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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Government to introduce Commercial Space Activities Bill in the Budget session

The government is likely to introduce the Commercial Space Activities Bill in the budget session. The government has said in Lok Sabha that “Steps are being taken so that the Bill could be possibly introduced during the Budget session 2019”.

Features of the Space Activities Bill, 2017

The Space Activities Bill, 2017 is aimed at regulating space activities to ensure peaceful exploration and use of outer space. The important features of the bill are:

  • The bill provides for a non-transferable licence to be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity.
  • The bill empowers the Central Government to formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for the licence.
  • The Central Government would be required to maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop space activity plans for the country.
  • The Central Government would ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of space activity.
  • The Central Government would share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  • The bill provides for penal provisions if any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than Rs 1 crore or both.
  • The bill requires licensed entities to carry out operations in a manner that prevents the contamination of outer space or damage to the earth’s environment.

Shortfalls of the Bill

The criticisms against the bill are:

  • The bill falls short in addressing the space-based activities separately.
  • The bill tries to cover large swaths of the space value chain in one go. This would make the regulatory environment clumsy.
  • The definition of space activity is ambiguous. The current definition puts every space object under its ambit; even hardware that carries GPS receivers could require a license.
  • The bill will adversely affect the navigation services provided by companies such as Google Maps, Ola and Uber.

The bill had received responses from the public, Indian aerospace industry, related start-ups, space law experts, scholars, satcom companies and scientists. The government is in the process to address the concerns expressed by the stakeholders.

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Aadhaar amendment Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

The government has introduced the Aadhaar amendment bill in Loksabha. The bill aims to provide legal backing for voluntary seeding of biometric Aadhaar ID for mobile SIM card and bank account authentication purposes.

Features of the Bill

The important features of the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018 are:

  • The bill seeks to amend the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
  • The amendment permits children, who would turn 18 years old, to opt out of the system.
  • The amendments make sharing of Aadhaar details voluntary for opening bank accounts, school admissions and procuring mobile SIM cards.
  • The bill provides for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar.
  • The amendment bill ban storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication.
  • The bill makes it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it a bank account or a SIM card.
  • The bill lays down the procedure for offline verification of an Aadhaar number holder and confers enhanced regulator-like power on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to give directions as it may consider necessary to any entity in the Aadhaar ecosystem.

Why the amendments are proposed?

While upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the Supreme Court had held struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 that permitted private entities like telecom companies or other corporate to avail of the biometric Aadhaar data. Hence to address the issues like recognising the authentification of those who provided Aadhaar as the identity proof, the amendments are brought in by the government.

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