Lok Sabha S passes triple talaq Bill amid Congress walkout

The Bill to ban the practice of triple talaq and punish the guilty with three-year jail was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid the opposition walkout and the government accusing the Congress of dragging its feet on the legislation and contending that it was for the dignity and respect of women.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 that prohibits divorce by pronouncing talaq thrice in one go was passed with 303 votes in favour and 82 against.

The Bill will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha, where the opposition is numerically stronger than the ruling alliance.

Members of the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and several other parties staged a walkout over the Bill. The Janata Dal (United), a BJP ally, also opposed the Bill and walked out of the House saying it will create distrust among a particular community.

“We do not support this Bill as our party believes if passed it will create distrust among a particular community,” Rajiv Ranjan Singh (JD-U) said at the debate. “Nobody wants to see a husband and wife getting separated. But if such a situation occurs, a couple takes the decision after due consent and trust. You can’t take decisions on their behalf by imposing such a law.” Singh said.

Citing examples of misuse of laws, he said, “You made the Anti-Dowry Act and introduced Section 498A (of the IPC to stop cruelty against women). They are being misused. You will make another law, it will be misused.”

Replying to debate, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the legislation was not related to politics or religion, but “women’s dignity”. Muslim women met me to say they would celebrate Eid and Independence Day on the passage of the Bill, he said.

Noting many evils among Hindus in the country, like sati and dowry, had been penalised, he said the penal laws acted as a deterrent. Only relevant stakeholders when it came to the Bill were the Muslim women, not the Muslim Boards, he said.

The Congress governments had included penal provisions in the Hindu Marriage Act and the Dowry Prohibition Act, but dragged its feet in the Shah Bano case in 1986, he said.

He said three-year jail for a husband going for the triple talaq was needed for gender justice and equality.

Citing the Supreme Court’s 2017 verdict striking down the illegal practice and asking Parliament to bring a law, Prasad said women were being divorced by ‘talaq-e-biddat’ which was against gender justice.

He said the apex court had noted that 20 Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia, had outlawed triple talaq. “If they could do it, why cannot it be done in India, a secular country?” he asked.

The Constitution’s core philosophy was gender justice, he said and added, “The Constitution is equal for all daughters. So the need of this Bill.”

He said three ordinances were promulgated as a similar Bill moved by the previous Narendra Modi government could not get parliamentary approval. A fresh Bill was introduced by the new government in June.

IUML’s P.K. Kunhalikutty said the divorce rate in Muslims was very low and accused the government of playing politics. “You have a political agenda, that’s why you are bringing this Bill in a hurry”.

S. Jothimani (Congress) said the government was playing a “divide and rule policy” among women.

“Irrespective of religion, women are subjugated to injustices and have been going through this for years. Rape and marital rape are also important issues that Parliament should take up with the same interest,” she said, adding the Bill was against the rights of Muslims, and especially Muslim women. The Bill must be sent to the Standing Committee, she demanded.

Asaduddin Owaisi said the Supreme Court had decriminalised homosexuality and adultery, but the government was criminalising talaq.



Triple Talaq Bill in LokSabha for passage, Congress to oppose

The government is likely to take Triple Talaq Bill for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Congress is all set to oppose the Bill in the current form saying it should consult with the community to codify it holistically.

The BJP sources said that the party has issued whip to its MPs to be present in House when the Bill is brought for passage. Following the government’s move to bring the Bill to ban Triple Talaq, the Congress hit back saying the community should be consulted first.

“Triple Talaq Bill makes a dramatic appearance in Lok Sabha today. A deflection from Modi’s invite to Trump to intervene in Kashmir? If NDA/BJP is keen to intervene in Muslim Personal Law why does it not consult community and codify it holistically like Hindu Code Bill in 1950’s?” Congress Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari tweeted.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 was tabled in Lok Sabha on June 21 by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad amid opposition members have demanded that wider consultations involving the entire spectrum of political parties should take place before its introduction.

The opposition is against the bill in its current form, contending that it would end up victimising Muslims. Even NDA ally Janata Dal-United (JdU) is against the Bill.

While the Bill is expected to have a smooth passage through Lok Sabha as the government has a clear majority there, it is, however, set to face roadblocks in the Upper House where it is still short of the majority.

The Bill, which proposes to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, was introduced in December 2017 but was pending in the Rajya Sabha and had lapsed owing to dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month.

The government had promulgated the Ordinance on triple talaq twice — in September 2018 and in January 2019 — as the contentious bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha.

The Bill makes declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq as the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word “talaq” thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.

It makes declaration of such talaq a cognizable offence — where the accused can be arrested without a warrant, and liable to a punishment of three years imprisonment and fine.



MP Assembly passes bill providing 27% reservation to OBCs

The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill providing 27 per cent reservation to the people belonging to the Other Backward Class (OBC) in jobs, officials said.

General Administration Minister Govind Singh tabled the Madhya Pradesh Lok Seva (Anusuchit Jatiyon, Anusuchit Jan Jatiyon aur Anya Pichhade Vargon ke Liye Arakshan) Amendment Bill, 2019, that proposed increasing the reservation for the OBCs in jobs from the current 14 per cent to 27 per cent.

The bill was unanimously passed in the Assembly.

Speaking on the development, Public Relations Minister P.C. Sharma said the government has taken an important decision.

Previously, the government had decided to provide 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) belonging to the general category in jobs.



RTI amendment bill will end freedom of Information Commissions

Calling the Centre’s decision to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 a “bad move”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said it will end the independence of the Central and states’ Information Commissions.

“The decision to amend the RTI Act is a bad move. It will end the independence of Central and States’ Information Commissions, which will be bad for RTI,” Kejriwal tweeted.

His reaction came after a bill that proposes to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of state and Central Information Commissioners was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 also aims to remove the disparity between the wages of the Information Commissioners and the Election Commissioners.

On Friday, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, termed the draft law a “threat to the independence of the Central Information Commissioner (CIC)”.




Bill seeks to rein in cow vigilantes in Madhya Pradesh

The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday presented a bill in the Vidhan Sabha to rein in unruly cow vigilantes by amending the state cow protection law passed during the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule in the state.

Cattle transportation and sale have become a major worry following the self-styled cow protectors who indulge in extortion and create terror among cattle breeders.

State Animal Husbandry Minister Lakhan Singh Yadav presented the MP Cow Progeny Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2019 to ensure a jail term of six months to three years and a fine of Rs 25,000-50,000 for those who are convicted for committing violence in the name of cow.

The bill provides for punishment for a minimum one year to a maximum of five years with Rs 50,000 fine if a mob is involved in such violence. The law doubles the punishment for repeat offenders.

The bill also proposes to ease cow transportation which often invites cow vigilantes’ ire. Under the proposed amendment in the bill, the buyers of cows will have to seek permission from the area’s competent authority to transport the bovines.

According to the Anti-Cow Slaughter Act 2004, no one is allowed to transport cattle through Madhya Pradesh and a special permission from a competent authority is required by those who passed through the state while transporting their cattle.

“The buyers of bovines, especially farmers in MP, can approach the area Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of the district and seek a no-objection certificate (NOC) with details of the number of cows and the route by which they will be carted out under the amendment,” said Yadav.

The SDM’s NOC would have to be pasted on the vehicle ferrying the cows, not numbering more than 25 at one go (time), purchased from other states as well,” he said.

There has been a spate of violent incidents involving cows ever since the BJP regained power at the Centre in 2014. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been voicing his concern over the vested interests using cow protection laws to create a communal chasm, his warnings have gone unheard.

“I feel very angry because of the cow protection business. Some people have opened shops in the name of cow protection. Some people indulge in anti-social activities at night and become Gau Rakshaks (cow protectors) during the day. State governments should act against such people,” Modi had said.

BJP governments in most states have soft-pedalled the issue.

The Madhya Pradesh cabinet had already cleared the proposal for amendment last month. The state has witnessed several incidents even after the ascent of the Congress government where the vigilantes thrashed unsuspecting cow sellers for suspicion of carrying beef.




A bill banning Triple Talaq was tabled in the Lok Sabha

A bill banning Triple Talaq was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The bill, tabled by Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, will outlaw the practice of instant Triple Talaq.

“People elected us to make laws and it is our duty to do so. Law is to give justice to the victims of Triple Talaq,” the Minister said.



Counter Terrorism Bill could prevent Sri Lankan attacks; PM

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented if the new Counter Terrorism Bill was passed in Parliament without delay.

“No anti-terrorism law in Sri Lanka provides for territorial jurisdiction under which a cadre belonging to an international terrorist organisation could be arrested in Sri Lanka if they are found. Not even the penal code provides that provision,” the Prime Minister told the Daily Mirror.

“We have included this provision in the new Counter Terrorism Bill. However, it is stuck in Parliament for months. The Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented if this legislation was passed.”

Wickremesinghe reiterated that defence authorities should have acted upon the warnings given by intelligence units.

“There has been no breakdown in the intelligence services but the issue has been that the Defence authorities had not acted upon the warnings,” he added.

The Easter Sunday attacks that targeted churches and hotels killed 253 people and injured more than 500 others.



Congress will scrap Citizenship Bill forever; Rahul Gandhi

Launching his party’s Lok Sabha campaign for the northeast, here on Tuesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be scrapped if his party came to power.

“The BJP has said it will bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 if it comes to power. But we are against it. We are not going to allow this Bill. It is against the interests of the people of northeast. We will scrap it forever,” said Gandhi at a public rally in the Arunachal Pradesh capital.

The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, failed to get it cleared by the Rajya Sabha due to opposition by some of its own allies.

BJP President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have defended the Bill and have said their party would revive it on return to power.

The Congress chief also promised to restore the special category status of northeastern states. “Some states require special status due to unique issues of connectivity, terrain and infrastructure. We will restore the special category status of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states,” said Gandhi.

Launching a scathing attack on the BJP, he said the RSS and the BJP wanted to push one political, cultural ideology and one thought process across the country, thereby destroying the unique cultural heritage and history of northeast.

“Just look at universities of the country. Merit is no longer the criteria to select the vice-chancellors. The determining criteria is their proximity to the RSS. The Planning Commission was replaced by the Niti Aayog, no one knows what this Aayog does,” Gandhi said.

Slamming the five years of the National Democratic Alliance government, he said, “Prime Minister Modi wants a Congress-free India. Just see how much hatred he has in his heart. We do not want to spread hatred. We don’t want to destroy the BJP and the RSS. But we will not allow them to impose their ideology on people.”

Accusing the BJP of politicising the martyrs’ sacrifice, Gandhi said, “Modiji talks about patriotism, but he was busy in shooting (film) for over 3 hours after the Pulwama attack took place.”

“Before that, a few years ago, when the Chinese President came to India and Modiji was sitting with him in Gujarat, the Chinese army entered Doklam. But Modiji did not utter a word. On the contrary, he went to China after that without any agenda. This is Modi’s patriotism,” Gandhi said.

Criticising death of three people in February during protests against grant of permanent residence certificate (PRC) to the non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribal (APST) communities of Namsai and Changlang districts, he said why the government didn’t talk to the agitators.

Large-scale violence against PRCs had resulted in death of three youths and a huge loss of public and private properties.



Government undecided on bringing ordinance to amend Citizenship Bill

The Narendra Modi government is yet to take a decision on bringing an ordinance to amend the Citizenship bill after the amendment bill failed to secure parliamentary approval, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Wednesday.

The government, however, is likely to repromulgate the triple talaq ordinance as it could not get the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill too passed in the upper House, though Tomar refused to comment on that too.

“I cannot say anything as of now on this matter. We will think over it,” Tomar said in response to IANS query whether ordinances will be brought in place of the said bills.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill is being widely opposed, especially in the northeast where even the BJP’s allies in the NDA have taken a strong exception to the legislation that was passed by the Lok Sabha last month.

Tomar blamed the opposition for non-passage of the triple talaq bill, saying the opposition’s attitude changed as the election came nearer.



Uttarakhand to launch bill against spurious liquor on Tuesday

The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday decided to launch a bill to curb spurious liquor in the state, days after 36 people died due to its consumption.

The decision was taken by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at a high-level meeting here. He has asked state Excise Minister Prakash Pant to immediately start working on it, according to sources.

Spurious liquor businesses have been thriving in the backward areas of the state especially in places near the Uttarakhand-Uttar Pradesh border.

Rawat also stated that his government would try its best to bring the bill in the current Assembly session.

Under the provisions, the people found guilty can face life imprisonment and hefty fines, Pant said.

A special surveillance cell in the Excise Department would also be set up to keep a tab on activities related to the sale and purchase of spurious liquor.

Opposition parties in the state have demanded Rawat’s resignation, saying that his government has totally failed in the state in the wake of the spurious liquor tragedy in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh that has claimed the lives of over 100 people.

The Uttarakhand government has also set up a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe the tragedy.

Uttarakhand to launch bill against spurious liquor



NRI marriage registration bill introduced in Rajya Sabha

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday introduced the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indians Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The Bill seeks to provide safeguards to Indian women who are trapped in fraudulent
marriages with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

“Therefore, it is necessary that the marriage solemnized or otherwise in India or outside India shall be registered within a period of 30 days from the date of marriage,” the Bill’s objectives state.

“It has been decided to bring in a legislation to provide for compulsory registration of marriage for better enforcement of rights of the deserted spouses under various family laws,” it added.

The Bill also seeks to amend the Passport Act, 1967 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The proposed amendment to the Passport Act, 1967 would empower the passport authorities to impound or cause to be impounded or revoke a passport or travel document of a, NRI, if it is brought to his notice that the person has not registered his marriage within a period of 30 days from the date of marriage.

The proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 would also empower the courts for issuance of summons and warrants through the specifically-designated website of the Ministry of External Affairs.

It further provides for attachment of the properties, both movable and immovable, belonging to a proclaimed offender.

NRI marriage registration bill introduced in Rajya Sabha



Arunachal CM against tabling Citizenship Bill in Rajya Sabha

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Monday changed his stance on the Citizenship Bill, asking Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh not to table the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

He made the appeal as he and his Manipur counterpart N. Biren Singh met Rajnath Singh in New Delhi to apprise him about the prevailing situation in their respective states in particular and in the northeast following the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha on January 8.

“We have requested the Home Minister not to table the Bill in the Rajya Sabha as there is lot of hue and cry in the northeastern states,” Khandu said.

Khandu, who is heading a BJP government in the border state, had been so far defending the bill which is facing strong opposition from civil society groups and the opposition Congress in his state and across the northeast.



Meghalaya CM flies to Delhi to seek support against Citizenship Bill

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday flew to New Delhi to seek support of various political parties in opposing the Citizenship Bill, which is likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

“I am leaving for New Delhi to meet leaders of those political parties who have promised us of their support… to oppose the Bill if it is tabled in the Rajya Sabha,” Sangma told IANS.

He said the national general body meeting of his National People’s Party (NPP) on Saturday had resolved to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, if the bill is tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to remove hurdles for eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in getting Indian citizenship.

“I have impressed upon the Central government about the northeast’s people opposing the Bill. The party cannot go against the wishes of the people. Moreover, the citizenship bill, once it becomes a law, will change the demography of the region and ethnic communities in the region will be reduced to a minorities,” Sangma said.

He and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga had earlier met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to express their opposition to the Bill.

Sangma’s NPP, along with other northeast-based regional parties including the Asom Gana Parishad – which had already severed ties with the BJP in Assam – had sought support of several political parties to prevent passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Sangma had earlier hinted at snapping ties with the BJP if the latter goes ahead with the bill. The NPP is supporting the BJP-led government in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and the People’s Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland and has the BJP’s support in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya CM flies to Delhi to seek support against Citizenship Bill



Women protesting against citizens’ bill refuse to return home

Hundreds of women vendors from the four women’s markets in the Imphal city, who staged a sit-in protest in the main market complex from Saturday morning, have refused to return home.

The activists said that they shall stay in the market complex until Wednesday when it is expected that the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will be passed by the Rajya sabha. The Lok Sabha has already passed it.

This has become a headache for the police and paramilitary personnel maintaining law and order in the city areas. There are problems in procuring potable water, and even toilets and bathrooms do not have running water. Inakkhunbi, a vendor, said: “We buy bottled water since there is no water supply.”

The initial plan was to stage a routine sit-in by the women vendors. “But we decided to stay in the market complex till Wednesday since the Central government is firm on passing the Bill,” said a woman vendor.

Several women vendors participating in the sit-in protest said that they are facing the chilly nights without sufficient warm cloths. Health officials fear that some of them could take ill if they stay in the wintry nights for some more nights.

The activists said that the government should give a written assurance to the effect that the Bill shall not affect the northeastern region in general and Manipur in particular.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren said that his government is against the bill if a clause is not inserted to safeguard the people. On Saturday Biren said: “The government shall continue to oppose the bill unless a clause is inserted.”

Opposition Congress has been demanding a special session of the Assembly to take a resolution in this regard. MLA and state unit Congress president Gaikhangam said: “The BJP-led coalition government has been refusing to summon a special session though some other NE states had taken a firm stand on the issue”.

There have been numerous daily protests in other parts of the state. Effigies of Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh are also burned here and there.

Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance Manipur formed by 131 civil society organisations is calling a total shutdown from 5 a.m on Monday till 5 p.m on Tuesday in protest against the citizenship bill.

Manipur: Women protesting against citizens' bill refuse to return home



Citizenship Bill will cause no harm to Assam and Northeast, assures Modi

Reaffirming the BJP-led NDA government’s intention to pass the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government will ensure that the Bill does not cause any harm to Assam and other parts of the Northeast.

The Prime Minister was addressing a public rally at Changsari near Guwahati while inaugurating several development projects amid protests by various organisations across the region which showed him black flags on Friday.

“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 is not for Assam or northeastern states. It is for the whole country. The Bill is a national commitment considering the plight of the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The passage of the Bill will ensure that those who were left out during the Partition and who still love India more than their lives are accommodated in the country. It is the responsibility of India to accept those people,” he said.

“I am here to assure you that the Bill will not harm Assam or any other state in the region. The Bill will only allow those persecuted minorities to apply for citizenship. There is no question of granting citizenship without verification,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the government is committed to ensuring that there are no illegal foreigners in Assam and the country.

“Our government has started work for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) under the supervision of the Supreme Court, which the previous government was not doing. Our government is also working at a faster pace to seal the India-Bangladesh border,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister attacked the Congress by holding the opposition party responsible for the delay in conferring Bharat Ratna to the late Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi.

“Although music maestro Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi were worthy of Bharat Ratna, the conferring of the honour to them was delayed for decades by the previous governments. It is the BJP government during whose tenure Bharat Ratna was conferred to both the worthy sons of Assam,” he said.

“I want to ask them why the real jewels had to wait for decades to be recognised as Bharat Ratna, while for some the honour was fixed immediately after their birth,” said the Prime Minister, adding that the previous governments in Assam also failed to implement the Assam Accord for over 30 years.

“Our government has already instituted a committee to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and I firmly believe that the committee will be able to fulfill all the aspirations of the people of the state,” he said.





Bill seeking action against misleading ads, adulteration likely to lapse

Stringent penalties like jail term for adulteration and endorsing false and misleading advertisements by celebrities may still remain a distant possibility as the much-awaited Consumer Protection Bill has fallen off the priority list of the lawmakers as the last Parliament session for the BJP-led government in its current tenure comes to an end.

If the Bill is not passed in this session of the Rajya Sabha, then it will be for a future government that comes after the elections to pursue it.

The proposed Bill, which is to overhaul the three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act 1986, was passed in the Lok Sabha in December last year after it was introduced in 2015.

It was decided in a meeting of leaders of various parties in the Rajya Sabha held last week that only non-contentious bills would be taken up for discussion.

CPI leader D. Raja, who is a member of the Upper House, said “We agreed only to passage of non-contentious bills such as the one relating to Scheduled Tribes.”

Speaking about the Consumer Protection Bill, he said, “I do not think so. Since there is no consensus, we said the government should not bring those bills on which there is no consensus.”

According to officials in the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the major opposition to the Bill is from the medical fraternity and e-commerce portals.

During the winter session of Parliament, Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Dr. Santanu Sen had raised objections to the Bill saying the entire medical profession and the small traders will be affected by it.

He had said there was no provision for penalty against false complaints which may encourage people to launch false complaints just for getting money and sought further amendments.

A senior ministry official told IANS, “We are taking our best efforts to ensure the Bill is passed. However, we cannot decide whether it comes up for discussion.”

Sachin Taparia, Chairman of LocalCircles, a social engagement platform, said the Consumer Protection Bill is the biggest consumer reform in three decades.

“It seems that all parties have together prioritised six bills for clearance based on consensus and the Consumer Protection Bill is not one of them. They must not forget that all consumers are voters too and reconsider this decision,” he said.

According to an online survey conducted by the LocalCircles, 81 per cent of the total 28,000 participants considered it one of the three critical pending bills.

The Bill seeks to ensure faster dispute redressal for consumers regarding defect in goods and deficiency in services and will allow the government to regulate e-commerce and direct selling.

The Bill also seeks to establish a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to protect consumer rights and look into the issues related to false or misleading advertisements.

It has provision for fine and ban on celebrities for endorsing misleading advertisements. They can be slapped with fines up to Rs 50 lakh and face a ban on endorsements for up to three years.

The fine on manufacturers and companies would be up to Rs 10 lakh and a jail term of up to two years for the first offence. For any subsequent offence, they would have to pay a fine of Rs 50 lakh and serve a jail term of five years. A life term jail sentence in case of adulteration has also been provided.

It also has provisions for post-litigation stage mediation as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism and also provides for product liability action.



Manipur women vendors on strike protesting against Citizenship Bill

Thousands of women vendors who exclusively run the three main markets here staged a 12-hour sit-in protest on Saturday demanding a written assurance from the state government that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, will not affect Manipur and other northeastern states.

T. Rani, one of the women vendor activists, said: “The government should issue a written assurance to the effect that when enacted the Bill shall not affect the people of the northeasten states.”

However, spokesperson of the BJP-led state government P. Saratchandra said: “The Citizenship Act was passed by the Centre in 1955 to save the people in some countries from religious persecutions.”

A similar strike was imposed in Assam on Saturday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Guwahati on Friday to start his two-day visit to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.

There have been nocturnal torch light procession by the womenfolk in many parts of Manipur. On Thursday, a mass protest was held here.

Several protests against the Bill are being held in the northeastern states ever since it was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8. It is still awaiting the nod of the Rajya Sabha.

Manipur women vendors on strike protesting against Citizenship Bill



Ahead of PM’s visit, tribals hold protests in Tripura against Citizenship Bill

Ahead Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to three northeastern states – Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh – several tribal parties and NGOs on Friday held a massive demonstration in Tripura demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The protesting groups also demanded the withdrawal of sedition charges levelled by the state police against three tribal leaders.

The several hours long demonstration took place in northern Tripura’s Manughat, 100 km north of Agartala, 10 days after a huge protest rally on the same issue in Khumulwng, 20 km north of Agartala, the headquarters of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).

The agitation was spearheaded by the newly formed Movement Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (MACAB), a conglomerate of several NGOs and four tribal outfits, including Tripura’s oldest tribal party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT).

The North-East Students Organisation (NESO), which on January 8 called an 11-hour shutdown in the entire northeastern region excluding Sikkim to oppose the Citizenship Bill, was also part of the agitation.

NESO is an association of eight student and youth organisations from seven northeastern states.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary in-charge of Sikkim and the working President of the Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee, Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman, and Tripura Congress General Secretary and tribal leader Dinesh Debbarma also spoke at the demonstrations.

“The sit-in demonstration was peaceful and no untoward incident took place. Vehicular movement was normal in the Tripura-Assam National Highway (NH 8),” Dhalai district police chief Sudipta Das told IANS over telephone from the district headquarters.

NH 8 is the life line of the mountainous Tripura.

MACAB Convener Upendra Debbarma and INPT General Secretary Jagadhish Debbarma told the media that their agitation would be intensified if the government did not meet their two demands.

INPT President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl told the gathering that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to migrants from six non-Muslim minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, when enacted into an Act, would jeopardise the demography of the indigenous people of northeast India comprising eight states.

Upendra Debbarma, who is also the Vice Chairman of NESO, said that earlier this week a 15-member delegation of NESO met Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Meghalaya Chief Minister and National People’s Party (NPP) President Conrad Sangma, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and leaders of several parties in Delhi and Mumbai and apprised them about the issue.

“All the leaders assured us that they would be with the northeastern parties on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” Debbarma said.

INPT’s Jagadhish Debbarma said that Tripura police have registered a case with sedition charges against three senior tribal leaders, including him, for organising a protest rally on January 30 at the TTAADC headquarters in Khumulwng against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The agitating tribal leaders also indicated that a few tribal organisations might resort to agitation on Saturday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state.

During his visit, Modi would unveil a statue of Tripura’s late king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya at the airport, inaugurate an extended railway line and open an academic building of the Tripura Institute of Technology run by the state government.

Elaborate security arrangements have been for the Prime Minister’s visit.




Arun Jaitley slams Congress over Triple Talaq Bill

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday slammed the Congress for its promise to withdraw the Triple Talaq Bill, saying that 32 years after legislatively overturning the Supreme Court’s Shah Bano judgment, the party has taken another step to drive Muslim women to live a life which is an “antithesis of human existence”.

“History has repeated itself, neither as a satire nor as a tragedy. It has repeated itself with a mindset of cruelty. The late Rajiv Gandhi committed a monumental mistake in legislatively overturning the Shah Bano judgement of the Supreme Court which guaranteed maintenance to all Muslim women. He allowed deserted women to be driven to poverty and destitution,” the Minister said in a blog.

“Thirty-two years later, his son has taken another retrograde step to drive them not merely into destitution but also to live a life which is an antithesis of human existence. The Muslim woman in Bareilly has been forced into animal existence.”

He was referring to a case in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, where a Muslim woman was twice divorced by her husband through Triple Talaq.

“It has shocked my conscience. Unfortunately, when human conscience should have been repelled while reading this news in the morning newspapers, the AICC President Rahul Gandhi and his coterie, while addressing a minority convention promised to withdraw the Bill pending in the Parliament, penalising Triple Talaq,” he said.

He said some incidents are so unconscionable and repulsive that they shake the conscience of the society and compel it to take remedial measures.

“Injustice perpetuated by personal laws is a glaring example of this.”

The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that many communities, over the last several decades, have brought incremental but significant changes in their personal laws.

“The object and direction of these changes has been that gender equality is ensured, rights of women and children are protected and the right to live with dignity is ensured. Some practices which survived for centuries were so obnoxious (as Sati and untouchability) are now considered as unconstitutional,” he said.

Hitting out at the Opposition party, Jaitley said: “Votes are important, so is fairness. Political opportunists only look at the next day’s headlines. Nation-builders look at the next century.”

Jaitley’s remarks come a day after the Congress women wing chief Sushmita Dev promised to scrap the law banning Triple Talaq if the party comes to power in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing the party’s Minority Department convention, she also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had created an atmosphere pitting Muslim women against Muslim men through the law.




President’s nod sought for Manipur People (Protection) Bill

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Friday said his cabinet has resolved to approach the Centre demanding President Ram Nath Kovind’s nod for the Manipur People (Protection) Bill, 2018, that will overrule the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The Manipur Bill was expected to go a long way in protecting the indigenous people, he said.

Manipur is one of the northeastern states which has been demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that has so far been passed by the Lok sabha on January 8.

Singh claimed that he is the first Chief Minister from a BJP-ruled state to “oppose the Bill”. He also assured his state that there would be no disturbance in Manipur as there was no difference between the people and his government.

“We had been elected by the people and as such we will never go against the wishes of the people,” he said.

The Chief Minister was speaking at a function while distributing loans to fish farmers. He said Manipur will not be importing fish from other states by 2020-21.



Pro-Talk faction ULFA leader lauds Meghalaya CM for ‘bold standa’ on Citizenship Bill

Praising Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma for his “bold stand” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, United Liberation Front of Asom’s (ULFA) pro-talk faction’s General Secretary, Anup Chetia on Tuesday urged the people of the northeastern states to stand united in opposing the Bill.

“The people of the region should stand united as one in opposing the amendment bill. We have to oppose the bill since the BJP and RSS are trying to finish our indigenous identity and culture only to serve its political interest,” he told journalists here after meeting Chief Sangma.

Eulogising Sangma for opposing the Bill, Chetia said the people of the entire northeastern appreciated Sangma’s stand as it is very encouraging especially to the people of Assam.

“We came here to congratulate him. We need leaders like Conrad not only in Meghalaya but in the whole North Eastern Region. We are still standing against the Citizenship Bill and will go against it along with the people of Assam and also with the help of people of the region as a whole,” Chetia said.

The top ULFA insurgent leader, who is also the convener of the North East Indigenous People’s Forum (NEIPF), warned the central government not t o go ahead with the Bill as people in the northeastern region are strongly o pposing the Bill.

“We at the NEIPF had voiced our concern to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Bill. We have told them that if they go ahead with the Bill t he situation would be worse not only in Assam but all over the Northeast reg ion. We would continue to fight aggressively to ensure that the Centre does n ot pass the bill,” Chetia said.

Several northeast-based political parties, including the opposition Congress party has strongly opposed the Bill.

The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, which the BJP is part of the ruling coalition, is the first government to have rejected the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

On the growing demand for implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) system t o restrict entry of outsiders in Meghalaya, Chetia said, “We are not discussing ILP because there is some problem in Assam. Implementation of ILP is a big problem, but I think in Meghalaya it can be implemented.”

Chetia formed the Meghalaya chapter of NEIPF and vowed to work for safeguarding the indigenous people in the whole North Eastern Region.

Three organisations in Meghalaya, the Federation of Khasi Jaitia and Garo People, Hynniewtrep Youth Front and Ri Bhoi Youth Federation are part of the NEIPF Meghalaya chapter.