Three Bills passed in the Rajya Sabha in Opposition’s absence
Due to the opposition members’ boycott of the proceedings due to the violence in Manipur, the Rajya Sabha also cleared three Bills on Thursday without much debate. Similar procedures were used by the Upper House on Wednesday to pass three Bills.
Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023
- Recognition of Touts
- According to the Bill, a “tout” is someone who participates in specific activities connected to attorneys.
- A tout is a person who, in exchange for payment, either promises to find a legal business for a lawyer or does so.
- Touts are moreover people who frequently visit locations like civil or criminal courts, revenue offices, or train stations to get legal jobs a lawyer.
- Empowered Authorities:
- The Bill grants the power to frame and publish lists of touts to several authorities, including:
- High Courts
- District Judges
- Sessions Judges
- District Magistrates
- Revenue Officers (not below the rank of a district collector)
- Investigation of Suspected Touts:
- The authorities in charge of compiling the lists of touts have the authority to direct lower courts to look into the behaviour of people who are believed to be touts.
- The investigation’s goal is to gather information and determine whether the subject is indeed involved in dubious activity.
- Due Process and Chance to Present Case:
- Before a person’s name is added to the list of touts, they must be given the chance to do so.
- The person who is believed to be a tout must be allowed to argue against their exclusion from the list.
- This guarantees that a fair and transparent process is followed before a person is classified as a tout.
- Refusing to Enter Court Property:
- Once a person’s name appears on the list of touts, they might not be allowed inside the courthouse.
- This precaution is meant to stop touts from operating on the grounds of the court and interfering with legal procedures.
- Repercussions for Serving as a Tout:
- People who continue to work as touts after their names have been added to the list are subject to penalties outlined in the bill.
- Such offenders risk a fine of up to Rs 500 as well as a sentence of up to three months in jail.
The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023
- Periodical Registration: The Act requires the cataloguing of books as well as the registration of newspapers, journals, and magazines. The Bill makes registration of periodicals—which includes any publication that incorporates public news or commentary on public news—explicitly provisional. However, it does not include books or scholarly or scientific publications in its scope of application.
- Online Registration Process: The Bill establishes a more streamlined and contemporary method of acquiring a periodical registration certificate. The publisher can now apply for registration online with the Press Registrar General and the designated local authority rather than submitting a declaration to the District Magistrate (DM).
- Publisher Disqualification: The Bill prohibits those who have been found guilty of terrorism, criminal action, or acting against the security of the State from publishing a periodical.
- Reproduction of Foreign magazines: Only with previous central government consent may exact reproductions of foreign magazines be printed in India. The authorities will set down the procedure for registering such foreign journals.
- Press Registrar General: The Bill creates the office of the Press Registrar General of India, who will be in charge of providing registration certificates for all magazines. This official will keep a registry of journals, establish standards for titles’ eligibility, check circulation numbers, and have the power to modify, suspend, or revoke registrations.
The Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023
- Composite Licence: A new type of concession known as a “composite licence” that combines exploration and production rights is introduced by the Bill. The licensee is required by this license to finish exploration tasks within three years, with a possible two-year extension upon application. The licensee will be given one or more production leases for the explored region if mineral resources are found during exploration.
- Limits on Maximum Area: The Bill places restrictions on the largest area that may be covered by a single composite licence. The restriction is 15 minutes latitude by 15 minutes longitude for production and 30 minutes latitude by 30 minutes longitude for exploration.
- Concessions’ Duration: The Bill increases the current 30-year duration of production leases, including those under composite licenses, to 50 years. This gives mining operations longer-term certainty.
- Mandatory Auctions: Under the Bill, private enterprises must participate in competitive bidding to obtain a production lease or a composite licence. A bidding process has taken the place of the previous administrative allocation for concessions provision.
- Mining in Reserved Areas: According to the Bill, the administering authority may offer production leases or composite licences to the federal government or government-affiliated mining firms for mining in offshore reserves. Under specific restrictions, joint ventures including government-owned businesses will also be acceptable.