Bills & Acts Current Affairs 2018 - Current Affairs Today

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  • Supreme Court decriminalised a portion of Section 377 of IPC

    On 6th September 2018, the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra overruled its own 2013 decision and decriminalised a portion of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), that criminalises private consensual sexual acts between same sex adults (homosexuality). Section 377 was introduced in 1861 during the British rule of India, and targeted in particular Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals and communities. Modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533, it criminalised sexual activities "against the order of nature", including homosexual sex.

    Arunachal Cabinet passed Bill for creation of 3 new districts

    The Arunachal Pradesh Assembly passed a Bill for the creation of three new districts, namely Pakke-Kesang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi, in the State. Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein had introduced the Arunachal Pradesh Re-Organisation of Districts (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the House. The Assembly passed the Bill by voice vote. Arunachal Pradesh as of now has 22 districts.  The Pakke-Kessang district will be carved out of East Kameng district with five administrative units.  The Lepa Rada district would be created by bifurcating the Lower Siang district with headquarters at Basar and four administrative units.  The Shi-Yomi district would be created by bifurcating the West Siang district with its headquarters at Tato and four administrative units.

    Punjab Assembly passed Bills against sacrilege

    The Punjab Assembly, led by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh,  unanimously passed Bills for an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to make desecration of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment.  The IPC (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, has inserted Section 295AA. The Bill provides that whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

    Supreme Court clarified Second marriage is valid even if plea against divorce is pending

    Interpreting section 15 of Hindu Marriage Act, SC bench observed that restriction placed on the second marriage in Section 15 of the Act till the dismissal of an appeal would not apply to a case where parties have settled and decided not to pursue the matter. Section 5(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act places a bar on marriage by a person who has a spouse living at the time of the marriage. Section 11 makes such a marriage null and void. Section 15 tells when a divorcee can marry again.

    Rajya Sabha passes Immovable Property Amendment Bill

    The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which was moved by Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, was adopted by a voice vote. The Lok Sabha had passed the bill in December last year. Aim:-  To amend the regulations governing the compensation payable for acquisition of immovable property by the Centre for defence and security purposes.

    Rajya Sabha passed the SC and ST (PoA) Amendment Bill 2018

    Rajya Sabha passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018. The Bill will reverse the Supreme Court order that provides the provision for the immediate arrest of the accused booked under the SC/ST law. Now the Bill rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against people from SC and ST communities.  It states that there will be no need for a preliminary enquiry to register a criminal case. An arrest under this proposed law would not be subject to any approval. An FIR will be filed based on complaints of crimes against people from Dalit and tribal communities without any questions, it entails.

    Lok Sabha passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill

    Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, outlawing talaq-e-biddat. According to the Bill, talaq-e-biddat has been made a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Three provisions of the Bill: ♦Instant triple talaq is illegal ♦It imposes a jail term of up to three years and fine ♦It provides additional safeguards from the Act being misused It also provides for subsistence allowance to Muslim women and custody of minor children as may be determined by the magistrate.

    Government introduced four GST amendment Bills

    The government introduced four Bills to amend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) laws in order to make the return forms simpler and raise the turnover threshold for availing composition scheme to Rs. 1.5 crore.  The four amendment Bills are the Central GST (Amendment) Bill, the Integrated GST (Amendment) Bill, the GST (Compensation to States) Amendment Bill and the Union Territory GST (Amendment) Bill. Initially, the Bill was aimed to help the MSME sector and small traders.

    Lok Sabha passed the SC/ST (PoA) Amendment Bill, 2018

    The Lok Sabha passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018. The Bill bypasses the recent ruling of the Supreme Court laying down procedures for arrests under the Act. The Bill will be now passed to the Rajya Sabha. The Bill inserts three sections 18A (1) (a), 18A (1) (b) and 18A (2) in the 1989 Act.  Section 18A (1) (a) of the Bill says Preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of an FIR against any person. Section 18A (1) (b) of the Bill says the investigating officer shall not require approval for the arrest, if necessary, of any person against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act has been made and no procedure, other than that provided under this Act or the Code, shall apply.  Section 18A (2) of the Bill says the provision of section 438 of the Code shall not apply to a case under this Act, notwithstanding any judgment or order or direction of any Court.

    Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2018

    Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2018 unanimously. The Bill gives statutory powers to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha with more than a two-thirds majority on 2nd August 2018. It was recommended that the government should make public the caste census findings, based on which the reservation policy should be formulated. The demand for having a woman member in the NCBC would be considered and the other demand that one member in the five-member body must be from the minority community was dropped. 

    Lok Sabha passed the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill

    Lok Sabha passed the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill unanimously to provide a National Commission for Backward Classes (BC) as a constitutional body. The Bill was passed with all 406 votes being cast in support of the Bill. The Bill will be reviewed by the Rajya Sabha as a constitutional amendment under Article 368 should be passed by both the Houses of the Parliament separately with a special majority. The Bill will insert Article 338 B in the Constitution. According to the Bill, a Commission for the socially and educationally backward classes should be provided. The Commission constitutes of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and three other members. All the members shall be appointed by the President of India.

    France Parliament signed Into Law, Asylum And Immigration Bill

    This bill is designed to accelerate asylum procedures by cutting the maximum processing time from the current 120 days to 90 days after entering France.  About France President: Emmanuel Macron Capital: Paris Prime minister: Edouard Philippe  Currency: Euro, CFP franc.

    Lok Sabha passed the Commercial Bill

    The Lok Sabha passed the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It aims at improving the ease of doing business in India. The Bill will designate some courts as commercial courts. By doing so, the commercial disputes can be resolved swiftly. It will also reduce the monetary jurisdiction of these courts from Rs.1 crore to Rs.3 lakh.

    Cabinet approved Bill to restore the original provisions of the SC and ST

    Cabinet has approved to introduce a Bill to restore the original provisions of the SC and  ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Supreme Court has ruled out the Bill on 20th March. The Union Cabinet will be introducing the Bill in Parliament during the ongoing session. The Amendment Bill introduces three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act. The three clauses are: 1)The preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report against any person 2)The arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval 3)The provisions of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which deals with anticipatory bail, shall not apply to a case under this Act, in spite of any judgment or order of any Court.

    Lok Sabha passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018

    Lok Sabha passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Bill provides a death sentence for raping girls aged under 12. It enhances the punishment for rape of a woman from a minimum of seven to ten years and a maximum of a death sentence or life imprisonment. For gang rape of a girl below 12, the punishment will be life imprisonment or death.  The Bill amends the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The Bill will replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind in April 2018, once Rajya Sabha passes it. 

    Lok Sabha passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018

    The Lok Sabha passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. The Bill aimed at preventing human trafficking of women and children, providing rehabilitation to the victims and prosecuting offenders. The Bill was introduced in the House by the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. The Bill approves severe punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking. It also proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases. It allocated Rs.10 crore for Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund.

    Lok Sabha passed the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Bill 2018

    The Lok Sabha passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Rajya Sabha passed amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which will make giving bribes to a public servant an offence. The Bill provides for jail terms of three to seven years, besides fine, to those convicted of taking or giving bribes to public officials. The Bill also extends in removing the provision of prior government sanction for the prosecution of public servants. The amendment bill also redefines criminal misconduct to cover just the misappropriation of property and the possession of disproportionate assets. It narrows definitions and penalties for a range of offences and outlines powers and procedures for seizing the property of public servants accused of corruption.

    Women and Child Development Ministry to move proposal to amend POCSO Act

    Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 - for enhancing punishment in cases of sexual assault against young boys, will be sent to the Cabinet in two-three days by Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry. As per this Act, death penalty will be awarded to those convicted of raping children below 12 years. ♦ Union Minister of Women and Child Development - Maneka Gandhi.

    Lok Sabha passed NCTE (Amendment) Bill

    The Lok Sabha passed the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill to post-facto approval to Central/State institutions that are conducting teacher education courses without NCTE approval.  HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said that it has been done as a one-time measure to ensure the benefit of the students who have appeared for B.Ed, M.Ed and various other exams in institutes that are not recognised. He also said that there are also plans to start an integrated four-year B.A.-B.Ed, B.Sc.-B.Ed and B.Com-B.Ed courses to benefit the students.

    Rajya Sabha passed the State Banks Repeal and Amendment Bill 2017

    Parliament has approved the bill to merge six subsidiary banks with the State Bank of India (SBI). The bill repeals the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, and State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956 besides amending the State Bank of India (SBI) Act, 1955. The State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore were constituted under the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on July 21, 2017, and has been passed by the lower house (Lok Sabha).

    Lok Sabha passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018

    The Lok Sabha passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018. It will now replace the Ordinance by the same name promulgated by the President in April 2018. The Bill empowers special courts to direct the Central government to confiscate all the assets belonging to a fugitive economic offender, including those assets that are proceeds of the crime and that do not belong to the offender. The legislation gains importance against the background of high-profile cases where individuals such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi escaped the country. Ordinance Ordinances are laws that are promulgated by the President of India on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet. They can only be issued when Parliament is not in session. They enable the Indian government to take immediate legislative action. Ordinances cease to operate either if Parliament does not approve of them within six weeks of reassembly.

    Cabinet approves Central University for Andhra Pradesh

    The Cabinet approved Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to set up Central University in Andhra Pradesh. Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted that the Central University of Andhra Pradesh will start its academic session on 5th August. Also, this will result in more facilities for Andhra Pradesh in higher education.

    President Ram Nath Kovind clears Bill against witch-hunting

    President Ram Nath Kovind give assent to the witch-hunting (Prohibition, Prevention, and Protection) Bill, 2015 that the Assam Assembly passed three years ago. The Act prescribes a prison term of up to 7 years and up to Rs. 5 lakh in fine for calling a person witch. It also has provisions to come with Section 302 of the IPC, punishment for murder, if someone is killed after being branded a witch. This Bill has rejuvenated the campaign of a barely literate 65-year-old woman against superstition that has claimed scores of lives.

    Union Cabinet cleared DNA profiling Bill

    The Union Cabinet has cleared 'The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018’. This will allow the law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples, create DNA profiles and special databanks for forensic-criminal investigations.  The databanks can only store information related to criminal investigations and the DNA details of suspects will be deleted.  The aim of that bill is to set in place an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies to identify persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or for identifying missing persons.

    TN Govt introduces Bills to repeal archaic law and to amend the Tamil Nadu Revenue Recovery Act, 1864

    The Tamil Nadu government introduced two Bills in the State Assembly to repeal or amend certain Acts. The Bills were tabled by C.Ve. Shanmugam, Law Minister. The first Bill relates to the repeal of certain obsolete laws as mandated by the Law Commission. The bill states that ‘The State Law Commission has recommended in its first report on unrepealed Tamil Nadu regulations to repeal certain regulations as the said regulations are not suitable to the present day situation’. The government has decided to repeal the following Central Acts of local application in Tamil Nadu – The Tamil Nadu Public Property Malversation Act, 1837 (Central Act XXXVI of 1837) and The Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Bombay Children (Supplementary) Act, 1925 (Central Act XXXVI of 1925). Also, the State government decided to repeal other archaic regulations and to amend the Tamil Nadu Revenue Recovery Act, 1864.

    Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill And Chit Funds Amendment Bill Introduced In Lok Sabha

    The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill will help in laying down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts. The cases where the total value involved in such offenses is Rs. 100 crore or more, will come under the purview of the Bill. Minister of State for Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla introduced the Bill.  The Minister also introduced the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill-2018. The amendment is aimed at facilitating the orderly growth of the chit funds sector and remove bottlenecks being faced by the industry and enabling greater financial access of people to other financial products.

    Rajasthan Passes Bill To Award Death Penalty For Those Who Rape Girls Under 12 Years Of Age

    Rajasthan assembly passed an amendment bill awarding death penalty for convicts involved in the rape of girls below 12 years of age. State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria introduced 'The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018' in the assembly, which was passed in the House by a voice vote following a debate. The new amendment added sections 376-AA and 376-DD to the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The amendment says that a person who is convicted of raping/gang-raping a girl up to twelve years of age will be given a death sentence or rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than 14-20 years.

    Union Cabinet Approves New Bill To Ban Unregulated Deposit Schemes And Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill

    In a major policy initiative to protect the savings of the investors, the Union Cabinet has given its approval to introduce the following bills in the Parliament:- 1. Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018 in parliament & 2. Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018. 1. The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018 The bill is aimed at tackling the menace of illicit deposit-taking activities in the country. Companies/ institutions running such schemes exploit existing regulatory gaps and lack of strict administrative measures to dupe poor and gullible people of their hard-earned savings. 2. The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018 The Union Cabinet gave its approval to introduce the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in Parliament. In order to facilitate the orderly growth of the Chit Funds sector and remove bottlenecks being faced by the Chit Funds industry, thereby enabling greater financial access of people to other financial products, the following amendments to the Chit Funds Act, 1982 have been proposed: i. Use of the words "Fraternity Fund" for chit business under Sections 2(b) and 11(1) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982, to signify its inherent nature, and distinguish its working from "Prize Chits" which are banned under a separate legislation; ii. Increasing the ceiling of foreman's commission from a maximum of 5% to 7%, as the rate has remained static since the commencement of the Act while overheads and other costs have increased manifold; iii. Allowing the foreman a right to lien for the dues from subscribers, so that set-off is allowed by the Chit company for subscribers who have already drawn funds, so as to discourage default by them; and iv. Amending Section 85 (b) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982 to remove the ceiling of one hundred rupees set in 1982 at the time of framing the Chit Funds Act, which has lost its relevance.

    Lok Sabha Passes Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code Amendment Bill

    The Lok Sabha passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which disqualifies wilful defaulters and existing promoters from bidding for stressed assets of companies undergoing insolvency proceedings.  The high levels of NPA at present are due to window dressing and due to evergreening of loans. This situation has arisen because loans were restructured and not classified as NPAs. The problems were shoved under the carpet and these came to light because of the asset quality review initiated by RBI in 2015. Importantly, the bill replaces an ordinance that was brought in last month seeking to bar wilful defaulters, defaulters whose dues had been classified as non-performing assets (NPAs) for more than a year and all related entities of these firms from participating in the resolution process.

    Parliament passes Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Amendment Bill, 2017

    The Parliament passed National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Amendment Bill, 2017. It seeks to amend National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011. The Bill extends the deadline for relocating slum dwelling unauthorized colonies, village Abadi areas in NCT Delhi and calls for creating a policy for farmhouses constructed beyond permissible limits.

    Madhya Pradesh Assembly Passes Bill On Death For Rape Of Girls 12 And Below

    The Madhya Pradesh Assembly unanimously passed a bill awarding death to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 and below. With the passage of the bill, Madhya Pradesh becomes the first state in the country where those convicted of such rapes will face the gallows. Introduced in the House by Law and Legislative Affairs Minister Rampal Singh, the bill was discussed in detail and then passed by all parties, including the ruling BJP and opposition Congress.

    Andhra Pradesh Passed in Kapu Reservation Bill

    The Andhra Pradesh assembly unanimously passed the Kapu reservation bill which will provide the community with a 5 percent quota in education and employment in the state. However, Kapu quota if issued, one of the ruling Telugu Desam Party’s electoral promises in 2014, will take the total quota in the state to 55 percent, which is more than 50 percent limit restricted by the Supreme Court. 

    Government to give proxy voting rights to over 25 million Non Resident Indians

    The government has decided to give proxy voting rights to over 25 million non-resident Indians (NRIs) spread across the world, Attorney general KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court. The Election Commission of India had already recommended that the government take necessary steps to amend the law for NRI voters. It had prepared a report titled ‘Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for Voting by Overseas Electors’ and presented it to the court in October 2014.

    Telangana State Assembly passes Police Protection Bill

    Telangana State Assembly passed the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral traffic offenders and Landgrabbers (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Assembly also passed the Telangana Road Development Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 for development of roads and highways by securing funds from financial institutions and the Shops an Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2017 to give instant licenses to shops and commercial establishments as part of Ease of Doing Business.

    US Supreme Court allows President Trump to implement refugee ban

    The US Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump to implement broadly a ban on refugees entering the country from around the world. All nine SC justices agreed with the Trump administration to block a federal appeals court ruling that exempted refugees with contractual relationships with resettlement organisations from the ban. Already President signed revised executive order in March that banned travellers from six Muslim-majority countries namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - for 90 days and locked out most refugees for 120 days.

    British Parliament Passed EU Withdrawal Bill

    The Union Government to extract the UK from EU law in time for Brexit passed its first Parliamentary test. The EU Withdrawal Bill was backed by MPs by 326 to 290. The bill which will end the supremacy of EU law in the UK now moves onto its next Parliamentary stage. It was previously referred to as the Great Repeal Bill, the EU Withdrawal Bill overturns the 1972 European Communities Act which took the UK into the then European Economic Community.

    Coconut regains 'tree' status in Goa as Assembly Passes Bill

    The Goa Legislative Assembly passed a bill which regains coconut as a `tree, ensuring legal protection. The Assembly, on the last day of Monsoon session, passed the Goa, Daman, and Diu (Preservation of) Trees Act, 1984 to regulate felling of coconut trees and reclassify it as a tree. The previous Laxmikant Parsekar-led government changed the classification of a coconut tree to a `palm.

    Union Parliament passes IIIT (Amendment) Bill, 2017

    The Union Parliament passes Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill modifies the composition of the search-cum-selection committee which recommends names to the Central Government. It permits the Board of Governor of Institutes to appoint Assistant Professors and all the posts above that level as well.

    Lok Sabha passes two key bills for implementation of GST in Jammu and Kashmir

    The Lok Sabha passed the Central Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017 and the Integrated Goods and Services Tax. The first bill provides for the extension of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, 2017 to  Jammu and Kashmir. Under this different constitution procedure, President Pranab Mukherjee introduced two ordinances regarding the introduction of the GST.

    Union Parliament passes Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Amendment Bill

    The Union Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with Rajya Sabha approving it Lok Sabha  The Bill amends the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009 by extending the deadline for teachers to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment.

    President Pranab Mukkerjee approves Legislative Bill to ban hookah bar in Gujarat

    President Pranab Mukherjee approved a Legislative Bill to ban the hookah bar in Gujarat. The main aim of the government is to protect the youth from this dangerous addiction, which causes various types of cancer. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2017 passed by the Gujarat Assembly in February and sent to Governor O P Kohli. As per the new Act, running a hookah bar in Gujarat will charge a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 and a jail term up three years.

    Cabinet gives approval for introduction of Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017 and NCBC (Repeal) Bill, 2017

    The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given (I) Ex-post facto approval for introduction of (i) Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and (ii) National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament; and (II) Approval for retention of posts/incumbents and office premises held by the existing National Commission for Backward Classes which was proposed new National Commission for Backward Class Repeal of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 along with Savings Clause for namely the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017.  Article 338B for socially and educationally backward classes by name of National Commission for Backward Classesinsertion of Clause (26C) under Article 366 with modified definition.

    Government Officially Launches BS-IV Grade Fuel Across India after BS-III ban

    Following the Supreme Court's ruling to ban the sale of BS-III compliant vehicles in the country, the Government of India has now launched Bharat stage (BS) -IV grade fuel across the nation. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, formally launched BS-IV grade transportation fuels from Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 1st of April 2017. Aim of Bharat stage (BS) -IV :- It sets target of ushering in BS-VI fuel by April 2020 by skipping BS-V fuel. All state-run oil marketing companies will provide BS-IV-compliant fuel at their 53,500 retail fuel stations across the country. BS-IV fuels:- BS-IV fuels contain far less sulphur than BS-III fuel. Sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters, which control emissions. The BS-IV complaint vehicles release less pollutants Carbon Mono-oxide (CO), Hydrocarbon (HC), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) compared to BS III complaint vehicles. About Bharat stage emission standards:- 1) BS emission standards are emission standards instituted by the Union Government to regulate output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and spark ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles. 2) The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change (MoEFCC). 3) The standards, based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000. 4) Since then, various stages Bharat Stage compatible fuel and ungraded and modified vehicles were introduced throughout the country. 5) Each stage specifies a certain limit on the pollutants released, Higher the Bharat Stage goes lesser it emits pollutants. BS-I, BS-II and BS-III stages were launched in 2000, 2005 and 2010 respectively. 6) The harmful emissions that are identified for regulations in different Bharat Stages (BS) are carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate matter (PM).

    GST: Tax evasion over Rs 5 crore a non-bailable offence

    Tax evasion exceeding an amount of Rs 5 crore under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will be a non-bailable offence with the police having the authority to arrest persons without a warrant. The earlier threshold for treating tax evasion as a cognizable and non-bailable offence was proposed to be at Rs 2.5 crore. The Central GST (CGST) Act provides that if the offences relating to taxable goods and/or services where the amount of tax evaded or the amount of input tax credit wrongly availed or the amount of refund wrongly taken exceeds Rs 5 crore, then they will be cognizable and non-bailable. The government has set a target date of July 1 for roll out of the GST, which will subsume central excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies. The GST is administered & governed by GST Council and its Chairman is Union Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley.

    Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill 2017 without including Rajya Sabha’s proposed amendments

    The Parliament passed the Finance Bill 2017, even as the Lok Sabha rejected the amendments to the Bill suggested by the Rajya Sabha. Key amendments in the Finance Bill 2017: >  The Centre has included amendments to the Income Tax Act, which gives more power to the tax officials. The I-T department will not be required to disclose reasons for carrying out I-T raids or check. > The Finance Bill also entails unlimited and anonymous corporate funding for political parties. Earlier, the upper limit for donations was capped, which has been removed now. > Also, the donations will remain anonymous. Donations from foreign entities too will not be disclosed. > The Bill has also amended the Representation of People’s Act, which governs election. > Another amendment merges various tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies), which examine appeals of regulatory decisions. The government can now provide for qualification, appointments, removal, etc. for the tribunal members – this means the government will have arbitrary power over the tribunal. > The Bill also makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a PAN card and for filing income-tax returns. > The Bill also reduced cash transaction limit to Rs 2 lakh from earlier Rs 3 lakh. Union Finance Minister: Arun Jaitley Lok sabha speaker: Sumitra Mahajan Rajya sabha speaker: Hamid Ansari

    Parliament passes Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016; decriminalises suicide

    The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, that provides for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness, and also decriminalises suicide, secured parliamentary approval with the Lok Sabha's assent to the legislation. The bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016, ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card. One of the clauses in the bill decriminalises suicide, stating that a person who attempts suicide should be presumed to have severe stress, and shall not be punished. As per the bill, it will be government's duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of any attempt. The bill also provides that a person with mental illness will have the right to make an advance directive that states how he she wants to be treated for the illness and nominate a representative. An estimated 6-7% of the country’s population suffers from some kind of mental illness, while 1-2% has an acute condition. SALIENT FEATURES OF THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE BILL:- 1) Decriminalising attempt to commit suicide 2) Bans use of electric shock therapy for treating children with mental illness 3) Permits conditional use of shock therapy on adults, after being given anaesthesia, muscle relaxants 4) Emphasises on ensuring no intrusion of rights and dignity of people with mental illness Union Minister for Health and Family Welfares: J P Nadda

    Parliament passes The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016

    The Parliament has passed The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill amends the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923.  It ensures compensation up to Rs 1 lakh to employee if an injured in an industrial accident and imposes hefty penalty in case of any violation by the employers. Features of the Bill : Mandatory for employers to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the Act. Such information must be given in writing at the time of employing him. Employer will be penalised if he fails to inform his employee of his right to compensation.  Such penalty may be between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. Raises amount in dispute related to compensation, distribution of compensation, award of penalty or interest, etc to Rs. 10, 000. It permits the central government to further raise this amount.  Provision of withholding payments pending appeal if an employer has appealed against a Commissioner’s order has been deleted. It provides payment of compensation to employees and their dependants in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases.  It provides that any dispute related to an employee’s compensation will be heard by a Commissioner (with powers of a civil court). Under it, appeals from the Commissioner’s order, related to a substantial question of law, will lie before the High Court only if amount in dispute is at least Rs. 300.

    Union Cabinet approved amendments to existing Acts to facilitate implementation of GST

    The Union Cabinet gave its approval to amend three existing Acts to facilitate the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. The approval was given at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 March 2017 in New Delhi. Following are the three existing Acts which will be amended by the Parliament. The Customs Act, 1962 The Customs Tariff Act, 1975 The Central Excise Act, 1944 Besides, the Cabinet gave its approval to repeal the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985. Insertion of Sections 108A and 108B in the Customs Act, 1962 seeks to provide for furnishing of information relating to import or export of goods by specified persons. This amendment will enable analysis and detection of cases of under or over-valuation in imports and exports, misuse of export promotion schemes including the Drawback Scheme. It will also lead to detection of violations of the provisions of the Customs Act and various other laws under which customs officials have been authorized to effectively implement these laws Amendments or repeal of various provisions of other Acts will result in cleansing of the irrelevant portions from the statute book and reduce multiplicity of taxes. Goods and Services Tax : Goods and Services Tax is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market. It is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer.The benefits of GST are multifold. The new tax regime leads to uniformity of tax rates and structures, improved competitiveness in the industry and relief in overall tax burden to the consumer. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is expected to be rolled out on 1 July 2017 after the passage of the necessary laws by the Parliament.  

    Union Cabinet approves proposal for amendments to NABARD Act, 1981

    The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 22 March 2017 approved the proposal for Amendments to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Act, 1981. Highlights : Amendments to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981 include provisions that enable Union Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs 5000 crore to Rs 30000 crore. It also proposes to increase the authorised capital beyond Rs 30000 crore in consultation with RBI, as deemed necessary from time to time.  It also proposes the transfer of 0.4 per cent shareholding of RBI in NABARD to the Union Government. The shareholding of RBI amounts to Rs 20 crore. The proposed amendments also include changes in the long title and certain Sections to bring Medium Enterprises and Handlooms in NABARD’s mandate.  The proposed increase in the authorized capital of NABARD will allow the organisation to respond to the commitments it has undertaken, particularly in respect of the Long Term Irrigation Fund and the recent Cabinet decision regarding on-lending to cooperative banks.  It will also enable NABARD to augment its business and enhance its activities to facilitate promotion of integrated rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas including generation of more employment. The transfer of entire shareholding in NABARD held by RBI to the Union Government will remove the conflict in RBI's role as banking regulator and shareholder in NABARD.  

    RS passes HIV, AIDS Bill, 2014 by voice vote

    The upper house of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 by voice vote on 21 March 2017.  The bill, which includes provisions that ensure equal rights to people afflicted by HIV and AIDS in getting treatment and admission in educational institutions and jobs, was introduced in the house on the same day.  Highlights  : The bill was introduced in the house by the Union Health Minister, J P Nadda. It was originally introduced by the UPA government in February 2014 after consultations with people in 29 ministries and 21 departments.  Explaining the provisions of the bill, Nadda stated that it will give legislative backing to the people living with HIV and prohibit the feeling of hatred.   It will ensure that every HIV infected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy its facilities.   It also prohibits discrimination against HIV positive persons on grounds like denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services and residing or renting property. Further, replying to concerns of some members of the house including Congress leader Jairam Ramesh regarding clause 14 of the bill that says ‘as far as possible’ for providing treatment to those having HIV/AIDS by the Centre and the State, the health minister stated that the bill will ensure that nobody is denied treatment. While the bill received overwhelming support in the house, members emphasized on the need to provide higher budgetary allocation for National AIDS Control Organization and blood banks and the need to include sex education in school as a part of the syllabus in order make students more aware and cautious.

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