Kovind returns four bills passed by state Assemblies
New Delhi: President Ramnath Kovind has returned four controversial bills passed by different state Assemblies since assuming office on July 25. The latest of these is the Common Wealth Trust, Kozhikode (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertaking) Bill, 2012, Kerala, which he returned to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) earlier this month for re-examination.
The others bills which the President has either returned or sough clarifications about are the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board(Amendment) Bill, 2015 (Bill No 04 of 2015) Delhi, the Tamil Nadu Admission to MBBS and BDS Courses Bill, 2017, and the Tamil Nadu Admission to Post Graduate Courses in Medicine and Dentistry Bill, 2017. The last one has actually been withheld on the advice of the Attorney General of India (AGI).
The Odisha Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill, 2015, has been returned for "correction of content". Initially, a civil society delegation led by former Odisha Finance Minister Panchanan Kanungo had submitted a memorandum to the state Governor requesting him to send back the Odisha Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill, it alleged had been "arbitrarily passed on 27th August, 2015, in the total absence of a legislative enviornment. Later, the Bill was sent to Kovind for approval.
Those objecting to the Bill contended that it posed a serious threat to the future land rights and livelihoods of dalits, tribals, daily wage earners , slum dwellers and marginal farmers. The civil society body wrote,"It is the fundamental principle of law that land related matters are dealt with primarily under civil laws. So the 'unauthorised occupation' of land cannot be dealt with under penal laws. Any person occupying a place of land should not be accused of committing a crime and the police should not be vested with powers to arrest that person without a warrant. Thus, the Odisha Government Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill contravenes the procedure established by law under the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), Central law."
The Delhi Government wanted to amend the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act to bring it in conformity with the provisions of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws, 2011. Previously too, the Bill had been returned by the then President, Pranab Mukherjee.
However, the Delhi Government got it passed in the Assembly again and sent it to the President for assent, which he too declined to give.