List of bills passed by Indian Parliament this winter session

The winter session of Parliament was adjourned on Wednesday with no future meeting date clearly set.

13 new bills were introduced with 11 of them being passed and approved. While all the bills were passed by both houses of the Parliament, only four of them have become Acts after the President granted his assent.

The 11 bills include two that had been tabled in previous sessions. The winter session of Parliament was scheduled between November 29 and December 23.

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A quick perusal at the 11 bills introduced in the winter session:

1) Election Laws (Amendment) Bill (passed on 21 December)

The bill amends the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms. The 1950 Act provides for the allocation of seats and delimitation of constituencies for elections, qualifications of voters, and preparation of electoral rolls. The 1951 Act provides for the conduct of elections and offenses and disputes related to elections.

The current bill requires an individual to link electoral roll data with an Aadhaar card. The qualifying date for enrollment in the electoral roll is above 18. This particular clause drew flack from activists and opposition as linking Aadhar with one’s voter ID “for the purpose of establishing the identity” was dubbed as a gross invasion of privacy.

The current amendment bill will also allow for elections to become gender neutral for service voters. The amendment will replace the word “wife” with the word “spouse” making the statutes “gender neutral.” While, an Armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman Army officer’s husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law. With “wife” being replaced by the term “spouse,” this will bring about a change.

2) The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2021 (Passed on December 20)

The bill replaced the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. The Bill amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 to correct a drafting error. The Act regulates certain operations (such as manufacture, transport, and consumption) related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

3) The Delhi Special Police Establishment Amendment Bill 2021 (President assent given on Dec 21. Bill is now an Act.) (Passed on December 14)

It replaces the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. The Bill seeks to amend the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. The current act provides for the constitution of the Delhi Special Police Establishment for investigation of certain offenses, as notified.

4) The Central Vigilance Commission Amendment Bill 2021 (President assent given on Dec 21. Bill is now Act) (Passed on December 14)

It replaces the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. The Bill seeks to amend the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003. The 2003 Act provides for the constitution of a Central Vigilance Commission to conduct inquiries into offenses alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

5) The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill (Passed on December 13)

The Bill seeks to amend: (i) the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954, and (ii) the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958. These Acts regulate the salaries and conditions of service of the judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court of India.

6) Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 (Presidential assent given. Bill is now an Act.)

The Bill repeals the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September 2020. These are (i) the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, (ii) the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and (iii) the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

These laws were enacted to: (i) provide a framework for contract farming, (ii) facilitate barrier-free trade of farmers’ produce outside the markets notified under the various state Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) laws, and (iii) regulate the supply of certain food items (such as cereals, pulses, and onions) only under extraordinary circumstances such as war, famine, and extraordinary price rise. It is important to note that, in January 2021, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three farm laws owing to series of protests by enraged farmers.

7) Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 (Passed on December 1)

The Bill defines ART to include all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman. Examples of ART services include gamete (sperm or oocyte) donation, in-vitro-fertilization (fertilizing an egg in the lab), and gestational surrogacy (the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother). ART services will be provided through: (i) ART clinics, which offer ART-related treatments and procedures, and (ii) ART banks, which store and supply gametes.

8) The Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2019 (Passed on December 17)

The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.

9) Dam Safety Bill (Passed on December 8)

The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams across the country. These are dams with a height of more than 15 meters, or a height between 10 meters to 15 meters with certain design and structural conditions.

It constitutes two national bodies: the National Committee on Dam Safety, whose functions include evolving policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards; and the National Dam Safety Authority, whose functions include implementing policies of the National Committee, providing technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), and resolving matters between SDSOs of states or between an SDSO and any dam owner in that state.

It also constitutes two state bodies: State Committee on Dam Safety, and State Dam Safety Organisation. These bodies will be responsible for the surveillance, inspection, and monitoring of the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.

Functions of the national bodies and the State Committees on Dam Safety have been provided in Schedules to the Bill. These schedules can be amended by a government notification.

An offense under the Bill can lead to imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both.

10) The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (President Assent received on Dec 18. Bill is now an Act) (Passed on December 9)

The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021. It sought to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998. The 1998 Act established the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Punjab, and declared it as an Institution of National Importance. An Institution of National Importance refers to an autonomous institute established under an Act, with the power to hold examinations, grant degrees, diplomas, and other academic distinctions or titles.

11) The Appropriation Bill, 2021

This bill seeks to appropriate an additional amount of money to votes of Health and Social Development; to effect an adjustment to an appropriation of money to the vote of Public Enterprises, and to provide for matters connected therewith.

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