Bills & Acts 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.

Category Wise PDF Compilations available at This Link

Election Commission of India on Electoral Bonds

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India has made the following observations:

  • Electoral bonds, contrary to government claims, wreck transparency in political funding.
  • Electoral bonds coupled with the removal of the cap on foreign funding invites foreign corporate powers to impact Indian politics.
  • Electoral bonds would cause a “serious impact” on transparency in the funding of political parties.

The Election Commission of India further criticises amendments made to various key statutes through the two consecutive Finance Acts of 2016 and 2017.

What were the amendments made?

The Finance Act of 2017 amends various laws, including the Representation of the People Act of 1951, the Income Tax Act and the Companies Act. The Finance Act of 2016 makes changes in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010.

The amendment to Representation of the People Act allows political parties to skip recording donations received by them through electoral bonds in their contribution reports to the ECI.

The amendments introduced to the Income Tax Act allow anonymous donations. Donors to political parties are not required to provide their names, address or PAN if they have contributed less than Rs. 20,000. The Election Commission notes that many political parties have been reporting a major portion of the donations received as being less than the prescribed limit of Rs. 20,000.

The Finance Act of 2016 allowed donations to be received from foreign companies having a majority stake in Indian companies.

Observations by Election Commission

The Election Commission of India called these measures as a retrograde step and the ECI has no way to ascertain whether the donations were received illegally by the political party from government companies or foreign sources.

The Election commission also expressed concerns that these amendments would pump in black money for political funding through shell companies and allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India which could lead to Indian politics being influenced by foreign companies.

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Contempt Order against Shillong Times Editor, Publisher Put on Hold

The Supreme Court has put on hold the Meghalaya High Court’s judgment holding The Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri guilty of contempt and fining them Rs 2 lakh each.

What was the Case?

The Shillong Times has published an article titled “When judges judge for themselves” in pursuant to a high court order directing the government to amend rules so that spouses and children of retired judges become eligible for medical treatment.

The matter was taken up the high court on its own and further the high court had also set aside the amendment to the rules that excluded protocol services and guest house facilities from being applicable to the retired judges and their spouses and children.

The High Court had found the editor and publisher guilty for publishing the article “When judges judge for themselves”. The Supreme Court has now put on hold the judgment of Meghalaya High Court.

Contempt of Court

Contempt of court refers to actions which defy a court’s authority, cast disrespect on a court, or impede the ability of the court to perform its function.

The Contempt of Court provisions in India are enshrined under Articles 129 and 215 of the constitution for Supreme Court and High Court respectively and Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

Civil Contempt is defined as willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.

Criminal Contempt is defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act which:

  • Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or
  • Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding, or
  • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.

Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 limits the period for initiating contempt proceedings is of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed.

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