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Friday, January 22, 2021

8 controversial bills India passed despite mass opposition and protests

So it finally happened. Despite massive protests across the country by farmers, two of the three big ticket farm bills of the Centre were passed in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote on Sunday. Of course there were unprecedented uproar and protests but that couldn’t stop the controversial bills to get passed.

The Opposition claimed that the Centre did not have the numbers and there was rampant violation of rules that helped the BJP. Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien termed the bills’ passage as a “murder of democracy” but ultimately it was of no use. The opposition MPs sat in protest inside the House for a while, and later, 47 of them moved a no-confidence motion against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh. But will all these ultimately help serve the farmers’ welfare? Plenty of doubts hover over this question. But this is not first time a controversial bill was passed amid countrywide outrage during the BJP’s reign at the Centre. The Opposition’s protest couldn’t deter the ruling party to get their bills passed as they have humongous figures both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

In this article, we shall look back and talk about the major controversial bills passed in Parliament in the recent past. In all these bills, there were fair to large amount of protests, but it didn’t stop the bills’ passage.

Here are 8 controversial bills India passed despite mass opposition and protests

1. Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Since it was introduced, the Citizenship Amendment Bill created massive protests in the country, especially in the Northeast. Total six people died and others were injured during the anti-CAA protests. The bill’s passage by both Houses of Parliament, followed by the President’s assent, led to further widespread protests across the country. But ultimately, nothing happened out of those agitation. And the Centre went ahead with the bill since it has huge numbers in Parliament. The Bill, now an Act, proposes to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Christian minorities who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015. Read More

2. J&K Reorganisation Bill

In last year, around this time, Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill and announced the abrogation of  This took away the special status previously accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir — autonomy over creating laws and not enforcing many created by the central government. The J&K Reorganisation Bill, once passed by both Houses of Parliament, paved the way for splitting Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories — J&K, with its own legislative Assembly like Delhi, and Ladakh without one like Chandigarh. This led to huge agitation across the Valley and it continued for months.

Curfew has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir in anticipation of protests ahead of 5 August – the day the government stripped the region of its special status. Officials say the curfew is meant to prevent violence by groups planning to observe 5 August as “black day”. Daily life was disrupted, Internet connection discontinued and all welfare and development activities were standstill following the bill’s passage.

3. Instant Bill

This was a major win for Muslim women, Parliament passed the Triple Talaq Bill, criminalising instant divorce. This is a step toward a more open and just society. But the bill has its own controversy as well. As critics right point out, the bill suddenly make Muslim men criminals for following an old “tradition”. Because the practice of instant divorce by Muslim men is now punishable with a jail term of up to three years. The government was able to get the Bill to be passed by both Houses of Parliament as it had the numbers, and the abstinence of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) from voting made it easier. Therefore, some tweaks and revisions were required before the bill’s passage, as many opine it was discriminatory.

4. Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill

Towards the end of its first term in office, the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had brought the 124th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019, providing for people from economically weaker sections (EWS) to avail of 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutes. This cleared the decks for those in the general category with an annual income of up to Rs 8 lakh and not availing of any reservation other than vertical quota (ex-servicemen, persons with disability, etc), to seek reservation in government jobs and education. However, the very importance of this bill becomes questionable now with unemployment hitting the roof. With educational institutions closed for months now and GDP scoring -24%, how feasible this bill is at the present scenario? Questions galore.

5. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill

Parliament approved the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, which gives the power to the Centre and states to declare any individual as a terrorist and confiscate their property. The Bill, moved by Home Minister Amit Shah, was passed by both Houses. The Congress Party supported the Bill by walking out before the vote, making it easy for the ruling BJP. The Left parties and the Trinamool Congress called it a draconian move and opposed it. Shah said the Bill would send a strong message that India was united in its fight against terrorism. The Bill provides a four-level scrutiny to keep violation of human rights in check.

6. Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Parliament passed the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which aims to make road transport safer and increase the penalty on traffic rule violators. It was not well received by all citizens as there was a sudden multi-fold increase in penalty for same violations. The law has provisions to facilitate people in dealing with transport department officials and curb corruption. However, people do not seem be very welcoming towards this bill and this bill hasn’t yet ensured lesser number of road mishaps and related deaths so far. Rather, the penalty has become huge and it empties one’s pocket without serving any actual benefit for transporters and roads.

7. SPG (Amendment) Bill

In a move that drew much controversy, Parliament passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019. After the amendment of the Act, SPG cover is now to be provided only to the prime minister and his immediate family members staying with him at the PM’s residence, besides former prime ministers and their immediate family residing with them for not more than five years after demitting office. The amendment of the Act took away the cover for former PM Manmohan Singh, as it has been more than five years since he demitted the office of PM. It also took away the cover given to the Gandhi family for the same reason. The Congress party termed this vendetta politics by the BJP.

8. SC (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill

Owing to a growing number of pending cases, Parliament passed a Bill to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 30 to 33, excluding the Chief Justice of India. The Bill was moved by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The appointment of three more judges to the Supreme Court will add about Rs 7 crore to the annual expenditure. However, with multiple recent instances, it is seen that the significance and general image of the Supreme Court has earned enough bad name. The Prashant Bhushan episode alone is enough to raise several questions on the SC’s judgment and stand. Qyestions can be raised about it’s blind support for Ram Janmabhoomi case well where it openly backed a specific religious community, ignoring the violence against another one.

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