25 March 2020 4:57 AM GMT
The Budget Session of the Parliament concluded on Monday, after both the houses adjourned sine die. The session began on January 31 and was scheduled to conclude on April 3. However, in face of the mortal threat posed by the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the members agreed to an early adjournment. The session was conducted in two phases, from January 31 till February 11 and...
The Budget Session of the Parliament concluded on Monday, after both the houses adjourned sine die.
The session began on January 31 and was scheduled to conclude on April 3. However, in face of the mortal threat posed by the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the members agreed to an early adjournment.
The session was conducted in two phases, from January 31 till February 11 and then from March 3 till March 23. During this period, the overall productivity of Lok Sabha was 86% and that of Rajya Sabha was 76%.
The highlights of key legislative actions during the Budget Session are given below:
1. Union Budget & Finance Bill
The Session kick started with the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam laying the Union's Budget for the Financial Year 2020-21. In her budget, Sitharaman proposed to slash personal income tax rates for those individuals who do not avail of any deductions. The following picture gives a comprehensive view of the new and old tax rates:
Inter alia, various other amendments to the Income Tax Act, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Excise & Customs, etc. were also proposed, which will be given effect by way of the Finance Bill 2020, passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday, March 24.
The Bill was passed in the Lower House without any discussion after the leaders of parties decided so, in light of the urgent need to adjourn the house. Later in the evening, the (money) Bill was also returned by the Rajya Sabha after a clause by clause consideration, though still without any discussion.
To read the salient features of the Bill, Click Here
Click Here to access a thread on the Finance Minister's Budget Speech
2. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020
This Bill proposes to amend Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, to extend the upper limit for medical termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks, from the present stipulation of 20 weeks, for certain categories of women which will be defined in the MTP Rules. These categories will include 'vulnerable women' including rape victims.
The Amendment Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on March 17, stipulates that the opinion of one doctor will be required for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks; and opinion of two doctors will be required for termination of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks.
To further understand the objects and reasons of the bill Click Here
3. Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020
This Bill, aimed to reduce direct tax litigation, provides a mechanism for resolution of disputes related to income tax and corporation tax, pending before any appellate forum as on January 31, 2020.
As mentioned by the Finance Minister during her budget speech, tax payers who pay the disputed tax amount by March 31, 2020, will be entitled to absolute waiver of any interest or penalty associated with such tax. However, those making the payments after the cut-off date will be required to pay an additional amount.
The legislation had received a nod from the Lok Sabha on March 4, and being a money bill it was returned by the Rajya Sabha on March 13. It has now been put to force, after the central government notified it in the Official Gazette, on March 17.
Click Here to read further on the Resolution Mechanism
4. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019
Aimed at easing the insolvency resolution process, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 6 and by the Rajya Sabha on March 12. It has also been enforced, after a gazette notification on March 13.
The Amendment Act makes changes to the Code for the fourth time since its enactment to "fill the critical gaps in the corporate insolvency framework". Some of the salient features of the Amendment Act include:
The Act replaces the IBC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, which was promulgated last year, on December 28, 2019. To read a more detailed piece on the amendments, Click Here
5. Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020
This Bill proposes to bring the Aircraft Act, 1934 in line with the internationally accepted standards, procedures and practices as laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Passed by the Lok Sabha on March 17, the Bill proposes to convert the following three existing bodies under the Ministry of Civil Aviation into statutory bodies:
It also proposes to raise the maximum limit on fines for offences such as: (i) carrying arms, explosives, or other dangerous goods aboard aircraft, (ii) contravening any rules notified under the Act, and (iii) constructing building or structures within the specified radius around an aerodrome reference point, etc. from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore.
Click Here to read other salient further
6. Mineral Laws Amendment Bill, 2020
This Bill removes end-user restriction on use of coal to allow personal consumption of coal and opens the sector for commercial mining by paving way for private and global players. With this objective, it amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act) and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 (CMSP Act).
Some of the salient features of the Amendment Act include:
The Bill was put to force on March 13 to replace the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
Click Here to read more
7. National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 & National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019
Both the Bills, passed together by the Rajya Sabha on March 18 aim to ensure availability of high quality medical professionals both for homeopathic treatment as well as in the Indian System of Medicine.
The former Bill seeks to repeal the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and to set up a National Commission for Homoeopathy. Whereas the latter seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and set up a National Commission for Indian System of Medicine.
To read further on composition of both Commissions, their functions, powers, advisory councils, recruitment process and exams, etc. Click Here
8. Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020
Passed by the Lok Sabha on March 19, the Bill seeks to merge three Ayurveda institutes, namely
into one institution of National Importance. The proposed Institute that will go by the name Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, will be situated in the campus of Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar.
9. Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019
This Bill seeks to centralize three deemed-to-be Sanskrit Universities namely Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in New Delhi; Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, also in New Delhi and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Tirupati, into Central Sanskrit Universities.
This will give a boost to Post Graduate, Doctoral and Post Doctoral education and Research in the field of Sanskrit and Shastraic education.
It was cleared by the Lok Sabha during the 2019 Winter Session on December 12 and by the Rajya Sabha in this session on March 16.
Click Here to read on the University authorities, their powers and functions, etc.
10. Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020
Passed by the Lok Sabha on March 20, this Bill proposes to declare 5 Institutes of Information Technology set up under Public-Private Partnership mode at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur, as institutions of National Importance.
Currently, these institutes are registered as Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and do not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas.
Other Financial Bills considered/passed during the session include:
Some of the other Bills that were introduced during the session but have not been passed include: