Concession on 2 daughters rejected in UP draft population bill
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission on Monday submitted to chief minister Yogi Adityanath a controversial draft population control bill that proposes to bar people with more than two children from local body elections, government jobs, increments and promotions, and restrict their welfare benefits.
The 232-page draft of the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021, was finalised after the commission went through roughly 8,500 public suggestions received over the past fortnight. Some controversial suggestions -- such as keeping people with two daughters outside the ambit of the law -- were rejected.
“Rising population is a cause of concern for every nationalist...the commission studied all suggestions in detail and incorporated suitable revisions,” said justice (retired) AN Mittal, chairman of the commission, in a written message addressed to the chief minister.
“The state law commission has submitted the draft bill on population control to the chief minister, recommending a specific law for checking population growth,” added justice Mittal, a former judge of the Allahabad high court.
The government is likely to table the draft bill in the assembly soon, said people aware of the developments. The monsoon session of the assembly is scheduled to run from August 17 to 24.
Uttar Pradesh is scheduled to go the polls early next year.
On July 9, the commission uploaded the draft bill on its website seeking suggestions in 10 days (till July 19) from the public. The commission received 8,500 responses on email; out of this, 8,200 backed the draft legislation and 300 opposed it, said the commission.
But the draft bill immediately stirred a row, with some experts saying the provisions violated constitutional rights and was aimed at particular communities. Opposition politicians also questioned the timing of the draft bill’s release, alleging it was aimed at vote consolidation ahead of the polls.
At least nine other states -- including Rajasthan, Assam and Odisha, among others -- have adopted two-child norms for limited purposes, mainly for limiting candidature in local body elections. The ambit of the draft UP bill has a wider sweep.
In its report to the CM, the commission rejected the argument that it violated the right to privacy.
“In no way, the right to life and liberty as provided in Article 21 of the Constitution of India is being curtailed. Moreover, if a couple does not want to adopt the two-child norm, then he is free to do so but certain disincentives have been provided under the bill, which cannot be claimed as of right,” the commission said in the report.
The draft bill recommends various benefits to public servants and ordinary people who adopt the two-child policy, including financial incentives. It also recommends special benefits to those who have one child and exemption to couples from the two-child policy in case of multiple births out of the second pregnancy and revocation of incentives in case of breach of the two-child norm.
Those in breach of the two-child norm may find their government promotions and increments blocked, their ration and other government benefits curtailed, and candidature and nomination to local elections and bodies cancelled -- if the recommendations are accepted. Such people cannot apply for government jobs or receive government subsidies, the draft bill proposes. Exceptions have been carved out for people with disabled children, or in the case of the death of a child.
“It shall come into force on the appointed date as may be notified by the state government in the gazette and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of the act,” recommended the draft bill.
The commission rejected many suggestions received. Prominent among them were stopping people with more than two children from voting, fighting state and national elections and accessing reservation benefits.
It also dismissed a suggestion to allow a third child after two daughters.
“The commission has made recommendations for a third child in case there is disability of first or second child or there occurs death of child or any of the child is transgender. It shall be a never ending process to give birth to more children in quest of a male child,” said the commission.
The panel also accepted several suggestions, including more incentives for poor families and women from marginalised castes and tribes.The commission expanded benefits for sterilisation from below-poverty-line families to anyone who underwent the procedure voluntarily, and said it was acceptable to link the policy to Aadhaar.
On a suggestion that in polygamous relationships, the two children should be counted per man, not woman, the commission said, “Taking into consideration, the large number of suggestions, this aspect shall be reconsidered.”
The commission said that if the draft bill becomes law, it should be implemented one year after its notification in the gazette.