After a busy first Budget session of the 17th Lok Sabha between June and August, which saw a number of bills being passed by both the Houses — several of them having far-reaching consequences — Parliament kicked off the winter session on Monday.
With 281 hours of total sitting and overall 28 bills passed by both the Houses, including the one which stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and divided it into two union territories, the Budget session between June 17 and August 6 was the most productive Parliament session in six decades. Lok Sabha on its own passed 36 bills during the session.
As the Opposition aims to question the government on economic slowdown and unemployment, apart from other issues, the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will look to introduce and push through several key bills in the second session of Parliament since it returned to power with a thumping majority in May.
Here are the key bills likely to be introduced in Parliament this winter session.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
The bill, which led to widespread demonstrations and protests across the Northeast, is aimed at amending the Citizenship Act, 1955, to make non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. Essentially, it seeks to provide that the minority groups in those countries such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians will not be treated as illegal immigrants in India.
Under the Citizenship Act, it is required for the applicant to have resided in India during the previous 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation. The bill seeks to relax the requirement from 11 years to six for non-Muslims.
Personal Data Protection Bill
The bill provides for regulation of individual data by government and private entities in India and abroad. It allows for processing of personal data of individuals on the condition of consent from the individual herself, in a medical emergency, or by the state for the sake of providing benefits to citizens.
The bill states exemptions for some kinds of data processing, such as in the interest of national security, for legal proceedings, or for journalistic purposes.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill
The proposed legislation, which was first introduced in Parliament in the previous session on July 19 and passed by the Lok Sabha on August 5, defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. The bill prohibits discrimination against transgender persons in areas including but not limited to education, employment, healthcare, etc.
The section of the bill which requires a transgender person to get issued a certificate of identity from a district magistrate, indicating the gender as transgender, had drawn criticism from the community who asked for the removal of the provision.
The Dam Safety Bill, 2019
The bill was introduced on July 29 and passed by the Lok Sabha on August 2. So, it is expected to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the current session. The bill provides for surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams — with height more than 15 metres, or height between 10 metres and 15 metres with certain design and structural conditions — across the country.
The bill will constitute two national bodies: the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS) to evolve policies and recommend regulations with regards to dam safety standards, and National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) which will implement policies framed by the NCDS and provide technical assistance to the State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs). Another state body to be constituted is State Committee on Dam Safety.
The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019
The bill, which was first introduced in August, was listed to be moved by the government for consideration by the Lok Sabha on Monday. The bill seeks to amend the Chit Funds Act, 1982. The legislation regulates chit funds, and prohibits a fund from being created without prior sanction of the state government.
The government had in March 2018 introduced a bill to regulate the chit fund industry and later referred it to a standing committee on finance for scrutiny. The parliamentary panel had advised the government to incorporate an element of insurance coverage for subscribers, apart from other things.
(With inputs from PRS Legislative Research)