Legislations: Amendments to RTE Act and Personal Laws Amendment Bill on Leprosy (Download PDF)

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Amendments to RTE

Approved by the Lok Sabha. No detention policy has been scrapped by the amendment. Until the end of education i.e. Standard 8th, no student could be held back/failed in a class.

  • Regular examinations in classes V and VIII.
  • A provision to give a child additional opportunity to take a re-examination within 2 months in case he/she fails.
  • As per the amendment it was left out to the states to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy.

Rationale

  • A move to rebuild our education system.
  • No detention has led to falling standards of educational achievement even though the dropout rates under the existing system fell.
  • The move would bring accountability among teachers in elementary education system and “real motivation” to students.

Limitations

  • A major constitutional achievement would be eroded as a result of any dilution of the RTE Act.
  • Continued presence of the child in school during the formative learning phase.
  • Therefore the detention would weaken this significant, progressive feature of the RTE Act.
  • As per NITI Aayog bringing back detention in elementary schooling would increase the dropout rate.
  • Those depended on government institutions such as poor and Dalits would be impacted the most.

Concerns on Learning Outcomes

  • A student՚s effort.
  • The number and quality of teachers.
  • Processes for continuous assessment.
  • Active engagement of parents.
  • The community in encouraging excellence.
  • Poor teaching standards, inadequate infrastructure facilities, lack of monitoring mechanisms, skewed pupil-teacher ratio etc are the other long-standing systematic limitations.

Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018-Leprosy

  • A petition is being heard by the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of people with leprosy and the repeal of discriminatory laws.
  • More than 110 Central and State laws discriminate against leprosy patients.
  • The laws stigmatize and isolate leprosy patients.
  • The laws are coupled with age-old beliefs about leprosy.

Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018

  • Seeks to make a start in amending the outdated statutes.

Attempts to end the discrimination against leprosy persons in various central laws:

  • The Divorce Act, 1869
  • The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954
  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  • The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956
  • Elimination of leprosy as a ground for dissolution of marriage or divorce.
  • As per the amendments, the provisions which stigmatise and discriminate against leprosy-affected persons have been omitted.
  • To provide for the integration of leprosy patients into the mainstream.
  • Elimination of discrimination against leprosy-affected persons and their family members.

Other Measures

  • The centre has been directed by the Supreme Court to bring in a positive law.
  • It relates to conferring rights and benefits on persons with leprosy.
  • Also intends at deeming as repealed, all Acts and rules that perpetuate social stigma.
  • Help remove misconceptions about the disease such as physical segregation of patients is necessary.
  • Included the repeal of discriminatory legal provisions.
  • Listed for abolition of personal laws and Acts on beggary.
  • As per the 2017 amendment, an enabling legislative provision for the disposal of enemy property has been made.

Unconstitutional Laws in India

  • Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services as per Section 66A.
  • Struck down of Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 by the Supreme Court.

The messages may be:

  • Any information created, transmitted or received on a computer system.
  • Resource or device including attachments in the form of text, images, audio and video.
  • The Supreme Court in Mithu vs. State of Punjab struck down Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional.
  • Section 303 provided for a mandatory death sentence for offenders serving a life sentence.

Reasons

  • Signal failures between different branches of government.
  • Active non-compliance can undermine the work of courts as in the aftermath of the Sabarimala verdict.
  • No official method for sharing information about the decisions even those of constitutional import such as Shreya Singhal case.
  • Working communication channel is required for any bureaucratic structure to survive.
  • No formal system on information sharing in the hierarchical set-up of the Indian judiciary.

Needs to be Done

  • To avoid human error in enforcing judicial decisions to the greatest possible extent.
  • Enforcing unconstitutional laws is sheer wastage of public money.
  • A certain group of persons will remain exposed to denial of their right to life and personal liberty in the worst possible way imaginable.
  • There is a need to move from a system where communication about judicial decisions is at the mercy of initiatives by scrupulous officers.

- Published/Last Modified on: April 29, 2020

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