Winter Session of Parliament to see 40 bills: Surrogacy, rights for divorced Muslim women and consumers on agenda
The Winter Session of the Parliament is set for a stormy session ahead with the government hoping to pass 40 key bills on corruption, surrogacy and citizenship based on religion among others
The Winter Session of the Parliament, which starts today, is likely to see a lot of noise with the current session focussing on a lot of controversial issues. According to PRS, on agendar are some 40 bills focussing on areas such as overseas citizenship, consumer protection, rights of compensation for Mulsim divorced women, education, surrogacy, bankruptcy, corruption, and labour and transgender rights among others.
Of these, 25 bills are for consideration and passing, 14 Bills are listed for introduction, consideration, and passing, while one bill is listed for withdrawal, according to PRS.
The Winter Session will see some 19 amendment bills as part of the agenda. Some of these amendment bills such as the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 — makes prior sanction necessary to in order to investigate officials — and the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 — specifies grounds under which disclosures related to corruption may not be made — may attract a lot of flak from the anti-corruption brigade. Both the bills, have also been criticised for their half-hearted attempts to curb corruption.
The government is also bringing an amendment to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017, clearing the path to detain a child in Class V, VIII or both while allowing for re-examination.
The Central government's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to make make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship, is likely to generate the maximum noise, especially from constitutional experts, who believe making "illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality", according to PRS. The bill was amended by Rajya Sabha in July and is now back in the Lok Sabha.
The Centre will be making a fresh attempt to clear the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, whose draconian and paternalistic nature was criticised in a parliamentary panel submitted its report in August 2017. The committee had recommended compensated surrogacy instead of altruistic surrogacy as proposed in the original bill.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is another critical bill. While it sees an increase in penalties for violations of rules and forces states to comply with Central government rules when it comes to licensing taxi aggregators, the bill has been criticised for failing to address critical issues such as "creating road safety agencies, and improving road design and engineering", informs PRS.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2017, is another important bill, which aims to to prohibit certain persons such promoters of defaulting companies from submitting a resolution plan under the bill.
Some other noteworthy amendment bills which are going to be part of the Winter Session of the Parliament include the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which, allow the Central government to carry out construction in prohibited areas, and around protected monuments and archaeological sites for public purposes.
The Winter Session of the Parliament will have a total of 15 sittings, between 15 December, 2017, and 5 January, 2018, and will see the introduction of 14 fresh bills on social, labour, justice, health and consumer affairs. For example, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, aims to prevent discrimination against the third gender and prescribes penalties for certain offences.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which if passed, would allow divorced Mulsim women the right to seek maintenance from their husbands, before a magistrate’s court.
The Centre will also be looking at introducing the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which would allow proxy voting for overseas electors (NRIs), the Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which seeks to simplify the procedure for ease of doing business, and the Consumer Protection Bill, 2017, while withdrawing the the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015.
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