- The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015
The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015, which seeks to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and repeal The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2015 received the assent of the President on 26th December 2016. Various provisions of the Principal Act have been altered- Section 6(a) has been amended to include terms such as electronic signature and computer resource, Section 142 has been modified to include sub section (2) defining the Court under whose local jurisdiction the offence under section 138 shall be tried and Section 142A is added prescribing the validation for transfer of pending cases.
2. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015 has been passed by Rajya Sabha on December 22, 2015. The new Bill while replace the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 will ensure that 16-year-olds involved in heinous crimes shall be prosecuted as adults. As against the maximum punishment of 3 years in the previous bill, the new bill extends the maximum punishment to 7 years. Also, anyone between the age of 16-18 who commits a less serious offence may be tried as an adult if he is apprehended after he attains the age of 21.
- Odd-Even rule to decongest traffic and curb pollution
The Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi on 28th December 2015 vide a notification in the Delhi Gazette ordered the plying of non-transport four wheeled vehicles having registration number ending with odd digits on odd days and those with even digits on even days. The restrictions are applicable on all days from 8 AM to 8 PM except Sundays and violation of the same would attract a fine of Rs. 2000. There are as many as 25 exemptions to the rule including vehicles of VIPs, women drivers, medical emergency, handicapped, etc.
- The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 and the Constitution (Ninety Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014
On 13.04.2015, the Ministry of Law and Justice notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 (NJAC Act) and the Constitution (Ninety Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 for bringing in a change in the existing system for appointment of Judges in Supreme Court and High Courts. The NJAC Act provides for a transparent and broad-based process of selection of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts by the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) which will be chaired by the Chief Justice of India. NJAC which frame it’s own regulations will also include two senior most Judges of the Supreme Court, the Union Minister of Law and Justice, two eminent persons to be nominated by a committee of the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People, or if there is no Leader of the Opposition, then the Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in the House of the People. The NJAC Act provides that one of the eminent persons shall be nominated from amongst persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities or Women.
NOTE: The Supreme Court in SCORA v. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 964 struck down the NJAC Act, 2014 and held the Constitution (Ninety Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 as unconstitutional.
- Constitution (One Hundredth Amendment) Act, 2015
The Constitution (One Hundredth Amendment) Act, 2015 received the assent of President on 28.05.2015. The objective of the Act is to amend the Constitution of India to give effect to the acquiring of territories by India and transfer of certain territories to Bangladesh in pursuance of the agreement and its protocol entered into between the Governments of India and Bangladesh. The Act amends the First Schedule of the Constitution in the paragraphs relating to the territories of State of Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Tripura.
- Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015
The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 7.12.2015 and passed on 16.12.2015. The bill seeks to provide for the constitution of Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division in the High Courts for adjudicating commercial disputes of specified value and matters connected therewith. The Bill defines at length “commercial dispute” which encompasses almost every kind of transaction that gives rise to a commercial relationship, provides for specialized commercial courts at various levels categorized as Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts having varied value threshold. Also, all matters pertaining to international commercial arbitrations have been brought within the purview of the High Court. The main object of the Bill is to provide expeditious disposal of commercial cases and to reduce the burden of High Courts with respect to suits concerning commercial transactions.
- Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Bill
The SC and the ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014 aims to prohibit the commission of offences against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) and provides for establishing special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims. This was among the other two bills which were passed unanimously by the Higher House within minutes.
8. Notification for Implementation of One Rank One Pension, Issued
The Government issued the notification regarding implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension’ in respect of Defence Forces personnel.
The issue of One Rank One Pension was a long standing demand. Defence Forces had been demanding it for almost four decades but the issue could not be resolved. However, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had made a commitment to implement it for the welfare of the ex-servicemen. Accordingly the Government had announced modalities for implementation of OROP on 05.09.2015. Salient features of the OROP include -pension of the past pensioners would be re-fixed on the basis of pension of retirees of calendar year 2013 and the benefit will be effective with effect from 1.7.2014, Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners on the basis of the average of minimum and maximum pension of personnel retiring in 2013 in the same rank and with the same length of service and Pension for those drawing above the average shall be protected etc.
9. Delhi Assembly passed three bills affecting School Education
The Delhi Assembly on 1st December 2015 passed three major bills bringing in overall reform in education sector, namely the Delhi School Education (Amendment) Bill aimed to amend the Right to Education Act and will scrap the no-detention policy till Class eighth, the Delhi School (Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee) Bill aimed to do away with the screening process at the pre-schooling levels and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Delhi Amendment) Bill to regulate fees in private institutions and will make the private schools accountable for the fees they are charging and the money they are spending.
- Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015
Lok Sabha passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 on 10-03-2015. The Bill enables the government to exempt five categories of projects from the requirements of: (i) social impact assessment, (ii) restrictions on acquisition of multi-cropped land, and (iii) consent for private projects and public private partnerships (PPPs) projects. The five categories of projects are: (i) defence, (ii) rural infrastructure, (iii) affordable housing, (iv) industrial corridors, and (v) infrastructure including PPPs where government owns the land.