Report on Khap Panchayats The Law Commission has drafted a consultation paper on caste panchayats. A draft legislation titled “The Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances) Bill, 2011” has been attached to the consultation paper. The Bill prohibits people from congregating together to condemn a legal marriage on the ground that the said marriage has brought dishonour to the caste or community. Every member of such a group shall be punished with imprisonment of a minimum term of 6 months and a maximum term of 1 year. The member may also be liable to a fine of up to Rs 10,000. Under our criminal justice system, the presumption is that the accused person is innocent until proven guilty. This Bill reverses this presumption. It provides that if an accused person participated in an unlawful assembly, then it will be presumed that the accused intended to commit an offence under the Bill. The Commission has invited public comments on the consultation paper within 4 weeks. The comments can be sent by post or email to email@example.com. A copy of the consultation paper is available at http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/cp-Honour%20Killing.pdf. Report on compounding of offences including Sec 498A of IPC (harassment for dowry) The Law Commission has also submitted its report on ‘Compounding of (IPC) Offences. Compoundable offences are offences which allow the parties to enter into a private compromise. The Supreme Court in some recent cases had asked the Law Commission to identify more offences which could be treated as compoundable. Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lists the offences which are compoundable. Currently under the section there are 56 compoundable offences. Certain offences can be compounded only with the prior permission of the court. The Commission has recommended that Section 498A of the IPC (cruelty against a married woman by her husband or relatives) should be made compoundable with the permission of the Court. It has recommended that the magistrate should give a hearing to the woman and then permit or refuse the compounding of the offence. This has been recommended to ensure that woman is not coerced into compounding the offence. The other IPC offences that the Commission has recommended should be made compoundable include (a) Section 324 (simple hurt); (b) Section 147 (rioting); (c) Section 380 (theft in dwelling house); (d) Section 384 (extortion) and (e) Section 385 (extortion by threat to person). A copy of the report is available at http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report237.pdf
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha