Top 20 Selected Bills of 2019 in 2020 [Read Texts] by Anushtha

The previous Year 2019 was a busy year for legislature and lawmakers. A lot many new laws came and many got amended. We brought you a list of selected 20 Bills (some passed, some pending) of 2019 for a reading byte of the year 2020. Happy New Year 2020!

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, on December 11, 2019. The Bill seeks to provide for the protection of personal data of individuals and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same. 
The Bill governs the processing of personal data by (i) government, (ii) companies incorporated in India, and (iii) foreign companies dealing with personal data of individuals in India. Personal data is data which pertains to characteristics, traits or attributes of identity, which can be used to identify an individual.  The Bill categorises certain personal data as sensitive personal data.  This includes financial data, biometric data, caste, religious or political beliefs, or any other category of data specified by the government, in consultation with the Authority and the concerned sectoral regulator.
The Bill sets out certain rights of the individual (or data principal). These include the right to: (i) obtain confirmation from the fiduciary on whether their personal data has been processed, (ii) seek correction of inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date personal data, (iii) have personal data transferred to any other data fiduciary in certain circumstances, and (iv) restrict continuing disclosure of their personal data by a fiduciary, if it is no longer necessary or consent is withdrawn. The Bill defines these to include intermediaries which enable online interaction between users and allow for sharing of information. All such intermediaries which have users above a notified threshold, and whose actions can impact electoral democracy or public order, have certain obligations, which include providing a voluntary user verification mechanism for users in India.
The Bill sets up a Data Protection Authority which may: (i) take steps to protect interests of individuals, (ii) prevent misuse of personal data, and (iii) ensure compliance with the Bill. It will consist of a chairperson and six members, with at least 10 years’ expertise in the field of data protection and information technology.  Orders of the Authority can be appealed to an Appellate Tribunal.  Appeals from the Tribunal will go to the Supreme Court.
Offences under the Bill include: (i) processing or transferring personal data in violation of the Bill, punishable with a fine of Rs 15 crore or 4% of the annual turnover of the fiduciary, whichever is higher, and (ii) failure to conduct a data audit, punishable with a fine of five crore rupees or 2% of the annual turnover of the fiduciary, whichever is higher.  Re-identification and processing of de-identified personal data without consent is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years, or fine, or both.

Read Bill Text here/download/button

2. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [Pending]

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. The Bill amends the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.  In the Act, the term children refers to children and grandchildren, excluding minors. The Bill adds the following to the definition: step-children, adoptive children, children-in-law, and the legal guardian of minor children.  Further, the Act defines a relative as the legal heir of a childless senior citizen, excluding minors, who possess or would inherit his property after death.  The Bill amends this to include minors represented by their legal guardians.  The Act defines parents to include biological, adoptive, and step-parents.  The Bill expands the definition of parents to include parents-in-law and grandparents.
 The Bill expands the definition of: (i) maintenance to include the provision of healthcare, safety, and security for parents and senior citizens to lead a life of dignity, (ii) welfare to include the provision of housing, clothing, safety, and other amenities necessary for the physical and mental well-being of a senior citizen or parent. The Bill removes the upper limit on the maintenance fee.  The Tribunals may take the following into consideration while deciding the maintenance amount: (i) the standard of living and earnings of the parent or senior citizen, and (ii) the earnings of the children.  The Act requires children and relatives to deposit the maintenance amount with the relevant parent or senior citizen within 30 days of being ordered to do so.  The Bill reduces the number of days to 15.
The Bill increases the penalty to imprisonment between three and six months, or fine of up to Rs 10,000, or both.  The Bill also provides that if the children or relatives fail to comply with the maintenance order, the Tribunal may issue a warrant to levy the due amount.  Failure to pay such fine may lead to imprisonment of up to one month, or until the payment is made, whichever is earlier.
Under the Act, state governments may set up old age homes.  The Bill removes this and provides for senior citizen care homes which may be set up by the government or private organisations.  These homes must be registered with a registration authority set up by the state government.  The central government will prescribe minimum standards for these homes, such as food, infrastructure, and medical facilities. 
The Bill requires every police station to have at least one officer, not below the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector, to deal with issues related to parents and senior citizens​. State governments must constitute a special police unit for senior citizens in every district.  The unit will be headed by a police officer, not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.  

3. The Code on Social Security, 2019 [Pending]

The Code on Social Security, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment. It replaces nine laws related to social security, including the Employees’ Provident Fund Act, 1952, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, and the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.  Social security refers to measures to ensure access to health care and the provision of income security to workers. Under the Code, the central government may notify various social security schemes for the benefit of workers.  These include an Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme, an Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), and an Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) Scheme.  These may provide for a provident fund, a pension fund, and an insurance scheme, respectively.  The government may also notify: (i) an Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Scheme to provide sickness, maternity, and other benefits, (ii) gratuity to workers on completing five years of employment (or lesser than five years in certain cases such as death), (iii) maternity benefits to women employees, (iv) cess for welfare of building and construction workers, and (v) compensation to employees and their dependents in the case of occupational injury or disease. 
The Code provides for the establishment of several bodies to administer the social security schemes.  These include: (i) a Central Board of Trustees, headed by the Central Provident Fund Commissioner, to administer the EPF, EPS and EDLI Schemes, (ii) an Employees State Insurance Corporation, headed by a Chairperson appointed by the central government, to administer the ESI Scheme, (iii) national and state-level Social Security Boards, headed by the central and state Ministers for Labour and Employment, respectively, to administer schemes for unorganised workers, and (iv) state-level Building Workers’ Welfare Boards, headed by a Chairperson nominated by the state government, to administer schemes for building workers.
The Code specifies penalties for various offences, such as: (i) the failure by an employer to pay contributions under the Code after deducting the employee’s share, punishable with imprisonment between one and three years, and fine of one lakh rupees, and (ii) falsification of reports, punishable with imprisonment of up to six months. 

4. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019  [Passed]

The Citizenship Act, 1955 regulates who may acquire Indian citizenship and on what grounds.  A person may become an Indian citizen if they are born in India or have Indian parentage or have resided in the country for a period of time, etc.  However, illegal migrants are prohibited from acquiring Indian citizenship. According to Act, An illegal migrant is a foreigner who: (i) enters the country without valid travel documents, like a passport and visa, or (ii) enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted time period. 
In 2015 and 2016, the central government issued two notifications exempting certain groups of illegal migrants from provisions of the 1946 and 1920 Acts. These groups are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. 
This implies that these groups of illegal migrants will not be deported or imprisoned for being in India without valid documents.
The Controversial 2019 Bill seeks to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.  It exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision.  The Bill also makes amendments to provisions related to OCI cardholders. A foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., a former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.  This will entitle them to benefits such as the right to travel to India and to work and study in the country.  The Bill amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the central government.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha. The Bill amends provisions related to reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) for reservation of seats for SCs and STs and representation of the Anglo-Indian community by nomination, in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of states. This has been provided for a period of 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution and will expire on January 25, 2020.  The Bill seeks to extend the reservation for SCs and STs by another 10 years till January 25, 2030. 

6. The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019 [Pending]

The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Ministry of External Affairs. The Bill will apply to all parts of the sea adjacent to and beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.  Exclusive Economic Zone refers to the area of sea to which India has exclusive rights for economic activities. The Bill provides for prevention of maritime piracy and prosecution of persons for such piracy-related crimes. The Bill defines piracy as any illegal act of violence, detention, or destruction committed against a ship, aircraft, person or property, for private purposes, by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft.  
An act of piracy will be punishable with: (i) imprisonment for life; or (ii) death, if the act of piracy includes attempted murder, or causes death.  An attempt to commit, aid, abet, or procure for an act of piracy, or directing others to participate in an act of piracy will be punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment, and a fine. Offences will be considered extraditable. 

Read Bill Text Here/download/button

7. The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 [Pending]

The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Labour and Employment. It seeks to replace three labour laws: (i) the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, (ii) the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and (iii) the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The Code provides for the constitution of Industrial Tribunals for the settlement of industrial disputes. The central government may also constitute National Industrial Tribunals for settlement of industrial disputes which: (i) involve questions of national importance, or (ii) could impact industrial establishments situated in more than one state.

Read Bill Text Here/download/button

8. The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [Passed]

Currently, domestic companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 400 crore pay income tax at the rate of 25%. For other domestic companies, the tax rate is 30%. The Bill provides domestic companies with an option to pay tax at the rate of 22%, provided they do not claim certain deductions under the Income Tax Act.
The Bill provides new domestic manufacturing companies with an option to pay income tax at the rate of 15%, provided they do not claim certain deductions.

9. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 [Passed]

The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019, by the Minister of Law and Justice. The Bill amends the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956. The Act fixes the maximum number of judges in the Supreme Court at 30 judges (excluding the Chief Justice of India). The Bill increases this number from 30 to 33.

Read Bill Text Here/download/button
Read Act here/download/button

It amends the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.  The Act provides for the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers and river valleys.  Under the Act, a state government may request the central government to refer an inter-state river dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication. If the central government is of the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations, it is required to set up a Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication of the dispute, within a year of receiving such a complaint.  The Bill seeks to replace this mechanism

The central government will set up a Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), to resolve the dispute amicably. The DRC will seek to resolve the dispute through negotiations, within one year (extendable by six months), and submit its report to the central government.

Read Bill Text Here/download/button

11. The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 25, 2019, by the Minister of Finance. It amends the Companies Act, 2013. Under the Act, certain classes of public companies are required to issue shares in dematerialised form only.  The Bill states this may be prescribed for other classes of unlisted companies as well. The Bill re-categorizes 16 of these offences as civil defaults, where adjudicating officers (appointed by the central government) may now levy penalties instead. 
These offences include: (i) issuance of shares at a discount, and (ii) failure to file an annual return. Further, the Bill amends the penalties for some other offences. Under the Bill, any unspent annual CSR funds must be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act (e.g., PM Relief Fund) within six months of the financial year.

12. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.  The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals.  Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt. Under the Code, a financial creditor may file an application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for initiating the insolvency resolution process. The Bill addresses three issues. First, it strengthens provisions related to time-limits.  Second, it specifies the minimum payouts to operational creditors in any resolution plan.  Third, it specifies the manner in which the representative of a group of financial creditors (such as home-buyers) should vote.  

13. The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [Passed]

It seeks to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005. Under the Act, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) are appointed at the national and state level to implement the provisions of the Act.  The Act states that the CIC and other ICs (appointed at the central and state level) will hold office for a term of five years.  The Bill removes this provision and states that the central government will notify the term of office for the CIC and the ICs.
The Bill seeks to amend these provisions to state that the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of the central and state CIC and ICs will be determined by the central government.

14. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 [Passed]

The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth.  It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.  The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, healthcare etc. Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
The Bill recognizes the following offences against transgender persons: (i) forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes), (ii) denial of use of public places, (iii) removal from household, and village, (iv) physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse.  Penalties for these offences vary between six months and two years, and a fine.
National Council for Transgender persons (NCT) will be set up.

15. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill,  2019 [Passed]

The Bill amends the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.  The Act seeks to protect children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography. The Bill increases the minimum punishment of penetrative sexual assault from seven years to ten years.  It further adds that if a person commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below the age of 16 years, he will be punishable with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with a fine. The Bill adds two more grounds to the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault.  These include: (i) assault resulting in the death of child, and (ii) assault committed during a natural calamity, or in any similar situations of violence. In addition, the Bill enhances the punishments for certain offences like use of child for pornographic purposes, Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in penetrative sexual assault.


16. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [Passed]

The Bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to provide for road safety.  The Act provides for the grant of licenses and permits related to motor vehicles, standards for motor vehicles, and penalties for violation of these provisions. The Bill defines a golden hour as the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.  The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.  The Bill defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident.


17. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [Passed]

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced to seek to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Act contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration, and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.

The Bill seeks to establish an independent body called the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) for the promotion of arbitration, mediation, conciliation and other alternative dispute redressal mechanisms.  Its functions include (i) framing policies for grading arbitral institutions and accrediting arbitrators, (ii) making policies for the establishment, operation and maintenance of uniform professional standards for all alternate dispute redressal matters, and (iii) maintaining a depository of arbitral awards (judgments) made in India and abroad. Under the Bill, the Supreme Court and High Courts may now designate arbitral institutions, which parties can approach for the appointment of arbitrators.

18. The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [Passed]

The Bill amends the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The act provides for a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), as well as Human Rights Courts. The Bill amends to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC. The Bill reduces the term of office of chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. 

19. The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 [Passed]

The Bill replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Six consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to: (i) be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property; (ii) be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services; (iii) be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and (iv) seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices. The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers. The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.  In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years. Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.

20. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019

The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.  It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddet or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce. The Bill makes the declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. 

This post is curated by Ms. Anushtha Saxena. Source: PRS India

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  1. Thank you for this post. It is very useful and informative.
    Happy New year!