Repeal Article 370, more seats in premier law schools: What changes the BJP aims to bring about

Varun Chirumamilla April 8 2019

The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) today released a detailed forty-five page manifesto ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

While the focus of the manifesto is on development, national security and tapping into India's wealth of human resources, there are also a few references to legislative changes the party aims to make.

So which laws does the BJP plan to modify should it get re-elected?

The Kashmir Issue

The BJP has re-iterated its long held view that Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir in certain respects, must be abrogated.

It has also expressed a commitment to do away with Article 35A of the Constitution, as it is discriminatory against non-permanent residents of Kashmir and women. The party has called the provision an obstacle in the development of the state and in creating a peaceful environment.

Related

Supreme Court defers hearing of petition challenging Article 35A till January 2019

SC to examine validity of Article 370 conferring special status on Jammu & Kashmir

The Citizenship Bill  

The BJP has made a commitment towards the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, wherein refugees belonging to the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain communities would be granted citizenship if they are found to be escaping persecution. The manifesto states,

"We will make all efforts to clarify the issues to the sections of population from the Northeastern states who have expressed apprehensions regarding the legislation."

The party has also noted its commitment to expedite the completion of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), especially in vulnerable areas where illegal immigration impacts the livelihood and employment of people.

Judicial and Legal Reforms

As far as judicial reforms go, there haven't been any concrete policy commitments. The manifesto merely contains a vague statement saying,

"We will work towards simplifying procedural laws, encouraging mediation and strengthening judicial and court management system in order to increase accessibility."

The manifesto has also stated that the Companies Act will be strengthened through an amendment, which will impose civil liabilities for minor procedural and technical defaults, thereby easing backlog in courts. This is seen as an incentive towards compliance with laws, and would help in the ease of doing business.

Police Reforms

Stating that India's current policing mechanism is a throwback to our colonial past, the manifesto calls for twenty-first century practices to be embraced. Emphasis has been placed on passing a Model Police Bill in consultation with States, in a move aimed at ensuring law and order is enforced, effectively, peacefully and in a people friendly manner.

India as an Arbitration hub

The BJP has committed to increasing the number of Alternative Dispute Resolution fora, to ensue that matters are speedily disposed. The manifesto also says that all necessary steps to make India a hub of arbitration services will be taken.

Cabinet approves Ordinance to establish New Delhi International Arbitration Centre

Education

Legal education will also be impacted, with the BJP committing to a 50 per cent increase in the number of seats in  Central Law, Engineering, Science and Management institutions in the next five years. The manifesto also says that Sates would be encouraged to do the same, and that the number of seats in premier law institutes will be increased by 50 per cent.

Equal Rights, Women's Empowerment and Reservation

The ruling party has promised to do away with practices such as Triple Talaq and Nikah Halala through legislation. The manifesto also states that the party is committed to introducing a 33 per cent reservation for women in state assemblies and in Parliament, through a constitutional amendment.

As regards the topic of reservation for economically weaker sections of society, the manifesto states,

"We have decisively ensured that the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society who belong to the non reserved category are represented and have access to government jobs and higher education through the 10% EWS reservation which was long overdue. We will implement the law in the same spirit while ensuring that SCs, STs and OBCs continue to have their fair representation."

Ram Mandir and Sabarimala

As far the Ram Mandir goes, the manifesto says that the BJP will examine all constitutional means by which the temple can be constructed at  Ayodhya.

On the Sabarimala issue, it assures that all possible information relating faith, tradition and worship at the shrine would be comprehensively presented before the Supreme Court.

Related: Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid: Supreme Court refers Ayodhya matter to mediation

Read the full manifesto:

BJP-Election-2019-english