The new Union Cabinet met for the second time on Wednesday and gave its nod to introduce ten Bills in the upcoming session of Parliament, most of them to replace existing ordinances.
One of the most prominent and controversial bills that got the Cabinet’s approval was the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 to criminalise the practice of Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat. The Bill will replace the ordinance brought in by the government in February. It was the third such ordinance that the previous government had brought in within a year after a Bill introduced by them could not clear Parliament.
The government managed to get the Bill passed in Lok Sabha in December. But in Rajya Sabha, where BJP and its allies did not have the numbers, the Bill was stalled by the Opposition, which disrupted proceedings of the House over the Rafale deal. After the 16th Lok Sabha dissolved on completion of its term, the Bill lapsed.
This was the Cabinet’s last meeting before the next session of Parliament, which begins Monday.
Announcing the Bill, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, said it is needed for “gender equality and gender justice” and he hoped that the Bill will be passed in Upper House too this time as the government has “accommodated the views of the Opposition” and have made changes to the previous Bill.
In another significant decision, the cabinet agreed to extend the President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir by six more months — the current term comes to an end on July 2, 2019.
The other decisions regarding legislative business included approval of Bills to replace ordinances regarding reservation of faculty in universities, extension of 3 per cent reservation available to people living along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir to people living in villages along the International Boundary too in the state, and the amendment to the Aadhaar Act to make it a legitimate KYC document for certain private organisations.
The Cabinet also approved The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 that will consider College or a University as one unit for reservations and also extend reservation to Economically Weaker Sections. The 200-point system that the Bill proposes, which had existed earlier too, was scrapped when the Allahabad High Court struck it down in 2017 and the Supreme Court upheld the verdict in March 2018. The government had brought in an ordinance to nullify the Supreme Court order, and the Bill seeks to replace it.
Another Bill that was approved is titled the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which essentially seeks to make Aadhaar a valid identity document to be used in banks and for mobile sim cards as it allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as an acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
The Cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon was followed by a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers. Javadekar said that such meetings are routine.