[op-ed snap] Proposed Lok Sabha bill to prevent extravagant and wasteful expenditure in weddings: Pros and Cons

Context:

  1. Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan, wife of Bihar MP Pappu Yadav, has proposed a bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to introduce a limit on the number of guests one can invite and dishes that can be served in weddings
  2. The aim is to “prevent extravagant and wasteful expenditure” in weddings and for more well-to-do citizens to contribute towards the weddings of girls from poorer families
  3. It may be taken up as a private member’s Bill in the upcoming Lok Sabha session

The Bill:

  1. The bill states that if a family spends above Rs 5 lakh on a wedding, it should contribute 10% of that amount for marriages of girls from poor families
  2. The idea is that families intending to spend over Rs 5 lakh should declare the proposed expenditure and 10% of that amount would be claimed and deposited in a welfare fund to be set up by the government to facilitate marriages of poor girls

Purpose:

  1. The purpose of this Bill is to prohibit extravagant and wasteful expenditure on marriages
  2. And to enforce simpler solemnisation

The spirit of the Bill:

  1. Well-intentioned
  2. An “enforcement” on how to solemnise a wedding is not democratic in nature
  3. A legal fix for a social issue is a hard sell in pragmatic situations, as it proposes to regulate a strictly private affair of citizens

Pros of the Bill:

  1. The intention behind it is undoubtedly a noble one as a government welfare fund, provided it stays free of corruption and mishandling
  2. It could provide some relief to low income families in doing social justice to their key life events
  3. It will encourage simplicity as it is fair to say that wasteful expenditure is common in weddings as they are treated as high-visibility, public events for displays of prosperity and ‘class’, which perpetuates a negative social pressure of spending more for a quick-burning show value
  4. Such a trend amounts to a social malaise in the ever-inflating balloon of wedding expenses, as the money can be invested in better, beneficial causes
  5. By the virtue of legality, it would automatically ease some pressure of the paying parties – usually the bride’s family – who could possibly be under pressure to acquiesce to the baseline of standards set by the groom’s family and hence spend beyond the comfort levels

Cons of the Bill:

  1. It will be seen as unnecessary and unwarranted government interference in private affairs
  2. The mandatory 10% contribution could be perceived as yet another tax levied on the citizenry, especially as the cap is set to 5 lakhs — a very modest amount by existing urban middle class standards
  3. The law also exclusively targets weddings as occasions of “wasteful spending”
  4. What all gets counted in “wedding expenses” is a slippery slope as there are several cash and gift exchanges take place between families, in addition to the amounts set aside for ceremony venues and meal arrangements
  5. The enforcement of the law would also be extremely tricky as it is likely to result in complications of tracking undeclared and undervalued expenses and thus evasion of the de facto 10% payment
  6. The scope for loopholes is huge as such a bill could likely result in families organising celebratory by-events that are strictly not the wedding ceremony but fit in the ambit of pomp and show around the solemn main occasion
  7. For instance, how would weddings be distinguished from engagements and wedding receptions held at an earlier or later date?

The established perception of show-off weddings in a community oriented country calls for a passionate public awareness campaign, rather than an overzealous and somewhat unfair law. It is to be seen that if the 5 lakh limit does not apply on dowry, it will be but a futile exercise. Also, it will be an uphill task for the government to keep a record of the marriages taking place in the country, since registering marriages is not a part of the existing social culture.

Note4Students:

The bill tries to touch a very sensitive social issue. Thus it becomes important for prelims as well as mains. Few important bills were directly asked for critical evaluation in mains 2013, 2014, 2015.

Bill seeks to curb extravagant weddings

  1. In Lok Sabha: The Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill, 2016
  2. It is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan
  3. Purpose: To prohibit extravagant and wasteful expenditure on marriages and to enforce simpler solemnisation
  4. These days, marriages are more about showing off wealth and as a result, poor families are under tremendous social pressure to spend more
  5. Provisions: Seeks to put a limit on the number of guests to be invited and dishes to be served in weddings to check “show of wealth”
  6. Welfare Fund: If a family spends above ₹5 lakh on a wedding, it has to contribute 10% of the amount on marriages of girls from poor families
  7. After this proposed legislation comes into force, all marriages should be registered within 60 days of the solemnisation

Note4students:

A very important step indeed and needs to be followed as more info comes at hand. Also revise basics on introducing a bill in parliament, difference between private member’s bill and government bill etc.

High Court to hear plea on Article 174 compliance in Goa

  1. Context: A petition filed in the Bombay High Court at Goa under Article 226 of the Constitution
  2. Petition: Seeking directions to the Goa government to comply with the mandate of Article 174 of the Constitution by either summoning a session or dissolving the Goa Legislative Assembly
  3. Arguments by the petitioner: There has been no proposal by the government to convene a session of the Legislative Assembly as required under the Constitution
  4. A Government which defies the Constitution or does not follow the constitutional mandate cannot continue in office even for a moment and requires to be dismissed
  5. According to Article 174 of the Constitution, it was the duty of the Governor to summon the House and that six months should not intervene between its previous sitting and the next
  6. The Supreme Court has held that Article 174 was mandatory, unless the Assembly is dissolved or kept under suspended animation in exercise of power under Article 356
  7. If the Chief Minister refuses to recommend convening of the Assembly session, the Governor has powers to dissolve the Assembly under Article 174(2) (b) of the Constitution

Note4students:

The petition is not important as such but the points here are a good revision of polity basics. Do revise from your polity book the related articles.

[op-ed snap] Rolling back Ordinance Raj

Context:

  1. The Supreme Court recognised the power to make ordinances has been abused to subvert the democratic process
  2. A failure of a legislature to confirm an ordinance, therefore, in the court’s ruling, was fatal both to the validity of the law, and also, unless public interest otherwise demanded, to the rights and liabilities that may have accrued from such a law
  3. According to Justice Chandrachud, the authority to issue ordinances is not an absolute entrustment, but is “conditional upon a satisfaction that circumstances exist rendering it necessary to take immediate action”
  4. In other words, ordinances are not immune from judicial challenge

Aim of Ordinance:

  1. The founders’ aim was always to impose a separation of power between the three recognised wings of government
  2. In this arrangement, the legislature (Parliament at the Centre, and the Assemblies and the Councils in the States) is tasked with the primary job of making laws
  3. The executive’s role is to administer the country by enforcing these laws
  4. The judiciary interprets the laws, sees if they are being followed, and, where required, reviews them to ensure that they are constitutionally compliant
  5. The executive’s power to issue ordinances, therefore, goes against this general grain of command; for it acts neither as a check nor as a balance on the authority exercised by the other branches of government.

Only an exceptional measure:

  1. It’s equally clear even from the bare text of the Constitution that the authority to issue ordinances is to be used only to meet the emergent demands of extraordinary situations
  2. Article 123, which defines the ordinance-making power of the Union executive, states that when both Houses of Parliament are not in session, if the President is satisfied that “circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinance as the circumstances appear to him to require”
  3. It further provides that any ordinance shall have the same force and effect as a statute of Parliament, provided it is laid before both Houses
  4. What’s more, the ordinance so made will “cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament”, or if Parliament at any time before the conclusion of the period passes resolutions disapproving of the ordinance
  5. In nearly identical terms, Article 213 of the Constitution places on the Governor, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of his State, the power to pass ordinances on subjects of State authority

In practice:

  1. In practice, however, ordinances have scarcely been used as a purely exceptional measure
  2. Most recently, the Central executive had issued an ordinance in 2014, which it subsequently repromulgated three times without approval, to overturn significant benefits guaranteed by the land acquisition law enacted by Parliament in 2013
  3. Their aim clearly was to bypass the democratic requirements of argument and deliberation, and to overcome numerical shortcomings that they faced in the Rajya Sabha
  4. What the government was doing, therefore, was to use its ordinance-making power as virtually an alternative tool of legislation

Ordinances subject to scrutiny:

  1. Justice Chandrachud ruled that Court can investigate to see if there has been either a fraud or an abuse of power committed by the executive
  2. In the final analysis, the court’s verdict has to be seen as placing a vital check on what has until now been a power rampantly abused by the executive

Note4Students:

Note down the points in this op-ed for Mains as well as Prelims. Polity questions in Prelims demand an in-depth reading.

President bats for simultaneous polls, backs demonetisation

  1. Context: President Pranab Mukherjee’s Republic Day eve address to the nation
  2. Simultaneous elections: He batted strongly for simultaneous elections to Parliament and Assemblies
  3. Asked the Election Commission to carry forward the idea of simultaneous polls in consultation with political parties
  4. Demonetisation: Also backed the demonetisation drive
  5. It may have led to temporary slowdown in economy but will bring more transparency in the system
  6. Argumentative Indian: Also asserted that the country’s strength lies in is pluralism and diversity and that India has traditionally celebrated the argumentative” Indian; not the “intolerant” Indian
  7. Democracy: Underlined the strengths of Indian democracy but cautioned against disruptions in Parliament and State Assemblies
  8. We have a noisy democracy. Yet, we need more and not less of democracy
  9. It is right time to acknowledge that systems are not perfect and those imperfections have to be recognised and rectified
  10. Pluralism: We have to work harder because our pluralistic culture and tolerance are still being put to test by vested interests
  11. Reason and moderation should be our guide in dealing with such situations

Note4students: All the major issues highlighted here are important topics for mains. Also keep note of good statements as few seen above for essay and keep revising them. It gives you an edge.

Supreme Court revives hearing on Andhra Pradesh bifurcation

  1. Context: Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into AP and Telangana
  2. Supreme Court: What better “index” to ascertain whether a State is to be divided or not other than public demand
  3. The observation came from a Bench of SC while reviving a bunch of petitions filed by leading Telugu politicians across parties, challenging the bifurcation of the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh in 2014
  4. They had wanted the apex court to declare the bifurcation as an illegal and unconstitutional act
  5. However, SC had, then, refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, leading to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the formation of new State Telangana
  6. Arguments of petitioners against bifurcation: There should be a “federal index” for State formation. The Centre cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the federal structure of democracy and divide States into bits
  7. Proper consultations were not held between the Centre and erstwhile State authorities
  8. Telangana lost 140 of its villages due to the bifurcation, and this was not the first time the people had experienced the sufferings of bifurcation and new State formations. The first time was when Andhra was separated from Madras
  9. The Centre had introduced the Bill when it was rejected by the Andhra Pradesh State Legislature
  10. The bifurcation is a violation of the Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution

Note4students:

There was a question on bifurcation of states in Mains 2016, on linguistic basis though. Keep track of the issue and the arguments as it develops.

SC refuses plea on alleged dilution of whistleblower law

  1. Supreme Court: Refused to examine a petition alleging dilution in the Whistleblower Protection Act
  2. It sought interim measures to protect whisteblowers who expose corruption in public administration and governance
  3. It said that Parliament is already seized with the law and the judiciary would be encroaching on the legislature’s turf by entertaining allegations now
  4. Change of tone: The tone of the court hearing was in complete contrast to the earlier hearing in January 2016, when the apex court had pressed the Centre to put in place a fool-proof interim mechanism to receive complaints and protect the lives of whistleblowers till the law was enacted

Note4students:

The issues around this act are important from mains PoV.

[op-ed snap] The ordinance overreach

The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance:

  1. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance was first promulgated on January 7, 2016, with the ostensible objective of plugging loopholes in the principal act
  2. To ensure that the enemy properties worth thousands of crore do not revert to the legal heirs
  3. A concomitant effort has been made to frustrate the judgment of the SC in the case of Raja Amir Mohammad Khan of Mahmudabad who won a long and arduous legal battle for his properties

Ordinance under Article 123 of the Constitution:

  1. The Ordinance states that the Constitution shall cease to operate at the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of the Parliament
  2. It may also cease to operate before the expiry of the period of six weeks if a resolution disapproving it is passed by Parliament
  3. The aspect that requires thoughtful consideration is an attempt by the government to nullify the judgment, decree or order of any Court by inserting Section 8A (1) in the ordinance
  4. Section 8A (1) empowers the custodian to dispose of “enemy properties” whether by sale or otherwise notwithstanding any judgment, decree or order of any court, tribunal or authority

Note4Students:

The op-ed is a must read for details on the Enemy Property Act. Note down b2b points for a good long answer.

Back2Basics:

Enemy Property:

  1. The Custodian of Enemy Property for India is an Indian government department that is empowered to appropriate property in India owned by Pakistani nationals
  2. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was promulgated in 1968
  3. The act authorised the Central Government of India to appoint a custodian for enemy property for India and one or more deputy/assistant custodians as assistances
  4. The Enemy Property Act, 1968 provided that the Central Government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country
  5. Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 proposed to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968
  6. The 2016 bill seeks to do the following:
  7. The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian for the Enemy Property for India
  8. The Bill declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. This applies retrospectively to transfers that have occurred before or after 1968
  9. The Bill prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property
  10. The SC, in Union of India and Anr. v. Raja Mohd. Amir Mohd. Khan had held that, “the Respondent who was born in India and his Indian citizenship not being in question cannot by any stretch of imagination be held to be an enemy or enemy subject”

Union Budget likely to be tabled on February 1

  1. What: As part of a major overhaul of the budget process, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) recommended advancing the holding of the Budget Session from Jan 31
  2. It will be followed by the presentation of the Union Budget on Feb 1
  3. Both the address of the President and tabling of the Economic Survey are likely to take place on Jan 31
  4. The first phase of the Budget Session will run till Feb 9
  5. The CCPA, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, made these recommendations to President Mukherjee
  6. Benefits: Early presentation of the Budget would mean that the entire exercise is over by March 31
  7. Also, expenditure as well as tax proposals will come into effect right from the beginning of the new fiscal, thereby ensuring better implementation
  8. Background: As per the earlier practice, the budgetary exercise was completed only by mid-May
  9. And with the monsoon arriving in June, most of the schemes and spendings by states did not take off until Oct, leaving just half-a-year for their implementation
  10. In Sept last year, ending a nearly a century-long practice, the Cabinet had decided to scrap a separate budget for the railways and merge it with the General Budget
  11. Earlier, the Budget approval process usually happened in two parts extending to the second or third week of May, hampering early implementation of schemes and spending programmes

Note4students:

A very useful article. Besides informing you of the budgetary changes and problems with earlier schedule, it also gives you a chance to revise the Cabinet Committees and Budget chapters from Laxmikanth. If you don’t have the book, click here.

SC widens boundaries of judicial review of ordinance

  1. What: In a blow to Ordinance Raj, a Constitution Bench of the SC widened the boundaries of judicial review
  2. Judgment: Now, it can examine whether the President or the Governor was spurred by an “oblique motive” to bypass the Legislature and promulgate an ordinance
  3. If the SC concludes that the President or the Governor was influenced by ulterior motives to promulgate the ordinance, such an act by the two constitutional authorities would amount to a fraud on their powers
  4. Justice Chandrachud observed that the SC would scrutinise whether the satisfaction of the President or the Governor to promulgate an ordinance was based on relevant material or whether it amounted to a “fraud on power or was actuated by an oblique motive”
  5. The seminal question that came up in reference before the seven-judge Constitution Bench led by CJI Thakur dealt with the constitutionality of seven successive re-promulgations of The Bihar Non-Government Sanskrit Schools (Taking Over of Management and Control) Ordinance of 1989
  6. The State govt had approached the SC after the HC of Patna declared that repeated re-promulgation of the ordinances was unconstitutional
  7. It relied on the D.C. Wadhwa judgment on the dos and don’ts of promulgation of ordinances by another Constitution Bench of the SC in 1986
  8. The SC held that “re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative processes”
  9. It also said that “The requirement of laying an ordinance before Parliament or the State Legislature is a mandatory constitutional obligation cast upon the government”

Note4students:

This is a very important judgment from mains point of view. Add these to your ordinance notes.

Pranab against ordinance route to amend Enemy Property Act

  1. What: The ordinance to amend the 50-year-old Enemy Property Act was promulgated for the fifth time late on Thursday
  2. President Pranab Mukherjee expressed reservations on why the govt has been unable to clear the Amendment Bill in Parliament
  3. The ordinance was proclaimed, for the first time, on January 7 this year
  4. The Amendment Bill aims to make changes to the Enemy Property Act to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars
  5. “Enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm
  6. The govt has vested these properties in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, under the Act in 1968, an office instituted under the Central govt

Note4students:

Revise the sections on ordinances from Laxmikanth.

Back2basics:

1. The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian.

2. The Bill declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. This applies retrospectively to transfers that have occurred before or after 1968.

3. The Bill prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.

President Mukherjee anguished over parliamentary paralysis

  1. President Pranab Mukherjee said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority
  2. He told parliamentarians they are meant to discuss and transact business and not disrupt
  3. The sharp attack on parliamentary disruption comes in the midst of paralysis of Parliament for over a fortnight over the issue of demonetisation

Note4students:

Disruption of parliament is practiced by all parties, depending on who is in opposition. It indicates a trend where there is less discussion of issues. All Bills will now be passed in just a few days. This means the opposition is failing to perform its basic function of providing feedback to the govt and holding it accountable.



:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







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