How can we prevent destruction of public property ?

The Union Home Ministry has proposed a set of amendments to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984’ (PDPP) that seek to deter prospective violators from damaging public property during agitations and also make the office bearers of the organizations calling for such agitations responsible for any damage. These amendments follow the recommendations made by the Justice K T Thomas committee setup by the Supreme Court while dealing with a writ petition on this issue.

Damage to Public Property during violent protests is common place across the country. Public Transport Buses and other Public Property are the first victims during such protests. The government of India now proposes to the amend PDPP Act to put in place proper deterrents so as to prevent damage to public property.

Background

Taking a serious note of various instances where there was large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs, hartals and the like, suo motu proceedings were initiated by a Bench of the Supreme Court in 2007. The court appointed two different committees, one headed by former supreme court judge, Justice K T Thomas and the other headed by Mr. Fali S Nariman. The Justice K T Thomas committee recommended:

1. The PDPP Act to contain provision to make the leaders of the organization, which calls the direct action, guilty of abetment of the offence.
2. Enable the police officers to arrange videography of the activities damaging public property

The court accepted these recommendations. The court also issued certain guidelines for effecting preventive action. It said, as soon as a demonstration is organized:

1. The organizer shall meet the police to review and revise the route to be taken and to lay down conditions for a peaceful march or protest
2. All weapons, including knives, lathis and the like shall be prohibited
3. An undertaking is to be provided by the organizers to ensure a peaceful march with marshals at each relevant junction
4. The police and State Government shall ensure videography of such protests to the maximum extent possible
5.In the event that demonstrations turn violent, the officer-in-charge shall ensure that the events are videographed through private operators and also request such further information from the media and others on the incidents in question.

Land Acquisition: An overview of proposed amendments to the 2013 Act

On March 10, Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.  The Bill is now pending in Rajya Sabha.  This blog briefly outlines the major changes the Bill, as passed by Lok Sabha, seeks to make to the Act.

Context

Land acquisition, unlike the purchase of land, is the forcible take-over of privately owned land by the government.¬† Land is acquired for projects which serve a ‚Äėpublic purpose‚Äô.¬† These include government projects, public-private partnership projects, and private projects.¬† Currently, what qualifies as ‚Äėpublic purpose‚Äô has been defined to include defence projects, infrastructure projects, and projects related to housing for the poor, among others.

Till 2014, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 regulated the process of land acquisition.  While the 1894 Act provided compensation to land owners, it did not provide for rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) to displaced families.  These were some of the reasons provided by the government to justify the need for a new legislation to regulate the process of land acquisition.  Additionally, the Supreme Court had also pointed out issues with determination of fair compensation, and what constitutes public purpose, etc., in the 1894 Act.  To this end, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 was passed by Parliament, in 2013.

II. Current legislative framework for land acquisition: major shifts from the 1894 Act

The 2013 Act brought in several changes to the process of land acquisition in the country.   Firstly, it increased the compensation provided to land owners, from 1.3 times the price of land to 2 times the price of land in urban areas, and 2-4 times the price of land in rural areas.  Secondly, unlike the earlier Act which did not provide rehabilitation and resettlement, the 2013 Act provided R&R to land owners as well as those families which did not own land, but were dependent on the land for their livelihood.  The Act permits states to provide higher compensation and R&R.

Thirdly, unlike the previous Act, it mandated that a Social Impact Assessment be conducted for all projects, except those for which land was required urgently.  An SIA assesses certain aspects of the acquisition such as whether the project serves a public purpose, whether the minimum area that is required is being acquired, and the social impact of the acquisition.  Fourthly, it also mandated that the consent of 80% of land owners be obtained for private projects, and the consent of 70% of land owners be obtained for public-private partnership projects.  However, consent of land owners is not required for government projects.   The 2013 Act also made certain other changes to the process of land acquisition, including prohibiting the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land, except in certain cases where the limit may be specified by the government.

In addition to the 2013 Act, there are certain other laws which govern land acquisition in particular sectors, such as the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989.  The 2013 Act required that the compensation and R&R provisions of 13 such laws be brought in consonance with it, within a year of its enactment, (that is, by January 1, 2015) through a notification.  Since this was not done by the required date, the government issued an Ordinance (as Parliament was not in session) to extend the compensation and R&R provisions of the 2013 Act to these 13 laws.  However, the Ordinance also made other changes to the 2013 Act.

The Ordinance was promulgated on December 31, 2014 and will lapse on April 5, 2015 if not passed as a law by Parliament.  Thus, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 has been introduced in Parliament to replace the Ordinance.  The Bill has been passed by Lok Sabha, with certain changes, and is pending in Rajya Sabha.  The next section outlines the major changes the Bill (as passed by Lok Sabha) proposes to make to 2013 Act.

III. Changes proposed by the 2015 Bill to the 2013 Act

Some of the major changes proposed by the 2015 Bill (as passed by Lok Sabha) relate to provisions such as obtaining the consent of land owners; conducting an SIA; return of unutilised land; inclusion of private entities; and commission of offences by the government.

As mentioned above, the 2013 Act requires that the consent of 80% of land owners is obtained when land is acquired for private projects, and the consent of 70% of land owners is obtained when land is acquired for public-private partnership projects.  The Bill exempts five categories of projects from this provision of the 2013 Act.  These five categories are: (i) defence, (ii) rural infrastructure, (iii) affordable housing, (iv) industrial corridors (set up by the government/government undertakings, up to 1 km on either side of the road/railway), and (v) infrastructure projects.

The Bill also allows the government to exempt these five categories of projects from: (i) the requirement of a Social Impact Assessment, and (ii) the limits that apply for acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land, through issuing a notification.  Before issuing this notification, the government must ensure that the extent of land being acquired is in keeping with the minimum land required for such a project.

The government has stated that these exemptions are being made in order to expedite the process of land acquisition in these specific areas.  However, the opponents of the Bill argue that since the five exempted categories cover a majority of projects for which land can be acquired, consent and Social Impact Assessment provisions will not apply to these projects.

Secondly, the Bill changes the time period after which unutilised, acquired land must be returned.  The 2013 Act states that if land acquired under it remains unutilised for five years, it must be returned to the original owners or the land bank.  The Bill changes this to state that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be the later of: (i) five years, or (ii) any period specified at the time of setting up the project.

Under the 2013 Act, as mentioned above, land can be acquired for the government, a public-private partnership, or a private company, if the acquisition serves a public purpose.¬† The third major change the Bill seeks to make is that it changes the term ‚Äėprivate company‚Äô to ‚Äėprivate entity‚Äô.¬† This implies that land may now be acquired for a proprietorship, partnership, corporation, non-profit organisation, or other entity, in addition to a private company, if the project serves a public purpose.

Finally, under the 2013 Act, if an offence is committed by a government department, the head of the department will be held guilty unless he can show that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.  The Bill removes this section.  It adds a provision to state that if an offence is committed by a government employee, he can be prosecuted only with the prior sanction of the government.

For more details on the 2015 Bill, see the PRS Bill page, here.via PRS blog

Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014 Summary and Important articles.

Ordinance Summary the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.Summarized by PRS.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 was promulgated on December 31, 2014. The Ordinance amends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act 2013).

The LARR Act 2013 outlines the process to be followed when land is acquired for a public purpose. Key changes made by the Ordinance are:

Provisions of other laws in consonance with the LARR 2013:

  • The LARR Act 2013 exempted 13 laws (such as the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989) from its purview. However, the LARR Act 2013 required that the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws be brought in consonance with the LARR Act 2013, within a year of its enactment, through a notification.
  • The Ordinance brings the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws in consonance with the LARR Act 2013.

Exemption of five categories of land use from certain provisions:

The Ordinance creates five special categories of and use:

  • (i) defence,
  • (ii) rural infrastructure,
  • (iii) affordable housing,
  • (iv) industrial corridors,
  • ¬†(v) infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land.

The LARR Act 2013 requires that the consent of 80% of land owners is obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70% of land owners be obtained for PPP projects. The Ordinance exempts the five categories mentioned above from this provision of the Act.

In addition, the Ordinance permits the government to exempt projects in these five categories from the following provisions, through a notification:

  1. The LARR Act 2013 requires that a Social Impact Assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired.
  2. The LARR Act 2013 imposes certain restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land and other agricultural land. For example, irrigated multi-cropped land cannot be acquired beyond a limit specified by the government.
  3.  Return of unutilised land: The LARR Act 2013 required that if land acquired under it remained unutilised for five years, it was returned to the original owners or the land bank. The Ordinance states that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up the project, whichever is later.
  4. Time period for retrospective application: The LARR Act 2013 states that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply in certain cases, where an award has been made under the 1894 Act. However, if such as award was made five year or more before the enactment of the LARR Act 2013, and the physical possession of land has not been taken or compensation has not been paid, the LARR Act 2013 will apply.
  5.  The Ordinance states that in calculating this time period, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up: (i) due to a stay order of a court, or (ii) a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or (iii) any period where possession has been taken but the compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted.

 Other changes:

  • The LARR Act 2013 excluded the acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions from its purview. The Ordinance removes this restriction.
  • ¬†While the LARR Act 2013 was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the Ordinance changes this to acquisition for private entities‚Äü. A private entity is an entity other than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organisation, or other entity under any other law.
  • The LARR Act 2013 stated that if an offence is committed by the government, the head of the department would be deemed guilty unless he could show that the offence was committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.
  • The Ordinance replaces this provision and states that if an offence is committed by a government official, he cannot be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the government.

LARR Amendment Ordinance Namita Wahi.

This is a very informative podcast,reading the summary and listening to podcast will give you a very good overview about the ordinance and what it changes and that will your foundation for all kinds of questions that UPSC asks,it hardly takes around One hour to complete this topic,but after that  all you will be doing is value addition*

Analysis on the LARR ordinance.

Optional  :

Watch it for facts about the weakness in bill but more importantly for seriousness of the Ruling party for sending a fully informed and competent Spokesperson.

[Polity] Land Ordinance 2014 vs. Land Acquisition Act 2013: Salient Features, Comparison & Criticism

 

The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014

The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 7, 2014.  It proposes to amend the Factories Act, 1948.The Bill acknowledges the reality of women at the workplace, increases worker safety and reduces the days an employee must work to be eligible for annual leave.

 

  • The Act aims to ensure adequate safety measures and promote the health and welfare of the workers employed in factories.¬† The Statement of Objects and Reasons states that the amendments proposed in the Bill are based on the changes in the manufacturing practices and technologies, ratification of ILO conventions, judicial decisions, recommendations of various Committees and decisions taken in the conferences of Chief Inspectors of Factories.
  • Definitions:¬† The Act defines a factory as any premises (with certain exceptions) where manufacturing was undertaken with aid of power and at least 10 people were employed during the last 12 months (20 or more people if no power was used).¬† The Bill specifies that the state government may raise the minimum number of workers employed in the definition to 20 (if power is used) and 40 (if power is not used).
  • The Bill also amends the definitions of: (i) hazardous process, (ii) manufacturing process, (iii) occupier, and (iv) prescribed.¬† It adds the definitions of: (i) hazardous substance, and (ii) disability
  • Power to make Rules:¬† The Act allows the state government to make Rules regarding various matters.¬† The Bill grants the central government power to make Rules regarding some of these matters.
  • The Act permits the state government to make Rules regarding any matter which: (i) is covered by the Act or may be prescribed, or (ii) is appropriate to give effect to the purposes of the Act.¬† The Bill states that the state government’s power to make Rules will be restricted to matters where the central government does not have such powers.¬† The central government may frame Rules in consultation with state governments, to bring uniformity in the areas of occupational safety, health or any other matter.
  • Compounding of offences:¬† The Bill seeks to permit the central or state government to prescribe the authorised officers and the amount, for compounding of the certain offences before commencement of the prosecution.¬† The central or state governments may amend the list of compoundable offences.
  • Employment of women and persons with disability:¬† The Act prohibits women from working: (i) on certain machines in motion, (ii) near cotton-openers, and (iii) between 7:00 PM and 6:00 AM.¬† The Bill seeks to remove the first two restrictions.¬† It proposes to empower the state government to allow women to work during night hours in a factory or group of factories if: (i) there are adequate safeguards for safety, health and comfort of women (including night cr√®ches, ladies‚Äô toilets and transportation from the factory to their residence), and (ii) it has held due consultations with and obtained the consent of the women workers, the employer and the representative organisations of the employers and workers.
  • The Bill seeks to impose restrictions on employment of pregnant women and persons with disability in certain works or processes.
  • Manufacturer’s liability to ensure safety:¬† The Act places the liability of ensuring that an article to be used in a factory is safe on the designer, importer, supplier or manufacturer.¬† The Bill extends such liability to the designer, importer, supplier or manufacturer of any substance used in a factory.
  • Workers‚Äô safety:¬† The Bill introduces provisions for: (i) supply of protective equipment and clothing to workers exposed to hazards, and (ii) rules regarding hazardous processes.¬† It modifies the provisions regarding: (i) precautions against dangerous fumes and gases, (ii) explosive or inflammable dust or gas, and (iii) dangerous operations.
  • Facilities for workers:¬† The Act mandates a factory employing more than 150 people to provide shelters or restrooms.¬† The Bill states that a factory with more than 75 workers should provide separate shelters or restrooms for male and female workers.
  • Overtime and paid leave:¬† The Bill increases the maximum number of overtime hours allowed to a worker and relaxes the provisions regarding entitlement of workers to paid leave.
  • Penalties:¬† The Act specifies the penalties for various offences.¬† The Bill raises the penalties for 12 of these offences (including contraventions by the occupier or manager, a worker, or a designer, importer, supplier or manufacturer of an article or substance).

The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014 and The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014

The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014 and The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 were passed by Lok Sabha today.Six-member National Judicial Commission to select judges .THE JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS COMMISSION BILL, 2013 Summary will give you an overview of the existing system.

The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the `National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill’ seek to give constitutional status to the NJC,

  • comprising the Chief Justice of India (Chairperson);
  • two other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court;
  • the Union Law Minister and
  • two eminent persons to be nominated by the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of Opposition of the Lok Sabha.
  • One of the eminent persons shall be nominated from amongst the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities or women.

The object of constituting the Commission is to enable participation of judiciary, executive and eminent persons and will ensure greater transparency, accountability and objectivity in the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

This video by PRS summaries the bill and present system.

Within 30 days of the NJC being put in place, the Centre will intimate the number of vacancies of Judges in the High Courts and Supreme Court for making recommendations to fill the vacancies. It also mandates the Centre to make a reference to the Commission about vacancies that might arise six months in advance for the NJC to take steps to fill the vacancies.

The NJC will recommend the senior most judge of the Supreme Court for appointment as the Chief Justice of India, provided he is considered fit to hold the office. For appointing Supreme Court judges, the NJC will recommend names of persons on the basis of their ability, merit and other criteria. The NJC is vested with veto power not to recommend a person for appointment if any two members do not agree for such recommendation both for the apex court and High Court.

The Commission will recommend a judge of High Court to be the Chief Justice of a High Court on the basis of inter-se seniority of High Court Judges and ability, merit and other criteria. For appointment of High Court judges, the Commission will seek nominations from the CJ of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior most judges of that High Court. The NJC will elicit the views of the Governor and Chief Minister of the State before making recommendations.

On the recommendations of the Commission, the President will appoint the High Court and Supreme Court judges. However, if for some reason, the President requests the Commission to reconsider certain recommendations and the recommendation is reiterated the President is bound to make the appointment.

The Bill mandates the Commission to make regulations specifying the criteria of suitability with respect to the appointment of Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court, the procedure and conditions for selection and procedure for transfer of judges from one High Court to another.

Via PRS : The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014 and The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 .

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014, which was introduced in Lok Sabha yesterday, was referred to the Standing Committee by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today. This Bill amends The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Which prohibits the commission of offences against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) and establishes special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims. The amendment Bill adds new categories of actions by non SCs and STs against SCs or STs to be treated as offences.

  • The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr. Thaawar Chand Gehlot on July 16, 2014.
  • The Bill replaces the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Ordinance, 2014.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.¬† The Act prohibits the commission of offences against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) and establishes special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims.
  • Actions to be treated as offences:¬† The Act outlines actions (by non SCs and STs) against SCs or STs to be treated as offences.¬† The Bill amends certain existing categories and adds new categories of actions to be treated as offences.
  • Forcing an SC or ST individual to vote or not vote for a particular candidate in a manner that is against the law is an offence under the Act.¬† The Bill adds that impeding certain activities related to voting will also be considered an offence.¬† Wrongfully occupying land belonging to SCs or STs is an offence under the Act.¬† The Bill defines ‚Äėwrongful‚Äô in this context, which was not done under the Act.
  • Assaulting or sexual exploiting an SC or ST woman is an offence under the Act.¬† The Bill adds that: (a) intentionally touching an SC or ST woman in a sexual manner without her consent, or (b) using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature, or (c) dedicating an SC or ST women as a devadasi to a temple, or any similar practice will also be considered an offence.¬† Consent is defined as a voluntary agreement through verbal or non-verbal communication.
  • New offences added under the Bill include: (a) garlanding with footwear, (b) compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging, (c) abusing SCs or STs by caste name in public, (d) attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs or STs or disrespecting any deceased person held in high esteem, and (e) imposing or threatening a social or economic boycott.
  • Preventing SCs or STs from undertaking the following activities will be considered an offence: (a) using common property resources, (c) entering any place of worship that is open to the public, and (d) entering an education or health institution.
  • The court shall presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim if the accused had personal knowledge of the victim or his family, unless the contrary is proved.
  • Role of public servants:¬† The Act specifies that a non SC or ST public servant who neglects his duties relating to SCs or STs shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of six months to one year.¬† The Bill specifies these duties, including: (a) registering a complaint or FIR, (b) reading out information given orally, before taking the signature of the informant and giving a copy of this information to the informant, etc.
  • Role of courts:¬† Under the Act, a court of Session at the district level is deemed a Special Court to provide speedy trials for offences.¬† A Special Public Prosecutor is appointed to conduct cases in this court.
  • The Bill substitutes this provision and specifies that an Exclusive Special Court must be established at the district level to try offences under the Bill.¬† In districts with fewer cases, a Special Court may be established to try offences.¬† An adequate number of courts must be established to ensure that cases are disposed of within two months.¬† Appeals of these courts shall lie with the high court, and must be disposed of within three months.¬† A Public Prosecutor and Exclusive Public Prosecutor shall be appointed for every Special Court and Exclusive Special Court respectively.
  • Rights of victims and witnesses:¬† The Bill adds a chapter on the rights of victims and witness.¬† It shall be the duty of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependents and witnesses.¬† The state government shall specify a scheme to ensure the implementation of rights of victims and witnesses.
  • The courts established under the Bill may take measures such as: (a) concealing the names of witnesses, (b) taking immediate action in respect of any complaint relating to harassment of a victim, informant or witness, etc.¬† Any such complaint shall be tried separately from the main case and be concluded within two months.

Via : PRS Legislative Research .

The Street Vendors Bill

The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Vending) Bill,The Bill aims to protect the livelihood rights of street vendors as well as regulate street vending through demarcation of vending zones, conditions for and restrictions on street vending.

This article in Simply Decoded explains the Street vendors bill nicely and give you all the important points, one can also refer to PRS bill track for this bill .

Highlights of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill, 2011

The Parliament has passed the  Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill, 2011 which will soon be an act.Passed by both the houses now the bill awaits presidents signature to become an act.Though the bill is diluted to an extent it still got some teeth , following the act in letter and spirit and setting up all institutions and framework as early as possible for smooth functioning of lokpal is the need of the hour.

Read moreHighlights of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill, 2011