What are the bills, laws and policies that are important to study for the Civil Services Exam?

polity cool

Post by Vamsi Krishna Tellakula:

This is a good question, let's enumerate some important laws which came in the newspapers in the past 12 months.

We shall make this post crowd-sourced. And we are planning to reward our contributors by giving them credits* –

Detailed Well Presented 100 word Explanation – 2000

Giving Valid Links and a Small Brief – 1000

Giving Names of New Laws – 500

Contributors (As of now) – Jai Parimi, Divya Malika, Prasanna Venkatachari, Ashutosh Pandey, Arihant Pawariya, Divya Choudhary, Varsha Singh, Priyanka Peeramsetty, Niharika Banerjee, Gaurav Kumar, Jagannadh Mellacheruvu, Arpit Pareek, Nikhil Deshmukh

1) The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 and the 99th Constitutional Amendment

A bill to provide for the composition of the Judicial Appointments Commission for the purpose of recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts, its functions, procedure to be followed by it and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The current method of appointments has been examined by various bodies including the Law Commission and the Parliamentary Standing Committee.  They vary in the role of the executive and judiciary in making appointments of judges.
  • The composition of the JAC has not been included in the Constitution, but has been left for Parliament to decide by law.  This implies that modifying the composition of the JAC would not require a constitutional amendment, but may be altered by a simple majority in Parliament.
  • The Standing Committee examining the JAC Bill has recommended that (i) the JAC be composed of three eminent persons, (ii) the broad parameters for short listing of candidates for HC appointments be laid down in the Bill, and (iii) the center also consider the setting up of state level appointments commissions comprising the Chief Minister, the Chief Justice of HC and the Leader of Opposition.

2) Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Reservation Act, 2013

Objective – The principle objective of the new bill is fair compensation, thorough resettlement and rehabilitation of those affected, adequate safeguards for their well-being and complete transparency in the process of land acquisition. The title has been amended to reflect this.

Need – There is unanimity of opinion across the social and political spectrum that the Old Law (The Land Acquisition Act 1894) suffers from various shortcomings and is outdated. Some of these include Forced acquisitions, No safeguards, Silent on resettlement and rehabilitation of those displaced, Urgency clause, Low rates of compensation, Litigation. To say the least, the Old Act needs to be replaced at the earliest by fair, reasonable and rational enactment in tune with the constitutional provisions, particularly, Article 300A of the Constitution.

Link – Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

3) Companies Act, 2013 (CSR Pref)

Objective – Effective from financial year 2014-15, every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, needs to spend at least 2% of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on corporate social responsibility activities.

Impact – The CSR activities undertaken by the companies will benefit hunger and poverty eradication, promoting preventive healthcare, promoting education and promoting gender equality, setting up homes for women, orphans and the senior citizens, measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups, ensuring environmental sustainability and ecological balance, animal welfare, protection of national heritage and art and culture and many more.

Link – Companies Act, 2013, Companies – It's a good article
PRSIndia– This describes the whole of companies act – Checkpoint 135 for CSR

4) Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005

Objective – Landmark bill, which realized the Right to seek and access Information in line with the interpretation of Art.19(1)(a) of our constitution.

Impact – Champion to ensure Transparency and accountability in the governance procedures. it enforces the right of every citizen of India to have an access to the information regarding any money given by the State to any authority, thereby causing such authority to utilize such money reasonably and judiciously and also for keeping a check over their conduct and indulgence in corrupt activities. In 2002, SC’s verdict gave the citizens have a right to know about charges against candidates for elections as well as details of their assets, since they desire to offer themselves for public service and public servants cannot claim exemption from disclosure of charges against them or details of their assets. It is a powerful tool which can be realised in changing social dynamics and needs.

Criticism – Debates regarding the ambit of RTI’s scope have been articulated, to be extended, say to the political parties, temples, schools and also privatized public utility companies. Evidences of misusage have come to the limelight, say Naxalites using RTI’s to check the assets of local landlords to loot them

Guide to RTI : Page on rti.gov.in

5) Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act, 2005

Objective – The SEZ Act is expected to give a big thrust to exports and consequently to the foreign direct investment (“FDI”) inflows into India, and is considered to be one of the finest pieces of legislation that may well represent the future of the industrial development strategy in India. The new law is aimed at encouraging PPP to develop world-class infrastructure and attract private investment (domestic and foreign), boosting economic growth, exports and employment

Impact – The government gets the capital needed to establish the required infrastructure and also the expertise. SEZ’s with relaxed import tariffs help the Import dependent and export driven industries to flourish. SEZ’s create immense employment opportunities and improve the country’s foreign export.

Criticism – Practical implementation witnesses several backlogs ranging from regional disparities, grabbing arable land, labour laws issues and supply chain management which fail to be addressed effectively through the bill

6) Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

Objective -The government introduced the Bill to redefine the offence of rape and amend the penal laws in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission and the National Commission for Women.  The government withdrew the previous Bill and Ordinance, and introduced the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013. The changes wrt the ordinance in the act are:

Impact – Popularly known as the Anti-rape bill, this came out of the protests of 2012 Delhi Gang rape case.

Criticism – For  not including certain suggestions recommended by the Verma Committee Report like, marital rape, reduction of age of consent, amending Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Some detailed work: http://www.atimysore.gov.in/work…

7) Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013

Objective – To provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. the protection against sexual harassment and the right to work with dignity are universally recognized human rights

Impact – On a broader line, this ensures safe work environment for women against sexual abuse at work place and is capable of garnering a greater female work force and these are the Major features  the act provides for.                   

Criticism – It does not cover women in the armed forces and excludes women agricultural workers, "a gross injustice to agricultural workers. The burden of proof is on the women who complain of harassment. If found guilty of making a false complaint or giving false evidence, she could be prosecuted, which has raised concerns about women being even more afraid of reporting offences. Furthermore, the law requires a third-party NGO to be involved, which could make employers less comfortable in reporting grievances, due to confidentiality concerns.

8) DNA Profiling Bill, 2012

Purpose – DNA analysis makes it possible to determine whether the source of origin of one body substance is identical to that of another, and further to establish the biological relationship, if any, between two individuals, living or dead without any doubt.
 
Tip – Lawful purposes of establishing identity in criminal or civil proceedings.
 
Impact – It will be essential to establish standards for laboratories, staff qualifications, training, proficiency testing, collection of body substances, custody trail from collection to reporting and a Data Bank with policies of use and access to information therein, its retention and deletion.
 
DNA Data Bank Manager will supervise, execute and maintain this system and a DNA Profiling Board of eminent scientists, administrators and Law enforcement officers will administer and carry out other functions assigned to it under this Act.

Link – DNA Profiling Bill – PDF

9) Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011

Purpose – So far, India has excellent record in nuclear safety and radiation safety; but the Central Government intends to promote nuclear energy to meet shortfall in total energy requirement of the country; and whereas such excellent safety record in nuclear safety and radiation safety is required to be sustained for growth in the nuclear energy sector.

Impact – Now, therefore, it has been considered necessary and expedient to establish regulators to ensure continued excellence in nuclear safety and radiation safety in all applications of radiation and atomic energy on a large scale.

10) Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010

Purpose – As the name itself indicates that it is an Act to provide for civil liability for nuclear damage and prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident through a no-fault liability regime channeling liability to the operator.
 
Impact – Appointment of Claims Commissioner, establishment of Nuclear Damage Claims Commission connected there with.

11) IT Act, 2000 and IT (Amendment) Bill, 2006

Purpose – It is an Act to provide legal recognition for the transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as "Electronic Commerce", which involve the use of alternatives to paper based methods of communication and storage of information, to facilitate electronic filings of documents with the Government and other related agencies.
 
Tip – It is renamed as the Information Technology Act, 2008

Impact – To promote efficient delivery of Government services by means of reliable electronic records.
 

12) National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009

Purpose – For the effective disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal rights relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.

Impact – National Green Tribunal law is enacted in view of the involvement of multi-disciplinary issues relating to the environment and also to implement the decisions taken at Rio de Janeiro and Stockholm Conferences.

Link – NGT Bill – PDF

13) Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969

Objective – It is designed to ensure that the operation of the economic system does not result in concentration of the economic power to the common detriment.The act also provides for probation of monopolistic, unfair and restrictive trade practices.

Impact – The MRTP Commission if on enquiry concludes that the practice under consideration is of restrictive or unfair in nature , it may:Order discontinuation of the practice and restrict its repetition (cease and desist order ), the agreement shall be void and shall stand modified as may specified in the order. It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Link – MRTP  Act, 1969
 

14) Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2008

(Coal scam and SC verdict, so important)

Objective – To develop and  regulate mining & mineral industries and bring it under the control of one union by setting up mineral funds on National level, granting concessions, share benefit schemes while preventing illegal mining.
 
Impact – Safeguards on regulating and safe disposal of waste in consonance with environmental norms will be incorporated. Through implementation of proper taxing and speedy approvals on action against violations illegal mining will be prevented

LinkMines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2008

15) Whistleblower Protection Bill, 2011

It seeks to establish a mechanism to register complaints on any allegations of corruption or wilful misuse of power against a public servant.  The Bill also provides safeguards against victimisation of the person who makes the complaint. 

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill seeks to protect whistleblowers, i.e. persons making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offence by a public servant.
  • The Vigilance Commission shall not disclose the identity of the complainant except to the head of the department if he deems it necessary.  The Bill penalises any person who has disclosed the identity of the complainant.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Bill aims to balance the need to protect honest officials from undue harassment with protecting persons making a public interest disclosure.  It punishes any person making false complaints.  However, it does not provide any penalty for victimizing a complainant.

16) Juvenile Justice(Care and Protection) Bill 2014

Objectives:  The Bill seeks to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children.  It specifies procedural safeguards in cases of children in conflict with law.  It seeks to address challenges in the existing Act such as delays in adoption processes, high pendency of cases, accountability of institutions, etc.  The Bill further seeks to address children in the 16-18 age group, in conflict with law, as an increased incidence of crimes committed by them have been reported over the past few years.

Coverage: The Bill defines a child as anyone less than 18 years of age.  However, a special provision has been inserted for the possibility of trying 16-18 year old committing heinous offenses, as adults.  A heinous offense is defined as one for which the minimum punishment under the Indian Penal Code is seven years.

17) Citizens Charters & Grievance Redressal Bill, 2011. (CCGR)

The Citizen's Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill 2011 also known as The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 or Citizens Charter Bill was a proposed in Lok Sabha in December 2011. The bill lapsed due to dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 lays down obligations of every public authority towards citizens, specifying delivery of goods and services in a time-bound manner and providing for a grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of citizens charter.

Highlights :

  1. The Bill makes it mandatory for every public authority to publish a Citizen’s Charter within six months of the commencement of the Act.
  2. The Citizen’s Charter shall list the details of the goods and services provided by a public authority; the name of the person or agency responsible for providing the goods or services; the time frame within which such goods or services have to be provided; the category of people entitled to the goods and services; and details of the complaint redressal mechanism.
  3. Grievance redress officer : It requires every public authority to designate grievance redress officers in all public offices to enquire into and redress any complaints from citizens in a timeframe not exceeding 30 days from the date of receipt of the complaint.
  4. Public Grievance Redressal Commissions : The Bill provides for constitution of the state public grievance redressal commission and the central public grievance redressal commission consisting of chief commissioners and other commissioners.
  5. Penalty : DA and Commission can impose fine of Max. Rs 50000 to concerned officials/GRO. The penalty shall be recovered from the salary of the official. Such penalty may be awarded as compensation to the appellant.
  6. Corruption Prevention :  The Designated Authority and the Commissions may refer a matter to the appropriate authorities if there is prima facie evidence of a corrupt act under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. An appeal against the decision of the Central Commission shall be filed before the Lokpal. An appeal against the decision of the State Commission shall be filed before the Lokayukta.

Criticism :

  1. Against federal Spirit : Citizens’ charter bill provides for GRO and Grievances Commission at state and central level, but Parliament doesn’t not have jurisdiction to enact such law. Only State legislature has jurisdiction to make laws regarding state public services.
  2. More than ten states have already enacted a Citizen Charter Act or Public Services Guarantee Act in their respective states. Many of these state laws have provisions that are much better than the proposed Bill.
  3. Lack of Autonomy : According to the bill, the commissioners may be removed without judicial inquiry.
  4. Duplication of work : Several states have their own grievance redressal laws, The mechanism provided under these laws is different from that provided under the Bill. This will lead to duplication of work and organizations.
    MNREGA Act, RTE Act, National Food Security Bill, and the Public Procurement Bill also have their own grievances redressal forums. This will again lead to more duplication.

Sources :

  1. Copy of Bill : Page on prsindia.org
  2. Summery of Bill : Page on prsindia.org
  3. Wiki Page : Citizen's Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill 2011
  4. Mrual Page : Citizens Charter Bill 2011: Salient Features, Issues, Criticism
  5. Rediff Page :  All you need to know about the Citizen's Charter Bill

18) Right to Education Act, 2009

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), was enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the rules and regulations for free and compulsory education of children between 6 and 14 under Article 21A of Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the act came into force on 1 April 2010.

Highlights :

  1. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 stipulates that private schools reserve 25 per cent of seats at the entry level for children belonging to ‘disadvantaged groups’ and ‘weaker sections’.
  2. The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.
  3. Mentally and physically challenged children, entitled to free education in special schools, were included in the definition through an amendment in 2012.
  4. It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admissions.

Criticism :

  1. The act has been criticised for being hastily-drafted, not consulting many groups active in education, not considering the quality of education, infringing on the rights of private and religious minority schools to administer their system, and for excluding children under six years of age.

Problems faced :

  1. Poor Response : Lack of awareness about the Act, inability to meet the distance criteria and difficulty in obtaining necessary certificates from government authorities could be some of the reasons for this.
  2. The Act provides for admission of children without any certification. However, several states have continued pre-existing procedures insisting that children produce income and caste certificates, BPL cards and birth certificates.
  3. The Act is not applicable to private minority schools and boarding schools.
  4. Report on the status of implementation of the Act released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development admits that 8.1 million children in the age group six-14 remain out of school and there’s a shortage of 508,000 teachers country-wide.

Conclusion :
For all its flaws, the RTE Act is a progressive piece of legislation that aims to take education to the masses and fill the gaps in the social system.

Sources :

  1. Copy of Act : Page on ssa.nic.in
  2. Wiki page : Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act
  3. Hindu Article : Advantages and disadvantages of RTE Act

19) Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2013 (POSCO)

Objective – The act aims at ensuring protection of children from sexual abuse.
Pros
1. Gender Neutral bill. 53% victims of children are victims.
2. Stringent punishment (upto life imprisonment)
3. Covers broad range of sexual crimes such as non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the use of children for pornography
4. Includes special procedures to prevent the re-victimisation of children at the hands of an insensitive justice delivery system
5. Protects victims identity and provides assisting legal, medical and psychological facilities
Cons
1. Criminalises all consensual sexual contact below 18 years age.
2. The age provision is not in consonance with other acts.
3. Regressive and draconian considering today’s social realities. Children are increasingly aware of each others sexualities at early age.
4. Child marriage is prevalent on large scale. The age provision ignores this reality. Liable to bogus and unjustified complaints.
Source – The Hindu : Good Act, bad provision
 

20) The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013

Objective – The act aims to combat corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India.
Pros
1. Covers the offence of giving a bribe to a public servant under abetment. Specific provisions related to giving a bribe to a public servant, and giving a bribe by a commercial organisation.
2. Redefines criminal misconduct to only cover misappropriation of property and possession of disproportionate assets.
3. Modifies the definitions and penalties for offences related totaking a bribe, being a habitual offender and abetting an offence.
4. Introduces Powers and procedures for the attachment and forfeiture of property of public servants accused of corruption.
5. The Act requires prior sanction to prosecute serving public officials. The Bill extends this protection to former officials.
Cons
1. The Bill makes giving a bribe a specific offence. There are diverging views on whether bribe giving under all circumstances must be penalised. Some have argued that a coerced bribe giver must be distinguished from a collusive bribe giver.
2. The Bill has deleted the provision that protects a bribe giver from prosecution, for any statement made by him during a corruption trial. This may deter bribe givers from appearing as witnesses in court.
3. The Bill has replaced the definition of criminal misconduct. It now requires that the intention to acquire assets disproportionate to income also be proved, in addition to possession of such assets. Thus, the threshold to establish the offence of possession of disproportionate assets has been increased by the Bill.
4. By redefining the offence of criminal misconduct, the Bill does not cover circumstances where the public official: (i) uses illegal means, (ii) abuses his position, or (iii) disregards public interest and obtains a valuable thing or reward for himself or another person.
5. Under the Act, the guilt of the person is presumed for the offences of taking a bribe, being a habitual offender or abetting an offence. The Bill amends this provision to only cover the offence of taking a bribe.
SourceThe Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013
 

21) Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) (Regulation) Bill 2010

Objective – The bill aims at legalizing (commercial) surrogacy.
Pros
1. Offers legal protection to child and surrogate mothers.
2. Regulation of IVF/ART clinics and holding them Accountable for ensuring best medical practices.
3. Curbs exploitation of mother. Limits number of child births per mother to five.
4. Introduces age limit for surrogate mother – 21 to 35.
5. Ensures Child’s citizenship to be same as parents.
Cons
1. Legal back up will lead to widespread commercialization of surrogacy, posing serious ethical, moral and philosophical questions.
2. Mandatory certificate ensuring legality of surrogacy in foreign couple’s home country needed. Impediments in smooth commercial functioning.
3. No provision in the bill if parent’s change their mind or die. Child’s responsibility in this case is debatable.
4. Plethora of in-genuine clinics in India. Exploitation of poor and illiterate mothers because of their incapability to understand legalities involved.
SourceIssues of surrogacy
PIB English Features

22) Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013

Objective –  The Bill sets up an independent authority, the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), to regulate organisms and products of modern biotechnology.
Pros
 
1. BRAI will regulate the research, transport, import, containment, environmental release, manufacture, and use of biotechnology products.
2. Regulatory approval by BRAI will be granted through a multi-level process of assessment undertaken by scientific experts.
3. BRAI will certify that the product developed is safe for its intended use.  All other laws governing the product will continue to apply.
4. A Biotechnology Regulatory Appellate Tribunal will hear civil cases that involve a substantial question relating to modern biotechnology and hear appeals on the decisions and orders of BRAI.
5. Penalties are specified for providing false information to BRAI, conducting unapproved field trials, obstructing or impersonating an officer of BRAI and for contravening any other provisions of the Bill.
Cons
1. The Tribunal has jurisdiction over a ‘substantial question relating to modern biotechnology’ – An ambiguous term.
2. The Tribunal will consist of one judicial member and five technical members.  This is not in conformity with a SC decision that the number of technical members on a bench of a Tribunal cannot exceed the number of judicial members.
3. The Tribunal’s technical members shall be eminent scientists or government officials with experience in the field.  It is unclear whether the technical expertise of the latter can be equated with the former.
4. The Bill does not specify any liability for damage caused by a product of biotechnology.  Therefore, it will remain open to the courts to determine liability arising out of any adverse impact of modern biotechnology.
5. Tribunal will not accept complaints from civil society, in spite of the fact that the Bill directly or indirectly affects every citizen. No public consultation done.
6. Non clarity over Dept of GoI that will service BRAI. No mention of mandatory labelling of GM crops.
7. Takes away rights of states to decide on Agriculture, which is state subject.
8. The Convener of the Selection Committee for members of BRAI will be from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), which is a vendor of genetic engineering (the technology that BRAI is supposed to regulate) in the country. Conflict of Interest will arise.
SourceThe Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, 2013
Unconstitutional, unethical, unscientific

23) Competition Act, 2002
24) Prasar Bharati (Amendment) Bill, 2010
25) Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
26) Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013
27) eWaste (Management and Handling) Act, 2011
28) Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011
29) Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitaion Act, 2013. (Important, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan)
30) Child Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1986
31) Scheduled Tribes and Recognition of Forest Rights Bill, 2006
32) Environment Protection Law, 1986
33) Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
34) The Electricity Act, 2003
35) Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996
36) Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992
37) Factories Act 1948/Amendment Bill 2014
38) Apprentice Act 1961/ Amendment Bill 2014
39) The Pension Fund Regulatory And Development Authority Act, 2013
40) The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013
41) Benami Transaction (Prohibition )Act, 1988
42) The National Food Security Act, 2013
43) Pesticides Management Bill, 2008

*Maximum Credits per Person – 5000
**Contributors earning more than 1000 credits <must> –
                     a) Promote to at least 100 people.
                     b) Share this list everywhere. 😛 😛  LOL !

Thank you all. 🙂
Thanks for the A2A Anon. 🙂

What are the bills, laws and policies that are important to study for the Civil Services Exam?

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