Constitution & Law Current Affairs - 2019

Summary of latest bill and acts passed or pending in 2019 in Parliament of India with their salient features and issues for Current Affairs 2019 preparation for various examinations such as UPSC, SSC, State Civil Services, CLAT, Judicial Services etc.

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Lok Sabha passed Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019

Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah has been passed by Lok Sabha. The Bill amends Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 that provides for National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC) and Human Rights Courts.

Key Features of Amendment

Composition of NHRC: Under Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, chairperson of NHRC is a person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court but Bill amends this provision to person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court, or Judge of Supreme Court will be chairperson of NHRC. This means Supreme Court judge besides CJI can also be appointed Chairperson of NHRC.

Number of members of NHRC increased from two to three

Act provides for 2 persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of NHRC but Bill amends this provision to allow 3 members to be appointed as members of NHRC. Also, At least one of 3 members of NHRC should be a woman

Members of NHRC: Under the Act, chairpersons of commissions like National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), and National Commission for Women (NCW) are members of NHRC. The Ammendement Bill provides for including chairpersons of National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) as well as Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) as NHRC members.

Chairperson of SHRC: At present SHRC chairperson is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court but Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice/Judge of High Court will be chairperson of SHRC.

Term of office: As per the Act chairperson and members of NHRC and SHRC will hold office for 5 years or till 70 years of age or whichever is earlier. Bill reduces term of office to 3 years or till 70 years of age, whichever is earlier.  Moreover the bill removes the 5 year limit for reappointment unlike the present act that allows for reappointment of members of NHRC and SHRCs for a period of 5 years.

Powers of Secretary-General: Bill seeks to amend the current provision of Secretary-General of NHRC and a Secretary of SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them, to allowing the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to respective chairperson’s control.

Union Territories: Bill provides that central government may confer on SHRC human rights functions being discharged by UTs and the functions relating to human rights in case of Delhi will be dealt with by NHRC.

Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Central Universities (Amendment) Bill 2019, for establishing a Central University and Tribal University in Andhra Pradesh has been passed by both the houses of Parliament.

The Bill seeks to amend Central Universities Act, 2009, which establishes universities for teaching and research in various states. Moreover, establishment of a Central University and Central Tribal University in State of Andhra Pradesh is obligatory under Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019

It provides for establishment of two central universities in Andhra Pradesh to be known as

  1. Central University of Andhra Pradesh
  2. Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh- It will offer research facilities in fields of art, culture and technology to the tribal population. It will also take additional measures for providing higher educational and research facilities in tribal art, culture, and customs primarily to tribal population of India.

The universities would be set up in next 4 years.

Funds: Government has set aside Rs.450 crore for 1st stage of Central University project against total amount of Rs.902.07 crore and Rs.420 crore for Tribal University against an outlay of Rs.836 crore.

Significance: Currently, there is no Central University in State of Andhra Pradesh while all the other States (except Goa) have one or more Central University.