During the Winter Session of Parliament 2023, numerous significant bills were passed, reshaping the country’s legal and regulatory framework. A recap of key bills approved by either the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha, or both is provided below.
Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023:
This bill, which originated in the Monsoon Session and gained approval from the Rajya Sabha, reached fruition during the Winter Session. It amends the Advocates Act, 1961, focusing on repealing outdated sections related to touts under the antiquated Legal Practitioners Act, 1879. The amendment empowers authorities like high court and district judges to compile and publish lists of touts, prohibiting those named from court premises. Acting as a tout while named on such a list can lead to imprisonment for up to three months, a fine, or both. Safeguards, such as an opportunity to contest inclusion and a subordinate court inquiry, are also included.
Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2023:
This bill passed in Parliament facilitates the establishment of the ‘Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University’ in Telangana, amending the Central Universities Act, 2009. It sets the stage for a specialized university dedicated to higher education and research, with a specific focus on empowering tribal communities in India. The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, mandated the establishment of a tribal university in Telangana following its separation from Andhra Pradesh.The Winter Session of Parliament saw significant legislative advancements, notably the approval of crucial bills. Here’s a synopsis of the prominent bills passed:
Post Office Bill, 2023:
During the Winter Session, both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha approved the Post Office Bill, 2023, intending to replace the antiquated Indian Post Office Act of 1898. This bill aims to transform postal services into a more citizen-centric network. However, concerns were raised about potential shortcomings, such as lack of procedural safeguards for mail interception and undefined penalties for unauthorized opening of postal articles, prompting worries about privacy rights.
Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023:
Several crucial bills were passed, altering key laws in Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, redefines disadvantaged classes under the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, proposes significant changes, including increasing seats in the legislative assembly and granting the lieutenant governor powers to nominate representatives, particularly from various communities. Despite opposition, these bills were passed, emphasizing a vision for a ‘new Kashmir.’
Repealing and Amending Bill, 2022:
Introduced in December 2022, this bill aims to annul 76 obsolete laws and correct an error in the Factoring Regulation Act, 2011. It emphasizes the government’s commitment to streamline the legal framework by eliminating outdated statutes.
Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023:
This bill, passed by both houses, amends the CGST Act, 2017, focusing on qualifications and age limits for members of the GST Appellate Tribunal. The changes align the CGST Act with the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, based on discrepancies highlighted by the Chief Justice of India.
Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill, 2023:
Passed by both houses, this bill grants the government provisional authority to levy customs and excise duties for 75 days. Its purpose is to implement proposed changes announced in the Budget immediately, aiming to prevent speculative activities until the Finance Bill’s passage.
National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2023:
This bill extends the validity of a central act addressing unauthorized colonies and slum relocation in Delhi until December 31, 2026, despite criticism for being a temporary solution.
Telecommunications Bill, 2023:
Introduced to overhaul the telecommunications sector, this bill passed in both houses but faced concerns over privacy rights and limited scrutiny in the Rajya Sabha due to its categorization as a money bill.
Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023:
Passed by the Lok Sabha, this bill simplifies the process of registering periodicals online, eliminating physical interfaces, and decriminalizes certain aspects, emphasizing ease of doing business.
Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023:
These three bills aim to replace significant criminal laws and were passed by Parliament, focusing on justice, reformation, and a departure from colonial-era laws, despite concerns about potential human rights violations and limited opposition participation due to the suspension of some MPs.