The years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 came up with various amendments to different Indian Acts. Amendments are the results of the current position or situation in a country. It is the mirror with which we can idealise any nation, state, or society.
For example, if in a country, amendments are taking place in their crime provisions, we can easily present the fact that the country is dealing with increasing crime cases.
The law can not be stagnant. It should change according to the developments in society. Law has to be stable and not static. In India, frequent changes are made from time to time. This ensures better governance. Let us look at the most important amendments of the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Most Important Law Amendments of 2021
1. The Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2021
The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) limit was raised from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in the insurance sector. This is done to accelerate the growth and to induce foreign capital flow into private Indian insurers.
2. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Act, 2021
Seven castes of Tamil Nadu state were grouped as ‘Devendrakula Velalars‘. The communities are grouped in the following way – “Devendrakula Velalar [Devendrakulathan, Kadaiyan (excluding the coastal areas of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts), Kalladi, Kudumbam, Pallan, Pannadi, Vathiriyan] and Kadaiyan (in the districts of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam).”
3. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment), 2021
Section 34 of the Act was amended to grant an automatic stay where the court, on prima facie evidence, believes that the contract on which the award is based is coerced by fraud.
Section 43J was added, and the eighth schedule was deleted, allowing parties to select arbitrators regardless of their qualifications.
4. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Act, 2021
The members of the Indian Forest Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Administrative Service (IAS) shall become part of the Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Union Territories cadre.
Most Important Law Amendments of 2020
1. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020
- Restrictions on ‘public servants’ from accepting foreign donations.
- Restrictions on transfer of foreign acceptances.
- In the case of administrative expenses, the ceiling of 50 per cent has been lowered to 20 per cent for the usage of foreign acceptances.
- To receive foreign acceptances, the bank must be the State Bank of India in New Delhi.
- Power to restrict a person who has received the contribution from utilising the same.
- The person seeking registration/renewal shall supply all the identifications required by the government.
- The suspension of the registration certificate has been increased from 180 to 360 days.
- Surrender of Registration Certificate voluntarily.
2. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Act, 2020
To help recover from the financial punctuate, corporate insolvency initiation is temporarily suspended for six months, not exceeding one year from 25.03.2020, keeping in view the situation of the pandemic.
3. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
- Supports trade by electronic means (online).
- Barrier-free and transparent trade within and outside states.
- Farmers can sell their outcomes to any person anywhere in India.
4. The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
- Agreement for Farming: Terms & Conditions, Timeframe, Price, Quality etc. Max period of agreement: 5 years and minimum period of agreement: one seasonal crop/single livestock produce.
- Farming outcome freedom: Farmers shall be given immunity from state statutes once a farming agreement is registered.
- Sponsor barred from obtaining ownership rights or making permanent improvements on farmer’s land.
- Insurance-linked farming agreement: The agreement for farming shall be linked with government schemes with insurance or credit instruments.
- Modifications to the farming agreement with both party consent.
- Dispute settlement clause: Conciliation must be fair and balanced in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The agreement shall be legally binding, and disputes are to be referred to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. In the absence of agreement, no recovery order shall be passed against the farmer. Penalties include the sponsor’s failure to pay duties: 1.5 times the amount due.
- Dispute Resolution Authority: Sub-Divisional Magistrate is the authority to settle disputes.
5. The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2020
- Decriminalisation of petty (selected) offences and diminution of penalty. Adjudication is transparent and technology-oriented.
- Alteration in Listed Company definition (Section 2.52). Only debt securities listed companies are excluded from the list of listed companies.
- Facilitation of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) rules.
- More (NCLAT) National Company Law Appellate Tribunal benches for facilitation in adjudication and the preferred place of sitting will be Delhi.
- Periodic submission of financial results for unlisted companies.
- Permission to public companies for issuing certain securities for listing purposes.
- Unconditional exemption from declaring beneficial ownership.
- A decreased time limit of 3 months for issuing a corrected (COI) Certificate of Incorporation.
6. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2020
- Requirement of the opinion of a single medical practitioner for termination of medical pregnancy up to twenty weeks.
- Requirement of the notion of dual-registered medical practitioners for termination of medical pregnancy of 20-24 weeks.
- Increased gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for rape survivors and minors.
- Concealment of data of the woman whose pregnancy has been medically terminated.
7. The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020
- Prohibition of violence against health care personnel during an epidemic.
- The offence is compoundable by the person against whom violence took place with the leave of the court.
- The court shall presume the accused guilty unless the contrary is proved.
- The court is to assume the presence of a mental condition in which the accused is guilty, but it is a defence to prove that the accused had no such mental status in the case of an act charged as a crime in the prosecution.
Most Important Law Amendments of 2019
Four famous and must-know amendments of the year 2019 are as follows:
1. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019
This Act has been passed to depute an individual as a terrorist if they are found committing or preparing for the act of terror.
(i) Prior to this amendment, the government had the power only to depute an organisation as a terrorist organisation but not a person as a terrorist. The amendment enables the government to target an individual entity also as a terrorist if sufficient evidence is found against him.
(ii) After this amendment, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has become more powerful.
(iii) Now, it has become compulsory for the NIA to seize properties which are related to terror cases for investigation.
2. Right to Information Amendment Bill, 2019
The Right to Information enables a person to know about orders, plans, procedures, and decisions taken by the government. RTI is a tool for promoting transparency between the government and its citizens.
(i) The bill empowers the union government to decide the terms or tenure of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner, both at the Centre and State levels.
(ii) Earlier RTI Act, 2005 specified the span of 5 years for the Chief Information Commissioner at the Central level and the Information Commissioner at the State level. The present bill allows the Central Government to prescribe the term of office.
3. Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019
(i) The bill stated that people suffering from the disease called leprosy were isolated and segregated from society as it was incurable and can be transmitted to the people surrounding them. But with medical advancements and technological improvements, leprosy is now a curable disease. Thus it is no more a ground for divorce.
(iii) The court directed the last Sunday of January to be observed as leprosy day.
4. The 124th Constitutional Amendment Bill [103rd Constitutional Amendment Act], January 2019
The Act provides a 10% reservation for economically weaker sections of society in public employment and educational institutions.
(ii) The amendment aims to fulfil commitments of directive principles under Article 46, which says to promote the educational as well as the economic interests of the weaker section of society.
(a) Gujarat has become the first state to implement a 10% quota reserved for economically weaker sections.
(b) The 10% reservation will be in addition to the existing cap of 50% reservation for SC/ST/OBC as laid down in the Indira Sawhney case.
(c) It provides reservations for:
(i) People whose annual income is less than 8 lakhs, and
(ii) Less than 5 acres of farmland, and
(iii) House lesser than 1000 sq feet in town or municipal area.
Most Important Law Amendments of 2018
Three famous and must-know amendments of the year 2018 are as follows:
1. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Act, 2018
This bill proposes to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The main motives are:
(i) To bring relief and remove difficulties to home buyers, micro, small, and medium enterprises for ease of doing business.
(ii) To protect the interest of financial creditors to file an application seeking an insolvency resolution process at a faster pace.
(iii) Homebuyers will have a hold in the decision-making process. Their suggestions will also be considered for decision-making.
(iv) It allows promoters of MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) to do an auction of their venture, be it a company, undertaking, or business if undergoing the insolvency resolution process. But subject to a condition that they themselves are not debtors or defaulters.
2. Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018
This Act replaces the ordinance promulgated by the president in April 2018 and amends the Indian Penal Code.
(i) It provides for stringent punishment of imprisonment for a minimum of 20 years or life imprisonment or death for raping a girl under 16 years of age.
(ii) It also increases the minimum sentence from 10 years to 20 years for raping a girl who’s under sixteen years of age. [Section 376(2) of IPC]
(iii) It has also increased the minimum punishment for rape of women from rigorous imprisonment of either description of term not less than 7 years to 10 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment.
(iv) Speedy trial and disposal of cases must be completed in 2 months.
(v) It provides a time limit of 6 months for the disposal of appeals.
(vi) In this, there is no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape of a girl under 16 years of age, and the court has to give 15 days notice to the Public Prosecutor before deciding the bail application of a person accused of rape for a girl under 16 years of age.
(vii) Four states have already bought capital punishment in their states for those who rape girls below 12 years. They are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Arunachal Pradesh.
3. Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2018
Human rights are not defined anywhere. Human rights are universal. They are moral rights. They are part or subject of any enactment due to which they have no legal effect or implications. Unlike fundamental rights, which are citizen-centric rights, human rights are acquired by birth.
(i) It proposes to include a woman member in the composition of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) other than ex-officio members of the National Commission for Women.
(ii) It proposes to have a mechanism that will look after the cases or incidents taking place in union territories.
(iii) The amendment will assure NHRC and SHRCs (State Human Rights Commissions) to comply with the Paris principles within the UNFCCC framework.
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