legislation campus

Right to Information Act 2005 is the most important act in today's India which enables every citizen of this country to access information from the government departments which have direct link with the life and livelihood of individuals or community. Every government department and offices, at all levels from central government to local self government, must have Public Information officer who could be approached by any one for any information (expect some confidential information) related to that office or department. People also can ask for the certified copies of those information, the information could be any document, status of any programs, status of any applications, statistics, deeds, etc. The appeal for accessing information can only be denied on the ground of confidentiality, that information, if displayed can cause harm to the country. To access information one need to apply to PIO or APIO of related office on full-scale white papers, the application could be either handwritten or typed in any languages. The application could be sent by post, email or fax or could be delivered by hand. The department would issue a receipt against the application.

The application must be answered within a stipulated time. The application, if not answered or the applicant are not satisfied with information, the applicant can approach to The State Chief Information Commissioner. Please visit http://righttoinformation.gov.in/ for more information.

The new Child Marriage Prohibition Act of 2006 has more stringent provisions

The act of 2006 not only can made every child marriage taken place before or after the commencement of this act null and void if the contracting party (who was child at the time of that marriage) wish so but also organise maintenance for the wife and legitimacy and safe custody for the children if any born through this marriage. The offences made under this act (as an adult marrying a child or solemnising a child marriage) cognizable and non-bailable. The Penalty on the offences is much greater than the provisions made in the earlier child marriage restraint act of 1929. The act also gives power to the court to issue injunction to prohibit any child marriage which is going to take place. The act also direct every state government to appoint Child Marriage Prohibition Officer/s who is responsible not only to keep an watch and prevent child marriage and organising prosecutions of the offenders but also create awareness against the child marriage.

For full text of the act see www.prsindia.org/docs/acts_new/ 1172732851_THE_ PROHIBITION_OF_CHILD_MARRIAGE_ACT__2006.pdf

Fundamental Right to Education Bill 2008 - The Bill dilutes right to education

The Constitution was amended in 2002 to make the education fundamental right for the children of six to fourteen years age group. Since then, millions of children of this country have been kept waiting for the bill to be enacted. Such waiting seems to have come to an end with the HRD Minister Mr. Arjun Singh announcing the bill to be tabled in the next monsoon session of the parliament. The bill, which has drafted and redrafted several times, is not available in public but there are many critiques, which are available on this bill. The lapse of time has proved the state's failure by all means to ensure universal enrolment and retention in school while the Sarba Shiksha Aviyan (SSA) could not enrole all children in school and is struggling with alarming rate of school drop-out. At this moment it is most interesting to see whether the new enactment has the potentials of ensuring education to all children.

Different views are coming up on the bill. Where the government emphatically says that the bill would introduce "Public-Private partnership with a difference" in the school education, legal experts say that the bill would add dent to the 86th amendment of the Constitution and media highlights that the bill would make the concept of neighbourhood school a reality.

But the groups and individuals who have been struggling since long to make right to education for all children a reality expressed in one word that the bill, if enacted, would further dilute the constitutional commitment towards education and would pave the way for the dignified entry of private sectors in school education.

Eminent educationist Dr. Anil Sadgopan in his article "Misconceiving Fundamentals, Dismantling Rights" (Published in Tahalka Magazine on 14th June 2008) very clearly highlighted the "Dirty Dozens" of the Bill (Fundamental Right to Education 2008) which is given below:

The Bill
1) Lacks provision to compel the State to provide adequate funds.
2) Dilutes the Fundamental Right of children below six years to nutrition, health and
    preprimary education by falsely equating it with ICDS.
3) Denies right to secondary and senior secondary education.
4) Shifts public funds to private unaided fee-charging schools to exacerbate
    commercialisation, exclusion and inequality.
5) Legitimises inequality through a multi-layered school system.
6) Permits violation of the "neighbourhood. Principle" by the government-run elite and
    private schools, allowing them to charge fees and screen and exclude children.
7) Continues discrimination against government school children as their teachers will
     still be deployed for census, elections and disaster relief duties.
8) Doesn't provide for the states/UTs to regulate private unaided schools, leaving them
     free to indulge in profiteering, anti-child practices and other violations.
9) Fails to guarantee child.s mother tongue as medium of education, even at primary
     stage. (For children of linguistic minority groups, this violates Article 350A.)
10) Contains subtle provisions that exclude disabled children from schools.
11) Opens space for private agencies to make money through questionable
12) Lacks guarantee of dignified salaries, professional development, promotional
     avenues and just social security for teachers and prevention of fragmentation of

It is clearly visible that government not only escaping from it's constitutional commitments of "equality before law" and "right to education" by enacting this bill but is deliberately handing over the responsibility of elementary education of this country to the private sector, which is dangerous. We, the concerned and conscious civilian of this country, must protest this conspiracy by all means and in all forums.

The much awaited Social Security Bill for the Unorganised labour Sector workers is passed by Rajya Sava

The Unorganised Sector Workers' social Security bill 2007
(to get the bill see - http://labour.nic.in/ss/UnorganisedSectorBillinRS.pdf) passed by the Rajya Sava on 23rd October, 2007, ignoring the amendments demanded by the left in the bill regarding a dedicated fund for the welfare schemes, mandates on implementation of scheme within scheduled time, weaving out the condition of contribution for the beneficiaries of both BPL and APL categories.

The bill is expected to benefit 90% of the workers of the country who are either self employed or home based workers or wage workers, working in the unorganised sectors and above 14 years of age. The Bill, in its current form, mentions ten social security schemes covering pension, maternity insurance, welfare schemes for artisans and weavers, general insurance and health insurance.

The Union Labour Minister said that a 34-member National Social Security Board to be set up under the new law would be headed by him. He added this was done to empower the board, which would take decisions on social security schemes for the unorganised sector workers. The Bill also provides for inclusion of members of Parliament on the board. Also, the recommendation that states be allowed to set up similar committees had been accepted, Fernandes said.