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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Bangladesh enacts Digital Security Bill, 2018

Bangladesh’s President Abdul Hamid has given his assent controversial Digital Security Bill, 2018, by enacting it as a law. This new law combines previous colonial-era Official Secrets Act with tough new provisions such as arrests without warrant. Bangladesh Government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh Awami League) has defended the digital law as necessary to combat cyber crime

Digital Security Bill 2018

It was passed by Bangladesh’s Parliament to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting religious sentiment, spreading negative propaganda against 1971 Liberation War and Bangabandhu (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman). It also covers illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data under its ambit

It provides for minimum of 7 years and a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment, as well as monetary fines of a minimum of Taka 25 lakh and maximum of Taka 1 crore, or both for illegal access and destruction of any important information related to state affairs.

Opposition to law

The law has faced widespread vocal opposition from rights groups and journalists that it could endanger freedom of speech– especially on social media. These groups are saying that this law will create atmosphere of fear and intimidation, which will make journalism and especially investigative journalism, virtually impossible. Opponents also have criticized digital law as latest authoritarian move by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The law has also drawn opposition internationally including from US ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Bernicat who had quoted that this law could be used to suppress and criminalise free speech which inturn could be detrimental to Bangladesh’s democracy, development and prosperity.

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Union Cabinet approves ordinance to make instant triple talaq a penal offence

The Union Cabinet has cleared ordinance to make practice of instant triple talaq penal offence. It was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind later as per Article 123 of the Constitution. Compelling reason cited by Government for promulgation of this ordinance was that practice of triple talaq continues unabated even after annulled by Supreme Court due to absence of legal framework.

Core components of ordinance

The ordinance makes instant triple talaq illegal and void. It prescribes punishment with jail term for three years to husbands practicing triple talaq. It also includes certain safeguards such as the addition of a provision of bail for the accused before trial, to do away with fears of misuse of the law.

The offence of triple talaq will only be cognizable when victim wife or her relatives by blood or marriage file FIR. It is compoundable offence, meaning that there can be compromise but only on insistence of wife and t magistrate will have to determine terms and conditions.

The offender can be granted bail by magistrate but only after hearing victim wife as it is private dispute between husband and wife and wife must be heard when bail is granted.  Additionally, victim wife will get custody of minor children. They will be entitled to receive maintenance from husband for herself and children, as decided by magistrate.

Background

In landmark 3-2 verdict in August 2017, five-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court had declared centuries-old practice of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat unconstitutional. Triple talaq is practice in which Muslim men divorce their wives unilaterally by uttering talaq three times in quick succession. Three of five judges of this bench had called this practice un-Islamic and arbitrary. They also disagreed with view that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice. In pursuance of SC verdict, Government had managed to get Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 passed in Lok Sabha in December 2017 but it got stuck in Rajya Sabha as it was unable to build consensus among political parties where it does not have majority.Government’s position on Triple Talaq always had been that it has nothing to do with faith or mode of worship or religion, but it is pure issue of gender justice, gender dignity and gender equality.

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