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05 Dec 2019

The Indian Parliament passed a record number of 28 Acts between 17 June and 7 August 2019, the maximum in one session of Parliament. This Monsoon session was the first after the 2019 general elections in which the BJP-led NDA government returned to power for its second term, having secured 353 out of 545 seats i.e. an almost two-thirds majority. With a divided opposition confined to 189 seats with no clear leading Opposition party, the session saw a completely lop-sided Lok Sabha. The unprecedented passage of 28 Acts was ensured with a 10-day extension beyond 26 July, the scheduled date for closure of the session. In fact, it is in these 10 days that some of the most crucial legislations in the history of independent India, such as the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Act 2019 abrogating special status of the state, were passed. The fast-tracking of parliamentary procedures was a systematic exercise in undermining hard-won democratic rights and independence of democratic institutions. Not surprisingly, these fast-tracked legislations are those which have dangerous long-term social, economic and political implication for class, caste, religious, and other minorities.

Already since the very start of the Winter Session of the Parliament which began on 18 November 2019, the apprehensions of an escalation of anti-democratic enactments again through by-passing and fast-tracking parliamentary norms, are proving to be all too well-founded. On 26 November 2019, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed despite continuing protests by queer, trans and women’s groups over its undemocratic content. With Bills such as the Citizenship Amendment Bill which is designed to fundamentally alter the secular foundations of Indian citizenship and divest certain groups of political and economic rights, waiting to be pushed through in the ongoing winter session, we face being hurtled into an ice-age. It is in this context that PUDR presents in its report ‘Fast Track Parliament, Undemocratic Laws: The 2019 Monsoon Session’ a critique of nine hastily-passed laws of the Monsoon session of 2019 which seriously undermine democratic rights and autonomy of democratic institutions, as a pointer towards the direction our polity is taking.

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