The Winter Session of Parliament is set to start on December 15 and last till January 5, 2018 and 14 bills are scheduled to be tabled. In the last parliamentary session i.e. the Monsoon session, only nine bills out of the 25 were passed during those 19 days. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shri Ananthkumar spoke to media persons in November and said that people strongly desire that the Indian Parliament legislates on the Triple Talaq bill and the National Commission for Backward Classes bill and the government is committed to respond to the desires.
Some of the key bills that are slated to be introduced in the upcoming session:
The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017
The 123rd Amendment bill, was introduced in April, 2017 for the monsoon session of Parliament to set up the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) under the Constitution. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in the last session but the Rajya Sabha required further amendments in the bill and due to split views, the bill was shelved. It is now set to be re-introduced in the Lok Sabha.
NCBC has the power to examine the inclusion and exclusion of backward classes and acts as an advisory body to the central government. The proposed legislation seeks to establish the NCBC under the Constitution, and provide it the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
The Commission would comprise of five members appointed by the President who would investigate and monitor how safeguards are provided to the backward classes.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017
In November, the government issued a statement considering to make talaq-e-biddat or triple talaq a criminal offence under the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, 2017. After three months to the Supreme Court judgment pronouncing triple talaq as unconstitutional and void, the bill is likely to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
The 2016 bill, aims to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh.
The bill focuses on the citizenship of illegal migrants. An illegal migrant was defined as a foreigner who travels to India without a passport and other travel documents or somebody who overstays their visit in the country. The bill has, however, modified the definition and made an exception for the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In short, foreigners falling under the mentioned religious category and places will no longer be treated as illegal migrants.
A second modification was made to the time duration of applying for a citizenship by naturalisation (legal act to acquire citizenship of a country). Out of the many qualifications one has to meet, one of them was that before applying for a citizenship, a foreigner must have resided in India or been in government service for at least 11 years. This particular law would change for the religious groups mentioned above and the time duration to stay in India or in government service will be reduced to six years.
The Act laid down circumstances under which the citizenship of a foreigner or a OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) would stand cancelled like, if the registration has been through fraud or within five years of the registration, the person was sent to prison for two or more years. Adding to the reasons, the bill will bring forth a fourth clause which would cover a foreigner violating any law in force in the country. Most likely it might include petty offences like parking in a no parking zone.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Mr. Nitin Gadkari, the bill aims to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Passed by the Lok Sabha, the bill remains pending in the other House.
Bringing exhaustive changes to the previous law, the bill requires the central government to develop a National Transportation Policy which would lay down the framework for road transport. Apart from the transportation policy, the bill will recall defect vehicles from the road, make insurance compulsory for all who own a vehicle, compensation to families in death and run cases, increased penalties on drink and drive and in case of failure of maintaining a vehicle, a person could be fined upto Rs. 100 crore. The bill strives to keep up with the changing time and aims to provide services like licenses, applications and forms, receipt of money and fines through electronic medium.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill
The original bill is set to be re-introduced in the winter session. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment decided to junk parliamentary recommendations on the inclusion of transgender partnerships and marriage. The original bill was introduced in the last session which aimed to protect and safeguard transgenders from discrimination and provide quotas in government colleges and jobs.
The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017
On November 11, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that it is most likely to table the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill to allow proxy voting rights to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). On July 14, the court asked the Centre to decide whether electoral laws be amended or NRIs would be allowed to vote by postal or e-ballots in the polls.
The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017
Introduced by Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Jagat Prakash Nadda in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016, the bill seeks to amend Dentists Act, 1948 and replace the Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016. A uniform entrance examination for all dental institutions at undergraduate and post-graduate level and the bill seeks to conduct entrance examinations in Hindi, English and other languages.
The remaining bills to be tabled are
- The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes and Protection of Interest of Depositors Interest Bill, 2017
- The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2017
- The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017
- The High Court and the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Condition of Services) Amendment Bill, 2017
- The Consumer Protection Bill, 2017
- The National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
- The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017
- The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions Third (Amendment) Bill, 2017
Three bills will be taken up to replace the ordinances:
The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Amendment Ordinance, 2017
The Ordinance amends the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Amendment Act, 2017, which was promulgated on September 2, 2017. The Ordinance aims to increase the cap on the GST compensation cess levied on cars from 15 percent to 25 per cent.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017
The 2017 Ordinance amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. It particularly amends the definition of a resolution applicant and their eligibility and ineligibility. The ordinance defines a resolution applicant as a person who submits a resolution plan after receiving an invite by the insolvency professional to do so. The 2016 Code defined the same as someone who submits a resolution plan to an insolvency professional.
The Ordinance lays down 10 ineligibility criteria for a resolution applicant, few of them being, a willful defaulter identified by the RBI, a person who has been convicted with two years more years of imprisonment, an undischarged insolvent and person prohibited from trading in securities.
It also introduces heavy penalty on people contravening the law. Penalty ranging from Rs. 1 lakh to 2 crores would be applied on provisions, which have failed to specify a penalty on contravention.
The Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017
Amending the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the ordinance was introduced on November 23, 2017. The Ordinance modifies the legal definition of a tree and removes the word bamboos from the list including palms, stumps, brush-wood and canes. Bamboos growing in non-forest areas will no longer require permission for its felling or transportation for economic use.
On November 23, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan spoke to media persons and emphasised to promote cultivation of bamboo in non-forest areas, which achieves twin objectives i.e. increasing the income of farmers and also increasing the green cover of the country.