New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Two bills, one on raising the upper limit for legal termination of pregnancy and another to remove end-use restrictions on participation in coal mine auctions were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday amid ruckus over opposition protest against the government over the issue of violence in Delhi.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and seeks to raise upper limit for legal termination of pregnancy from 20 to 24 weeks while expanding the access of women to safe and legal abortion services on "therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds".
The bills were introduced on the first day of the second half of the budget session.
The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced by Coal and Mines Minister Prahlad Joshi. The bill, which will replace an ordinance brought by the government, provides for allocation of coal blocks for composite prospecting license-cum-mining lease and removes restrictions on its end-use.
Speaker Om Birla gave the opportunity to opposition members, who wanted to oppose the introduction of the bill, to convey their concerns but they did not speak amid slogan-shouting in the House against the government.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill provides for enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women, which will be defined in the amendments to the MTP rules and includes survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently-abled women and minors.
Officials said that the increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate the pregnancy.
The upper gestation limit will not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the medical board. The composition, functions and other details of Medical Board to be prescribed subsequently in the rules under the Act.
The name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
The bill provides for the requirement of the opinion of one provider for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation and requirement of the opinion of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
The Bill seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
Officials also said that several petitions were received by the courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.
The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill provides for doing away with the requirement of previous approval in cases where the allocation of blocks was made by the central government.
Officials said that removal of end-use restriction are aimed at allowing anyone to participate in coal auction and at attracting large investment.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill for passage of the House amid slogan-shouting by opposition members.
She said the government had made the announcement Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas scheme in the union budget.
She said there are 4,83,000 direct tax cases pending in various appellate forums such as Commissioner of Appeal, High Court and also the Supreme Court as of November 2019.
"Of the 4,83,000 appeals which are pending at various levels, Rs 9.32 lakh crore are the estimated arrears. This scheme will be a great help for those who wish to settle disputes," she said. (ANI)