Civil society members discuss how govt. has profited from watering down laws
The Maharashtra unit of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) released a report titled ‘Dismantling rights through systematic policy dilutions – Tracking Legislative Changes in India: 2014-2019’ in the city on Monday.
The report, which took around four months to be compiled, discusses legislations such as triple talaq, environmental laws and the Aadhaar Act. A panel discussion on how the government has profited from the dilution of laws was held after the release of the report.
The panel discussion was moderated by Hosbet Suresh, a retired Bombay High Court judge; Mihir Desai, the convener of PUCL’s Maharashtra unit; and Veena Gowda and Lara Jesani, committee members of PUCL’s Maharashtra unit.
‘Partiality to projects’
The speakers laid emphasis on environmental laws with reference to the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue project in Maharashtra, the Statue of Unity in Gujarat and the bullet train project.
Shiraz Bulsara, a tribal activist with Kashtakari Sanghatna, which works in the tribal belt of Palghar district, said, “The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, which was passed in 1996, says that without seeking the consent of a panchayat you cannot go ahead with developmental projects. However, the law has been amended to work in the favour of linear projects, which is how the bullet train project got approved.”
Hasina Khan, the founder of Bebaak Collective in Parel, said, “The Supreme Court declared that the practice of triple talaq was null and void on August 22, making any utterances of these words illegal. However, the government said that they will criminalise the law and imprison people who violate the triple talaq legislation. In case the husband is imprisoned, what will the wives get? We supported the Supreme Court decision of banning triple talaq, but we are against its criminalisation.” The same sentiment was echoed by Ms. Gowda, an advocate at the Bombay High Court.
Mr. Desai said, “This report is on how good progressive laws have been dismantled and regressive laws have been brought in in the last five years. The report talks about dilution of significant laws with regard to land acquisition, women and children, and the judiciary.” With the third and fourth phases of the Lok Sabha elections set to begin, Mr. Desai said, “People of Mumbai should vote after looking at the report.”
The PUCL was recently in the news for presenting what they called was a “charge sheet” against the BJP-led government at the Centre, claiming that the unemployment rate under the government is the highest in over four decades, at least 75 people have died of hunger across the country, and development projects have displaced over two lakh people.