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Table of Contents

Defamation Law and Disqualification of MPs

  • Context:
    • Recently, an MP (Member of Parliament) was sentenced to two years in jail in a 2019 Defamation Case over his remarks about another political leader by the Surat Court.
    • The case was filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500, dealing with defamation.
  • What do IPC sections 499 and 500 say?
    • Section 499 of the IPC elaborates on how defamation could be through words – spoken or intended to be read, through signs, and also through visible representations.
    • These can either be published or spoken about by a person with the intention of damaging the reputation of that person, or with the knowledge or reason to believe that the imputation will harm his reputation.
    • Section 500 stipulates imprisonment of up to two years, with or without a fine, for someone held guilty of criminal defamation.
  • What Is Defamation?
  • About:
    • Defamation is the act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person when observed through the eyes of an ordinary man.
    • Any false and unprivileged statement published or spoken deliberately, intentionally, or knowingly with the intention to damage someone's reputation is defamation.
    • The history of defamation can be traced to Roman law and German law. Abusive chants were capital punishment in Romans.
  • Defamation Law in India:
    • Article 19 of the Constitution grants freedom of speech to its citizens. However, Article 19(2) has imposed certain reasonable exemptions to this freedom such as – Contempt of Court, defamation and incitement to an offense.
    • In India, defamation can both be a civil wrong and a criminal offence, depending on the objective they seek to achieve.
    • A Civil Wrong sees a wrong being redressed with monetary compensation, while a criminal law seeks to punish a wrongdoer and send a message to others not to commit such acts, with a jail term.
    • In a Criminal Offense, defamation has to be established beyond reasonable doubt but in a civil defamation suit, damages can be awarded based on probabilities.
  • Free Speech v/s Defamation laws:
    • It is argued that the defamation laws are a violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 19 of the constitution.
    • The Supreme Court has ruled that the criminal provisions of defamation are constitutionally valid and are not in conflict with the right to free speech.
    • The SC has also held that it is valid to treat defamation as a public wrong and that criminal defamation is not a disproportionate restriction on free speech, because the protection of reputation is a fundamental right as well as a human right.
    • The Court relied on the judgments of other countries and reaffirmed the right to reputation as a part of the right to life under Article 21.
    • Using the principle of ‘balancing of fundamental rights’, the court held that the right to freedom and speech and expression cannot be “allowed so much room that even reputation of an individual which is a constituent of Article 21 would have no entry into that area”.
  • What are the Previous Defamation Judgements?
    • Mahendra Ram Vs. Harnandan Prasad (1958): A letter written in Urdu was sent to the plaintiff. Therefore, he needed another person to read it to him. It was held that since the defendant knew the plaintiff does not know Urdu and he needs assistance, the act of the defendant amounted to defamation.
    • Ram Jethmalani Vs. Subramanian Swamy (2006): The High Court of Delhi held Dr. Swamy for defaming Ram Jetmalani by saying that he received money from a banned organization to protect the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from the case of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
    • Shreya Singhal Vs. Union of India (2015): It is a landmark judgment regarding internet defamation. It held unconstitutional Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which punishes for sending offensive messages through communication services.
  • What Happens if a Lawmaker/MP is Convicted?
    • The conviction may disqualify an MP if the offense for which he is convicted is listed in Section 8(1) of the Representation of the People (RPA) Act of 1951.
    • This section includes offences such as section 153A (offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) or section 171E (offence of bribery) or section 171F (offence of undue influence or personation at an election) and a few others.
    • Section 8(3) of the RPA mandates that an MP can be disqualified if convicted and sentenced to at least 2 years of imprisonment.
    • However, the section also states that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction.
    • Within that period, the convicted MP can file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court.

Supreme Court Verdict on ECI Appointments

  • Context:
    • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court (SC) unanimously ruled that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners shall be made by the President on the advice of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India (CJI).
    • In case no leader of the Opposition is available, the leader of the largest opposition Party in the Lok Sabha in terms of numerical strength will be a part of such a committee.
  • What are the Other Important Points of the Verdict?
  • SC Verdict:
    • SC stated that a reading of the debates of the Constituent Assembly (CA) on the appointment of ECI makes clear that all the members were of the clear view that elections must be conducted by an independent Commission.
    • The deliberate addition of the words “subject to the provisions of any law made on that behalf by Parliament” further indicates that CA envisaged parliament making norms to govern appointment to ECI.
    • While ordinarily, the court cannot encroach on a purely legislative power, in the context of the Constitution and inertia of the Legislature and the vacuum created by it make it necessary for the court to intervene.
    • On the question whether process of removal should be same for CEC and the ECs, SC stated that it cannot be same as CEC has special position and article 324 becomes inoperable without CEC.
    • SC left the question of funding the EC, Permanent secretariat and need for expenditure to be charged on Consolidated Fund of India for the government to decide.
  • Government Argument:
    • The government had argued that in the absence of such a law by parliament, the President has the constitutional power and asked the SC to exhibit Judicial restraint.
  • What is the Challenge?
    • As the constitution places the power to make any law on appointment of ECI in the hands of Parliament, SC ruling on this issue poses a question of Separation of Power.
    • However, SC has stated that this ruling will be subject to any law made by parliament, which means parliament can bring a law to undo it.
    • Another view is that since there is no law made by parliament on this issue, the Court must step in to fill the “constitutional vacuum.”
  • What are the Existing Provisions for Appointment to ECI?
  • Constitutional Provisions:
    • Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution: It deals with elections and establishes a commission for these matters.
  • Structure of ECI:
    • Originally the commission had only one EC but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it was made a multi-member body (1 CEC & 2 other ECs.).
    • According to Article 324, the Election Commission shall consist of the CEC and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the President may from time-to-time fix.
  • Appointment Procedure:
    • Article 324(2): The appointment of the CEC and other Election Commissioners shall be made by the President, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament.
    • The Law Minister suggests a pool of suitable candidates to the Prime Minister for consideration. The President makes the appointment on the advice of the PM.
    • The President determines the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election.
    • They have a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • Removal:
    • They can resign anytime or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
    • The CEC can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a SC judge by Parliament.
    • Any other EC cannot be removed except on the recommendation of CEC.

Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021


  • Recently, the Supreme Court said the government's move to bring Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021 merely days after the court struck down an identical law, may amount to dishonouring its judgment.
  • The Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021 replaces a similar Ordinance promulgated in April 2021 that sought to dissolve eight tribunals.
  • The petitioners have argued that the Act was introduced in the Lok Sabha just days after the Supreme Court struck down the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance of 2021.

  • The 2021 Act abolishes nine key tribunals, raises a serious threat to judicial independence by giving the government-wide powers regarding appointments, service conditions, salaries etc., of members of key tribunals.
  • It was passed without parliamentary debate amidst ruckus in the House.

Basics of Tribunals:

  • The original Constitution did not contain provisions with respect to tribunals. The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 added a new Part XIV-A to the Constitution.
  • This part is entitled as ‘Tribunals’ and consists of only two Articles–Article 323A dealing with administrative tribunals and Article 323B dealing with tribunals for other matters.

Part XIV-A:

  • Article 323A empowers the Parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services of the Centre, the states, local bodies, public corporations and other public authorities.
    • In pursuance of Article 323A, the Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985.
    • The act authorises the Central government to establish one Central administrative tribunal and the state administrative tribunals.

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT):

  • The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was set up in 1985 with the principal bench at Delhi and additional benches in different states.
  • The CAT is a multi-member body consisting of a chairman and members
  • The CAT exercises original jurisdiction in relation to recruitment and all service matters of public servants covered by it.
  • Its jurisdiction extends to the all-India services, the Central civil services, civil posts under the Centre and civilian employees of defence services.
  • However, the members of the defence forces, officers and servants of the Supreme Court and the secretarial staff of the Parliament are not covered by it.

State Administrative Tribunals:

  • The Administrative Tribunals Act of 1985 empowers the Central government to establish the State Administrative Tribunals (SATs) on specific request of the concerned state governments.
  • Like the CAT, the SATs exercise original jurisdiction in relation to recruitment and all service matters of state government employees.
  • The chairman and members of the SATs are appointed by the president after consultation with the governor of the state concerned.
  • The act also makes a provision for setting up of joint administrative tribunal (JAT) for two or more states. A JAT exercises all the jurisdiction and powers exercisable by the administrative tribunals for such states.
  • Under Article 323B, the Parliament and the state legislatures are authorised to provide for the establishment of tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to the following matters:
    1. axation
    2. Foreign exchange, import and export
    3. Industrial and labour
    4. Land reforms
    5. Ceiling on urban property
    6. Elections to Parliament and state legislatures
    7. Food stuffs
    8. Rent and tenancy rights
  • Articles 323A and 323B differ in the following three aspects:
    1. While Article 323 A contemplates establishment of tribunals for public service matters only, Article 323 B contemplates establishment of tribunals for certain other matters (mentioned above).
    2. While tribunals under Article 323 A can be established only by Parliament, tribunals under Article 323 B can be established both by Parliament and state legislatures with respect to matters falling within their legislative competence.
    3. Under Article 323 A, only one tribunal for the Centre and one for each state or two or more states may be established. There is no question of hierarchy of tribunals, whereas under Article 323 B a hierarchy of tribunals may be created.

Judicial review:

  • In Chandra Kumar case (1997), the Supreme Court declared those provisions of these two articles which excluded the jurisdiction of the high courts and the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Hence, the judicial remedies are now available against the orders of these tribunals.

Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022


  • The Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 was recently passed by the Lok Sabha with the aim of promoting fair competition in the market and preventing anti-competitive practices.
  • The bill was originally introduced in the lower house on August 5, 2022, and was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, which was headed by Jayant Sinha.
  • The panel made several recommendations that have been incorporated into the amended law passed by the lower house.

Competition Commission of India (CCI):

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002, it was duly constituted in March 2009.
  • The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002, on the recommendations of the Raghavan committee.
  • The commission is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with other cases.
  • Composition:
    • The Commission consists of one Chairperson and six Members who shall be appointed by the Central Government.
    • The Chairperson and other Members shall be whole-time Members.

More on news:

  • Periodic Revision of Threshold and “Effects” of Anti-Competitive Conduct:
    • The Parliamentary panel recommended periodic revision of the basic deal value threshold, retention of the existing overall time limit, and mandating the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to establish the “effects” of anti-competitive conduct of dominant undertakings. The CCI is now authorised to penalise entities found engaging in anti-competitive behaviour based on their global turnover. Previously, penalties for anti-competitive behaviour were based on the percentage of the entity’s “relevant” turnover, which typically means their annual domestic turnover.
  • Impact of the New Provision on Global Turnover:
    • The provision to penalise entities based on their global turnover could have a significant impact on tech companies, as it could lead to unfair and punitive outcomes and discrimination between enterprises.
    • In the European Union, the penalty for anti-competitive activity is limited to 10% of the overall annual turnover of the company.
  • Definition of “Turnover” in Competition Law Landscape:
    • The definition of “turnover” is a controversial subject in the competition law landscape. In 2017, the Supreme Court fixed the principle of “relevant turnover” for determining penalties in competition law contraventions.
    • The principle of “relevant turnover” was upheld in a case concerning the alleged contravention of the Competition Act, 2002 in the public procurement of Aluminium Phosphide tablets by the FCI.
  • Time Limit for Approval of Mergers and Acquisitions:
    • The Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 reduces the time limit for the approval of mergers and acquisitions to 150 days.
    • This move is expected to reduce uncertainty and provide clarity to businesses engaged in mergers and acquisitions.

Rule 267 of RS Rule Book

Context: Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook, which allows for the suspension of a day’s business to debate the issue suggested by a Member, has become a bone of contention in the Upper House.


  • The Rule gives special power to a Rajya Sabha member to suspend the pre-decided agenda of the House, with the approval of the Chairman.
  • The Rajya Sabha Rule Book says, “Any member, may, with the consent of the Chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion related to the business listed before the Council of that day.
  • If the motion is carried, the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being: provided further that this rule shall not apply where specific provision already exists for suspension of a rule under a particular chapter of the Rules”.
  • Any discussion under Rule 267 assumes great significance in Parliament simply because all other businesses would be put on hold to discuss the issue of national importance.
  • No other form of discussion entails suspension of other business.
  • If an issue is admitted under Rule 267, it signifies it’s the most important national issue of the day.
  • Also, the government will have to respond to the matter by replying during the discussions under Rule 267.

Section 69(A) of the IT Act, 2000

Context: Recently, Twitter initiated legal action against some of the government missives ordering it to take down certain content issued under IT ACT SEC 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

What is Section 69A?

  • Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, allows the Centre to block public access to an intermediary “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above”.
  • According to the definition under Section 2(w) of the IT Act, an intermediary includes “telecom service providers, network service providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online marketplaces, cyber cafes etc”.
  • While Section 69A provides the government the power to take such steps, the procedure to do so is listed in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.
  • Any request made for blocking by the government is sent to an examining committee, which then issues these directions. However, in case of an emergency situation, such orders are passed by the committee’s chairperson first and then presented to the committee.
  • While no time is given to the stakeholder to respond before the action is taken in the case of an emergency situation, Rule 9 of the IT blocking rules allows for a review committee to send “recommendations regarding the case, including whether it is justifiable to block the accounts” in order to uphold the blocking of an account permanently.
  • However, it is Rule 16 of the IT Blocking Rules — which states that requests and complaints to block accounts must remain confidential — that has been repeatedly criticised for being “unconstitutional”.

Shreya Singhal vs Union of India judgment:

  • A Case Which Rejuvenated The Liberty To Speech And Expression In The Country.
  • In 2015, the apex court struck down the law in the landmark case Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, calling it “open-ended and unconstitutionally vague”, and thus expanded the contours of free speech to the Internet. While Section 69A was also challenged, it was upheld by the court.
  • What did Section 66A do?
    • Introduced by the UPA government in 2008, the amendment to the IT Act, 2000, gave the government power to arrest and imprison an individual for allegedly “offensive and menacing” online posts, and was passed without discussion in Parliament.
    • Section 66A empowered police to make arrests over what policemen, in terms of their subjective discretion, could construe as “offensive” or “menacing” or for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience, etc. It prescribed the punishment for sending messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet, and a conviction could fetch a maximum of three years in jail.
  • SC declared Section 66A unconstitutional for “being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2).”
  • Article 19(1)(a) gives people the right to speech and expression whereas 19(2) accords the state the power to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of this right.
  • The decision was considered a landmark judicial pushback against state encroachment on the freedom of speech and expression.

The Information Technology Act, 2000:

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 provides legal recognition to the group action done via electronic exchange of information and alternative electronic suggests that of communication or electronic commerce transactions.
  • This also involves the utilization of alternatives to a paper-based technique of communication and knowledge storage to facilitate the electronic filing of documents with government agencies.
  • Further, this act amended the Indian legal code 1860, the Indian proof Act 1872, the Bankers’ Books proof Act 1891, and also the bank of India Act 1934.

Flag Code of India

Context: To facilitate the Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign, the Ministry of Home Affairs amended the Flag Code of India 2002.

The National Flag of India:

  • The Indian National Flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of India. It is the symbol of our national pride and there is universal affection and respect for, and loyalty to, the National Flag. It occupies a unique and special place in the emotions and psyche of the people of India.
  • The hoisting/use/display of the Indian National Flag is governed by the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and the Flag Code of India, 2002.

What is the Flag Code of India?

  • Divided into three parts, the Flag Code of India 2002 contains the general description of the National Flag, its display by members of the public, private organisations, educational institutions etc, and the central and state governments and their agencies.

Salient Features (including recent amendments) of Flag Code of India, 2002:

  • The Flag Code of India, 2002 was amended vide Order dated 30 December, 2021 and National Flag made of polyester or machine made Flag have been allowed. Now, the National Flag shall be made of hand spun and hand woven or machine made, cotton/polyester/wool/silk khadi bunting.
  • A member of public, a private organization or an educational institution may hoist/display the National Flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise, consistent with the dignity and honour of the National Flag.
  • The Flag Code of India, 2002 was amended vide Order dated 19″ July, 2022 and clause (xi) of paragraph 2.2 of Part-II of the Flag Code of India was replaced by the following clause:
    • (xi) “where the Flag is displayed in open or displayed on the house of a member of public, it may be flown day and night;”
  • The National Flag shall be rectangular in shape. The Flag can be of any size but the ratio of the length to the height (width) of the Flag shall be 3:2.
  • Whenever the National Flag is displayed, it should occupy the position of honour and should be distinctly placed.
  • A damaged or dishevelled Flag shall not be displayed.
  • The Flag should not be flown on any vehicle except of the dignitaries mentioned in Section IX of Part III of the Flag Code, such as President, Vice-President, Prime-Minister, Governors etc.
  • No other flag or bunting should be placed higher than or above or side by side with the National Flag.

Why did Centre amend the Flag Code of India?

  • The amendments to the flag code came ahead of the launch of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign under which the government is encouraging people to hoist the Tricolour at their homes to mark the 75th Independence Day. The government says it plans to reach out to more than 20 crore homes across India by August 15 through this campaign ahead of the 75th Independence Day of India.
  • The government believes that amending the flag code will make the National Flag easily available and affordable to the general public.

The Brief History of the National Flag of India:

  • The first national flag, three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, was hoisted on 7th August 1906 in Calcutta.
  • In 1921, the main architect of the present-day National Flag, Pingali Venkayya met Mahatma Gandhi and proposed a basic design of the flag. This consisted of two red and green bands.
  • In 1931, the modified version of the tricolour was adopted as the national flag by Congress in Karachi.
  • On 22nd July 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted the National Flag in its present form.

Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign:

  • It is part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. It encourages people to bring the Tiranga home and to hoist it to mark the 75th year of India's independence.
  • The Union Government has announced that the National Flag can now remain hoisted through the night if it is in the open and hoisted by a member of the public.

Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA):

  • It forms the core of the legal framework put in place by India to combat Money Laundering.
  • The provisions of this act are applicable to all financial institutions, banks(Including RBI), mutual funds, insurance companies, and their financial intermediaries.
  • PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012:
    • Adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary etc.
    • PMLA, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, but the amendment act has removed this upper limit.
    • It has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person involved in such activities.

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill


  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) (Amendment) Bill is expected to be reintroduced in the second half of the Budget Session by the central government. It was first introduced in 2017, with amendments allowing the construction of public works in prohibited areas and the approval and impact assessment of such public works.


  • The AMASR Act was passed by the Parliament in 1958.
  • It aims protection and preservation of archaeological and historical monuments and sites.
  • It also provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other such objects.
  • What qualifies as an Ancient Monument (AM) and Archaeological Site (AS) and Remains?
    • Ancient Monument – AM is defined as any structure, erection, or monument, or tumulus, or cave, rock-sculpture, inscription, or monolith which is of historical, archaeological, or artistic interest. (Such things should have been in existence for not less than 100 years.)
    • Archaeological Sites – AS mean any area which contains ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than 100 years.

India’s Antiquities and Art Treasures Act (AATA), 1972


  • The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities has so far registered 3.52 lakh antiquities from the 16.70 lakh it has documented for an “effective check” on illegal activities.
  • Since Independence, only 486 antiquities have been reported as missing from the 3,696 monuments protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • India’s Antiquities and Art Treasures Act (AATA), 1972, defines “antiquity” as any coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph or other work of art or craftsmanship that has been in existence for not less than 100 years.

What are Indian laws relating to antiquities?

  • Before Independence, the Antiquities (Export Control) Act 1947 ensured that no antiquity could be exported without a license.
  • After Independence, All the Union, State and Concurrent Lists of the Schedule VII of the Indian Constitution deal with the country’s heritage.
  • In 1958, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act was enacted.
  • A few incidents of theft of antiquities along with the UNESCO convention (1970), prompted the government to enact the AATA 1972.

Some features of India’s Antiquities and Art Treasures Act (AATA), 1972:

  • Other than the Central Government, no person can export any antiquity or art treasure.
  • No person can carry on the business of selling any antiquity except in accordance with the terms and conditions of a license – granted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Every person who owns, controls or is in possession of any antiquity shall register such antiquity and obtain a certificate.

What is National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities?

  • The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities was launched in 2007. The time frame prescribed for its completion is five years.
  • Objectives of NMMA:
    • Documentation and creation of suitable database on built heritage and sites through published and unpublished secondary sources for information and dissemination to planners, researchers, etc. and for better management of such cultural resources.
    • Documentation in a uniform developed by NMMA, of all Antiquities that are available in different formats in the form of Registered Antiquities, Catalogued Antiquities with Central as well as State Governments, Private museums and Collections, Universities, etc.
    • Promote awareness and sensitize people concerning the benefits of preserving the historical and cultural aspects of built heritage, sites and antiquities.
    • Extend training facility and capacity building to the concerned State Departments, Local bodies, NGOs, Universities, Museums, Local communities etc.Help in developing synergy between institutions Archaeological Survey of India, State Departments, concerned Institutions and NGOs to generate close interaction. Publication and Research.
  • Implementation:
    • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the nodal agency for NMMA to implement various activities all over the country.

Draft of the New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2022

Context: The recently-released draft of the New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2022, by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed to regulate e-pharmacies, clinical trials and medical devices among others.

Features of the bill:

  • The new Bill will replace the pre-Independence Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and several Rules. It will regulate online pharmacies, clinical trials, and medical devices.
  • The draft focuses on regulating medical devices as a separate entity, makes provision for fines and imprisonment for injury and death related to clinical trials or investigations, and seeks to regulate e-pharmacies.

Online pharmacies:

  • Suggesting that the Central government should formulate rules for regulating online pharmacies, the draft Bill prohibits any person from selling, keeping stock, exhibiting or offering for sale or distributing any drug by online mode, except under and in accordance with a licence or permission issued by the authority.
  • Apart from regulation of clinical trials, the Bill proposes new definitions for over-the-counter drugs, manufacturers, new drugs, bioavailability study, investigational new drug and imported spurious drugs, among others.

Medical devices:

  • The draft Bill makes provision for creation of a ‘medical devices technical advisory board’ on the lines of the existing drugs technical advisory board.
  • This board will not only include medical professionals, but also people with technical knowledge of the devices. Other than officials from the Health Ministry, the board will also include people from the department of atomic energy, department of science and technology, ministry of Electronics, DRDO, and experts in the field of biomedical technology, biomaterials, and polymer technology.
  • Currently, decisions regarding medical devices are taken by the drugs technical advisory board.

Clinical trials and investigations:

  • The draft Bill makes provisions for compensation to participants or their legal heirs for injury or death suffered in clinical trials and investigations for drugs and medical devices.
  • The draft also lays the onus of providing medical management for any injury arising due to the trial on the investigators.
  • There is a new provision for imprisonment, and fine amounting to double the compensation amount if the compensation is not paid. If the draft Bill becomes law, these provisions will be part of it, and will not be restricted to just clinical trial Rules.
  • The draft Bill prohibits clinical trials or clinical investigations of drugs and medical devices without permission from the central licensing authority. While companies have to seek permission from the regulator to conduct trials even now, this is not specifically mentioned in the existing law.
  • The draft provides for debarring the investigators and sponsors of a trial or investigation if the laid-down provisions are not followed.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Amendment Bill, 2022

  • Context:
    • The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on April 5, 2022. 
  • About:
    • The Bill amends the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005. 
    • The 2005 Act prohibits unlawful activities (such as manufacturing, transport, or transfer) related to weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.   
    • Weapons of mass destruction are biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.
    • Prohibition on financing certain activities:
      • The Bill bars persons from financing any prohibited activity related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.   
      • To prevent persons from financing such activities, the central government may freeze, seize or attach their funds, financial assets, or economic resources (whether owned, held, or controlled directly or indirectly). 
      • It may also prohibit persons from making finances or related services available for the benefit of other persons in relation to any activity which is prohibited.

Appropriation Bill

Context: Recently, the Union Finance Minister moved the Appropriation (No.5) Bill, 2022, and Appropriation (No.4) Bill, 2022, in the Rajya Sabha.


  • The Appropriation Bill gives power to the government to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet the expenditure during the financial year.
  • As per Article 114 of the Constitution, the government can withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund only after receiving approval from Parliament.
  • The amount withdrawn meets the current expenditure during the financial year.

Procedure Followed:

  • The Appropriation Bill is introduced in the Lok Sabha after discussions on Budget proposals and Voting on Demand for Grants.
  • The defeat of an Appropriation Bill in a parliamentary vote would lead to the resignation of a government or a general election.
  • Once it is passed by the Lok Sabha it is sent to the Rajya Sabha.
  • Rajya Sabha has the power to recommend any amendments to this Bill. However, it is the prerogative of the Lok Sabha to either accept or reject the recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha.
  • After the bill receives assent from the president it becomes an Appropriation act.
  • The unique feature of the Appropriation Bill is its automatic repeal clause, whereby the Act gets repealed by itself after it meets its statutory purpose.
  • The government cannot withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund of India till the enactment of the appropriation bill.
  • However, this takes time and the government needs money to carry on its normal activities.
  • To meet the immediate expenses the Constitution has authorized the Lok Sabha to make any grant in advance for a part of the financial year. This provision is known as the ‘Vote on Account’.
  • A vote on account is defined in Article 116 of the Indian Constitution.
  • During an election year the Government either opts for an ‘interim Budget’ or for a ‘Vote on Account’ as after the election the Ruling Government may change and so the policies.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

Context: Prime Minister had recently said that Central laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) had given an impetus to the system in a decisive fight against terrorism.

About UAPA:

  • The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (repealed in 2004) was passed in the year 1967.
  • It aims at the effective prevention of unlawful activity associations in India.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.
  • The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offenses.
  • Under the act, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet within a maximum of 180 days after the arrests, and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
  • Powers to Union Government: 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.

2019 Amendment of UAPA:

  • The act was amended to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.
    • Earlier only organizations could be declared as such.
    • Not designating individuals as terrorists would give them an opportunity to circumvent the law and regroup under a different name.
  • It empowers the Director General of NIA to grant approval for the seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by NIA.
    • Earlier it required the consent of the State Police which delayed the process.
  • It empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism.
    • This will help solve the human resource crunch in the NIA.

Criticism of UAPA:

  • Experiences of Anti-terror laws in India such as POTA and TADA reveal that they are often misused and abused.
  • The law could also be used against political opponents and civil society activists who speak against the government and brand them as “terrorists.”
  • Critics argue that the law, especially after the 2019 amendment gives unfettered powers to investigating agencies.
  • Some experts feel that it is against the federal structure, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

22nd Law Commission

Context: The Centre constituted the Law Commission of India with Justice (retd) Rituraj Awasthi, former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, at its head. 

About the Law Commission of India:

  • The Law Ministry describes the Law Commission of India as a non-statutory body that is constituted by a notification of the Government of India, with definite terms of reference to carry out research in the field of law.
  • The Commission makes recommendations to the Government (in the form of Reports) as per its terms of reference.
  • The Law Commission was first constituted in 1955 and has so far submitted 277 reports.
  • According to the Law Ministry’s website, the “Law Commission of India provides excellent thought-provoking and vital review of the laws in India”.

About the 22nd Law Commission:

  • The Commission headed by Justice Awasthi is the 22nd Law Commission of India.
  • The tenure of the 21st Law Commission, which was headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B S Chauhan, came to an end on 31 August 2018.
  • The 22nd Commission was constituted two and a half years after it was approved by the Union Cabinet on 19 February 2020, just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • A petition had been moved in the Supreme Court subsequently against the delay in constituting the 22nd Commission.
  • The Commission shall, among other things, “identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed legislations as might be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution”revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities”.


  • Context
    • Recently, the Himachal Pradesh government has proposed the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) bill 2022, seeking to criminalise mass religious conversions.
    • The Bill amends Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act-2019, which was enacted with a view to provide freedom of religion by prohibition of conversion from one religion to another.
  • Why is the Proposed Amendment?
    • Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act-2019 prohibits conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or any other fraudulent means or by marriage and for matters connected there with.
    • However, there is no provision to curb mass conversion.
  • What are the Key Provisions of the Bill?
    • It defines mass conversion as conversion of two or more persons at the same time.
    • The maximum sentence has been proposed to be extended to maximum 10 years and increase the amount of fine, if a person contravenes the provisions of Section 3 in respect of mass conversion.
      • Section 3 of the Freedom Act states that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage.
    • Complaints received should be investigated or inquired into by a police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector.
    • The offences punishable under the Act would be triable by the sessions court.
    • If a person marries someone by concealing his religion in such a manner that other person believes that his religion is truly the one professed by him shall be punished with minimum imprisonment of not less than three years and maximum imprisonment of 10 years.
  • What is the Status of Anti-Conversion Laws in India?
    • Constitutional Provision
      • The Indian Constitution under Article 25 guarantees the freedom to profess, propagate, and practice religion, and allows all religious sections to manage their own affairs in matters of religion; subject to public order, morality, and health.
      • However, no person shall force their religious beliefs and consequently, no person should be forced to practice any religion against their wishes.
    • Existing Laws
      • There has been no central legislation restricting or regulating religious conversions.
      • However, since 1954, on multiple occasions, Private Member Bills have been introduced in (but never approved by) Parliament, to regulate religious conversions.
      • Further, in 2015, the Union Law Ministry stated that Parliament does not have the legislative competence to pass anti-conversion legislation.
      • Over the years, several states have enacted ‘Freedom of Religion’ legislation to restrict religious conversions carried out by force, fraud, or inducements.


  • Context
    • The government of India has withdrawn the Personal Data Protection Bill from Parliament as it considers a “comprehensive legal framework” to regulate the online space to boost innovation in the country through a new bill.
  • What was the Personal Data Protection Bill & Its Major Challenges?
    • The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, on December 11, 2019.
    • Commonly referred to as the “Privacy Bill”, it intended to protect individual rights by regulating the collection, movement, and processing of data that is personal, or which can identify the individual.
  • About
    • Challenges
      • Many contend that the physical location of the data is not relevant in the cyber world as the encryption keys may still be out of reach of national agencies.
      • National security or reasonable purposes are open-ended and subjective terms, which may lead to intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens.
      • Technology giants like Facebook and Google are against it and have criticised the protectionist policy of data localisation as they are afraid it would have a domino effect in other countries as well.
      • It had been opposed by social media firms, experts and even ministers, who said that it had too many loopholes to be effective and beneficial for both users and companies.
      • Also, it may backfire on India’s own young startups that are attempting global growth, or on larger firms that process foreign data in India.
  • Why has the Bill been withdrawn?
    • The Joint Committee of Parliament analyzed the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 in detail.
    • 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations were made towards a comprehensive legal framework on the digital ecosystem.
    • Considering the report of the JCP, a comprehensive legal framework is being worked upon.
    • Hence, it is proposed to withdraw.
  • Extras:
    • Data Localisation
      • The data should be stored in a region that is trusted by the Indian government, and that data should be accessible in the event of a crime.
      • The government may also consider allowing cross-border data flows only to “trusted geographies”.
    • Classification of Data
      • The new Bill could also do away with classification of personal data from the perspective of data localisation, and only use classification for awarding damages to people whose personal data may have been compromised by an entity.

The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

  • Context:
    • The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on April 1, 2022.
  • About:
    • The Bill seeks to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. 
    • It also seeks to protect the Antarctic environment and regulate activities in the region. 
    • Key features of the Bill include:
      • Applicability: The provisions of the Bill will apply to any person, vessel or aircraft that is a part of an Indian expedition to Antarctica under a permit issued under the Bill. 
      • Areas comprising Antarctica include:
        • (i) the continent of Antarctica, including its ice shelves, and all areas of the continental shelf adjacent to it, and
        • (ii) all islands (including their ice-shelves), seas, and air space south of 60°S latitude.
      • Central Committee: The central government will establish a Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection. 
        • The Committee will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences. 
        • 10 members, not below the rank of joint secretary, will be nominated from various Ministries and organisations such as defence, external affairs, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, and National Security Council Secretariat. 
        • In addition, two experts from the Antarctic environment and geo-political fields will be nominated by the central government.
      •  The functions of the Committee include:
        • (i) granting permits for various activities,
        • (ii) implementing and ensuring compliance with relevant international laws for the protection of the Antarctic environment,
        • (iii) obtaining and reviewing relevant information provided by parties to the Treaty, Convention, and Protocol, and
        • (iv) negotiating fees/charges with other parties for activities in Antarctica.
      • Need for permit: A permit by the Committee or written authorisation from another party to the Protocol (other than India) will be required for various activities such as:
        • (i) an Indian expedition to enter or remain in Antarctica,
        • (ii) a person to enter or remain in an Indian station in Antarctica,
        • (iii) a vessel or aircraft registered in India to enter or remain in Antarctica,
        • (iv) a person or vessel to drill, dredge or excavate for mineral resources, or collect samples of mineral resources,
        • (v) activities that may harm native species, and
        • (vi) waste disposal by a person, vessel or aircraft in Antarctica.
      • Before a permit is granted by the Committee, the applicant has to carry out an environmental impact assessment of the proposed activities.  Moreover, a permit must not be granted unless a waste management plan has been prepared for the expedition by the Committee.
      •  Prohibited activities: The Bill prohibits certain activities in Antarctica including:
        • (i) nuclear explosion or disposal of radioactive wastes,
        • (ii) introduction of non-sterile soil, and
        • (iii) discharge of garbage, plastic or other substance into the sea which is harmful to the marine environment.
      •  Offences and penalties: The Bill specifies penalties for contravention of its provisions. 
        • For instance, conducting a nuclear explosion in Antarctica will be punishable with an imprisonment of 20 years which may extend to life imprisonment and a fine of at least Rs 50 crore. 
        • Drilling for mineral resources or introducing non-native animals or plants in Antarctica without a permit will be punishable with imprisonment up to seven years and a fine between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 50 lakh.   
        • The central government may notify one or more Sessions Courts to be the Designated Court under the Bill and specify its territorial jurisdiction to try offences punishable under the Bill. 

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022

  • Context:
    • The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, was passed by both Houses of Parliament.
    • Introduced by the government on March 28, it cleared the Lok Sabha on April 4 and the Rajya Sabha on April 6. 
    • The government turned down demands that the Bill be referred to a Standing Committee for consideration.
  • About:
    • The Bill aims to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act,1920 whose amendment was proposed in the 1980s by the Law Commission of India (in its 87th Report) and SC judgement of the State of U.P. vs Ram Babu Misra (1980).
    • Provisions:
      • It would allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans.
      • These provisions will further be made applicable to the persons held under any preventive detention law.
      • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signatures and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
      • NCRB has also been empowered to share the records with any other law enforcement agency.
      • It also authorises for taking measurements of convicts and “other persons” for identification and investigation in criminal matters.
    • Significant:
      • The bill makes provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
      • The existing law – Identification of Prisoners Act,1920 allowed taking only fingerprint and footprint impressions of a limited category of convicted persons.
      • Expanding the ‘‘ambit of persons’’ whose measurements can be taken will help the investigating agencies to gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
      • More accurate physical and biological samples will make the investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious and will also help in increasing the conviction rate.
      • It is expected to minimise the threat from organised crime, cybercriminals and terrorists who are proficient in identity theft and identity fraud.
        • The bill will help to check serious national and global threats posed by them.

The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022

  • Context:
    • The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 25, 2022. 
  • About:
    • The Bill seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 passed by Parliament. 
    • The Act was amended in 2011 by Delhi Legislative Assembly to trifurcate the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi into:
      • (i) North Delhi Municipal Corporation,
      • (ii) South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and
      • (iii) East Delhi Municipal Corporation. 
    • The Bill seeks to unify the three corporations.
    • Unification of Municipal Corporations in Delhi:  The Bill replaces the three municipal corporations under the Act with one Corporation named the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
    • Powers of the Delhi government: The Act as amended in 2011 empowers the Delhi government to decide various matters under the Act. 
      • These include:
        • (i) total number of seats of councillors and number of seats reserved for members of the Scheduled Castes,
        • (ii) division of the area of corporations into zones and wards,
        • (iii) delimitation of wards,
        • (iv) matters such as salary and allowances, and leave of absence of the Commissioner,
        • (v) sanctioning of consolidation of loans by a corporation, and
        • (vi) sanctioning suits for compensation against the Commissioner for loss or waste or misapplication of Municipal Fund or property. 
      • Similarly, the Act mandates that the Commissioner will exercise his powers regarding building regulations under the general superintendence and directions of the Delhi government. 
      • The Bill instead empowers the central government to decide these matters.
    • Number of councillors: The Act provides that the number of seats in the three corporations taken together should not be more than 272. 
      • The 14th Schedule to the Act specifies 272 wards across the three Corporations. 
      • The Bill states that the total number of seats in the new Corporation should not be more than 250.
    • Removal of Director of Local Bodies: The Act provides for a Director of Local Bodies to assist the Delhi government and discharge certain functions which include:
      • (i) coordinating between Corporations,
      • (ii) framing recruitment Rules for various posts, and
      • (iii) coordinating the collecting and sharing of toll tax collected by the respective Corporations. 
    • The Bill omits the provision for a Director of Local Bodies. 
    • Special officer to be appointed by the central government: The Bill provides that the central government may appoint a Special Officer to exercise powers of the Corporation until the first meeting of the Corporation is held after the commencement of the Bill.  
    • E-governance system for citizens: The Bill adds that obligatory functions of the new Corporation will include establishing an e-governance system for citizen services on an anytime-anywhere basis for better, accountable, and transparent administration.   
    • Conditions of service for sweepers: The Act provides that a sweeper employed for doing house scavenging of a building would be required to give a reasonable cause or a 14-day notice before discontinuing his service.   
      • The Bill seeks to omit this provision.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2021.  
  • About:
    • The Bill amends the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms.   
    • The 1950 Act provides for the allocation of seats and delimitation of constituencies for elections, qualifications of voters, and preparation of electoral rolls. 
    • The 1951 Act provides for the conduct of elections, and offences and disputes related to elections.
    • Provisions:
      • Linking electoral roll data with Aadhaar:
        • The 1950 Act provides that a person may apply to the electoral registration officer for inclusion of their name in the electoral roll of a constituency. 
        • After verification, if the officer is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to registration, he will direct the applicant’s name to be included in the electoral roll. 
        • The Bill adds that the electoral registration officer may require a person to furnish their Aadhaar number for establishing their identity.   
        • If their name is already in the electoral roll, then the Aadhaar number may be required for authentication of entries in the roll. 
        • Persons will not be denied inclusion in the electoral roll or have their names deleted from the roll if they are unable to furnish Aadhaar number due to sufficient cause as prescribed. 
        • Such persons may be permitted to furnish alternate documents prescribed by the central government.
      •  Qualifying date for enrolment in electoral roll:
        • Under the 1950 Act, the qualifying date for enrolment in the electoral roll is January 1 of the year in which such roll is being prepared or revised.  This implies that a person who turns 18 (i.e., eligible to vote) after January 1 can enrol in the electoral roll only when the roll is prepared/ revised the next year.  The Bill amends this to provide four qualifying dates in a calendar year, which will be January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.
      •  Requisitioning of premises for election purposes: The 1951 Act permits the state government to requisition premises needed or likely to be needed for being used as polling stations, or for storing ballot boxes after a poll has been conducted. 
        • The Bill expands the purposes for which such premises can be requisitioned. 
        • These include using the premises for counting, storage of voting machines and poll-related material, and accommodation of security forces and polling personnel.
      •  Gender-neutral provisions: The 1950 Act permits certain persons who are ordinarily resident in a constituency to register in electoral rolls.   
        • Such persons include those holding a service qualification, such as members of the armed forces or central government employees posted outside India. 
        • The wives of such persons are also deemed to be ordinarily residing in the same constituency if they reside with them. 
        • The 1951 Act enables the wife of a person holding a service qualification to vote either in person or by postal ballot. 
        • The Bill replaces the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ in both the Acts

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 6, 2021.
  • About:
    • It seeks to replace the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. 
    • The Bill amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 to correct a drafting error. 
      • The Act regulates certain operations (such as manufacture, transport, and consumption) related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
    • Punishment for financing illicit activities or harbouring persons engaged in them:
      • Under the Act, financing certain illicit activities (such as cultivating cannabis or manufacturing narcotic drugs) or harbouring persons engaged in them is an offence. 
      • Persons found guilty of this offence will be punished with rigorous imprisonment of at least ten years (extendable up to 20 years) and a fine of at least one lakh rupees.  
    •  Drafting error: In 2014, the Act was amended and the clause number of the definition for such illicit activities was changed. 
      • However, the section on penalty for financing these illicit activities was not amended and continued to refer to the earlier clause number. 
      • The Bill amends the section on penalty to change the reference to the new clause number. 
      • This amendment will be deemed to have been in effect from May 1, 2014 (i.e., when the 2014 amendments came into effect).

The Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 3, 2021
  • About:
    • It replaces the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. 
    • The Bill seeks to amend the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003. 
      • The 2003 Act provides for the constitution of a Central Vigilance Commission to conduct inquiries into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.  
    • Extension of term of the Director of Enforcement:
      • Under the 2003 Act, the Director of Enforcement is appointed by the central government, on the recommendation of a Committee. 
      • This Committee is chaired by the Central Vigilance Commissioner and includes the Secretaries from the Ministries of Home Affairs, Personnel, and the Revenue Department. 
      • The Director of Enforcement has a tenure of minimum of two years. 
      • The Bill adds that the tenure of the Director may be extended by up to one year at a time, till the completion of five years from the initial appointment. 
      • Such extensions may be granted in the public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee.

The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 3, 2021.
  • About:
    • It replaces the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.   
    • The Bill seeks to amend the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. 
    • The Act provides for the constitution of the Delhi Special Police Establishment for the investigation of certain offences, as notified.
    • Extension of the Director’s term:
      • The Act provides for the appointment of the Director of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Central Bureau of Investigation). 
      • The Director is appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a Committee consisting of the:
        • (i) Prime Minister (Chairperson),
        • (ii) Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, and
        • (iii) Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the CJI. 
      • Under the Act, the Director has a tenure of a minimum of two years.   
      • The Bill permits the extension of the tenure by up to one year at a time, till the completion of five years from the initial date of appointment. 
      • Such extensions may be granted in the public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee.  

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on November 29, 2021, by the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • About:
    • The Bill repeals the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September 2020.  These are:
      • (i) the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020,
      • (ii) the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and
      • (iii) the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. 
    • These laws were enacted to:
      • (i) provide a framework for contract farming,
      • (ii) facilitate barrier-free trade of farmers’ produce outside the markets notified under the various state Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) laws, and
      • (iii) regulate the supply of certain food items (such as cereals, pulses, and onions) only under extraordinary circumstances such as war, famine, and extraordinary price rise. 
    • Note that, in January 2021, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three farm laws.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha, on August 9, 2021.
  • About:
    • The Bill amends the Constitution to allow states and union territories to prepare their own list of socially and educationally backward classes. 
    • List of socially and educationally backward classes:
      • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was established under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993. 
      • The Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act, 2018 gave constitutional status to the NCBC and empowered the President to notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes for any state or union territory for all purposes. 
      • The 2021 Bill amends this to provide that the President may notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes only for purposes of the central government. 
      • This central list will be prepared and maintained by the central government. 
      • Further, the Bill enables states and union territories to prepare their own list of socially and educationally backward classes.   
      • This list must be made by law and may differ from the central list.
    •  Consultation with the NCBC:
      • Article 338B of the Constitution mandates the central and state governments to consult the NCBC on all major policy matters affecting the socially and educationally backward classes. 
      • The Bill exempts states and union territories from this requirement for matters related to the preparation of their list of socially and educationally backward classes.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 9, 2021.
  • About:
    •  It amends the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act, 2020.
    • The 2020 Act replaced the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970. 
    • The 1970 Act set up the Central Council of Indian Medicine to regulate the education and practice of the Indian Medicine system (includes Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy). 
    • The 2020 Act replaced the Council with a National Commission for regulating the education and practice of the Indian medicine system. 
    • Since the setting up of the National Commission was taking time, the 1970 Act was not repealed immediately with the passage of the 2020 Act.
    • In the meantime, the 1970 Act was amended in September 2020 to provide for the reconstitution of the Central Council. 
    • The Central Council was to be reconstituted within a year from the date of notification of amendments. 
    • In April 2021, this time period was extended to two years, through an Ordinance. 
    • The 1970 Act was also amended to provide that till the Council was reconstituted, its powers would be exercised by a Board of Governors, constituted by the central government. 
    •  The National Commission was constituted on June 11, 2021 to supersede the Central Council and on the same date the 1970 Act was repealed. 
    • The 2021 Bill specifies that all powers and functions of the Board of Governors (as under the 1970 Act) will be deemed to have been done under the 2020 Act and will continue to remain in force.

Forest Rights Act

  • Context:
    • After a long delay, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which will elevate the socio-economic status of a sizeable section of the 14-lakh-strong population of tribals and nomadic communities, including Gujjar-Bakerwals and Gaddi-Sippis, in the Union Territory.
  • About:
    • Rationale behind Forest Rights Act:
      • Several Acts and policies such as the Indian Forest Acts of 1865, 1894 and 1927 of Central Government and some state forest Acts curtailed centuries old, customary use rights of local communities lived in and around forests
      • This continued even after independence
      • Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between tribal people and forests, the National Forest Policy, 1988, made provisions to safeguard the customary rights and interests on forest land of tribals.
      • The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, also known as Forest Rights Act was drafted to fulfill the need for a comprehensive legislation to give due recognition to the forest rights of tribal communities.
    • Salient provisions of the Forest Rights Act:
      • The Act seeks to recognize and vest forest rights in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) with respect to forest land and their habitat.
      • The rights can be inherited but they are not transferable.
      • The Act vests two broad types of rights to forestland with forest-dwelling
      • communities – individual forest rights (IFR) and community forest rights (CFR).
        • Individual Forest Rights (IFR):
          • It aims to secure an individual the right to hold, self-cultivate, and live in forestland under individual or common occupation
        • Community Forest Rights (CFR):
          • Aims to bring about radical changes in forest governance by, inter alia, conferring community forest resource rights and management authority on forest-dwelling communities.
      • Since 2006, a total of 76,154 CFR claims to 88,04,870 acres of forestland have been recognised and, in many of the recognised CFR villages, forest dwellers have begun to exercise their rights.
      • In detail these rights can be divided in to four:
        • Title rights:
          • It gives FDST and OTFD the right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
          • Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family and no new lands will be granted.
        • Use rights:
          • The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
        • Relief and development rights:
          • To rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection
        • Forest management rights:
          • It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or
          • manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use
        • Exemptions:
          • Customary rights exclude hunting, trapping or extracting body parts of any wild animal.
          • FDSTs also cannot indulge in any activity that adversely affects wild animals, forests and the biodiversity in the local area and need to ensure that adjoining catchments areas and water sources are adequately protected.
        • Authorities for vesting forest rights:
          • The Gram Sabha shall have the authority to initiate the process of determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights that may be given to FDSTs within the local limits of its jurisdiction under this Act.
          • The Gram Sabha is empowered to receive claims, consolidate and verify them, and prepare a map delineating the area of each recommended claim
          • Gram Sabha would then pass a resolution to that effect and forward a copy to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC).
          • The SDLC, which shall be constituted by the State Government, would examine the resolution passed by the Gram Sabha and prepare the record of forest rights. It would then be forwarded to the District Level Committee (DLC)
          • The DLC would be the final authority to approve the record of forest rights.
          • A State Level Monitoring Committee would be formed to monitor the process of recognition and vesting of forest rights.
          • If a person is not satisfied by the ruling of the Gram Sabha, he can file a petition to the SDLC and if not satisfied with the ruling of SDLC, he can petition to the DLC within 60 days of date of decision of the SDLC.
          • The DLC’s decision would be final and binding.
        • Penalties for Offences:
          • The Act provides punishment for persons found guilty of contravening the provisions of the Act, engaging in unsustainable use of forest or forest produce, killing any wild animal etc.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules

  • Context:
    • The government has notified new rules under which the upper limit for termination of a pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.
    • The new rules are under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 passed by the Parliament in March 2021.
  • About:
    • Background
      • Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, voluntarily terminating a pregnancy is a criminal offence.
      • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 allows for aborting the pregnancy by medical doctors on certain grounds.
      • A pregnancy maybe be terminated up to 12 weeks based on the opinion of one doctor, and up to 20 weeks based on the opinion of two doctors.
      • As per Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, termination is permitted only when:
        • Continuance of pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman, cause grave injury to her mental or physical health (including rape and failure of birth control measures); or
        •  In the case of foetal abnormalities.
        • Termination is also allowed at any point during the pregnancy if there is an immediate necessity to save the woman’s life.
    • Salient features of 2021 amendment:
      • Increase time limit:
        • The amendment enhances the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women.
      • According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, these categories include survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest, minors and women whose marital status changes during an ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce) and women with physical disabilities.
      • Relaxed norms:
        • Opinion of only one doctor will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two doctors for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
      • ‘Specialists only’:
        • The amendments require the termination to be performed only by doctors with a gynaecology or obstetrics specialisation.
      • State level boards:
        • Upper gestation limit (24 weeks) not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by state level ‘Medical Board’.
        • The composition, functions and other details of ‘Medical Board’ is prescribed in the rules under the Act.
        • According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021:
          • A state-level medical board will be set up to decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation and if the foetal malformation has a substantial risk of it being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped.
          • The function of the Medical Board shall be to examine the woman and her reports if she approaches for medical termination of pregnancy and provide the opinion with regard to the termination of pregnancy or rejection of a request for termination within three days of receiving the request.
          • The Board has also been tasked to ensure that the termination procedure, when advised by it, is carried out with all safety precautions along with appropriate counselling within five days of the receipt of the request for medical termination of pregnancy.
      • Extension of provisions:
        • The ground of failure of contraceptive has been extended to women and her partner.
        • The amendment has introduced a change in Section 3 of the Act to cover unmarried women.
      • Privacy of individuals:
        • Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
      • Punitive measures for violations:
        • The Act penalises medical practitioners who fail to protect the privacy and confidentiality of women who wish to terminate their pregnancies.

Foreign Contribution Regulation Act

  • Context:
    • The Government has told the Supreme Court that NGOs have no fundamental right to receive “unbridled foreign contributions” without regulations.
    • The Centre was responding to petitions challenging amendments made in the Foreign Contributions Regulations law in 2020.
    • The petitions had argued that the amendments severely restricted the use of foreign funds by the NGOs for their activities and their transfer.
  • About:
    • Objective:
      • It was enacted to ensure that foreign contribution is utilized for genuine activities without compromising on concerns for National Security.
      • It replaced the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 1976.
      • “Foreign Contribution” is defined by FCRA as a donation, delivery or transfer made by a foreign source of:
        • Any article, the value of which ought not to exceed Rs. 25,000.
        • Currency, foreign or Indian.
        • Foreign securities including all foreign debentures, bonds, shares, stocks and similar instruments of credit. Any income or interest generated from such contributions is also treated as a foreign contribution under the FCRA.
    • Prohibition:
      • The act provides a list of individuals prohibited from accepting any type of foreign contribution, such as:
        • Candidates for election, members of any legislature, political parties or their office-bearers.
        • Cartoonists, editors, or publishers of a registered newspaper
        • Judges, government servants or employees of any public sector corporation.
        • Organisations of political nature
        • Association/group engaged in the production or broadcast of audio or audio-visual news or current affairs programmes through any electronic mode.
    • Permissions:
      • Permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too with the approval of the Government of India, through the Ministry of Home Affairs.
    • Registration:
      • In order to be eligible to receive the foreign contributions, an organization may seek prior approval either each time the entity is to receive contributions or by obtaining a one-time long-term registration, which is valid for a period of 5 years.
    • Managing contributions:
      • Upon obtaining registration/prior permission, the organization is required to open and maintain a bank account exclusively for the receipt and utilization of foreign contributions under FCRA.
      • It is also required to submit the annual returns to the Central Government.
    • Restrictions on end use:
      • The contributions must be used only for the purpose for which it is received.
      • Further, they must not use more than 50% of the contribution for meeting administrative expenses.
    • Authority:
      • The central government has the power to prohibit any persons or organisations from accepting foreign contribution or hospitality.
      • It can conduct separate audits for FCRA certified organisations and has the power of search and seizure.
    • Punishment:
      • The MHA can cancel the registration of an organisation, making them ineligible for registration or grant of ‘prior permission’ for three years from the date of cancellation.
      • The unutilised or unreceived foreign contribution may be utilised or received only with the prior approval of the central government.
    • Exemptions:
      • Funding from the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is exempt from the requirements of the act. Amendment in 2020:
    • Prohibition for public servants:
      • The amendment bars public servants from receiving FCRA funds.
    • Transfer of foreign contribution:
      • Under the original Act, foreign contribution can be transferred to a person who is also registered to accept foreign contribution.
      • The amendment prohibit the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person.
    • Aadhaar for registration:
      • In case of a foreigner, they must provide a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification.
      • The amendment mandates that any person seeking prior permission, registration or renewal of registration must provide the Aadhaar number.
    • FCRA account:
      • Foreign contribution must be received only in an FCRA account in such branch of the State Bank of India, New Delhi, as notified by the central government.
    • Restriction in utilisation of foreign contribution:
      • The government may restrict usage of unutilised foreign contribution based on a summary inquiry, and pending any further inquiry.
    • Renewal of license:
      • Government may conduct an inquiry before renewing the certificate to ensure that the person making the application is not fictitious, not been prosecuted for creating communal tension or misutilisation of funds, among others conditions.
    • Reduction in use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes:
      • The amendment reduces the limit to 20% from the existing 50%.
    • Surrender of certificate:
      • Central government can permit a person to surrender their registration certificate, if such persons have not contravened any provisions of the Act, and the management of its foreign contribution has been vested in an authority prescribed by the government.
    • Suspension of registration:
      • Under the Act, the government may suspend the registration of a person for a period not exceeding 180 days.
      • The Bill adds that such suspension may be extended up to an additional 180 days.

Section 498A of IPC

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Supreme court observed that Section 498A of IPC is being used to settle personal scores against the husband and his family.
  • About section 498 A:
    • Section 498A was introduced in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) in the year 1983. 
    • It is defined that if the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjected such woman towards cruelty would be punished with imprisonment for a term which might extend to 3 years and may also be liable for fine.
    • Section 498A is non-bailable and a cognizable offense.
    • The incorporation of Section 498A of IPC was aimed at preventing cruelty committed upon a woman by her husband and her in-laws by facilitating rapid state intervention.
    • Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code is one of the greatest rescues for Violence against Woman (VAW) but is also prone to misuse.

Indian Evidence Act

  • Context:
    • A division bench of the Kerala High Court observed that it was high time that Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act was subjected to scrutiny in the context of “changing values governing human and familial relations”.
  • About the  act:
    • Indian Evidence Act contains a set of rules and allied issues governing the admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law.
    • This act changed the entire system of concepts about the admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law. Until then, the rules of evidence were based on the traditional legal systems of different social groups and communities of India and were different for different people depending on caste, community, faith, and social position. 
  • About section 122:
    • Section 122 of the Evidence Act recognizes that all communications between spouses during the wedlock are sacrosanct and “they should be held privileged”.
    • Any married person cannot be compelled to disclose any conversation between them during the marriage. The disclosure can only be admissible as evidence if there lies a dispute or any proceeding where one spouse has to be held liable for an offense committed against the other. For a conversation to be admissible, it is necessary that both the spouses consent to its disclosure.
    • The importance to adhere to this section has been reiterated in landmark cases like Ram Bharosey vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (1954) and M.C. Verghese vs. T.J. Ponnan & Anr. (1968), in which the Supreme Court proclaimed that the disclosure of any conversation within a marital relationship without the consent of a spouse is extra-judicial and cannot be admissible.

J&K Delimitation Commission

  • Context:
    • The Central government has extended the term of the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission that was tasked with redrawing assembly constituencies in the union territory.
    • The extension will further delay an announcement to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir which is now a Union Territory but with a provision for a legislature.
  • Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019:
    • The delimitation commission came into being by an Act of the Parliament, under the provisions of Part V of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
    • As per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the number of Assembly seats in J&K would increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to benefit the Jammu region.
  • About the commission:
    • In 2020, the government had set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, to wind up delimitation within a year.
    • The delimitation process is crucial for kick-starting the political process in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said elections would be held in J&K after the delimitation process in the UT was over.
    • In its first draft proposal, the commission suggested an increase of six Assembly segments in the Jammu province and one in the Kashmir province.
    • It has also suggested the reservation of seven seats for Scheduled Castes and nine seats for Scheduled Tribes.

The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Supreme Court lifted an interim stay imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a Haryana law providing 75% reservation in private sector jobs to local candidates.
  • About the act:
    • The act came into force on January 15, providing for 75% reservation in the private sector to jobseekers “domiciled in the state of Haryana”.
    • The law covers private companies, societies, trusts, and partnership firms and applies to jobs that offer a maximum gross monthly salary or wages of up to Rs 30,000.
    • Central or state governments and any organization owned by them are excluded.
    • Eligible candidates are required to register on a designated online portal.
    • Companies can make recruitments only through this portal.
    • The law had been opposed by industry associations on the ground that it would affect their business and make them less competitive.
  • Constitutional questions that arise from the act:
    • Encroachment of right to carry out any occupation, guaranteed under Article 19(1) (g).
    • Article 16 allows making a law that requires residence within a State for an appointment. But, this is only for public employment and the law needs to be made by the Parliament.
    • The quantum of reservation beyond 50% will go against the objective of equality.
    • The Maharashtra Act, which provided reservations for Marathas, was struck down by the Supreme Court in May 2021 on grounds of breaching the 50% limit. 
    • It goes against the conception of India as a nation and encourages regionalism.
  • Economic implications:
    • Increase in cost for companies, especially labor-intensive, manufacturing sector.
    • Limits the scope of recruitment for companies and also hits their productivity.
    • Increases the income inequality across states & discourages investment in some states.
    • Gives rise to red-tapism and goes against the goal of ease of doing business.
    • Gives rise to a policy of uncertainty and is against the spirit of competition.
    • Reduces India’s comparative advantage over other countries in labor.

Need for a refugee and asylum law

  • Context:
    • A Private Member’s Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha proposing the enactment of a Refugee and Asylum law.
    • The Bill lays down comprehensive criteria for recognizing asylum seekers and refugees and prescribes specific rights and duties accruing from such status.
  • Definitions:
    • Refugee: According to United Nations, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.
    • Asylum seekers: They are the people who flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country and apply for asylum i.e. the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded.
  • Related laws:
    • India is neither a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, nor does it have a domestic asylum framework.
    • The issue of refugees is dealt with under various acts like the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, the Passports Act (1967), the Extradition Act, 1962, the Citizenship Act, 1955 (including its controversial 2019 amendment), and the Foreigners Order, 1948 — all of which club all foreign individuals together as “aliens”. 
    • Under these laws, foreigners can be detained and forcibly deported, even if they are refugees escaping their countries of origin in fear of death.
  • Administration of refugees in India:
    • The regulation of refugees and asylum seekers in India is conducted on an ad-hoc basis through administrative decision-making.
    • Only Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees are recognized by the government. They are provided protection and assistance directly through specific policies and rules.
    • On the other hand, refugees from Myanmar, Afghanistan, etc. are registered and protected by the UNHCR, as per its mandate under the 1951 Refugee Convention. For these refugees, the UNHCR issues its documents of registration, which are recognized by Indian authorities to only a limited extent.

Lokayukta Act of Kerala

  • Context:
    • Recently, Kerala Lok Ayukta Act was amended through an ordinance.
  • About Kerala ordinance:
    • Under Section 14 of the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, a public servant is required to vacate office if directed by the Lokayukta.
    • This section is amended to give the government powers to “either accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta, after giving an opportunity of being heard”. 
  • About Lokayukta:
    • The Lokayukta is an authority at the state level that deals with corruption and mal-administration complaints made by the general public. 
    • The creation of Lokpal at the center and Lokayukta at the state level was suggested by the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) in the year 1966.
    • The Lokayukta is put into power when the Lokayukta act is passed by the state legislature. 
    • Maharashtra became the first state to introduce the institution of Lokayukta in the year 1971 through the Lokayukta and Upalokayukta act.
    • According to Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 states: “Every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries.”
    • Originally, the central legislation was envisaged to make a Lokayukta in each state mandatory. However, it was opposed by regional parties. The law then created a mere framework, leaving it to the states to decide the specifics.
    • In 2018, the Supreme Court had expressed concern that some states had not appointed any Lokayukta or Up-Lokayukta. 
    • Given that states have the autonomy to frame their laws, the Lokayukta’s powers vary from state to state.
  • Appointment of Lokayukta:
    • The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of the State, through nomination by its Chief Minister (in consensus with Chief justice of the State High Court, Leaders of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and Chairman of the Legislative Council).
    • Once appointed, Lokayukta can not be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
    • Any person who is a judge or a retired Chief Justice or a retired judge of the High Court is eligible to be appointed as Lokayukta.

Uttarakhand's Char Dham act

  • Context:
    • Uttarakhand government has announced the withdrawal of the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act which has been facing protests from priests and other stakeholders of four shrines and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
  • What are the proposals:

  • The project comprises improvement as well as the development of 889 km length of national highways.
  • The project will connect Badrinath Dham, Kedarnath Dham, Gangotri, Yamunotri, and part of the route leading to Kailash Mansarovar yatra.
  • This project can act as the strategic feeder roads which connect the India-China border with the Army camps in Dehradun and Meerut where missile bases and heavy machinery are located.
  • Environmental concerns:
    • The project may destroy about 690 hectares of forests with 55,000 trees and evacuate an estimated 20 million cubic meters of soil.
    • Ruthless harvesting or uprooting of vegetation in the widening of roads can prove to be perilous for the biodiversity and regional ecology.

Delhi Special Police Establishment Amendment Bill 2021

  • Context:
    • Parliament passed the bill to extend the tenure of the director of CBI to a maximum period of five years from the earlier fixed period of two years. Now CBI director position can be extended for every one year till five years of continuous service. Thus, Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act and Central Vigilance Commission (amendment) Bill is amended.
  • Need for the move:
    • Public interest: To provide stability and regulation, so that the CBI head can carry out the same work with the confidential information that it has.
    • To ensure transparency to check corruption.
    • Increased flexible tenure will make CBI more institutionalized and streamlined to deal with cases, which has become more structured.
    • As a member country of the financial action task force, India wants to improve resources for financial investigation and international crime. 

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • CBI is the main investigation agency of the central government. It is not a statutory organization. 
  • CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The formation of CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on the prevention of corruption act (1962-1964). It is transferred to the Ministry of personal training. It enjoys the status of an attached office. 
  • CBI has jurisdiction to investigate offenses pertaining to 69 laws, 18 state acts, and 231 offenses in IPC
  • Concerns with the bill:
    • Affect the credibility of the institution: There is a strong possibility that Officers and directors will take sides of people in power.
    • Against the spirit of the Vineet Narayan case: In the Vineet Narayan case, Supreme Court decided for a fixed tenure of two years. With the provision of flexible extension of tenure to five years it is being feared that CBI will see more government control.
    • The bill was passed during a time when the opposition is not effectively functioning in the parliament.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill 2020

  • Context:
    • Lok Sabha passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020. It makes provisions for the safe & ethical practise of assisted reproductive technology service in the country.
    • Assisted reproductive technology comprises modern techniques such as in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, oocyte, and sperm donation, cryopreservation that can help infertile couples.
  • Provisions of the bill:
    • Definition of ART: Under the Bill, ART will include all techniques that attempt to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body, and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.
    • Setting up of ART Banks: The Bill defines an ART bank as an organization set up to supply sperm or semen, oocytes, or oocyte donors to ART clinics or their patients.
    • Regulation of ART Clinics: The Bill provides for the establishment of the National Registry of Clinics and Banks, which will act as a central database for details of all the clinics and banks in the country. The Registry will grant registration to ART clinics which will be valid for five years and can be renewed for a further five years. Registration may be canceled or suspended if the entity contravenes the provisions of the Bill.
    • National and State Boards: The Bill also provides for the establishment of National and State Boards for Surrogacy for the regulation of ART services. The National Board shall advise the Central Government on policy matters relating to assisted reproductive technology.
    • Rules for ART service providers: ART procedures can only be carried out with the written informed consent of both the person seeking ART services as well as the gamete donor.
    • Rights of a Child Born through ART: The child born through ART shall be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and the said child shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges available to a natural child only from the commissioning couple under any law for the time being in force.
    • Offenses: Offences under the bill include clinics offering sex selection, abandoning or exploiting children born through ART, the selling, buying, or importing of human embryos, and exploiting the couple or donors concerned in any form. Proposed jail terms for violations range from five to 12 years, and fines from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.
  • What is the need for the ART Regulation Bill?
    • Growth of ART: A market projection (by Fortune Business Insights) said the size of the ART market is expected to reach $45 billion by 2026. Among Asian countries, India’s ART market is pegged at third position.
    • Undoubtedly, this also led to a plethora of legal, social, and ethical issues. The bill is important to protect the affected women and children from exploitation. Further, about 80% of ART clinics in India are not registered. So, to control unethical practices, regulation of ART is essential.

Dam Safety Act 2021

  • Context:
    • Dam Safety act 2021 received President’s assent. The center has brought the legislation under Article 246 of the constitution read with Entry 56 and Entry 97 of the union list.
  • What is Dam Safety Act?
    • It aims to “provide for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of the specified dam for prevention of dam failure related disasters, and to provide for an institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
  • Provisions of the act:
    • A National Committee on Dam Safety with a three-year tenure, comprising the chairman of the Central Water Commission, a maximum of 10 representatives of the central government in the ranks of joint secretary, a maximum of seven representatives of the state governments, and three experts.
    • The National Dam Safety Authority, to be headquartered in Delhi. It will be headed by an officer, not below the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India to deal with problems relating to dam engineering and dam safety management.
    • A state dam safety organization will be formed as well, which will be responsible for the dam safety. This organization is empowered to investigate and gather data for proper review and study of the various features of the design, construction, repair, and enlargement of dams, reservoirs, and appurtenant structures.
    • The state dam safety organization must also report events such as dam failures to the National Dam Safety Authority and also maintain records of major dam incidents of each specified dam.
    • The owners of the specified dams are required to provide a dam safety unit in each dam. This unit will inspect the dams before and after the monsoon session, and during and after every earthquake, flood, or any other calamity or sign of distress.
    • All dams in India with a height above 15 meters come under the purview of the bill.
  • Need for the act:
    • There are 5,254 large dams and most of the dams are more than 25-year-old. Huge siltation is taking place as a 
    • result of which the water holding capacity of dams is getting reduced.
    • 2. There have been more than forty large dam failure incidences in past.
    • 3. Lack of uniform law and administrative management for dam safety.
    • 4. Central Water Commission (CWC) does not have statutory powers and can only make recommendations.

Anti-doping Bill

  • Context:
    • The Government of India has introduced the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 in Rajya Sabha.
  • Key provisions of the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021:
    • Statutory Backing for NADA: The Bill seeks to provide a statutory framework for the functioning of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). It also empowers it to conduct raids, investigate, levy sanctions, or Anti-Doping Rule Violations. Earlier, NADA had no such authority.
    • Establishment of Doping Laboratories: The Bill provides for the establishment of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL)  and other dope testing laboratories. 
    • National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports: The Bill seeks to establish a National Board for Anti-Doping in Sport. It will consist of a chairperson and two other members to be appointed by the central government. This Board will constitute a National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel and Anti-Doping Appeal Panel for the purpose of determining the consequences of anti-doping rule violations.
    • Auditing by CAG: The Bill says that the accounts and audit of the Board, NADA, and the NDTL will be done by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
    • Anti Doping Violation: The Bill lays down the circumstances, acts, or conduct which will constitute an anti-doping violation. This includes possession, presence, use or attempted use, trafficking or attempted trafficking of any prohibited substance or prohibited methods, or refusing to submit a sample.

Representation of the People Act (RPA)

  • Context
    • The Election Commission of India has delisted 86 non-existent Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPP) and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’.
  • Delisting by ECI
    • Declared Inactive:
      • 253 RUPPs have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election of 2014 & 2019.
      • As per Section 29A of the Representation of People Act 1951, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay.
    • Delisted:
      • 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on a report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP.
        • Additionally, they would not be entitled to have benefits under the Symbols Order, 1968.
  • Key Points related to the Political Parties
    • Registered Unrecognised Political Parties (RUPP):
      • Either newly registered parties or those which have not secured enough percentage of votes in the assembly or general elections to become a state party, or those which have never contested elections since being registered are considered unrecognised parties.
      • Such parties don’t enjoy all the benefits extended to the recognised parties.
    • Recognised Political Party:
      • A recognised political party shall either be a National party or a State party if it meets certain laid down conditions.
      • To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to secure a certain minimum percentage of polled valid votes or certain number of seats in the state legislative assembly or the Lok Sabha during the last election.
      • The recognition granted by the Commission to the parties determines their right to certain privileges like allocation of the party symbols, provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations and access to electoral rolls.
  • Conditions For Recognition of National Parties:
    • A party is recognised as a national party if any of the following conditions is fulfilled:
      • If it secures 6% of valid votes polled in any four or more states at a general election to the Lok Sabha or to the legislative assembly and in addition, it wins four seats in the Lok Sabha from any state or states, or
      • If it wins 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha at a general election and these candidates are elected from three states, or
      • If it is recognised as a state party in four states.
  • Conditions for Recognition as a State Party:
    • A party is recognised as a state party in a state if any of the following conditions is fulfilled:
      • If it secures 6% of the valid votes polled in the state at a general election to the legislative assembly of the state concerned and in addition, it wins 2 seats in the assembly of the state concerned or
      • If it secures 6% of the valid votes polled in the state at a general election to the Lok Sabha from the state concerned and in addition, it wins 1 seat in the Lok Sabha from the state concerned or
      • If it wins 3% of seats in the legislative assembly at a general election to the legislative assembly of the state concerned or 3 seats in the assembly, whichever is more or
      • If it wins 1 seat in the Lok Sabha for every 25 seats or any fraction thereof allotted to the state at a general election to the Lok Sabha from the state concerned or
      • If it secures 8% of the total valid votes polled in the state at a General Election to the Lok Sabha from the state or to the legislative assembly of the state. This condition was added in 2011.

The Representation of the People Act (RPA)


  • The holding of free and fair elections is the sine-qua-non of democracy. To ensure the conduct of elections in free, fair and in an impartial manner, the constitution-makers incorporated Part XV (Articles.324-329) in the constitution and empowered Parliament to make laws to regulate the electoral process.
  • In this context, the Parliament has enacted the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1950 and Representation of the People Act,1951.

Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1950

  • Key Provisions:
    • Lays down procedures for delimitation of constituencies.
    • Provides for the allocation of seats in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils of States.
    • Lays procedure for the preparation of electoral rolls and the manner of filling seats.
    • Lays down the qualification of voters.

Representation of the People Act (RPA) of 1951:

  • Key Provisions:
    • It regulates the actual conduct of elections and by-elections.
    • It provides administrative machinery for conducting elections.
    • It deals with the registration of political parties.
    • It specifies the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of the Houses.
    • It provides provisions to curb corrupt practices and other offences.
    • It lays down the procedure for settling doubts and disputes arising out of elections.

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