Ram Nath Kovind: The diplomatic President & his most controversial bills

Former President Ram Nath Kovind while holding office made 31 international trips however he passed some of the most ‘controversial’ bills that caused widespread protests or backlash from the opposition or the common people of the country.

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Ram Nath Kovind was an Indian politician who served as the 14th President of India from 2017 to 2022.

In the Indian Parliamentary form of democracy, the bills are passed by the Lok Sabha. And then move on to Rajya Sabha and are presented before the president. Further, for signature to transform the bill into law in the constitution.

The president has the right to put a temporary stay on the bill and point out fallacies, and mistakes and also can decline to sign the bill if he/she finds it unconstitutional.

In this story, we explore how the alleged controversial bills were enacted into law. They are deemed controversial since these bills and amendments caused widespread protests or backlash from the opposition or the common people of the country.

The four most ‘controversial’ bills that Former President Ram Nath Kovind assented to were the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, Triple Talaq Bill which is known as The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 and the 3 farm laws that were passed in 2020.

 

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019

The act consists of 103 clauses, extends 106 central laws to the UTs, repeals 153 state laws, and abolishes the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council among other things. The introduction of the bill was preceded by a presidential order by Ram Nath Kovind which indirectly amended Article 370 of the Indian constitution and revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The act has also vested powers to the central government to pass several executive orders concerning both the union territories.

This act was heavily contested not just within India but received backlash from countries like Pakistan, China, and Turkey and several lawmakers in the US express their dissatisfaction over this. Joe Biden in his presidential campaign mentioned the abrogation of article 370.

 

Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 or CAA was passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act, of 1955 by providing fast-track Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians, and arrived in India before the end of December 2014. This law excludes Muslims from the above-mentioned countries, thus attracting global criticism.

The BJP while contesting for the 2019 general elections had promised in their manifesto about the naturalization of the persecuted minorities that had fled to India for refuge.

Protests across the countries were held against this new act and several times these protests turned violent. Including the riots in Delhi as the then-American President, Donald Trump came to visit India.

 

 

Triple Talaq Bill, 2019

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 declares the instant divorce granted by the pronouncement of the word “talaq” three times. Hence, as void and illegal. It provides for imprisonment for a term of up to 3 years. And a fine to the husband who practiced instant Triple Talaq.

Muslim woman, upon whom Talaq was pronounced also granted custody of children and allowance or alimony to be paid by the husband. Muslim women now have legal protection against the pronouncement of Triple Talaq.

However, the act did not garner much criticism except for a few politicians like Kapil Sibal, and Shashi Tharoor who called it an intervention in the Muslim personal law.

Farmers Bill, 2020

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 allows intra-state. And inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets. State governments are prohibited from levying any market fee, cess or levy outside APMC areas.

It claims that the minimum support prices have weakened farmers, instead of empowering them. The organizations against the billing demand that the government stops intervening in the agricultural commodity market. So that farmers will not have to depend on the minimum support prices.

Farm Bills have been described as “anti-farmer laws” by many farmer unions. And politicians from the opposition who say it would leave farmers at the “mercy of corporates”. The farmers have also demanded the creation of a minimum support price (MSP) bill. Moreover, to ensure that corporates cannot control the prices. The union government, however, maintains that the laws will make it effortless for farmers. To sell their produce directly to big buyers. And stated that the protests are based on misinformation. Related endemic legacy issues include farmer suicides and low farmer incomes.

Former President Ram Nath Kovind

All these bills that were passed by the parliament were later on asserted by Former President Ram Nath Kovind. Despite them not being unconstitutional, these bills surely polarized the nation on ideological and religious lines.

The president is vested with discretionary powers, however, Ram Nath Kovind did not make use of this. Thus, his presidency saw great changes in the nation.