Amendment Bill Current Affairs - 2019

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Lok Sabha passed Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019

Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah has been passed by Lok Sabha. The Bill amends Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 that provides for National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC) and Human Rights Courts.

Key Features of Amendment

Composition of NHRC: Under Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, chairperson of NHRC is a person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court but Bill amends this provision to person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court, or Judge of Supreme Court will be chairperson of NHRC. This means Supreme Court judge besides CJI can also be appointed Chairperson of NHRC.

Number of members of NHRC increased from two to three

Act provides for 2 persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of NHRC but Bill amends this provision to allow 3 members to be appointed as members of NHRC. Also, At least one of 3 members of NHRC should be a woman

Members of NHRC: Under the Act, chairpersons of commissions like National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), and National Commission for Women (NCW) are members of NHRC. The Ammendement Bill provides for including chairpersons of National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) as well as Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) as NHRC members.

Chairperson of SHRC: At present SHRC chairperson is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court but Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice/Judge of High Court will be chairperson of SHRC.

Term of office: As per the Act chairperson and members of NHRC and SHRC will hold office for 5 years or till 70 years of age or whichever is earlier. Bill reduces term of office to 3 years or till 70 years of age, whichever is earlier.  Moreover the bill removes the 5 year limit for reappointment unlike the present act that allows for reappointment of members of NHRC and SHRCs for a period of 5 years.

Powers of Secretary-General: Bill seeks to amend the current provision of Secretary-General of NHRC and a Secretary of SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them, to allowing the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to respective chairperson’s control.

Union Territories: Bill provides that central government may confer on SHRC human rights functions being discharged by UTs and the functions relating to human rights in case of Delhi will be dealt with by NHRC.

Goa Govt. approves amendment to Factories Act to allow Women in Night Shifts

The state government of Goa recently approved an amendment to Factories Act 1948 which will allow deployment of women in night shifts (from 7pm to 6 am) in industries. It is a welcome step taken by Goa government towards women empowerment.

Key Highlights

The Amendment Bill was approved by state cabinet and is set to be tabled during upcoming Legislative Assembly session.

Need: Specific provision restricting employments of women at night have had a deterred effect on employment of women.

Importance:

The amendment will allow deployment of women in night shifts in industries and might end the discrimination against female workers as far as job opportunities are concerned.

It will give trouble-free space to women to excel in their careers and will also help women get more jobs.

It is a revolutionary step which might bring about equality at workplace.

What is Factories Act 1948?

Administration: It is administered by Union Ministry of Labour and Employment via Directorate General Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), which advises Central and State Governments on administration of Factories Act and coordinates factory inspection services in States. In state the act is administered by State Governments through their factory inspectorates.

Amendment: It was amended by Factories (Amendment) Act, 1987 and serves to assist in formulating national policies with respect to occupational safety and health in factories and docks in India.

Focus Area: It deals with different problems concerning health, safety, efficiency and well-being of persons at work places.

Covers: It is applicable to establishments with 10 or more workers, if premise is using power and to establishments with 20 or more workers, without electricity connection.