Table of Contents
- Bills and Act
- Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021
- Uttar Pradesh Population Bill, 2021
- Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021
- Indian Marine Fisheries Bill 2021
- Essential Defence Services Bill
- DICGC (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021
- Inland Vessels Bill 2021
- Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021
- Air Quality Commission Bill for National Capital Region
- Taxation Laws Amendment Bill To Nullify Retrospective Tax Demand Provision
- Lok Sabha clears Bill restoring States’ rights to specify OBC groups
- Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021
- The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed in Lok Sabha
- Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act)
- National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill 2021
- National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021
- The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021
- Epidemic Diseases Act 1897
- Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991
- Right to Information (RTI) act
- Trade Marks Act of 1999
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- National Security Act (NSA) of 1980
- Model Tenancy Act
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)
- Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act,2000
- Public Safety Act
- POCSO Act
- Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act
- Official Secrets Act
- The Code on Social Security 2020
- Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act of 2016
- Amended land laws of Jammu and Kashmir
- Special marriage act
- Anti-defection law
- Jammu And Kashmir's Roshni Act
- Amendment To Karnataka Land Reforms Act
- Triple Talaq
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
- Black Magic Act
- Sand mining Act
Bills and Act
Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021
Context: Women and Child Development Ministry has invited comments and suggestions from all stakeholders on the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.
- The objective of the bill is to prevent and counter-trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
- It will provide care, protection, and rehabilitation to the victims while respecting their rights, creating a supportive legal, economic and social environment for them, and ensuring the prosecution of offenders.
- This act shall apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
Tackling Human Trafficking in India
- It is regarded as one of the ugliest crimes on the planet. It is also an enormously lucrative business, and there are significant challenges in determining its prevalence throughout the country.
- According to statistics of India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), trafficking has manifold objectives. These include forced labour, prostitution, and other forms of sexual exploitation.
- According to the NCRB, three out of five people trafficked in 2016 were children below 18 years. Of these, 4,911 were girls, and 4,123 were boys.
- NCRB data shows that sexual exploitation for prostitution was the second major purpose for human trafficking in India after forced labour.
- Victims of trafficking in India disproportionately represent people from traditionally disadvantaged gender, caste, and religious groups.
- People from these groups have been systemically disadvantaged in education, access to productive resources and spaces, and legal remedies enhancing their vulnerability.
What are the constitutional & legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India?
- Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1).
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA), is the premier legislation to prevent trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
- Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC, which provides comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Uttar Pradesh Population Bill, 2021
Context: The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has prepared a proposed draft Bill for population control, under which a two-child norm will be implemented.
About the bill:
- Explaining the reasons for bringing out the draft Bill, the Commission said there were limited ecological and economic resources in Uttar Pradesh. It was necessary to control and stabilize the population to promote sustainable development with more equitable distribution.
How does it seek to enforce the ‘two-child norm?
- After the law comes into force, a person with more than two children will be debarred from several benefits such as government-sponsored welfare schemes and contesting elections to the local authority or anybody of the local self-government. Ration card units will be limited to four persons.
- A person contravening the law will also become ineligible to apply for State government jobs and be barred from promotion in government services and any kind of subsidy.
- The provisions will come into force one year after the date of the publication of the gazette.
- As per the draft, public servants have provided several incentives if they adopt the norm by undergoing voluntary sterilization.
- The incentives include a 3% increase in the employer’s contribution fund under national pension; two additional increments during the entire service; subsidy towards the purchase of plot or house site or building a house etc.,
- A public servant or common citizen who adopts a one-child norm will receive additional benefits such as free health care facility and insurance coverage to the child until 20.
Sops for sterilisation:
- A couple living below the poverty line who have only one child and undergo voluntary sterilization shall be eligible for a one-time ₹80,000 if the single child is a boy and ₹1 lakh if it is a girl.
Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021
Context: Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 was introduced in Rajya Sabha.
About Marine Aids to Navigation Bill
- It was passed in Lok Sabha in March 2021.
- It seeks to provide a framework for developing, maintaining, and managing aids to navigation in India and repeals the Lighthouse Act, 1927.
- Its objective is to ensure compliance with the obligation under the maritime treaties and international instruments to which India is a party.
- It also proposes imparting training and certification to the operator of aids to navigation and developing its historical, educational, and cultural value.
- It applies to India, including various maritime zones such as territorial waters, continental shelf, and exclusive economic zone.
Key Features of the Bill
- Aid to navigation: It defines aid to navigation as a device, system, or service external to the vessels designed and operated to enhance the safety and efficiency of vessels and vessel traffic navigation.
- A vessel includes a ship, boat, sailing vessel, fishing vessel, submersible, and mobile offshore drilling units.
- Vessel traffic service is defined as improving the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protecting the environment.
- Director-General (DG) of Aids to Navigation: It provides that the central government will appoint a DG, Deputy Director Generals, and Directors for districts (which the centre may demarcate).
- The DG will advise the central government on matters related to aids to navigation, among others.
- Central Advisory Committee (CAC): The central government may appoint a CAC consisting of persons representing the interests affected by the Bill or having special knowledge of the sector.
- The government may consult the CAC on matters including the establishment of aids to navigation, additions, alteration, or removal of, any such aids, cost of any proposal relating to such aids, or appointment of any sub-committee.
- Management of General Aids to Navigation and vessel traffic services: The central government will be responsible for developing, maintaining, and managing all general aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.
- Training and certification: It provides that no person shall be allowed to operate on any aid to navigation or any vessel traffic service in any place unless he holds a valid training certificate.
- The central government will accredit training organisations for imparting training to, or conduct assessments of, persons in the operation of aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.
- Levy of marine aids to navigation dues: It provides that marine aids to navigation dues will be levied and collected for every ship arriving at or departing from any port in India, at the rate specified by the central government from time to time.
- Any dispute related to the marine aids to navigation dues, expenses, or costs, will be heard and determined by a civil court having jurisdiction at the place where the dispute arose.
- Heritage Lighthouse: The central government may designate any aid to navigation under its control as a heritage lighthouse.
- In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes.
- The proposed legislation encompasses a major shift from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.
- Penalties: It provides certain offences and penalties for instances such as intentionally obstructing any aid to navigation or vessel traffic service, which will be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine up to one lakh rupees, or both.
- Intentionally causing damage to or destruction of any aid to navigation or vessel traffic services will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, a fine up to five lakh rupees, or both.
Indian Marine Fisheries Bill 2021
Context: Tamil Nadu's chief minister has urged the Union government not to move the Indian Marine Fisheries (IMF) Bill, 2021, during the monsoon session of Parliament.
About IMF Bill, 2021
- It repeals the Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act, 1981.
- It also provides for the sustainable development of fisheries resources in India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- Section 3-No foreign fishing vessel shall be permitted to engage in fishing and fishing-related activities in the maritime zones of India.
- It aims at responsible harnessing of fisheries in the High Seas by the Indian Fishing Vessels.
- It also emphasizes the promotion of livelihoods of small-scale and artisanal fishers and related matters.
- Creation of a Marine Fisheries Development Fund into which the license fees and other collections will be remitted. The Fund, in turn, is used for the development and management of fisheries and the welfare and safety of fishers.
- Section 4 of the Bill will restrict the small-scale fisher to the territorial sea.
- Section 4- Indian fishing vessels shall engage in fishing and fishing-related activities within the exclusive economic zone and the high seas under a license issued by the licensing authority.
- It does not emphasize biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, conservation, and sustainability. It does not acknowledge the need to follow the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)/UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF).
- It also fails to acknowledge the FAO/UN Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines, regarded as the Magna Carta of small, artisanal fishers worldwide.
- Criminalization and imprisonment and use of force against fishers, levy of charges, levy of huge penalties, etc., will have a huge impact on the fishers.
Essential Defence Services Bill
Context: Recently, the Essential Defence Services Bill was introduced in Loksabha.
What is the Bill?
- The bill seeks to replace the ordinance issued in June 2021 and prohibits any agitation and strike by anyone engaged in the essential defence services.
- It aims at preventing the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on strike.
- The Government has stated that it is meant to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services to secure the nation's security and the life and property of the public at large.
What is Essential Defence Services (EDS)?
- According to the bill, EDS include any service in:
- Any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production of goods or equipment required for defence-related purposes.
- Any establishment of the armed forces or connected with them or defence.
- It also includes services that, if ceased, would affect the safety of the establishment engaged in such services or its employees.
- In addition, the government may declare any service as an essential defence service if its cessation would affect the:
- Production of defence equipment or goods.
- Operation or maintenance of industrial establishments or units engaged in such production.
- Repair or maintenance of products connected with defence.
Definition of Strike
- It is defined as cessation of work by a body of persons acting together. It includes:
- Mass casual leave and Coordinated refusal of any number of persons to continue to work or accept employment.
- Refusal to work overtime, where such work is necessary for the maintenance of essential defence services.
- Any other conduct which results in, or is likely to result in, disruption of work in essential defence services.
Public Utility Service
- The bill tends to amend the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, to include essential defence services under public utility services.
- The undertakings which supply the basic necessary services such as electricity, water, gas, power, transport etc., come under the purview of the public utility services.
DICGC (Amendment) Bill, 2021
Context: Cabinet approved the amendment to Deposit Insurance Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) Bill, 2021.
What are the Amendments Suggested?
- It would provide account holders with up to Rs 5 lakh within 90 days of bank failure, even if a bank is put under a moratorium by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- It increases deposit insurance coverage and reduces the time taken for depositors to recover sums if a bank comes under financial stress.
- As per the bill, each depositor's bank deposit is insured up to Rs 5 lakh in each bank for both principal and interest.
- An increase of the insured amount from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh will cover 98.3 per cent of all deposit accounts and 50.9 per cent of the deposit value.
- In 2020, the Government raised insurance cover on deposit five-folds to Rs 5 lakh to support depositors of ailing lenders like Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank.
What does the DICGC Insure?
- The DICGC insures all deposits such as savings, fixed, current, recurring, etc. deposits except the following types of deposits:
- Deposits of foreign Governments.
- Deposits of Central/State Governments.
- Inter-bank deposits.
- Deposits of the State Land Development Banks with the State co-operative bank.
- Any amount due on account of and deposit received outside India.
- Any amount, which the corporation has specifically exempted with the previous approval of RBI.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021
Context: The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Role of District Magistrates:
- Entrusting District Magistrates (DM) with the responsibility of care and protection of vulnerable children in light of the prevailing inadequacies in the system.
- It includes authorizing District Magistrate, including Additional District Magistrate, to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the Juvenile Justice Act to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability.
- As per the amended provisions of the Act, any Child Care Institutions shall be registered after considering the recommendations of the District Magistrate.
- The DM shall independently evaluate the functioning of District Child Protection Units, Child Welfare Committees (CWC), Juvenile Justice Boards, Specialized Juvenile Police Units, Child care Institutions, etc.
Eligibility Parameters in CWC:
- The eligibility parameters for the appointment of CWC members have been redefined.
- Criteria for disqualification of the CWC members have also been introduced to ensure that only the persons capable of rendering quality service with requisite competence and integrity are appointed to CWC.
Inland Vessels Bill 2021
Context: Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Inland Vessels Bill 2021.
About Inland Vessels Bill 2021
- It replaces the Inland Vessels Act, 1917, which provides for the regulation of inland vessel navigation by states, including the registration of vessels and safe carriage of goods and passengers.
- The Bill seeks to introduce a uniform regulatory framework for inland vessel navigation across the country.
- Mechanically propelled inland vessels: The Bill defines such vessels to include ships, boats, sailing vessels, container vessels, and ferries.
- Construction or modification of such vessels will require prior approval of a designated authority, as prescribed by the central government.
- Operation: All such vessels must have a certificate of survey and a certificate of registration.
- Vessels with Indian ownership must be registered with the Registrar of Inland Vessels (appointed by the state government).
- The registration certificate will be valid across the country.
- Navigation safety: Vessels will be required to follow certain specifications for signals and equipment to ensure navigation safety, as specified by the central government.
- Inquiry into accidents: All accidents aboard vessels must be reported to the head office of the nearest police station, as well as to a state government-appointed authority.
- The state may require the District Magistrate to inquire into these matters and submit a report recommending actions to be taken.
- Human Resource Requirement: The central government will prescribe the minimum number of vessels must-have for various roles.
- Prevention of pollution: Vessels will discharge or dispose of sewage, as per the standards specified by the central government.
- State governments will grant vessels a certificate of pollution prevention in a form as prescribed by the central government.
- Database on inland vessels: The central government will maintain an electronic centralised record of data on inland vessels.
- Development Fund: It provides a development fund that will be utilized for various purposes, including emergency preparedness, containment of pollution, and boosting inland water navigation.
- non-mechanically propelled inland vessels: It empowers state governments to delegate certain functions related to non-mechanically propelled inland vessels to their local governments.
Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021
Context: Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021, had been passed by Lok Sabha.
About Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021
- It seeks to replace the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, thus abolishing tribunals or authorities under various laws by amending various statutes to streamline the justice delivery system.
- It aims to withdraw and then replace the appellate tribunals under the Cinematograph Act, the Copyright Act, the Customs Act, the Patents Act, the Airport Authority of India Act, the Trade Marks Act, and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act.
- It also proposes to include provisions related to the composition of selection committees and term of office in the Act itself.
- The Finance Act, 2017 specifies that the Chairperson and Members of the Tribunals will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a Search-cum-Selection Committee. The Bill amends the 2017 Act to specifies that these Committees will consist of:
- The Chief Justice of India, or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him, as the Chairperson (with a second casting vote in case of a tie)
- The central government nominated two Secretaries.
- The sitting or outgoing Chairperson, a retired Supreme Court Judge, or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court.
- The Secretary of the Ministry under which the Tribunal is constituted (with no voting right).
- In 2017, seven tribunals were abolished or merged based on functional similarity. It would reduce another layer of litigation by the abolition of tribunals or authorities.
Air Quality Commission Bill for National Capital Region
Context: The Lok Sabha passed the Bill to formalise the Commission for Air Quality Management for National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.
More about the Bill:
- The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020, was promulgated in October 2020.
- The Ordinance provides for the constitution of a Commission for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in the national capital region (NCR) and adjoining areas.
- Adjoining areas refer to areas in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh where any source of pollution may harm air quality in the NCR.
Functions of the Commission:
- Functions of the Commission include:
- Coordinating actions taken under the Ordinance by concerned state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh).
- Planning and executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in the region.
- Providing a framework for the identification of air pollutants.
- Training and creating a special workforce to deal with issues related to air pollution, and
- Preparing various action plans such as increasing plantation and addressing stubble burning.
- Note: The Centre, facing flak earlier this year from farmers protesting the farm laws, had committed to removing a clause in the Air Commission Bill that would penalise farmers for burning stubble, an important contributor to noxious air quality.
- The text of the Bill does away with this clause.
- The Commission will consist of:
- A Chairperson, two Joint Secretaries from the central government, three persons with knowledge and expertise related to air pollution as independent technical members, and three members from non-government organisations.
- The Commission will also include ex-officio members:
- The central government, concerned state governments, and technical members from CPCB, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and NITI Aayog. Additionally, the Commission may appoint representatives of certain ministries as associate members.
- The Chairperson and members of the Commission will have a tenure of three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.
- The central government will make the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the Commission on the recommendations of a Selection Committee.
- The Committee will be headed by the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- Further, the Committee will include the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister-in-charge of:
- Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and Ministry of Science and Technology.
Taxation Laws Amendment Bill To Nullify Retrospective Tax Demand Provision
Context: Recently, the Union Minister of Finance introduced the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the Lok Sabha to nullify retrospective tax demand provision.
What is Retrospective Tax?
- It means creating an additional charge or levy of tax by an amendment from a specified date in the past.
- It increases the taxpayer's burden as it creates an additional levy on the transaction, which is already concluded when the provisions of the law were different.
- In India, the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961, were amended by the Finance Act, 2012 to impose tax liability on gains arising from indirect transfer of Indian assets with retrospective effect.
- Indirect transfers are when foreign entities own shares or assets in India. The shares of such foreign entities are transferred instead of a direct transfer of the underlying assets in India.
- In the case of indirect transfer, the transferor and company of which shares are being transferred will usually belong to a country other than India, by which transaction would be out of tax.
Why India Introduced Retrospective Tax?
- The Supreme Court verdict in the Vodafone case (2012) held that gains arising from indirect transfer of Indian assets are not taxable under the then-existing provisions of the Income Tax Act 1961.
- After that, the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 were amended by the Finance Act, 2012 with retrospective effect to clarify that gains arising from the sale of a share of a foreign company are taxable in India if such share, directly or indirectly, derives its value substantially from the assets located in India.
- The Finance Act, 2012 also provided for validation of demand and thus permitted tax authorities to reopen and/or investigate transactions from 2006 for evasion of capital gains tax.
- Capital gain is the profit received through the sale of a capital asset that falls under the income category. Therefore, a tax needs to be paid on the income that is received called capital gains tax.
Issues with Retrospective Tax in India
- It militates against the principle of tax certainty (creation and maintenance of stable regulatory and policy frameworks for tax administration, taxpayers, and tax compliance).
- Thus, it disproportionately undermines the principle of legal certainty, which is one of the core elements of the Fair and Equitable Transfer standard specifically and of the rule of law generally.
- It drives up the cost of doing business due to the increase in the risk of doing business.
- The higher the risk, the greater the return demanded by investment in India, and it will necessarily impact economic growth and efficiency.
- In 2020, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that the Indian government was wrong in applying retrospective tax.
What is the new Amendment?
- It proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to state that the effect of the 2012 amendment will be prospective in nature.
- As per the proposed changes, any tax demand made on transactions before May 2012 shall be dropped, and any taxes already collected shall be repaid, albeit without interest.
- To be eligible, the concerned taxpayers would have to drop all pending cases against the government and promise not to make any demands for damages or costs.
Lok Sabha clears Bill restoring States’ rights to specify OBC groups
Context: The Lok Sabha passed the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2021.
Why is the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill needed?
- The amendment was necessitated after the Supreme Court in its Maratha reservation ruling in May upheld the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act but said the president, based on the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) recommendations, would determine which communities would be included on the state OBC list.
- In identifying SEBCs, the President shall be guided by the Commission set up under Article 338B; the state shall also seek its advice regarding policies framed by it.
- If the commission prepares a report concerning identification matters, such a report has to be shared with the state government, which is bound to deal with it, following provisions of Article 338B. However, the final determination culminates in the exercise undertaken by the President.
- The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 had inserted Articles 338B and Article 342A (with two clauses) after Article 342. Articles 338B deals with the structure, duties, and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes. Article 342A says that the president, in consultation with the governor, would specify the socially and educationally backward classes.
- The amendment is necessary to restore the powers of the state governments to maintain a state list of OBCs, which was taken away by a Supreme Court interpretation. If the state list gets abolished, nearly 671 OBC communities will lose access to reservations in educational institutions and appointments. This would adversely impact nearly one-fifth of the total OBC communities.
What will the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill introduce?
- It will amend clauses 1 and 2 of Article 342A and also introduce a new clause 3. The Bill will also amend Articles 366 (26c) and 338B (9).
- It is designed to clarify that the states can maintain the “state list” of OBCs as was the system before the Supreme Court judgment. Articles 366 (26c) define socially and educationally backward classes.
- The “state list” will be completely taken out of the ambit of the president and will be notified by the state Assembly as per the proposed Bill.
What is the procedure to get 127th Constitution Amendment Bill passed?
- An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated only by introducing a Bill in either House of Parliament.
- The bill must then be passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a special majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting. In case of disagreement between the two Houses, there is no provision for a joint sitting.
- If the amendment seeks to make any change in any of the provisions mentioned in Article 368, it must be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the states.
- Although there is no prescribed time limit for ratification, it must be completed before the amending bill is presented to the president for his assent.
Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
Context: Recently, Parliament passed the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
About Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- It is an amended version of the Factoring Regulation Act, 2011.
- It is expected to improve credit availability to micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) since more non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) will now be eligible to offer factoring services to MSMEs.
What is Factoring?
- Factoring is an arrangement where a business sells its receivables to an interested buyer.
- Receivable means outstanding bills of sale against which it is yet to collect cash.
- The buyer who purchases the receivables from the business later collects cash from the party that owes these bills.
- The buyer makes a profit since he usually purchases the outstanding receivables at a discounted price from the seller.
Benefits of the new law
- It leads to greater choice for people in business in the MSME sector when financial institutions such as NBFCs are willing to assume the risk of collecting pending receivables.
- Greater availability of factoring services can thus pave the way for the entry of new people into the business.
- The risk associated with collecting receivables can prevent many who are risk-averse from entering the MSME space at all.
- MSMEs, at the moment, do have access to overdraft facilities offered by banks for which their receivables are sometimes used as collateral. The banks can hold overdraft borrowers accountable if a receivable submitted as collateral turns out to be uncollectible.
- In the case of factoring, the entire risk of collecting the receivable is usually transferred to the NBFC or bank.
- It will bring in over 9,000 NBFCs into the factoring business.
- Earlier, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed only NBFCs whose primary business was factoring receivables. More than 50% of their balance sheet consisted of factoring-related assets to offer factoring services.
- Thus, only a total of seven large NBFCs were deemed as eligible to engage in factoring through the Trade Receivables and Discounting (TReDS), an online factoring platform set up by the government.
General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021
Context: The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021, was passed by Rajya Sabha without discussion.
More about the Bill:
- The Bill seeks to amend the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972. The Act was enacted to nationalise all private companies undertaking general insurance business in India.
- The Bill seeks to provide greater private sector participation in the public sector insurance companies regulated under the Act.
- The businesses of the companies nationalised under the Act were restructured in four subsidiary companies of General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC):
- National Insurance
- New India Assurance
- Oriental Insurance
- United India Insurance
- The Act was subsequently amended in 2002 to transfer the control of these four subsidiary companies from GIC to the central government, thereby making them independent companies. Since 2000, GIC exclusively undertakes the reinsurance business.
Specification of the bill:
- Government shareholding threshold: The Act requires that shareholding of the central government in the specified insurers (the above five companies) must be at least 51%. The Bill removes this provision.
- Change in definition of general insurance business: The Act defines general insurance business as fire, marine or miscellaneous insurance business.
- It excludes capital redemption and annuity certain businesses from the definition. Capital redemption insurance involves paying a sum of money on a specific date by the insurer after the beneficiary pays premiums periodically. Under annuity certain insurance, the insurer pays the beneficiary over a period of time.
- The Bill removes this definition and instead refers to the definition provided by the Insurance Act, 1938. Under the Insurance Act, capital redemption and annuity certain are included within the general insurance business.
- Transfer of control from the government: The Bill provides that the Act will not apply to the specified insurers from the date the central government relinquishes control of the insurer. Control means:
- The power to appoint a majority of directors of a specified insurer.
- To have power over its management or policy decisions.
- The Act empowers the central government to notify the terms and conditions of service of employees of the specified insurers.
- The Bill provides that schemes formulated by the central government will be deemed to have been adopted by the insurer. The board of directors of the insurer may change these schemes or frame new policies. Further, powers of the central government under such schemes (framed under the Act) will be transferred to the insurer's board of directors.
- Liabilities of directors: The Bill specifies that a director of a specified insurer, who is not a whole-time director, will be held liable only for certain acts. These include acts that have been committed:
- With his knowledge, attributable through board processes, and
- With his consent or connivance or where he had not acted diligently.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021
Context: The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Lok Sabha.
The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- The amendments seek to promote “harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive” and provide for rules made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi to be “consistent with the rules of the House of the People” or the Lok Sabha.
- The amendments also propose to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to exercise powers entrusted to him under proviso to Clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution.
Special provisions for Delhi
- The 69th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1991 provided a special status to the Union Territory of Delhi, and redesigned it the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and designated the administrator of Delhi as the lieutenant (lt.) governor.
- It created a legislative assembly and a council of ministers for Delhi. Previously, Delhi had a metropolitan council and an executive council. The strength of the assembly is fixed at 70 members, directly elected by the people.
- The elections are conducted by the election commission of India. The assembly can make laws on all the matters of the State List and the Concurrent List except the three matters of the State List, that is, public order, police, and land.
- But, the laws of Parliament prevail over those made by the Assembly. The strength of the council of ministers is fixed at ten per cent of the total strength of the assembly.
- The chief minister is appointed by the President (not by the lt. governor). The other ministers are appointed by the president on the advice of the chief minister.
- The council of ministers headed by the chief minister's aid and advise the Lt. Governor in the exercise of his functions except in so far as he is required to act at his discretion.
- In brief, in case of failure of constitutional machinery, the president can impose his rule in the territory. This can be done on the report of the lt. governor or otherwise. This provision resembles Article 356 which deals with the imposition of the President’s Rule in the states.
- The lt. governor is empowered to promulgate ordinances during recess of the assembly
- But he cannot promulgate an ordinance when the assembly is dissolved or suspended. Further, no such ordinance can be promulgated or withdrawn without the prior permission of the President.
Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed in Lok Sabha
- The Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was unanimously passed by Lok Sabha.
- The Bill will replace the Salary, Allowances, And Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 which was earlier passed by the Union Cabinet in April 2020.
- Aim of the Bill:
- It reduces the basic salary of MPs by 30% for one year to meet the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Under this, the government also amended certain Rules under the 1954 Act to reduce constituency allowance and office expenses allowance of MPs.
- These amendments have been made for a period of one year effective from April 1, 2020.
- Need for salary reduction:
- As the economy was affected due to the Covid-19 outbreak and funds are needed to fight with the COVID-19 pandemic so this will provide more funds to the government kitty for other schemes and the welfare of the people.
- Earlier this year, the government has suspended the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme for two years (2020-2021 and 2021-2022)
- The consolidated amount of MPLAD Funds for 2 years will go to the consolidated Fund of India.
- How much will the salary cuts help?
- The proposed reduction to the salaries and allowances of MPs and ministers amounts to savings of around Rs 54 crore.
- How are the salaries of MPs are determined?
- Article 106 of the Constitution empowers MPs to determine their salaries through legislation.
- In 1985, Parliament enacted a law that delegated the power to set and revise certain allowances of MPs such as constituency allowance, office allowance, and housing allowance to the central government.
- In 2018, The Finance Act, 2018 provided that the salary, daily allowance, and pension of MPs will be increased every five years, on the basis of the cost inflation index provided under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
- Countries such as Australia and the UK appoint an independent authority for determining the salaries.
What is the MPLAD Scheme?
Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act)
Context: The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act).
- The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act (1957) is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to regulate the mining sector in India.
- This act forms the basic framework of mining regulation in India.
- This act is applicable to all minerals except minor minerals and atomic minerals.
- It details the process and conditions for acquiring a mining or prospecting license in India.
- Mining minor minerals come under the purview of state governments.
- River sand is considered a minor mineral. For mining and prospecting in forest land, prior permission is needed from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
- The Ministry said the mining sector right now contributes 1.75% to the country’s GDP but the proposed reforms will raise the contribution to 2.5% as it seeks to make a large number of mines available for auctions by resolving legacy issues.
- India’s huge mineral reserves (about 2.7-lakh hectares of mineral land) are locked because of legacy issues created by the provisions of Section 10A (2) (b) and 10A (2) (c). Also, public sector enterprises have for long been sitting on a large number of blocks without producing.
National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill 2021
Context: The Union government tabled the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill 2021 in Lok Sabha.
More about the Bill
- Aim: This Bill will establish the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development to support the development of long-term non-recourse infrastructure financing in India, including the development of the bonds and derivatives markets necessary for infrastructure financing and to carry on the business of financing infrastructure.
- The new entity will help provide finance options for projects in the National Infrastructure Pipeline.
- This also comes at a time when the Union government has decided to substantially increase investment in infrastructure building to help pull the economy out of the covid-19 induced slowdown.
- The financial objective of the institution shall be to lend or invest, directly or indirectly, and seek to attract investments from private sector investors and institutional investors, in infrastructure projects located in or outside India.
National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, 2021
Context: National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill passed by Parliament to regulate the practice of allied and healthcare professionals.
More about the Bill
- The Bill seeks to set up a National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions to regulate and standardize the education and practice of allied and healthcare professionals.
- The functions of the proposed National Commission include framing of standards for education and practice, creating and maintaining an online Central Register of all registered professionals, providing basic standards of education, and providing for a uniform entrance and exit examination.
- Under the legislation, only those enrolled in a State Register or the National Register as a qualified allied and healthcare practitioner would be allowed to practice as an allied and healthcare practitioner.
- The Bill defines an ‘allied health professional’ as an associate, technician, or technologist trained to support the diagnosis and treatment of any illness, disease, injury, or impairment.
- A ‘healthcare professional’ includes a scientist, therapist, or any other professional who studies, advises, researches supervise or provides preventive, curative, rehabilitative, therapeutic, or promotional health services.
- The legislation will increase employment opportunities for the allied and healthcare professionals and provide dignity to their valuable works
The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021
Context: The proposed legislation on cryptocurrencies which is likely to ban digital currencies is expected to provide an exit window to the existing crypto holders of private entities.
More about the bill
- Ban: The proposed legislation on cryptocurrencies which is likely to ban digital currencies — except the one being mooted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — is expected to provide an exit window to the existing crypto holders of private entities.
- Net worth: Indians are believed to hold around the US $ 1.5 billion (around Rs 10,000 crore) in cryptocurrencies, according to unofficial estimates.
- Regulation: The Bill aims to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies and lays the regulatory framework for the launch of an “official digital currency” that was set to be introduced in Parliament during the Budget session, but was not taken up.
- Committee: A high-powered inter-ministerial committee has also previously recommended the banning of all private cryptocurrencies.
- Background: In April 2018, the RBI banned banks and other regulated entities from supporting crypto transactions after digital currencies were used for fraud. In March 2020, the Supreme Court struck down the RBI’s ban on crypto, terming its circular unconstitutional. One of the SC’s reasons for overturning the ban is that cryptocurrencies are unregulated but not illegal in India.
- The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) established the Digital Currency Research Institute to study and undertake research in digital currency and explore technologies through which a central bank digital currency could be implemented.
- DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) and blockchain have been explored extensively by the PBoC as a possible technology for launching CBDC.
- Blockchain gained its popularity from Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency. Since it was infringing the domain of the central bank, which is the sole issuer of currency in an economy, by offering an alternative form of private currency, central banks across the world began to monitor the risks posed by cryptocurrencies.
- However, while monitoring these developments, central banks exhibited an optimism and interest in blockchain-based applications apart from cryptocurrencies.
Epidemic Diseases Act 1897
Context: The Telangana government has declared Mucormycosis as a notifiable disease under Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.
More about Epidemic Diseases Act 1897
- The colonial-era Act empowers the state governments to take special measures and prescribe regulations in an epidemic.
- It also defines penalties for disobedience of these regulations, and provides for immunity for actions taken under the Act “in good faith”.
- The aim of the Epidemic Diseases Act is to help prevent the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.
- Temporary provisions or rules may be made to be followed by the public to combat or avoid the spread of a disease under the act.
Central Government Powers:
- Section 2A of the Act gives the federal government the authority to take action to stop an epidemic from spreading.
- While health is a state responsibility, the Epidemic Diseases Act makes the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare's advisories and directives enforceable.
- It gives the government the authority to inspect any ship arriving or departing from any port, as well as the power to detain anyone planning to sail or arrive in the country.
- Disobedience is punishable under Section 3, which lays out the consequences of disobeying any law or order issued under the Act. These are in accordance with the Indian Penal Code section 188. (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant).
- Section 4 provides legal protection to implementing officers who are acting under the Act.
- In the recent past, the Epidemic Diseases Act has been routinely applied across the country to deal with outbreaks of diseases including Swine Flu and Dengue Fever.
Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991
Context: The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a petition that challenges the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
More about the act:
- The law was enacted to freeze the status of all places of worship in the country as of August 15, 1947.
- The Act was passed in September 1991, over a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid (1992).
- Purpose: Section 3 of the Act bans the conversion of a place of worship or even a section of it into a place of worship of a different religious denomination or a different segment of the same religious denomination.
- The Act also imposes a positive obligation on the State to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed at the time of Independence.
- This legislative obligation on the State to preserve and protect the equality of all faiths is an essential secular feature and one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution.
- Exemption: The disputed site at Ayodhya is exempted from the Act. Due to this exemption, the trial in the Ayodhya case proceeded even after the enforcement of this law.
- The Act also does not apply to any place of worship which is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- Penalty: Section 6 of the Act prescribes a punishment of a maximum of three years imprisonment along with a fine for contravening the provisions of the Act.
Right to Information (RTI) act
Context: The Centre has only rejected 4.3% of all Right to Information (RTI) requests in 2019-20, the lowest ever rate, according to the Central Information Commission’s annual report.
More about the RTI act
- The right to information gained power when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 providing everyone with the right to seek, receive, information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
- The genesis of RTI law started in 1986, through the judgment of Supreme Court in Mr Kulwal v/s Jaipur Municipal Corporation case, in which it directed that freedom of speech and expression provided under Article 19 of the Constitution implies Right to Information, as without information the freedom of speech and expression cannot be fully used by the citizens.
Features of the Act
- Section 1(2): It extends to the whole of India
- Section- 2(j): “Right to Information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority.
- Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo motu disclosure of information by each public authority.
- Section 8 (2) provides for disclosure of information exempted under the Official Secrets (OSA) Act, 1923 if the larger public interest is served.
- The Act also provides for the appointment of Information Commissioners at the Central and State level.
- Time period: In a normal course, information to an applicant is to be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of the application by the public authority.
- Although the Right to Information is not included as a Fundamental Right in the Constitution of India, it protects the fundamental rights to Freedom of Expression and Speech under Article 19(1)(a) and the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 guaranteed by the Constitution.
Trade Marks Act of 1999
Context: The Central Government by way of an Ordinance, has abolished the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) which was established in 2003 under Trade Marks Act, 1999.
More about Trademarks act of 1999
- A trademark is a graphical representation of a product or service that allows it to be distinguished from others.
- It may be words, symbols, sounds, colours, product shapes, visual representations, or packaging, among other things.
- It defends the owner against unfair competition, protects the owner's image, and promotes consumer protection.
- Under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) Ministry of Commerce, trademarks in India are regulated by the Trademarks Act, 1999 (which deals with the precise type of rights one may obtain in respect of trademarks).
- The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks is the implementing entity.
- The latest trademark regulations went into effect on March 6, 2017. The goal is to make the entire trademark registration process easy, painless, and fast.
- Sound marks,3D marks are now registrable; e-filing is encouraged; provisions for well-known marks are included; and there is a special fee structure for individuals, start-ups, and small businesses.
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)
Context: Due to changes made in the FCRA last year, several NGOs were unable to receive international contributions.
More about FCRA (Amendment act) 2020.
- External donation prohibition: The act prohibits public servants from accepting foreign donations.
- Any person in the government's service or pay, or remunerated by the government for performing any public duty, is considered a public servant.
- Certain individuals are also prohibited from accepting any international donation under the FCRA 2010. Election candidates, newspaper editors and publishers, judges, government employees, members of any legislature, and political parties are only a few examples.
- Transfer of foreign contributions: The act makes it illegal to transfer foreign contributions to someone else.
- A party, an organization, or a registered business are all considered “persons” under the Act.
- The FCRA 2010 provides for the transfer of international donations to people who have registered to receive them.
- Aadhaar number for registration: The Act makes the Aadhaar number mandatory as an identity document for all office bearers, directors, or key functionaries of an individual receiving foreign contributions.
- A copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card is needed for identification in the case of a foreigner.
- FCRA account: International contribution must be obtained only in an account designated by the bank as an FCRA account in certain branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi, according to the act. This account does not accept or deposit any funds other than the international donation.
- Reduction in the use of foreign contributions for administrative purposes: The act stipulated that administrative costs should not exceed 20% of total foreign funds earned. The cap was set at 50% in the FCRA of 2010.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
Context: ‘Child marriages may go unnoticed amid lockdown’.Weddings may be restricted to houses due to norms according to activists.
More about The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- The legislation aims to discourage child marriages by making such acts illegal and placing specific authorities in charge of child marriage prevention and prohibition.
- Age Limit: An individual who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age, is referred to as a “Child” under the Act.
- A marriage in which one of the contracting parties is a minor is referred to as a “child marriage.”
- Minor: An individual who has not attained his or her majority under the provisions of the Majority Act of 1875 is referred to as a “minor.” According to the Majority Act of 1875, every person residing in India reaches the age of majority when he or she reaches the age of eighteen.
- Punishment: Child marriage is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in jail or a fine of up to Rs.1 lakh, or both. The Act's offences are both cognizable and non-bailable.
- Whoever performs, executes, directs, or abets any child marriage is subject to the law's penalties.
National Security Act (NSA) of 1980
Context: In recent times, there have been numerous incidents in which activists have been charged under the National Security Act of 1980.
More about the Act
- The NSA is a statute that allows for Preventive detention.
- Preventive Detention entails the detention (containment) of an individual in order to prevent him or her from committing more crimes or evading prosecution.
- For purposes of state security and public order, Article 22 (3) (b) of the Constitution provides for preventive detention and restrictions on personal liberty.
- Furthermore, Article 22(4) states that no law authorising preventive detention for more than three months is valid unless the following conditions are met:
- An Advisory Board determines that there is ample reason for continued detention.
- The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 shortened the time spent in custody without seeking an advisory board's opinion from three to two months. However, since this clause has not yet come into effect, the three-month limit remains in effect.
- An individual in this situation is detained in compliance with the provisions of any law passed by Parliament.
- The NSA allows the federal government or a state government to detain an individual in order to prevent him from behaving in a way that would jeopardise national security.
- The government may also detain an individual to prevent him from disturbing public order or to ensure the community's critical supplies and services are maintained.
- Total Detention Period: A person can be held for a maximum of 12 months. However, if the government discovers new facts, the term may be expanded.
Model Tenancy Act
Context: Union Cabinet approved the Model Tenancy Act (MTA) to streamline the process of renting a property in India and aid the rent economy in the estate sector.
Features of the Act
- District level bodies: States will set up a grievance redressal mechanism comprising of Rent Authority, Rent Court, and Rent Tribunal to provide fast-track resolution of disputes in every district.
- Time Limit: Disposal of a complaint/appeal by the Rent Court and the Rent Tribunal will be mandatory within 60 days. There is no monetary ceiling.
- At present, in many old properties let out under archaic rent-control Acts, such ceilings have left landlords stuck with outdated rent amounts.
- A digital platform will be set up in the local vernacular language or the language of the State/Union Territory for submitting the tenancy agreement and other documents. Rent Authority will keep a tab on these agreements.
- Mandatory written agreement: Verbal agreements will be out of the picture, as the MTA mandates written agreement for all new tenancies which is to be submitted to Rent Authority.
- The tenant will continue to pay the rent even during the pendency of a dispute with a landlord. Subletting of premises can only be done with the prior consent of the landlord, and no structural change can be done by the tenant without the written consent of the landlord.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)
Context: Granting bail to three persons who are part of the northeast Delhi conspiracy case, has opened up the black box of the UAPA jurisprudence.
About the UAPA:
- Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- 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.
- It has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
- Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.
- It will apply to the offenders in the same manner, even if a crime is committed in a foreign land, outside India.
- Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in a maximum of 180 days after the arrests, and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
- The 2004 amendment, added the “terrorist act” to the list of offences to ban organizations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits were banned. Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.
- In August 2020, Parliament cleared the Unlawful Activities (Prevention), Amendment Bill, 2019 to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.
- The Act empowers the Director-General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to approve seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
- The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act,2000
Context: The Supreme Court (SC) issued a notice to the Centre on the use of Section 66A of the IT Act that was scrapped in 2015.
About Section 66A of IT Act
- It defined the punishment for sending offensive messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or tablet which can fetch a maximum of three years of jail and a fine.
- The IT Act, 2000 was amended in 2009 to insert Section 66A.
- The law targeted the messages that:
- Are grossly offensive or menacing.
- Proffer false information intending to cause annoyance, inconvenience, intimidation, insult, obstruction, etc.
- Are intended at deceiving the addressee about the origin of the message.
Why It Was Scrapped?
- The landmark case of Shreya Singhal v Union of India (2015) challenged the constitutional validity of section 66A and led to the scrapping of the same.
- The Supreme Court ruled that Section 66A was ambiguous and overbroad and that it was in violation of the Constitution's Articles 19 (free speech) and 21 (right to life).
- In addition, the court had highlighted that, unlike other sections of the law, Section 66A lacked procedural safeguards.
- Following that, the government formed an expert committee (the T.K. Viswanathan committee), which advocated legislation to address the problem of hate speech on the internet.
Public Safety Act
- The special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked on August 5 last year. But, even after almost a year, over two dozen mainstream leaders of the regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir remain under house arrest.
- The state was stripped of special status under Article 370 and the government had also repealed Article 35A.
- Concerns associated with such measures:
- House detentions without any administrative orders are unlawful.
- It undermines human rights and individual liberty.
- Even the courts failed to hear petitions and left jailed Kashmiris at the mercy of the government.
- How many people have been arrested so far?
- Jammu and Kashmir home department officials estimate that, in the run-up to and aftermath of August 5, more than 500 people were booked under the Public Safety Act.
- That included stone-pelters, lawyers, separatist leaders of the Hurriyat as well as leaders of pro-India parties.
- Around 250 Kashmiri detainees are still lodged in jails outside the Union Territory.
- Since the 6th of August, 2019, more than six hundred Habeas Corpus Petitions have been filed before the Hon’ble High Court of Union Territory of J&K at Srinagar and to date not even 1% of such cases have been decided by the J&K High Court.
- What needs to be done now?
- Conditional release of leaders placed under house arrest for more than a year.
- Restoration of 4G network.
- Lifting of the curbs on peaceful political activity.
- A multilevel dialogue with those affected by the August 5 decision.
- Compensation to Kashmiri farmers and businessmen for their economic losses.
- Powers of government under the Public Safety Act:
- Also called the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978.
- It is a preventive detention law, under which a person is taken into custody to prevent him or her from acting in any manner that is prejudicial to “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order”.
- When and why was it introduced?
- Introduced as a tough law to prevent the smuggling of timber and keep the smugglers “out of circulation”.
- The law allowed the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
- It allows for administrative detention for up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
- How is it enforced?
- It comes into force when administrative order is passed by either by Divisional Commissioner or the District Magistrate.
- The detaining authority need not disclose any facts about the detention “which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.
- Protection to enforcing authorities:
- Section 22 of the Act provides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act: “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this Act.”
- Who is empowered to make rules in this regard?
- Under Section 23 of the Act, the government is empowered to “make such rules consistent with the provisions of this Act, as may be necessary for carrying out the objects of this Act”.
- However, no Rules have so far been framed to lay down procedures for the implementation of the provisions of the PSA.
- But, why is the law controversial?
- It allows for detention without trial.
- No Right to File Bail Application.
- It provides a vast number of reasons for detention.
- No Distinction Between Minor and Major Offences.
- Can the Courts intervene?
- The only way this administrative preventive detention order can be challenged is through a habeas corpus petition filed by relatives of the detained person.
- The High Court and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to hear such petitions.
- However, if the order is quashed, there is no bar on the government passing another detention order under the PSA and detaining the person again.
- Prelims Fact:
- Article 22 (3) – If a person is arrested or detained under preventive detention, then the protection against arrest and detention under Articles 22 (1) and 22(2) shall not be available.
- The Delhi High Court has ruled that the presumption of guilt engrafted in Section 29 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act gets triggered and applies only once the trial begins, that is after charges are framed against the accused.
- The Act defines children – are individuals aged below 18 years.
- This Act is gender-neutral.
- It seeks to provide more stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for sexual crimes against children.
- The Act stipulates that such steps must be taken which makes the investigation process as child friendly as possible.
- The act provides that those who use a child for pornographic purposes will be punished with imprisonment up to five years and a fine.
- The Act provides for the establishment of special courts for the trial of such offences and matters related to them.
- Monitored by :
- National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
- State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR)
- Section 29 of the POSCO Act and its application:
- Section 29 of the Act says that when a person is prosecuted for committing an offence of sexual assault against a minor, the special court trying the case “shall presume” the accused to be guilty.
- The presumption under Section 29 of the Act is not absolute.
- It applies only once the trial begins, that is after charges are framed against the accused.
- If a bail plea is being considered before charges have been framed, section 29 has no application.
Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act
- A special bench of the Kerala High Court headed by the Chief Justice will monitor the progress of the trial of cases involving legislators. Steps for urgent listing of 12 cases pending before the High Court will also be undertaken at the appropriate benches, the High Court has informed the Supreme Court.
- About the Act:
- The provisions of the Act are in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
- It makes bribing a punishable offence.
- It redefines provisions related to criminal misconduct.
- It makes it mandatory for taking prior approval of relevant Government or competent authority to conduct an investigation into the offence.
- It modifies definitions and penalties for offences related to taking a bribe, being a habitual offender and abetting offence.
Official Secrets Act
- A strategic affairs analyst was arrested by Delhi police for passing on information such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border to Chinese intelligence officers.
- Officials Secrets Act has its roots in the British colonial era. This was brought in with the main objective of muzzling the voice of a large number of newspapers that had come up in several languages and were opposing their policies.
- It was amended and made more stringent in the form of The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904, during Lord Curzon’s tenure as Viceroy of India.
- In 1923, a newer version was notified. The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.
- It broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, covered under Section 3, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, under Section 5.
- Secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document, or information. Under Section 5, both the person communicating the information and the person receiving the information can be punished.
- For classifying a document, a government Ministry or Department follows the Manual of Departmental Security Instructions, 1994, not under OSA. Also, OSA itself does not say what a “secret” document is. It is the government’s discretion to decide what falls under the ambit of a “secret” document to be charged under OSA.
- It has often been argued that the law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- Section 22 of the RTI Act provides for its primacy vis-a-vis provisions of other laws, including OSA.
- This gives the RTI Act an overriding effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent with the provisions of OSA. So if there is any inconsistency in OSA with regard to the furnishing of information, it will be superseded by the RTI Act. However, under Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act, the government can refuse information.
- If the government classifies a document as “secret” under OSA Clause 6, that document can be kept outside the ambit of the RTI Act, and the government can invoke Sections 8 or 9.
The Code on Social Security 2020
- The objective is to consolidate and simplify the multitude of labor regulations into four labor Codes – the Code on Wages, Social Security, Industrial Relations, and Occupational Safety and Health, subsuming 29 existing regulations.
- It has enhanced the coverage, extended the benefit to all workers in the organized / unorganized sector introduced concepts of providing maximum benefits under minimum governance, and reflects uniformity in approach across the four labour codes.
- The Code on Social Security 2020 (Code) subsumes nine regulations relating to social security, retirement, and employee benefits such as:
- The Employees Compensation Act, 1923
- The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948
- The Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952,
- The Employees Exchange (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
- The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
- The Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981
- The Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996
- The Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008).
- The Code on Social Security 2020 (Code) subsumes nine regulations relating to social security, retirement, and employee benefits such as:
- Key features:
- Uniformity in determining wages:
- This has provided a wide definition of wage. Specific exclusions with ceilings have been provided for discouraging inappropriate structuring of salaries to minimize social security benefits. Consultative approach
- The Code has brought in a facilitating approach by the authorities. Unlike the existing role of inspectors, the Code provides for an enhanced role of inspector-cum-facilitator whereby employers can look for support and advice to enhance compliances. Career Centre
- To enable that demand for human resources to be met and to monitor employment information, career centers will be established. Employers have to report vacancies to career centers before filling up the same.
- All records and returns have to be maintained electronically. Digitization of data will help in the exchange of information among various stakeholders/funds set up by the Government, will ensure compliance, and also facilitate governance.
- Stringent penalties:
- Any failure to deposit employees’ contributions not only attracts a penalty of Rs 100,000, but also imprisonment of one to three years. In the case of repeat offense, the penalties and prosecution are severe, and no compounding is permitted for repeated offences.
- Uniformity in determining wages:
Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act of 2016
- A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan also issued notice to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on the allegation made by a disability rights organization that seats have not been reserved in accordance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act of 2016.
- The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities ( Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
- It fulfils the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which India is a signatory.
- It aims to uphold the dignity of every person with a Disability (PwD) in society and prevent any form of discrimination.
- The act also facilitates full acceptance of people with disabilities and ensures full participation and inclusion of such persons in society.
- It provides for access to inclusive education, self-employment and vocational training to disabled persons.
- Disabled persons have the equal right to own and inherit movable and immovable property, as well as control their financial affairs on par with others.
- The constitutional framework for the Disabled in India:
- Article 41 of the Directive Principle of State Policy (DPSP) states that State shall make effective provisions for securing the right to work, education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of its economic capacity and development.
- The subject of 'relief of disabled and unemployable' is specified in the state list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
Amended land laws of Jammu and Kashmir
- Ministry of Home Affairs announced several amendments to the land laws of Jammu and Kashmir.
- People, as well as investors outside Jammu and Kashmir, can now purchase land. Earlier, locals had exclusive rights over land.
- Only agriculturists of J&K can purchase agricultural land.
- No land used for agriculture purposes shall be used for any non-agricultural purposes except with the permission of the district collector.
- An Army officer not below the rank of Corps Commander can declare an area as a “Strategic Area” within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of the armed forces.
Special marriage act
- In a recent judgement, Allahabad High Court said that 'Religious Conversion Just for Marriage Is Unacceptable'.
- Special marriage act:
- The Special Marriage Act is enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
- Marriages solemnized under the Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws.
- Observation of court:
- The Allahabad HC said it is disconcerting that one should change one’s faith just for the sake of matrimony when two people professing different religions can marry under Special Marriage Act, which is ‘one of the earliest endeavours towards Uniform Civil Code’.
- Recently, India’s first Member of Parliament to have been disqualified from the Lok Sabha has now been disqualified as an MLA in Mizoram.
- He ceased to be a member of the state legislature for violating the anti-defection law by defecting to a political party after getting elected as an Independent in the 2018 assembly polls.
- The anti-defection law in India, technically the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.
- It was enacted to address the perceived problem of instability caused by democratically elected legislators in India's Parliamentary System of Government shifting allegiance from the parties they supported at the time of election or disobeying their parties' decisions at critical times such as during voting on an important resolution.
- It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
- The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
- Criteria for disqualification:
- If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
- Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
- Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
- If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
- If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
- However, Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification when a party to merges with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.
- If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
- Role of the speaker:
- The Anti-Defection law is clear that the question of disqualification or otherwise under the Tenth Schedule is to be decided by the Speaker.
- In Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu, the court said that there will be a judicial review of the speaker's decision.
- However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.
Jammu And Kashmir's Roshni Act
- The Jammu & Kashmir administration has recently released a series of lists of alleged beneficiaries of the Roshni Act of 2001, now scrapped, which gave ownership rights to the unauthorized occupants of state land against payment of a premium.
- The Jammu and Kashmir government has filed an affidavit in the J&K High Court, seeking a modification to its 9 October judgment scrapping the 'Roshni Act', stating that the order may affect a large number of common people “unintentionally”.
- It was enacted in 2001 to regularise unauthorized land in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Act envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants, subject to the payment of a cost, as determined by the government.
- The government said the revenue generated would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the Act was known as the Roshni Act.
- Further, through amendments, the government also gave ownership rights of agricultural land to farmers occupying it for free, charging them only Rs 100 per Kanal as a documentation fee.
- Reasons for Scrapping the Act: In 2009, the State Vigilance Organisation registered an FIR against several government officials for alleged criminal conspiracy to illegally possess and vest ownership of state land to occupants who did not satisfy criteria under the Roshni Act.
- In 2014, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been realized from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, thus defeating the purpose of the legislation.
- The report blamed irregularities including an arbitrary reduction in prices fixed by a standing committee and said this was done to benefit politicians and affluent people.
- Reasons why the government wants to modify the court's order:
- The government said there was a need to distinguish between people who were either “landless cultivators” or “householders with at the most one dwelling house in personal use” on the one hand, and “rich land grabbers” on the other.
Amendment To Karnataka Land Reforms Act
- The amendments allow non-agriculturists to buy agricultural land in the state. Successive governments have in recent years gradually diluted land ownership norms under the Land Reforms Act to facilitate industrial growth and agricultural land ownership by non-farmers.
- The Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has repealed three key sections of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act of 1961 which imposed certain restrictions on ownership of farmland.
- The amendments have done away with:
- Section 79A of the Act allowed only those earning less than Rs 25 lakh per annum to buy agricultural land
- Section 79B said only people earning a living through agriculture could buy agricultural land.
- Section 79C of the Act, which allowed revenue departments to investigate alleged violations of Sections 79A and 79B during land purchases.
- Reasons for the amendments:
- To curb corruption in the offices of land registrars and tahsildars
- To benefit farmers who wanted to sell their land.
- To bring Land ownership laws in line with those of neighbouring states to attract investments for setting up industries.
- The amendment might result in the loss of agricultural land that could have been cultivated to meet food requirements.
- The amendment seems to be intended to benefit the real estate mafia in Bengaluru.
- The offence under the triple talaq law can only be committed by a Muslim man, and his mother cannot be accused of it, the Supreme Court has ruled while granting anticipatory bail to a woman from Kerala.
- The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019:
- The Act makes all declarations of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.
- It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce. Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an 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.) The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by:
- the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or
- any person related to her by blood or marriage.
- 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.
- The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared). Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute. 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.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
- The Supreme Court said that a provision in the 2017 rule notified by the Centre, allowing the confiscation of the animals of traders and transporters during the pendency of trials in cases under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, is contrary to the latter’s provisions which allow such confiscation only in case of conviction. It asked the government to either change the rule or face a stay from the court.
- About the 2017 Rules:
- The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 have been framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
- The Rules allow a Magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Act.
- The animals are then sent to infirmaries, animal shelters, etc.
- The authorities can further give such animals for “adoption”.
- SC holds that these rules are contrary to Section 29 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:
- The Act aims to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Act.
- This Act provides punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals. The Act defines animals and different forms of animals.
- Discusses different forms of cruelty, exceptions, and killing of a suffering animal in case any cruelty has been committed against it, so as to relieve it from further suffering.
- Provides the guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.
- The Act enshrines the provisions relating to the exhibition of the performing animals, and offences committed against the performing animals.
- This Act provides for the limitation period of 3 months beyond which no prosecution shall lie for any offences under this Act.
Black Magic Act
- The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has declared that advertisement of any article using the name of any God and claiming that it has supernatural qualities, is “illegal” and falls under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.
- The need for such laws:
- Inhuman practices in the name of religion in the country are a cause of worry.
- In Maharashtra, there were several cases where people murdered or brutally injured others and held them responsible for some deaths in their families, merely on suspicion.
- So, a law to prevent exploitation in the name of religion is necessary.
- The judgement:
- The court held that telemarketers change the names of companies, God and Baba to show that each was a different Yantra.
- The court went on to say, “The objectives quoted in the Black Magic Act can be achieved mainly through education. Reformists like Mahatma Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar who worked to remove evil practices and spread awareness against superstition were born on this soil.”
- The court directed the State and Vigilance Officers to register such crimes, giving reports against persons who make such advertisements and sell such articles.
- Similar laws:
- The state of Karnataka also has such a law called the 'Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017.
- The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine the Central government’s request to keep adultery a crime in the armed forces.
- History of Adultery Law in India:
- In September 2018, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that makes adultery a punishable offence for men.
- In four separate but concurring judgments, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court said the 158-year-old law was unconstitutional and violated Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (Right to equality).
- The law came under sharp criticism for treating women as possessions rather than human beings.
- The apex court also declared Section 198(1) and 198(2) of the CrPC, which allows a husband to bring charges against the man with whom his wife committed adultery, unconstitutional.
- The then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said while adultery could be a ground for civil issues, including dissolution of marriage, it could not be a criminal offence.
- What does the Ministry of Defence say about this?
- The Defence Ministry seeks exemption on SC order decriminalising adultery.
- The Ministry’s plea says that “discipline is the bedrock of the work culture in Defence Services and an essential ingredient for combat operations.
- The Ministry also argues that “unlike Section 497 (which made only the man punishable), the Armed Forces do not make a difference between a male or a female, who is subject to the Army Act, if they are guilty of an offence.
- The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) called the Defence Ministry’s argument an “insult” to the Armed Forces personnel and their spouses.
Sand mining Act
- SC panel report slams Rajasthan ‘free-for-all loot’, questions leases near rivers
- About the issue:
- The SC report talks about an amendment to the Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rules by the government in December 2017 to grant short-term permits in khatedari lands for excavation of sand only for government or government-supported works.
- “Almost all the khatedari lessees have misused the e-rawanaas (transit permits) for removal and transport of sand illegally collected.
- Therefore it is imperative to ensure that all the khatedari leases involved in the misuse of e-ravannas are canceled with immediate effect.
- About sand regulation in India:
- Sand is a minor mineral, as defined under section 3(e) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act).
- The MMDR Act empowers state governments to make rules for regulating the grant of mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals and for purposes connected therewith.
- The regulation of grant of mineral concessions for minor minerals is, therefore, within the legislative and administrative domain of the state governments.
- Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines 2016:
- The MoEF has already put in place the Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines 2016, which focus on the management of sand mining in India.
- However, the officials say that there is an urgent need to have guidelines for effective enforcement of regulatory provisions and their monitoring.
- These guidelines require the preparation of District Survey Reports (DSR), which is an important initial step before grant of mining lease, the government has found that the DSRs carried out by state and district administrations are often not comprehensive enough. The new framework below seeks to rectify that.
- Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining 2020:
- Following a series of orders by the National Green Tribunal in 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change have for the first time released guidelines to monitor and check illegal sand mining in the country.
- The guidelines include:
- directions to states to carry out river audits,
- put detailed survey reports of all mining areas online and in the public domain,
- conduct replenishment studies of river beds,
- constantly monitor mining with drones, aerial surveys, ground surveys and
- set up dedicated task forces at district levels.
- The guidelines also push for online sales and purchase of sand and other riverbed materials to make the process transparent.
- They propose night surveillance of mining activity through night-vision drones.
- The enforcement guidelines focus on the “effective monitoring of sand mining from the identification of sand mineral sources to its dispatch and end-use by consumers and the general public and looks at a uniform protocol for the whole country”.
- The 2020 guidelines are to be enforced simultaneously with the Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines, 2016, but in instances where the two sets of guidelines may seem to be in conflict, the new set will hold legal precedence.
- The new guidelines list a detailed procedure of how the DSRs are to be made, including the development of an inventory, for the first time, of river bed material and other sand sources in the district.