore the bill seeks to amend the article.
  • Key Provisions of the Act:
    • Article 334 lays down that the provisions for reservation of seats and special representation of Anglo-Indians, SC, and ST will cease after 40 years. The clause was included in 1949. After 40 years, it is being amended with an extension of 10 years.
    • A similar reservation for the Anglo-Indian community in Lok Sabha and state assemblies is not being extended, as per the provisions of the bill.
    • According to Law Minster, there are only 296 members of the Anglo-Indian community in India.
    • The bill has been passed by both houses of the parliament but has to be ratified by half of the state legislatures as well before it goes for the President’s assent.
    • The Amendment passed by Parliament, however, effectively does away with a reservation for the Anglo-Indian members in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/anglo-indians-their-history-and-issues/
Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • Recently, the Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 which received the President’s assent to become an Act.
    • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
    • The Citizenship Act,1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired. It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and incorporation of the territory into India.
    • In addition, it regulates the registration of Overseas Citizen of India Cardholders (OCIs) and their rights. An OCI is entitled to some benefits such as a multiple-entry, multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India.
  • Key Provisions of the Amendment Act:
    • The Bill amends the Act to provide that the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, will not be treated as illegal migrants.
    • In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.
    • The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry a passport, while the 1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India.
  • Applicability of the Amended Act:
    • These provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.
    • Further, it will not apply to the “Inner Line” areas notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. In these areas, visits by Indians are regulated through the Inner Line Permit.
    • Currently, this permit system is applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Manipur has also been brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime through a Gazette Notification on the same day the bill was passed in the parliament.
  • Cancellation of registration of OCIs:
    • The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds.
    • These include:
      1. if the OCI has registered through fraud, or
      2. if, within five years of registration, the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, or
      3. if it becomes necessary in the interest of sovereignty and security of India.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/citizenship-amendment-act-2019-prospects-and-issues/
Constitution (One Hundred And Third Amendment) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • The proposed reservation of 10% will be over and above the existing 50 percent reservation enjoyed by the members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes. This will take the total reservation to 60 percent.
    • The proposed reservation intends to include such members who do not avail the benefits of reservation.
    • This includes members in the general category as well as members of the minority communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christian, and other communities who do not enjoy any kind of reservation.
  • Who falls under the EWS category?
    • The following are the criteria to avail the benefits of reservation of 10 percent:
      • Persons whose family has a gross annual income of less than Rs. 8 lakh per annum.
      • Persons possess less than 5 acres of land
      • Have agricultural land of fewer than 5 acres
      • Have a house smaller than 1,000 square feet
      • In a municipality – a residential plot smaller than 100 yards
      • In a non-notified municipality – a residential plot of fewer than 200 yards.
  • Note: “Economically Weaker Sections” shall be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.’
Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act of 2019
  • Context:
    • It has added four judges to strength. It increased the judicial strength from 31 to 34, including the CJI.
  • About:
    • Article 124 (1):
      • There shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven other Judges.
      • Thus, the strength of Supreme Court Judges can be increased through Simple Majority of the Parliament i.e more than 50% of member present and voting each house respectively
      • Accordingly, the Parliament passed the SC (No. of judges) Act 1956 provides for a maximum of 10 judges excluding the CJI.
      • In 2009 the law was last amended to increase the strength of Supreme Court Judges from 26 to 31 (including CJI).
      • The Supreme Court of India came into existence on the 26th of January 1950 and its first sitting was held on 28 January 1950.
  • Note: However, the number of judges of HC will be determined by the order of the president as provided under Article 216.
New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) is being developed to make India a hub of institutionalised arbitration.
    • It has been the endeavor of the GoI to establish an independent and autonomous institution for resolving International and domestic commercial disputes expeditiously by the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
    • For this purpose, New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Act, 2019 has been passed to develop NDIAC as an Institution of National Importance.
  • Features of NDIAC Act:
    • NDIAC will consist of seven members including”
      1. A Chairperson who may be a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court or an eminent person with special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration;
      2. two eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration;
      3. three ex-officio members, including a nominee from the Ministry of Finance and a Chief Executive Officer (responsible for the day-to-day administration of the NDIAC); and
      4. a representative from a recognized body of commerce and industry, appointed as a part-time member, on a rotational basis.
    • The members of NDIAC will hold office for three years and will be eligible for re-appointment. The retirement age for the Chairperson is 70 years and another member is 67 years.
  • Key functions of the NDIAC will include:
    • Facilitating conduct of arbitration and conciliation in a professional, timely, and cost-effective manner; and
    • Promoting studies in the field of alternative dispute resolution.
    • The NDIAC will be required to maintain a fund that will be credited with grants received from the central government, fees collected for its activities, and other sources.  The accounts of the NDIAC will be audited and certified by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
    • NDIAC will establish a Chamber of Arbitration which will maintain a permanent panel of arbitrators. Further, the NDIAC may also establish an Arbitration Academy for training arbitrators and conducting research in the area of alternative dispute resolution.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • Introduced to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The Lok Sabha has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019.
    • The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, providing special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, individuals, and groups that foster terrorism in India.
    • The Bill is yet to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Key Features of the Bill
    • It empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
    • This has been done as it is seen that when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization to spread terrorism.
    • The bill also empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.
    • Under the existing Act, the investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director-General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that bear any connection to terrorism.
    • It has been seen that many times a terror accused owns properties in different states. In such cases, seeking approval of DGPs of different states becomes very difficult, and the delay caused by the same may enable the accused to transfer properties.
    • It empowers the officers of the NIA — of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
    • The existing Act provides for investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
    • No changes being made in arrest or bail provisions. Also, the provision that the burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused, has not been changed.
    • The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through the Amendment.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/prevention-of-money-laundering-act/
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
  • The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (repealed in 2004) was originally passed in the year 1967.
  • Till the year 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.
  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
Prevention Of Damage To Public Property Act, 1984
  • Context:
    • In its crackdown on protesters against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Uttar Pradesh government has directed district administrations to serve notices on persons allegedly involved in arson and damage of public property, and direct them to pay a penalty.
  • Source Of Power For The Government:
    • While issuing these notices, the administration has said it derives such powers on the basis of an Allahabad High Court order of December 2, 2010, in Mohammad Shujauddin vs State of Uttar Pradesh.
    • It has said the police are empowered to take penal action under The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
    • The High Court order, due to lacunae in the 1984 Act, has also empowered the civil administration to take action against the accused.
  • The Prevention Of Damage To Public Property Act, 1984:
    • It punishes anyone “who commits mischief by doing any act in respect of any public property” with a jail term of up to five years and a fine or both. Provisions of this law can be coupled with those under the Indian Penal Code.
    • Public property under this Act includes “any building, installation or other property used in connection with the production, distribution, or supply of water, light, power or energy; any oil installation; any sewage works; any mine or factory; any means of public transportation or of telecommunications, or any building, installation, or other property used in connection therewith”.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/destruction-to-public-property-impacts-and-measures/
The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • Union Cabinet approved amendments to strengthen the POCSO Act by including the death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children.
  • Key amendments suggested include:
    • The act aims at making offences against children's genderneutral.
    • It extends the definition of ‘Sexual Assault’ to incorporate the administration of hormones or chemical substances to children to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.
    • The amendment defines child pornography and makes it punishable. It provides that those who use a child for pornographic purposes should be punished with imprisonment for up to five years and a fine. However, in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, the punishment would be up to seven years and fine.
    • The amendments also penalize the transmitting of pornographic material to children and propose to synchronise it with the Information Technology Act.
    • The Act seeks to enhance punishment for sexual offences against children, with a provision of the death penalty.
    • Penetrative sexual assaults on a child below 16 years of age would be punished with imprisonment up to 20 years, which might extend to life imprisonment as well as fine.
    • For aggravated penetrative sexual assault, the Act increases the minimum punishment from ten years to 20 years, and the maximum punishment to the death penalty.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/the-protection-of-children-from-sexual-offences-act-pocso-amendment-2019/
Protection Of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • To make the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) more inclusive and efficient, Lok Sabha passes the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which amends the Protection of Human Rights Act,1993.
  • Amendment Passed:
    • A person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court is also made eligible to be appointed as Chairperson of the Commission in addition to the person who has been the Chief Justice of India.
    • Increasing the members of the commission who have knowledge of human rights issues, from two to three, out of which one must be a woman;
    • Include Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as deemed Members of the Commission;
    • Reduces the term of the Chairperson and Members of the Commission and the State Commissions from five to three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment;
    • A person who has been a Judge of the High Court is also made eligible to be appointed as Chairperson of the State Commission in addition to the person who has been the Chief Justice of the High Court; and,
    • Confer upon State Commissions, the functions relating to human rights being discharged by the Union territories, other than the Union territory of Delhi, which will be dealt with by the Commission.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/protection-of-human-rights-amendment-act-2019/
National Medical Commission (Amendment) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was passed. It seeks to regulate medical education and practice in India.
  • Amendment Passed:
    • Constitution of a National Medical Commission for the development and regulation of all aspects relating to medical education, the medical profession, and medical institutions.
    • It provides for the creation of a Medical Advisory Council to advise and make recommendations to the Commission.
  • It aims to create 4 Autonomous Boards namely:
    1. Under-Graduate Medical Education Board to set standards and regulate education
    2. Post-Graduate Medical Education Board to set standards and regulate education
    3. Medical Assessment and Rating Board to carry out inspections and to assess and rate the medical institutions.
    4. Ethics and Medical Registration Board to regulate professional conduct and promote medical ethics amongst medical practitioners and medical professionals and to maintain a national register of all licensed medical practitioners and a separate national register of Community Health Providers.
  • About:
    • Holding of a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate super-specialty medical education.
    • Holding of a Uniform National Exit Test for granting license to practice medicine as medical practitioners and for enrolment in the State Register or the National Register and it shall also be the basis for admission to the postgraduate broad-speciality courses.
    • Permission for establishment of new medical college, for starting postgraduate courses and to increase the number of seats to be obtained by medical institutions.
    • Recognition of medical qualifications granted by universities and medical institutions in India and outside India and also for recognition of medical qualifications granted by statutory and other bodies in India as listed in the Schedule.
    • Maintenance of a National Register containing the name, address, recognised qualifications possessed by a licensed medical practitioner.
    • Grant of limited licence to practice medicine at mid-level to persons connected with the modern scientific medical profession to be called Community Health Providers.
    • Constitution of a National Medical Commission Fund for crediting government grants, fees, penalties, and charges.
    • The repeal of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and for dissolution of the Medical Council of India.
Right To Information (Amendment) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • The Bill changes the terms and conditions of service of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) at the centre and in states.
  • Term & Conditions of Service:
    • The Amendment Act allows the Central government to notify the term of office for CIC and ICs while as per RTI Act, 2005, CIC at the central level and ICs at the state level will hold office for a term of 5 years.
  • Quantum of Salary:
    • According to the Act the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of CIC and ICs will be determined by the central government.
    • While as per the RTI Act the salary of CIC and ICs will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC) respectively.
  • Ambit Of Rti Expanded:
    • The following are “public authorities” as per the RTI Act of 2005 and therefore fall under its ambit:
      • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government
      • Office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI)
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/right-to-information-act-mandate-features-and-challenges/
Aadhaar Amendment Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Parliament. Now, no individual can be compelled to provide proof of Aadhaar number unless provided by the law and that Aadhaar number on a voluntary basis shall be accepted as a KYC document.
  • Key highlights are:
    • Provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder.
    • Provides for use of a twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual.
    • Gives an option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of eighteen years.
    • Permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority; The authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament or is prescribed to be in the interest of State by the Central Government.
    • Allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on a voluntary basis as an acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
    • Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication.
    • Provides for the establishment of the Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.
    • Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of the Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/aadhaar-targetted-delivery-of-financial-and-other-subsidies-benefits-and-services-act-2016/
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • The Act replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Key features of the Act include:
  • Definition of consumer:
    • A consumer is defined as a person who buys any goods or avails a service for a consideration. It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purposes.
    • It covers transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing, or direct selling.
  • Rights of consumers:
    • Six consumer rights have been defined in the Act, including the right to:
      1. be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
      2. be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;
      3. be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and
      4. seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.
      5. To be heard and assured that consumers interest will receive due consideration
      6. Right to consumer awareness.
  • Central Consumer Protection Authority:
    • The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers.
    • It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.
    • The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/consumer-protection-act-2019/
Scheduled Castes And The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018
  • Context:
    • Dealing with the misuse of provisions of the SC/ST Act and lodging of false cases. Three-judge bench in 2018 directed a preliminary inquiry that may be conducted by a DSP-rank officer to find out whether the allegations qualify for a case under the SC/ST Act and whether the allegations are frivolous or motivated.
  • Prevention of Atrocities Act:
    • The Act prohibits the commission of offences against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and establishes special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims. It is empowered by Art 17 of the constitution.
  • What are the amendments to the Act?
    • In 2018, the Supreme Court stated that for persons accused of committing an offence under the Act, approval of the Senior Superintendent of Police will be required before an arrest is made.
    • Further, the Deputy Superintendent of Police may conduct a preliminary enquiry to find out whether there is a prima facie case under the Act.
    • The amendment states that the investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of an accused.
    • Further, it provides that a preliminary enquiry will not be required for the registration of a First Information Report against a person accused under the Act.
    • [Section 18A has been inserted to nullify conduct of a preliminary enquiry before registration of a FIR, or to seek approval of any authority prior to arrest of an accused, and to restore the provisions of Section 18 of the Act.]
    • The Act states that persons accused of committing an offence under the Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail. The amendment seeks to clarify that this provision will apply despite any judgements or orders of a court that provide otherwise.
Muslim Women (Protection Of Rights On Marriage) Act, 2019
  • Context:
    • This act aims to protect the rights of married Muslim women and to prohibit divorce by pronouncing talaq by their husbands.
  • Key Provisions:
    • Declaration of Talaq:
      • The Act makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.
      • The Act defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.
    • Offence and Penalty:
      • The Act makes a declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years imprisonment with a fine.
      • A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without a warrant.
    • Cognizable Offence:
      • The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by a married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or any person related to her by blood or marriage.
    • Bail:
      • The Act provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused.
      • The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
    • Compounding Offence:
      • The offence may be compounded (i.e. the parties may arrive at a compromise) by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared).
      • The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.
    • Allowance:
      • A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.
      • The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
    • Custody:
      • A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children.
      • The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/the-muslim-women-protection-of-rights-on-marriage-act-2019/
Promulgation Of Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020
  • Context:
    • This shall open up the coal mining sector completely, enabling anyone with finances and expertise to bid for blocks and sell the coal freely to any buyer of their choice.
    • The Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 that will amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act 2015.
    • The Lok Sabha has given its nod to the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill. 
  • Under the ordinance:
    • Allocation of coal/lignite blocks for composite prospecting licence cum mining lease has been provided.
    • Requirement of previous approval in cases where allocation of blocks was made by Central Govt has been dispensed with.
    • Removal of restriction on end-use of coal: Companies will be allowed to carry on coal mining operation for own consumption, sale or for any other purposes, as may be specified by the central government.
    • Transfer of statutory clearances to new bidders: The Bill provides that the various approvals, licenses, and clearances given to the previous lessee will be extended to the successful bidder for a period of two years.During this period, the new lessee will be allowed to continue mining operations.
    • Advance action for auction: Under the MMDR Act, mining leases for specified minerals (minerals other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals) are auctioned on the expiry of the lease period.  The Bill provides that state governments can take advance action for auction of a mining lease before its expiry.
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act of 2013
  • Context:
    • Recently, the Supreme Court of India reaffirmed its February 2018 ruling on Section 24 on land acquisition compensation awards in the Indore Development Authority case.
    • The five-judge Bench also overruled an earlier 2014 ruling under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.
  • Key highlights are:
    • The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act was promulgated in 2013.
    • It replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, a nearly 120-year-old law enacted during British rule.
    • It regulates the land acquisition and lays down the procedure and rules for granting compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement to the affected persons in India.
    • It has provisions to provide fair compensation to those whose land is taken away, brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land to set up factories or buildings, infrastructural projects, and assures rehabilitation of those affected.
    • It establishes regulations for land acquisition as a part of India’s massive industrialization drive driven by public-private partnerships.
Drugs & Cosmetics Act,1940
  • The Act regulates the import, manufacture, and distribution of drugs in India.
  • The primary objective of the act is to ensure that the drugs and cosmetics sold in India are safe, effective, and conform to state quality standards.
  • It was initially known as the Drug Act and was passed in 1940 and after several amendments is known as the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/pharmaceutical-sector-in-india-institution-laws-and-regulation/
Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988
  • Context:
    • Section 2(c)(xi) of the Prevention of Corruption Act states that a “public servant” includes “any person who is a vice­-chancellor or member of any governing body, professor, reader, lecturer or any other teacher or employee, by whatever designation called, of any university.
  • Deemed University
    • The status of deemed-to-be-university is awarded in accordance with Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.
    • An Institution of Higher Education, other than universities, working at a very high standard in a specific area of study, can be declared by the Central Government on the advice of the UGC as an Institution ‘deemed-to-be-university’.
    • Institutions that are ‘deemed-to-be-university’ enjoy the academic status and privileges of a university.
Sarfaesi Act
  • Context:
    • Recently, the Supreme Court held that Co-operative banks established under a State law and multi-State level co-operative societies come within the ambit of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (Sarfaesi) Act of 2002.
  • Sarfaesi Act:
    • Banks utilize Sarfaesi Act as an effective tool for bad loans (Non-Performing Asset) recovery.
    • The Sarfaesi Act is effective only against secured loans where banks can enforce the underlying security.
  • Following are the main objectives of the Sarfaesi Act:
    • Provides the legal framework for securitization activities in India.
    • It gives the procedures for the transfer of NPAs to asset reconstruction companies for the reconstruction of the assets.
    • Enforces the security interest without the Court’s intervention.
    • Gives powers to banks and financial institutions to take over the immovable property that is pledged to enforce the recovery of debt.
    • A major feature of Sarfaesi is that it promotes the setting up of asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) and asset securitization companies (SCs) to deal with NPAs accumulated with the banks and financial institutions.
Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005
  • Context:
    • In a significant judgment aimed at ensuring “right of equality” of a daughter in a Hindu Undivided Family, the Supreme Court has held that women will have coparcenary right, or equal right to family property by birth, irrespective of whether her father was alive or not as on September 9, 2005 i.e, the day when Parliament recognised this right by amending the Hindu Succession Act of 1956.
  • Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005
    • The Mitakshara school of Hindu law, a personal law, codified as the Hindu Succession Act,1956 used to govern the succession and inheritance of property in Hindus.
    • Under this law, only males was recognized as the legal heirs or coparceners and women were not a coparcener in the family and thus were denied the right to inherit their father’s property.
    • As a result of this discrimination, Section 6 of the Act was amended in the year 2005 to make a daughter of a coparcener also a coparcener by birth in her own right in the same manner as the son.
    • The law also gave the daughter the same rights and liabilities in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son.
Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances (Ndps) Act, 1985
  • Context:
    • The government is all set to bring Tramadol, a painkiller, under the ambit of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act
    • The move is aimed at checking its abuse
  • Key highlights are:
    • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits a person to produce/manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • As per the NDPS Act, narcotic drugs include coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, and poppy straw.
    • Psychotropic substance means any natural or synthetic material or any salt or preparation covered under the 1971 convention on Psychotropic substances.
    • The following conventions various forms of control to limit the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances:
      • The UN Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961
      • The Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971
      • The Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988
    • India is a signatory to all these three.
    • Since then act was amended thrice (1988, 2001 and 2014).
    • NDPS Act has made stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
    • As per the NDPS Act, the minimum sentence for dealing with drugs is 10 years rigorous imprisonment coupled with a fine of Rs. 1 lakh.
    • No bail is granted for those persons booked under this act.
    • In addition, no relief can be obtained by the drug convicts through suspension, remission, and commutation of sentences passed.
    • Even worse, NDPS Act prescribes capital punishment for repeat offenders of drug trafficking even though the offence cannot be called a heinous crime.
Central Sanskrit Universities Act
  • Context:
    • The Bill is intended to convert India’s three deemed-to-be Sanskrit universities — (i) Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, (ii) Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, and (iii) Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati — into Central Sanskrit Universities.
  • The following are the salient features of the Act:
    • What the universities will do:
      • disseminate and advance knowledge for the promotion of Sanskrit,
      • make special provisions for integrated courses in humanities, social sciences, and science, and train manpower for the overall development and preservation of Sanskrit and allied subjects.
    • Powers and functions”
      • prescribing courses of study and conducting training programmes,
      • granting degrees, diplomas, and certificates,
      • providing facilities through a distance education system,
      • conferring autonomous status on a college or an institution,
      • providing instructions for education in Sanskrit and allied subjects. '
    • University authorities
      • A court, which will review the policies of the university and suggest measures for its development.
      • An Executive Council, which will be the principal executive body. The 15-member council will include the Vice-Chancellor appointed by the Centre, who will be the chairperson; a joint secretary of the Ministry of HRD, and two eminent academics from the field of Sanskrit or allied subjects.
      • The council will, among other functions, create teaching and academic posts and their appointment, and manage the revenue and property of the university.
      • An Academic and Activity Council, which will supervise academic policies.
      • A Board of Studies, which will approve the subjects for research and recommend measures to improve standards of teaching.
Essential Commodities Act
  • Context:
    • Govt brings masks and hand sanitizers under the Essential Commodities Act.
    • Under the EC Act, powers of the Central Government have already been delegated to the States by way of orders from 1972 to 1978.  The States/UTs therefore may take action against the offenders.
  • Essential Commodities Act:
    • The ECA was enacted way back in 1955.
    • It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply, and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
    • The list of items under the Act includes drugs, fertilisers, pulses, and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.
    • The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.
    • Under the Act, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.
National Rubber policy
  • Context:
    • The Department of Commerce has brought out the National Rubber Policy 2019.
  • Key highlights are:
    • The National Rubber Policy includes several provisions to support the Natural Rubber (NR) production sector and the entire rubber industry value chain. 
    • The Policy covers new planting and replanting of rubber, support for growers, processing and marketing of natural rubber, labour shortage, grower forums, external trade, Centre-State integrated strategies, research, training, rubber product manufacturing and export, climate change concerns and carbon market
    • National Rubber Policy is based on the short term and long term strategies identified by the Task Force constituted on the rubber sector for mitigating problems faced by rubber growers in the country.
    • The Task Force held extensive consultations with various stakeholders of the rubber sector.
    • The policy is expected to benefit natural rubber growers and promote the natural rubber production sector.
    • Developmental and research activities for supporting the Natural Rubber sector for the welfare of growers are carried out through Rubber Board by implementing the scheme Sustainable and Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector in the Medium Term Framework (MTF).
    • The developmental activities include financial and technical assistance for planting, supply of quality planting materials, support for grower forums, training, and skill development programme.
National Education Policy 2020
  • Context:
    • The coronavirus outbreak has majorly impacted the education sector in India. Union Minister of Human Resource and Development released reforms and education plans, National Education Policy 2020, for students that are based on the Kasturirangan committee report.
  • Highlights of the National Education Policy 2020:
    • The policy covers all the 3 stages of education, that is school education, higher education, and professional education 
    • It includes even agricultural education, legal education, medical education, technical education, vocational education, teacher education, and research and innovation.
    • Emphasizes on The early child care and education and includes it in the Ministry of Education [Ministry of HRD will be called the Ministry of Education from now on]
    • The policy also tries to focus on certain foundational skills that children should have in the proposed new structure of 5+3+3+4.
  • Covered in detail in Samjaho's Corner: https://samajho.com/upsc/national-education-policy-2020-explained/


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