Specials

Besides GST Bill, many other important draft laws are pending

Last year's Monsoon session was a washout. Hope it's not repeated this year.  

The monsoon session of Parliament is set to begin on July 18 and end on August 12. Though the government is keen on ensuring the passage of the GST Bill and the much-needed constitutional amendment to be passed in the Upper House, a host of other important bills are pending in Parliament.

Firstly, the government must ensure the passage of three Bills in the Rajya Sabha in order to replace three ordinances. These include The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 and The Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016. These ordinances were needed to establish a National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses as per a Supreme Court order, as well as for giving exemption to the States that opt out of the uniform exam for 2016-17.

The third ordinance pertains to ‘Enemy Properties’, a term used to refer to property owned by Pakistan nationals in India. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 vests the rights of enemy property on the custodian and declares transfer of such property by Pakistan nationals as void. If the Bill turns into an Act, then civil courts cannot hear disputes pertaining to enemy property. It is because of this clause that the Bill could not be passed and the government took ordinance route three times.

Pending Bills in the Lok Sabha

A total of 11 Bills are pending in the Lok Sabha, including four for which Standing Committees have sent their reports. Since the BJP enjoys majority in the Lower House, the passage of the Bills should not be a problem.

The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 seeks to amend the 1948 Factories Act to keep pace with International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. The Bill includes provision for workers’ safety, amendments to overtime hours, higher minimum wages, health and welfare of workers, especially women and disabled, and penalties for various offences.

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014, is needed for the government’s much publicised UDAY scheme. If made an Act, supply licences will be granted by a State Electricity Regulatory Commission and customers can choose their electricity provider.

The Lok Pal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill,2014

Anti-corruption was one of the poll planks of the BJP during the 2014 general election. The same year the government decided to amend the Act to make Lokpal the single point to investigate corruption related cases. The amendment will pave way for the leader of the largest opposition party to be a member of the panel that selects the chairperson and members of the body. It also makes mandatory for government employees to declare their wealth.

The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill,2015 was tabled to amend the 1958 Act to ensure compliance with the Nairobi International Convention and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage.

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Amendment) Bill, 2015 would increase the allowance for investment in MSME manufacturing and services sector.The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 proposes to create a Central Consumer Protection Authority with powers to take suo moto actions against unfair trade practices, defective products, and overcharging, among others. The Bill will also create Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and Consumer Mediation Cell at districts, States, and national levels.

Table 1: Comparison of investment limits for enterprises in manufacture/production (in Rs.)

Type of Enterprise

MSME Act, 2006

MSME Bill, 2015

Micro

25 lakh

50 lakh

Small

25 lakh to 5 crore

50 lakh to 10 crore

Medium

5 crore to 10 crore

10 crore to 30 crore

Table 2: Comparison of investment limits for enterprises providing services (in Rs.)



Type of Enterprise

MSME Act, 2006

MSME Bill, 2015

Micro

10 lakh

20 lakh

Small

10 lakh to 2 crore

20 lakh to 5 crore

Medium

2 crore to 5 crore

5 crore to 15 crore

Source: PRSIndia.org

The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015 seeks to amend the definition of benami and benami transaction to include transactions made in fictitious name and grants exemptions if the benamidar is spouse or children or a member of Hindu Undivided Family.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee has agreed to include the amendments made by Rajya Sabha in the Indian Trust (Amendment) Bill, 2015. This Bill will be tabled again in Lok Sabha.

In addition to these the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016, referred to Standing Committee, the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill,2016 that was referred to Joint Committee and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill,2015, better known as the land Bill may also be taken up.

Prominent Bills pending in the Rajya Sabha

There are 25 Bills pending in the Rajya Sabha. The main reason for the backlog is the BJP has only 46 members in the House. Even if all the six nominated members and alliance MPs pledge their support to the ruling party, it still falls short of majority. The BJP is bound to take the help of regional parties such as AIADMK, Trinamool Congress, BSP and SP to ensure the passage of the Bills. It has also offered the olive branch to its rival Congress that has 62 parliamentarians.

Three Bills already passed by the Lok Sabha need clearance from the Upper House. They are the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill,2015; the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill,2016, the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016.

The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was referred to the Select Committee.

In addition to these, 34 Bills on which reports were presented by Standing Committees are likely to be taken up in this session. The prominent ones are Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill,2012, Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill,2014; and the Pesticides Management Bill, 2008.


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Printable version | Jun 8, 2021 2:22:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/specials/Besides-GST-Bill-many-other-important-draft-laws-are-pending/article14472614.ece

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