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.

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Lok Sabha passes Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third Amendment) Bill, 2017

Lok Sabha has unanimously passed Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 by two-third majority. The constitutional amendment bill seeks to grant National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) constitutional status at par with National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCSTs).

Key Features of Bill

Role of NCSC: The Bill removes power of NCSC to examine matters related to backward classes. Currently, under Constitution NCSC has power to look into complaints and welfare measures with regard to Scheduled Castes (SCs), backward classes (OBCs) and Anglo-Indians.

Constitutional status to NCBC: The Bill seeks to make NCBC Constitutional body by inserting new article 338B in constitution composition, mandate, functions and various officers of NCBC. Article 338B will give NCBC authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.

Backward classes: The Bill inserts article 342-A to empower President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in various states and union territories. He can do this in consultation with Governor of concerned state. However, law enacted by Parliament will be required if list of backward classes is to be amended.

Composition and service conditions: The Bill mentions that NCBC will comprise of five members appointed by President. Their tenure and conditions of service will also be decided by President through rules.

Functions: Bill defines following duties of NCBC (i) investigate and monitor safeguards provided to backward classes under Constitution and other laws are being implemented (ii) inquire into specific complaints regarding violation of rights of backward classes and (iii) advise and make recommendations on socio-economic development of such classes. Union and State governments will consult NCBC on all major policy matters affecting socially and educationally backward classes. NCBC will be required to present annual reports to President on working of safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament and state legislative assemblies of concerned states.

Powers of a civil court: The Bill gives NCBC powers of civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers will include summoning people and examining them on oath, production of any document or public record and receiving evidence.

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Lok Sabha passes bill for speedy disposal of commercial disputes

Lok Sabha has passed Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It replaces the ordinance promulgated by President in May 2018 and amends Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015.

The Act enables creation of commercial divisions in High Courts and commercial courts at district level to adjudicate commercial disputes such as disputes related to contracts for provision of goods and services and construction contracts. The amendment is aimed at improving ease of doing business in India.

Key Features of Bill

Reduction in pecuniary limits: Under the parent Act, commercial courts and commercial divisions in High courts can decide commercial disputes with value of at least Rs. 1 crore. The Bill reduces this limit to Rs. 3 lakh.

Establishment of certain commercial courts: The parent Act, empowers state governments to constitute commercial courts at district judge level, after consulting concerned High Court. It had barred such commercial courts to be constituted in cases where High Court has original jurisdiction to hear commercial cases. The Bill removes this bar and allows states to constitute commercial courts where High Courts have original jurisdiction.

Commercial Appellate Courts: The Bills allows state governments to notify commercial appellate courts at the district judge level in areas where High Courts do not have ordinary original civil jurisdiction. These Appellate Courts will hear appeals against order of commercial court below level of district judge.

Mediation: It introduces pre-institution mediation process in cases where no urgent, interim relief is contemplated. This aims to provide for opportunity to parties to resolve commercial disputes outside ambit of courts through authorities. This will also help in reinforcing investor’s confidence in the resolution of commercial disputes.

Counterclaims not to be transferred: The Bill removes provision of counterclaim in relation to transfer of suits in a commercial dispute of at least Rs. 1 crore in civil court.

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