Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 29 July 2023

India urges Sri Lanka to implement 13th Amendment

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe held an all-party meeting to discuss the issue of Tamil reconciliation and welfare. This comes days after his visit to India, during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to him the need to “ensure a life of dignity” for the Tamil community in the island nation. The PM also expressed the hope that Wickremesinghe would be committed to implementing the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution — which flows from the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 — and holding provincial council elections.

The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987

  • The 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution was made after the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J R Jayewardene, on 29 July 1987, in Colombo.
  • Under the 1978 constitution, Sri Lanka had a unitary government, with all powers in the hands of the Centre.
  • The Tamil minority in Sri Lanka was concentrated in the Northern and Eastern provinces and the struggle for rights and greater autonomy here had flared up into the long and bloody civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government, with some other groups also involved.
  • The 1987 Accord aimed at amending the constitution to transfer some powers to the governments of the country’s nine provinces, thereby finding a constitutional solution to the civil war.
  • After the Accord, the constitution underwent the 13th Amendment to allow devolution of power to provinces.
  • Apart from the devolution of power, the Accord had other clauses, such as Tamil and English being adopted as official languages along with Sinhala, lifting of emergency on the “Eastern and Northern Provinces by 15 August 1987”, surrender of arms by militant groups, and “general amnesty to political and other prisoners now held in custody under The Prevention of Terrorism Act and other emergency laws”.
  • The Accord also says that “The Government of India will underwrite and guarantee the resolutions, and co-operate in the implementation of these proposals”.

What about the 13th Amendment’s implementation?

  • The separation of powers was never done fully, and while some are unhappy over too little devolution, the hardline nationalists raise alarms over the “weakening” of the Central government’s authority.
  • The Sinhala nationalists also oppose the 13th Amendment as they see it as imposed by India. Moreover, the regions that the devolution was primarily meant for never benefitted much from it.
  • Under the Accord, the North and Eastern provinces were to be merged into one, temporarily, and later, a referendum was to be held to decide if they should stay together or have two separate provincial councils.
  • Thus, elections to the merged North Eastern Province were held on 19 November 1988. However, little over three months later, Chief Minister Annamalai Varadaraja Perumal moved a motion in the Council to declare an independent ‘Eelam’.
  • This prompted the President, Ranasinghe Premadasa, to dissolve the council, and impose President’s rule, which lasted till December 2006.
  • The referendum on the two provinces was never held, and in 2006Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled that the merger had been illegal. Thus, the Northern and Eastern provinces were separated again, on 1 January 2007.
  • Since 2014, provincial elections are pending across Sri Lanka. This is because Parliament is yet to amend a 2017 Act in Parliament, for reforming the election process by introducing a hybrid system of first past the post and proportional representation from the current system of proportional representation.


Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 passed

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Rajya Sabha passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which cracks down on film piracy along with changing how movies are certified by the censor board. The Bill lays down a three-year jail term and a fine of up to 5% of a movie’s production cost for those making its pirated copies.

More about the amended Bill

  • It introduces three certifications under the ‘UA’ categoryUA 7+UA 13+ and UA 16+, which means that children younger than the given age limits can access such movies with parental guidance.
  • It also empowers the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to give separate certificates for a film’s exhibition on television or other media.
  • As the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 stipulates that only UA category films can be shown on TV, the Bill allows for a change of category of a film from A (adult) or S (specialised groups) to UA, after making suitable alterations.
  • While the earlier Act provided that the certificate issued by the CBFC is valid for 10 years, it would now be valid perpetually.
  • The new Bill clarifies that the Centre will not have any revisional powers over CBFC certificates.
  • Recording or helping a person record any film that is being exhibited at a cinema theatre using audio-visual devices has been prohibited under the Bill. The film industry is facing a loss of Rs 20,000 crore annually because of piracy.
  • While inserting new clauses for piracy, the Bill aims to harmonise the Cinematograph Act with the existing laws that tangentially address piracy — the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Information Technology Act (IT) 2000.

The background

  • The Cinematograph Act, 1952 needed to be amended due to several reasons — to harmonise the law with various executive orders, Supreme Court judgements, and other legislations; to improve the procedure for licensing films for public exhibition by the CBFC; and to expand the scope of categorisations for certification.
  • Lastly and importantly, there was a huge demand from the film industry to address the issue of unauthorised recording and exhibition of films and curb the menace of piracy, which is causing them huge losses.
  • The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 12 February 2019, proposing changes related only to film piracy.
  • This Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Information Technology, which presented its report in March 2020.
  • The recommendations by the panel included age-based categories of certification and the removal of redundant provisions. So, the revised Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was released on 18 June 2021, seeking public comments.
  • In 2022, consultations with industry stakeholders were held based on which the Ministry introduced the 2023 Bill.
  • Interestingly, with the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, all special provisions in central laws related to the erstwhile state have become redundant. Thus, the special reference to J&K in the Act has been omitted in the 2023 Bill.


Jan Vishwas Bill passed

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Lok Sabha on 27 July 2023 approved the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023, to enhance ease of doing business, decrease compliance burden for individuals and industry, and alleviate judicial load by decriminalising minor economic offences.

More about the Bill

  • Spearheaded by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the Bill proposes to revise 183 provisions across 42 laws under 19 government ministries.
  • At present, existing laws contain clauses for imprisonment for minor and procedural defaults, as well as lesser fines and penalties.
  • This resulted in fear and mistrust towards the government. The intended changes of this proposed law aim to avoid unnecessary imprisonments and impose higher penalties and fines where necessary.
  • According to the Bill, offences will be decriminalised by either eliminating both imprisonment and/or fine; removing imprisonment while retaining or increasing fines; or changing imprisonment and/or fine to penalties.
  • Conversion of fines and penalties implies that court prosecution can be bypassed for punishment.
  • The government over the past nine years removed roughly 40,000 provisions and procedures, which had the potential to create problems for people.

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