Constitution & Law Current Affairs - 2020

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 passes SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill

Lok Sabha passed The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014 by voice vote.

The bill seeks to amend parent law i.e. the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. It aims to prohibit the commission of offences against members of the SCs and STs and adds provisions for establishing special courts for the trial cases of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims.

Key features of the Bill

  • Actions to be treated as offences: The Bill adds new categories of actions to be treated as offences committed by non SCs and STs and amends certain existing categories.
  • Impeding certain activities related to voting especially vote or not vote for a particular candidate will also be considered an offence.
  • Addition of new offences: (a) garlanding SCs and STs with footwear (b) compelling to do manual scavenging or dispose carry animal or human carcasses. (c) abusing SCs or STs in public by caste name (d) disrespecting any deceased SCs or STs person held in high esteem or attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs or STs (e) threatening or imposing economic and social boycott.
  • Offences in case of sexual exploiting of SC or ST woman: It will be considered as an offence in case of (a) Using acts, words or gestures of a sexual nature against SC or ST woman. (b) Touching an SC or ST woman intentionally in a sexual manner without her consent (c) Practice of dedicating an SC or ST women as a devadasi to a temple.
  • Following activities will be considered an offence: Preventing SCs or STs using common property resources, entering any places of public worship that is open to the public, and (d) entering an education or health institution.
  • In case of any violation of any provisions mentioned in this act the courts will presume that the accused non SC or ST person was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim, unless it is proved.
  • Public servants role: The Bill add provision specifying duties of public servants which  includes (a) registering a FIR or complaint (b) public servant must read out the information given oral complaint by SC or ST person before taking the signature of the victim and giving copy of this information to the victim.
  • It should be noted that parent Act has provision mentioning that public servant (non SC or ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs or STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year.
  • Establishments of Courts: The Bill adds provision specifying establishment of Exclusive Special Court and Special Court at the district level to try offences mentioned under this Act. Exclusive Public Prosecutor and Public Prosecutor will be appointed for every Exclusive Special Court and Special Court.
  • Rights of victims and witnesses: The bill adds new chapter dealing with the rights of victims and witness. It mentions that it shall be the duty of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims and their dependents and the witnesses. It also mentions that state should specify a scheme to ensure the implementation of rights of victims and witnesses.

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Union Cabinet gives nod to Consumer protection Bill, 2015

Union Cabinet approved Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 in order deal with the growing concern over the safety of consumer products and services.

The new bill seeks to replace Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in order to deal with consumer protection and safety. It aims at simplifying the consumer dispute resolution process along with enhancing the pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer grievance redressal agencies.

Key features of the Bill

  • Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA): establishment of CCPA as an apex regulatory authority with more powers to protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
  • It will have powers to recall products and initiate action suit against defaulting companies including e-tailers for refunds and return of products.
  • Product liability: If product or services causes personal injury, death or damage to property, CCPA will have powers to take action against defaulting manufacturers or service providers.
  • Speedy disposal of court cases: In this regard, provision related to ‘mediation’ has been proposed which will act as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. However, mediation will be under the aegis of consumer courts.
  • Stringent penalty: In certain cases, the Bill adds stringent penalty provisions including life imprisonment.
  • Establishment of circuit bench: For speedy disposal of complaints consumers can file complaints electronically circuit bench along with traditional mechanism of filing complaints in consumer courts that have jurisdiction over the place of residence.

Rationality behind introducing new Bill

  • There is a need to modernise the Act to address challenges related to consumer protection effectively.
  • In technologically evolved marketing strategies which uses advance methods of multi-level marketing, tele-marketing, direct selling and e-tailing in some cases are providing misleading advertisements.
  • It has resulted in new challenges to consumer protection with growing concern over the consumer products and services safety, especially after the Maggi controversy.
  • Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986 which was amended thrice earlier in 1991, 1993 and 2002 was not capable to deal with the changing scenario of consumer protection effectively.

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