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Draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016 suggests basin-level management

The Central Government has brought final draft of the National Water Framework Bill, 2016 to provide uniform national legal framework to manage water in a better and efficient way

The comprehensive draft Bill proposes model law for all states. However, water being a State subject under VII Schedule of constitution the law will be not binding on States for adoption.

Need

The water shortage problem is escalating and country has witnessed acute drought situation in certain parts. In future, such situations may increase backdrop of climate change. Besides, presently in absence of institutional arrangement there are inter-state water disputes because states do not their contributions to a river’s catchment area to resolve conflicts.

Key Features of Bill

  • Every person has a right to sufficient quantity of safe water for life within easy reach of the household regardless of his/her socio-economic factors.
  • All basin states have equitable rights over the use of river water provided such use does not violate the right to water for life of any person in the river basin.
  • States must recognise the principle that the rivers are public trustees and not owned by the basin-States.
  • All the basin States are equal in rights and status, and there is no hierarchy of rights among them. Here equality of rights means not equal but equitable shares in river waters.
  • Managing water at river basin-level and right measurement of State’s contribution to river system to in order to resolve conflicts.
  • Establishing River Basin Authority (RBA) for each inter-State basin to ensure optimum and sustainable development of rivers and valleys.
  • Establishing institutional arrangements to deal with inter-state water disputes in order to “obviate” disputes through negotiations, mediation or conciliation.
  • Proposes other mechanisms such as National water quality and footprint standards, Integrated river basin development and management plan and Graded pricing system.

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Cabinet approves amendments to HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to introduce amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.

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

It also seeks to strengthen legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances to probe discrimination complaints against those who discriminate against PLHIV.

Key Features of Bill

  • Prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS. It prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
  • 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.
  • Obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
  • 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.
  • Prohibits, requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education.
  • Prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and PLHIV.

Background

There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India.  The prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade but percentage of PLHIV receiving Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) treatment are merely 28.82% against global percentage of 41%.

Comment

The Bill would provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme 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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Union Cabinet approves Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016.

The proposal to enact to this bill was forwarded by Union Ministry of Shipping to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes.

Admiralty jurisdiction is related to the powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways.

 Key Facts

  • The Bill consolidates the existing laws relating to admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, admiralty jurisdiction of courts, arrest of vessels and related issues.
  • This legislative proposal will also fulfil a long-standing demand of the maritime legal fraternity.
  • It also repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters. They are (i) Admiralty Court Act, 1840 (ii) Admiralty Court Act, 1861, (iii) Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890, (iv) Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, and (v) Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865,

Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016

  • Confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India, thus extending their upto territorial waters.
  • The jurisdiction will be extendable by the Union Government notification upto exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or any other maritime zone or islands constituting part of India.
  • It applies to every vessel irrespective of place of domicile or residence of owner. It does not apply to naval auxiliary, warships and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.
  • Inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from its application. But it empowers Union Government to make it applicable to these vessels also by a notification.
  • It lists the jurisdiction for adjudicating on a set of maritime claims. A vessel can be arrested in certain circumstances in order to ensure security against a maritime claim.

Background

  • India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about 95% of its merchandise trade volume.
  • However, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts under the present statutory framework flow from laws enacted in the British era.
  • The repealing of five archaic admiralty statutes is in line with the Union Government’s commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.

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