Rajya Sabha Current Affairs - 2020

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J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 passed in Rajya Sabha

After passing a statutory resolution on scrapping special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by diluting Article 370, Rajya Sabha has now passed voting on J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 which will effectively bifurcate state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature and Ladakh without legislature. A statutory resolution on Article 370 and J&K reorganisation bill were passed by Rajya Sabha and will be put to vote in Lok Sabha next.

Jammu and Kashmir will also become largest union territory (UT) in India in terms of area once it is carved out while Ladakh, will be 2nd largest UT after it comes to force.

J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019

Assembly Seats: Bill that seeks for division of Jammu and Kashmir will lead to an increase number of seats in newly-constituted Assembly from 107 to 114 out of which 24 seats would be deemed to be vacant till time Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) comes under jurisdiction of Indian state.

State assembly currently has 111 seats, of which 46 are in Kashmir Valley, 37 in Jammu and remaining 4 are in Ladakh division. After passing of reorganisation bill in Parliament, Ladakh will be a Union territory to be administered by Centre.

Assembly Tenure: With abrogation of Article 370, tenure of J&K state Assembly will now be 5 years as in other parts of state which till now had a special status with a 6-year tenure.

SC/ST Reservation: New Assembly shall have reservation for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribes (ST) as in other parts of state.

Reorganisation of Constituencies: Constituencies will be re-organised through a de-limitation exercise under 2002 Act of Parliament. For purpose of delimitation, 2011 census figures will be taken as benchmark.

Unicameral Polity: Bill also seeks to scrap state’s legislative council to make J&K a unicameral polity. State will have a Chief Minister and a Lt Governor and all financial bills will need to cleared by Lt Governor.

What will Change after Scrapping of Article 370?

With abrogation of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir will now have no separate flag or Constitution and tenure of state legislative assembly will be for a period of 5 years like any other state and 2 union territories in country.

Indian Penal Code (IPC) will replace Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) to deal with criminal matters and Article 356, under which President’s rule can be imposed in any state, will also be applicable in union territories (UTs) Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh with unprecedented decision of Centre.

With addition of two new UTs, total number of will go up to 9- J&K, Ladakh, Delhi, Puducherry, Diu and Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Rajya Sabha passes Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill 2019

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed by Rajya Sabha. The bill seeks to amend Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008. It is yet to be passed by Lok Sabha.

Salient Features of Amendment Bill

Definition of major airports: The Bill seeks to amend definition of major airport as any aerodrome which has or is designated to have annual passenger traffic of over 35 lakh instead of existing 15 lakh. Currently, major airports with an annual capacity to handle 15 Lakh passengers come under purview of AERA.

Tariff determination by AERA:

At present as per the Act, AERA is responsible for determining-

  • the tariff for aeronautical services at different airports every 5 years
  • the development fees of major airports
  • the passengers service fee.

Moreover AERA can also call for necessary information to determine tariffs and perform any other tariff-related functions, such as amending tariffs if necessary in interim periods.

Amendment Bill adds that AERA will not determine the tariff, tariff structures and development fees, in certain cases. These cases include the case of privatised airports where such tariff amounts were a part of bid document (offered at the time of the privatisation) on basis of which airport operations were awarded.  Although AERA will be consulted by concessioning authority before incorporating such tariffs in bid document, and such tariffs must be notified.

About Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India

AERA is a regulator that has powers to set tariffs charged at airports.

It was established by Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.

It is an independent economic regulator for protection of interests of airports, airlines and passengers.

Function: It regulates tariffs and other charges for aeronautical services provided at civilian airports with annual traffic above 15 lakh passengers. It also monitors performance standard of services across these airports.

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