As per the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, 47 Bills were introduced this year, including the Finance Bills and the Appropriation Bills annually introduced by the Finance Ministry which form part of the Budget. As many as 30 Bills have been passed by both the Houses of Parliament. The remaining are pending and are likely to be passed in 2024, given that the government enjoys a majority in both Houses.
Here is the list of major Bills cleared by Parliament
The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill July 27
The Bill aims to curb film piracy by penalising offenders with up to three years in prison and 5% of production costs. The legislation also expands the number of age ratings available to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). However, the government has chosen to retain the censorship powers of the CBFC, even though the film fraternity has been saying that the Board’s role should be to determine the maturity of content, not to recommend cuts.
The Multi-State Cooperative Societies Bill August 01
In a bid to curb nepotism in cooperative societies and ensure fair elections, this legislation seeks to establish a ‘Cooperative Election Authority’ to bring electoral reforms in the sector. There are about 8.6 lakh cooperatives in the country, out of which active Primary Agricultural Cooperatives (PACs) are around 63,000.
The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill August 03
Another Act to replace an old colonial law, this legislation decriminalises certain provisions in the old law to aid ease of doing business. The Bill seeks to simplify the online process of title verification and registration of periodicals by the Press Registrar General of Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI). The Bill has provisions related to the circulation and verification of newspapers. It also provides for prior approval of the Central Government for the publication of facsimile editions of foreign periodicals in India.
The National Dental Commission Bill August 08
This key health legislation that aims to overhaul the dental education and dentistry landscape was passed sans debate. With this legislation the government can prescribe fees for 50% of seats in private dental colleges, raising hopes for an affordable dental education.
The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill August 08
A legislation that aims to bring in a Commission and autonomous boards to regulate the nursing profession, did not get a positive response from nurses, who claim it takes away the autonomy of the nursing unions. Curiously, the Bill was passed without debate in both the Houses as the Opposition were protesting against what they deemed the government’s apathy in handling the ethnic violence in Manipur.
The Govt of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 August 08
It seeks to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991. It empowers the Central Government to make rules in connection with the affairs of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, including the functions, terms and other conditions of service of officers and employees. It also provides for the constitution of the National Capital Civil Service Authority, which consists of the Delhi Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary of Delhi, and the Principal Home Secretary of Delhi.
The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill August 09
About six years after the Supreme Court held privacy to be a fundamental right under the Constitution, the government brought in the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, which requires companies to better protect digital data obtained from individuals. Firms are liable to pay a fine up to ₹250 crore for failing to protect user data or for defaulting on disclosure requirements.
Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam September 22
Call it The Narishakti Vandan Adhiniyam or women’s reservation Bill or by its official name, The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth) Amendment Bill, 2023, this key amendment ensures 33% reservation to women in parliament and State Assemblies. However, the provisions of this Bill are unlikely to see the light in the upcoming general elections as it will come into effect only after the delimitation exercise.
The Post Office Bill December 04
The Bill replaces the colonial-era Indian Post Office Act, 1898. While the government claims the new legislation will improve the efficiency of the Postal Department, the Opposition has raised concern over privacy and state surveillance. Per the provisions of the Bill, an officer-in-charge can open, intercept or detain any postal article if they suspect that it could be a threat to security or public safety.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 December 11
This Bill amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The 2019 Act amended the Second Schedule of the 1950 Act to specify the total number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly to be 83. This Bill increases the total number of seats to 90. It also reserves seven seats for Scheduled Castes and nine seats for Scheduled Tribes.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 December 11
The Bill seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. The Act provides reservation in jobs and admission in professional institutions to members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other socially and educationally backward classes. The Bill substitutes weak and under-privileged classes with other backward classes as declared by the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill December 12
Another controversial amendment that changes the way the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners are appointed. Since 1991, when the original Act came into existence, the appointment of election commissioners was an executive decision. However, the government has now amended the Act making the selection process similar to Information Commissioners; these officials will now be selected by the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and Leader of Opposition/leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha.
Criminal Law Amendments December 20
The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita Bill, 2023; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023 – together will replace the legacy Indian Penal Code of 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. The ambitious Bills from the Union Home Ministry went through a Parliamentary Standing Committee, amid dissent notes from Opposition, ranging from not having equivalent English names to grammatical errors and questions about the haste with which the new laws were brought.
Telecom Bill December 20
Introduced by the Communications and IT Ministry, the Bill replaces the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933. While the purpose of the Bill was to update the extant regulatory framework in keeping with modern-day advancements and challenges in the telecom sector, its ambit also raises concerns about privacy and surveillance.