7 Aug 2019 11:05 PM GMT
The Monsoon Session of the Parliament concluded after the adjournment of Lok Sabha on Tuesday and Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. This was the first session of Parliament after the elections for 17th Lok Sabha. The session which began on June 17, 2019, was scheduled to end on July 26, 2019 but was extended until August 7, 2019 in order to complete legislative business. During the session,...
The Monsoon Session of the Parliament concluded after the adjournment of Lok Sabha on Tuesday and Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. This was the first session of Parliament after the elections for 17th Lok Sabha. The session which began on June 17, 2019, was scheduled to end on July 26, 2019 but was extended until August 7, 2019 in order to complete legislative business.
During the session, Lok Sabha had sittings for 281 hours in 37 days. The Rajya Sabha had sittings for 35 days.
The highlights of key legislative actions during the Monsoon session are given below:
1. Bill To Bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir into Union Territories Of J&K And Ladakh
The Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 6 and by the Rajya Sabha on August 5. This legislation will split the state of J&K into Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. Both the UTs will be administered by the President through a Lieutenant-Governor appointed by him.
The bill also repeals 153 state laws and contains a schedule of 106 central laws which will be made applicable to the UTs. In addition, 166 state laws will remain in force, and seven laws will be applicable with amendments. These amendments include eliminating prohibitions on lease of land to persons who are not permanent residents of J&K.
Further, the High Court of J&K will now become the common high court for both the UTs. Click here to read the salient features of the bill.
A critical comment on the bill may be read here.
Click here to read on other states having special provisions under the Constitution.
2. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019
The Lok Sabha on August 5 passed the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 to amend Section 2 of the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956, thereby increasing the number of judges in the Supreme Court to 34 from 31, including the CJI.
The bill was certified as a 'money bill' by the Lok Sabha Speaker. Therefore, it stands as passed by the Parliament, despite the Rajya Sabha returning it on the last day of the session.
The bill was introduced after the CJI intimated the Prime Minister that inadequate strength of judges was the primary reasons for backlog of cases in the Supreme Court. To further understand the objects and reasons of the bill, click here.
3. Bill For Summary Eviction Of Unauthorized Occupants From Public Premises
The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 was cleared by the Parliament on Aug 06, 2019, laying down procedure for summary eviction of unauthorized occupants from government accommodation.
This bill was introduced to evict employees, MPs and other dignitaries of government of India, who were no more in service or whose office on license had expired and were staying in government accommodation without authorization. The legislation also confers powers upon the estate officers to evict such unauthorized occupants from "public premises" in a smooth, speedy and time-bound manner.
4. Consumer Protection Bill, 2019
The new legislation on consumer protection will replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This bill was passed with a view to strengthen consumer rights, considering the modern day challenges like e-commerce, direct selling, tele-marketing etc. It provides a range of remedies from class action suits to liability for celebrity endorsements. It also aims to establish a national level regulator, Central Consumer Protection Authority, to deal with consumer complaints proactively.
The bill was unanimously cleared by the Lok Sabha on July 30 and by the Rajya Sabha on August 6. To read more on the procedure and penalties, click here.
Click here to read an analysis of the bill.
5. Code On Wages For Workers
The Code on Wages, 2019 was passed by the Parliament on August 2. It will replace the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. The Code seeks to regulate wage and bonus payments in all employments where any industry, trade, business, or manufacturing is carried out.
The wage-related decisions pertaining to railways, mines, and oil fields, etc. shall be taken by the central government. The state government shall be entitled to take decisions for all other employments.
Read the detailed provisions a propos Work Hours, Bonus, Deductions, etc., here.
6. UAPA Amendment Bill Which Gives Power To Centre To Designate An Individual As Terrorist
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 amends the existing Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, in terms investigation and prosecution of offences relating to terrorism. Under the provisions herein, the central government may designate an organization as a terrorist organization if it:
The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 2 and by the Lok Sabha on July 24. Click here to read more on the penalties and remedies entailed in the bill.
A critical comment on the bill can be read here.
7. Amendments to POCSO For Stricter Punishments For Child Sex Abuse
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Parliament on August 1 to provide stricter punishments for sexual abuse of children. It amends the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
The Amendment Act provides that in case penetrative sexual assault is committed by a police officer, a member of the armed forces, a public servant minimum or a relative of the child, the minimum punishment for the offence will be twenty years as opposed to the current ten years. And the maximum punishment will be death penalty. As regards penetrative sexual assault committed by persons other than those mentioned above, the minimum punishment has been increased from seven years to ten years. To read the bill, click here.
To read a critical analysis, click here.
8. Bill to abolish Medical Council : National Medical CommissionBill
The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 29 and by the Rajya Sabha on August 1 to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and replace the Medical Council of India with the National Medical Commission.
It provides procedure for grant of license to anyone who is "connected with modern scientific medical profession" to practice in primary and preventive healthcare establishments, in order to tackle the acute shortage of doctors in rural areas. Click here to read more on this bill.
9. Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019
This bill, as passed by the Lok Sabha on August 1 and by the Rajya Sabha on July 29, amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. It has increased the time period for completing insolvency resolution process from 270 days to 330 days.
The main aim of this bill was to clarify that secured financial creditors enjoyed preference over operational creditors in distribution of assets of the corporate debtor, in light of the recent ruling of NCLAT in Essar Steel case which granted operational creditors equal status as lenders in the distribution of the bid amount of resolution plan. Click here to read the bill.
10. Bill to amend Companies Act, 2013
The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was cleared by the Lok Sabha on July 26 and by the Rajya Sabha on July 30 to re-categorize certain compoundable offences as civil defaults and transfers some approval powers from NCLT to central government.
It amends Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 and provides that if there remain unspent funds of CSR, the company must disclose the reasons of non-spending in their annual report. Further, unless the unspent amount relates to any ongoing project, it must be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act (e.g. PM Relief Fund) within six months of the financial year.
Click here to read more on how the bill seeks to keep a "check of shell companies" and will promote "ease of doing business in India".
11. Bill To Penalize Triple Talaq: Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019
Passing of the aforementioned bill has made all declarations pertaining to instant triple talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void and illegal.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 25 and by the Rajya Sabha on Jul 30, 2019, making declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years' imprisonment with a fine.
Notably, the offence will be cognizable only if the information is given by the woman, against whom talaq had been declared, herself or by any person related to her by blood or marriage. To read the bill, click here.
Click here to read a critical comment on the bill.
12. Bill to amend the RTI Act, 2005
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Parliament on July 25 to amend the term, salaries, and conditions of service of RTI Commissioners mentioned in the Right to Information Act, 2005, subject to the executive rules to be made by the government.
It intends to get rid of the anomaly created by the original statute by equating the statutory body of Information Commission with a constitutional body like Election Commission. Click here to get a detailed read on the amendments.
Read the views of MP J. Ramesh on the bill here.
Read the views of Dr. Shashi Tharoor on the bill here.
13. Amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 received clearance from the Rajya Sabha on July 23 after being passed by the Lok Sabha on July 23. The amendment bill modifies the policies entailed in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 on the subject road transport & safety and licensing & registration process.
It has also altered compensation for road accident victims. The compensation payable to victims in hit and run cases has been enhanced to Rs. 2 lakhs in case of death, and Rs. 50,000/- in case of bodily injury from Rs.25,000/- and Rs.12,500/- respectively.
The Bill has also introduced Motor Vehicle Accident Fund which will be collected by a special cess. To read further on provisions pertaining to driving refresher training course, compounding of traffic offences, etc., click here.
14. Bill To Expand Powers Of NIA
The Parliament passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on July 17 which amends the provisions of the existing National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 with respect to jurisdiction and offences that can be investigated by the NIA. The bill further prescribes constitution of Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.
Click here to read the bill.
15. Aadhaar Amendment Bill
The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has amended the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016, to introduce offline verification of Aadhaar. By virtue of this legislation, an individual may use his/her Aadhaar number, voluntarily, to establish identity for telecom and bank related KYC purposes.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 4 and by the Rajya Sabha on July 8 and can be read here.
16. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019
This bill prohibits commercial surrogacy and regulates altruistic and proved infertility surrogacy. The bill was passed by the lower house on August 5 and it prescribes eligibility criteria and procedure to conduct surrogacy. It also constitutes National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards to grant certifications and oversee regulation of surrogacy in the county. To read the bill, click here.
Click here to read a critical comment on the bill.
17. Bill allowing Trusts To Open Units In SEZs
The Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Parliament on June 27 to amend the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005. It adds a trust and any other entity which may be notified by the central government to the definition of a 'person'.
This amendment will allow trusts to seek establishment of units in SEZs. To read the bill, click here.
18. Bill To Provide Institution-Wise Reservation For Teaching Posts
Rajya Sabha passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Bill, 2019 on July 3 after Lok Sabha cleared it on July 1. The bill provides reservation to candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, socially and educationally backward classes and economically weaker sections of the society for teaching positions in central educational institutions. The bill however excludes institutions mentioned in the Schedule to the Bill.
The bill is intended to nullify the effect of the Supreme Court's decision holding that reservation in teaching posts should be applied subject-wise. Click here to read more about the bill.
19. Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019
This bill amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 and includes persons living in areas close to actual Line of Control within the definition of socially and educationally backward classes. This amendment will bring persons residing in the areas adjoining the International Border at par with persons living in areas adjoining the actual LoC in terms of appointment and promotions in state government posts, and admission to professional institutions.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on June 28 and by the Rajya Sabha on July 1. Click here to read the bill.
In this monsoon session, 38 bills were introduced in the Parliament, 28 of which were passed; and while this session has passed the highest number of bills in 10 years, none of the bills introduced in this session were referred to the Select Committee.
The opposition has accused that the ruling party rushed through all the bills and did not give them time to assess the bills. Notably, 71% of the total bills were scrutinized by the committee in the 2009-2014 sessions, during the rule of UPA. However, only five of the total bills passed in this session were scrutinized by the committee, that too during the period of the previous Lok Sabha.