President Ramnath Kovind has given assent to as many as 33 bills of different state Governments in the last year except one bill passed by the West Bengal assembly.
In fact, he had withheld his assent and communicated to the Government of West Bengal in the month of January last year. But to date, West Bengal Government has not taken any initiative to pursue the bill which relates to taking over of sick private owned company Dunlop India limited.
The other bills given assent will have a far-reaching impact on the society as well as in the functioning of the Government. The controversial Land Acquisition bill of the Centre was not allowed to be passed by the opposition in Parliament but finds a place in some of the state governments ruled by BJP and their allies. The land acquisition and fair compensation bills were passed by the Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu assemblies and were given due assent by the President.
Gujarat assembly passed a controversial bill earlier named as the Gujrat Control of Organised Crime bill, failed to get the Presidential assent since 2004. Now 16 years later after the first version of it was passed by the Gujarat Assembly has become law.
The Bill provides for the admissibility of evidence collected through interception of mobile calls of an accused or through confessions made before an investigating officer, in a court of law. Clause 16 makes confessions before police officers admissible in court.
The Bill empowers police to tap telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence. It extends the period of the probe from stipulated 90 days to 180 days before the filing of the charge sheet.
The legislation makes offenses under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015, non-bailable. Opposition parties have been crying foul on the merit of the bill but have not been able to get their grievances redressed.
It is also heartening to note that finally, President has given his assent to a law related to violence against media personnel as nonÂbailable one passed by the Maharashtra assembly during the tenure of BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
President has also given assent to a bill passed by Rajasthan’s Congress Government to prohibit hookah smoking in public places. In the bill, its mentioned that the menace of hookah smoking in the so-called hookah bar is rapidly growing in urban and semi-urban areas. It poses serious health hazards not only to the young generation but adults also.
President has also given assent to a bill passed by the Rajasthan assembly to separate cow and buffalo from the list of Bovine animal export or migration act. This move to amend the 1955 act may bring relief to meat traders in Rajasthan from cow vigilantes as the present act makes no distinction between cow and buffalo.
Among the bills which got assent from President Gujarat has the highest number of five. Next in the list is Tamil Nadu with four bills followed by Karnataka which got assent to three important bills. Andhra Pradesh also received assent to three bills. Two bills each from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand. Haryana, Maharashtra and one from Tripura got the Presidential assent.
(The author is a senior journalist based in New Delhi)