Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

Agriculture Ministry unveils model APMC Act

In order to give more freedom to farmers to sell their produce, the agriculture ministry has unveiled “The State/UT Agricultural Produce and Livestocks Marketing (promotion and facilitation) Act, 2017” which has defined each state/UT as a single unified market area. The draft law is proposed to overhaul the existing laws.

So far 26 states and Union Territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have fully or partly modified their APMC laws. Other than Bihar, all other states/UTs have agreed to adopt the model Act.

Salient Highlights

The model act proposes to curb the role of APMC mandis. The existing APMC mandis are allowed to enforce regulation only in their market yard and thus encouraging private sector players to set up mandis. Traders would be able to transact in all markets within a state by paying a single fee.

The model law on agricultural marketing would introduce features like single market within a state, private wholesale markets, direct sale by farmers to bulk buyers, and promotion of electronic trading etc.

As agricultural marketing is a state subject and is governed by their respective Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts, the states are free to adopt portions or the entire model act. The state governments as per the draft law are required to appoint an independent entity ‘director of agricultural marketing’ who would function as a sole authority to grant the licence for the establishment of a new market yard in the state concerned.

The new Act proposes to put a cap on mandi taxes at 1% for foodgrain and 2% for fruits and vegetables as well as commission agent’s levy at 2% of the total transaction cost.

Need

Due to the monopoly of APMCs, farmers do not have a choice to sell their farm produce to multiple buyers. The model act will provide several marketing channels to sell agricultural produce. The model act aims to liberalize trade in farm produce and aid better price realization for farmers.

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Parliament passes HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017

Parliament has passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017. It is the first national HIV law in South Asia.

The Bill seeks to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. It aims to prevent social stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Key Provisions
  • Prevention and control the spread of HIV and AIDS. It prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
  • Privacy of PLHIV: No person will be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order.
  • Establishments keeping records of information of PLHIV must adopt data protection measures.
  • Prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and PLHIV.
  • Safeguarding Rights: Obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
  • Strengthen legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances to probe discrimination complaints against those who discriminate against PLHIV.
  • It ensures that no HIV test, medical treatment or research is conducted on a person without his informed consent.
  • Grounds of discrimination: Lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
  • These include the denial, discontinuation, termination or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, renting property etc.
  • Bans unfair treatment of people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities, such as shops, hotels, restaurants, public entertainment venues, public facilities and burial grounds.
  • Pre-requisite HIV testing: Prohibits, requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education. 
Background

There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India. The prevalence of HIV in India is decreasing since last decade but percentage of PLHIV receiving Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) treatment is merely 28.82% against global percentage of 41%. The Bill will provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in arresting new spread of HIV infections and thereby achieving the target of “Ending the epidemic by 2030” to meet goal Sustainable Development Goals.

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