Bills and Amendments Current Affairs - 2019

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Parliament passes Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

Parliament has passed Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 to empower Central Government to designate an individual as a “terrorist”. It was first passed by Lok Sabha on 24 July 2019 and later by Rajya Sabha on 2 August 2019.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

It seeks to empower Central Government to designate an individual “terrorist” if they are found committing, preparing for, promoting, or involved in an act of terror. Earlier, Central Government was having powers only to designate organisation as terrorist organisation.

Investigation by NIA: The Bill additionally empowers officers of National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases. Earlier, officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above were empowered to conduct investigation of cases under the Act.

Seizure of property by NIA: It will be mandatory for officer of NIA conducting investigation related to terror cases to take approval Director General of NIA for seizure of such property.

Insertion to schedule of treaties: The parent Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within scope of any of treaties listed in its schedule. The Bill adds another treaty to this list-International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Lok Sabha passes Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Lok Sabha has passed Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amidst strong objection from Opposition with 218 members voting in its favour and 79 against it.

Summary: The bill seeks to amend certain provisions of landmark transparency law- Right to Information Act, 2005 so as to empower central government on deciding terms of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) at both central and state levels, as well as have a say on salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service.

Key Features of Amendment Bill

Term & Conditions of Service: Bill allows Central government to notify term of office for Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) while as per RTI Act, 2005, CIC at the central level and ICs at state level will hold office for a term of 5 years.

Quantum of Salary: Bill proposes that salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of CIC and ICs will be determined by central government. While as per RTI Act the salary of CIC and ICs will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC) respectively.

Deductions in Salary: As per RTI Act, 2005 at time of the appointment of CIC and ICs, if they are receiving pension or any other retirement benefits for previous government service, their salaries will be reduced by an amount equal to pension. The RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019 removes these provisions.