Bills and Acts Current Affairs

Parliament Passes Mental Health Bill, 2016

The Parliament has passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 that decriminalises suicide attempt by mentally ill people and guarantees the right to better healthcare for people with mental illness.

It was first passed in Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and later in Lok Sabha in March 2017. Now it will go to president for assent.

Key Features of Bill
  • Rights of persons with mental illness: It gives every person right to access mental healthcare from services operated or funded by the government. It also includes good quality, easy and affordable access to services.
  • It also provides right to equality of treatment, protect such persons from inhuman treatment, access to free legal services, medical records and right to complain in case of deficiencies in provisions.
  • Advance Directive: It empowers a mentally-ill person to have the right to make an advance directive that explains how they want to be treated for the requisite illness and nominate their representative.
  • Mental Health Establishments: Every mental health establishment must register with the respective Central or State Mental Health Authority. For registration, the concerned establishment must fulfill different criteria as mentioned in the Bill.
  • Procedure and process: It also outlines the procedure and process for admission, treatment and subsequent discharge of mentally ill persons.
  • Community based treatment: It focuses on community based treatment and special provisions for women and health.
  • Mental Health Review Commission and Board: It will be quasi-judicial body responsible for reviewing procedure for making advance directives.
  • It will advise the government on the protection of rights of mentally ill persons’. It will constitute Mental Health Review Boards in states’ districts will help of state governments.
  • Decriminalising suicide: It effectively decriminalises suicide attempt under the section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) by mentally ill persons by making it non-punishable
  • Prohibits electro-convulsive therapy: It will be not used for minors. It will be allowed only with the use of anaesthesia.
Background

The Bill is the first mental health law framed as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India is signatory. It requires the countries to align their laws with the Convention. The Bill provides “rights-based” approach to mental illness by consolidating and safeguarding the rights of fundamental human rights of the patients. In India, around 6 to 7% of the population suffers from some kind of mental illnesses, while 1 to 2% suffers from acute mental disease.

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Union Cabinet approves four GST Bills

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the four Goods and Services Tax (GST) related bills. These Bills were earlier approved by the GST Council after clause by clause, discussion over 12 meetings in past 6 months.

The passage of these four GST related bills will pave the way for the biggest reform in the area of Indirect Taxes in the history of the country.

These four Bills are
  • The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (CGST Bill): It makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services for both by the Union Government.
  • The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (IGST Bill): It makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services or both by the Union Government.
  • The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (UTGST Bill): It makes provisions for levy on collection of tax on intra-UT supply of goods and services in the UTs without legislature.
  • It is akin to States Goods and Services Tax (SGST) that will enacted by state legislatures for levy and collection of tax by the States/UTs on intra-state supply of goods or services or both.
  • The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to the States) Bill 2017 (The Compensation Bill): It provides for compensation to states for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the GST for a period of five years as per section 18 of the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.
Background

The Union Government is trying for early introduction of GST, one of the biggest taxation reforms in the country as early as possible. GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister earlier had set 1 July 2017 as the date of commencement of GST. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his 2017-18 Budget Speech had mentioned that country-wide outreach efforts will be made to explain the provisions of GST to Trade and Industry.

About GST

  • GST regime will amalgamate large number of Central and State indirect taxes into a single tax. It will mitigate cascading or double taxation in a major way and pave the way for a common national market.
  • It will help in the realization of the objective of “One Nation, One Tax” and improve the Ease of Doing Business in the country.
  • It will also indirectly benefit people of the country by reducing the tax burden especially on the daily consumer items.
  • The GST will bring in more transparency and efficiency by minimizing of human interface in the tax administration in the country.
  • It is also likely to lead to a reduction in tax evasion as a result of the computerization of the taxation process. It will in turn lead to increase in revenue collection for the Centre and the States.

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