HomeLegal ColumnsAn Analysis of the U.P. Population -Control, Stabilization and Welfare- Bill, 2021

An Analysis of the U.P. Population -Control, Stabilization and Welfare- Bill, 2021

On the 20th of June 2021, Hon’ble Mr. Justice (Retired) Aditya Nath Mittal, presently chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission made a statement that there is a need for population control laws for the betterment of the State. After this statement, the political pandits of the state started scrutinizing this statement with the lens of the upcoming State Elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Although no statement in this regard was given by any member of the ruling party, but, the whispers never really died.

On the 19th of July 2021, a new update showed up on the official website of the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission. ‘Suggestions from Public upon the U.P. Population -Control, Stabilization and Welfare- Bill, 2021 [ Notice Board]’. This suggestion opens to a pdf document that comprises two things. First, a small para inviting suggestions to help the Commission improve the draft of ‘The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021’(hereinafter referred to as the ‘population bill’) and secondly, the proposed draft bill in itself.

The Bill it seems came without a warning and thus resulted in lengthy discussions in the various strata of the society. Everyone had a say in it, ranging from political parties to various organisations. An MP of the Samajwadi Party, Shafiqur Rahman Barq criticized the population bill stating that it is Allah alone who decides the number of lives on Earth. He also said that from where will India get the manpower to fight wars if we stop procreating?[1] Mr. Alok Kumar, the working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad also criticized the population bill by sending a letter to the state law commission, citing two reasons mainly.[2] First, he said that the total fertility rates varied among people of different communities, thus creating a uniform law for everyone in this regard would be futile. Secondly, he said that countries like China had adopted the one child policy, but is now relaxing its norms because of the failed results. He said that in cases of one child, the child will later be heavily burdened with 2 parents, 4 grandparents.

Understanding the Population Bill:

The population bill is divided into six basic chapters (Preliminary, Of Incentives and Disincentives, Of General Exceptions, State Population Fund, Duties of Government and Miscellaneous) The population bill initially defines the various concepts concerning the topic in the preliminary chapter. The population bill also takes polygamy and polyandry into consideration. Under the second chapter, the population bill lays down the incentives and disincentives that the state shall be providing to couples.

Section 4 – 7 of the population bill provides for the incentives that shall be provided and also the conditions that need to be satisfied to avail the incentives.

Section 4(Incentives to Public servants): This section is applicable to the public servants employed under the State Government, who by undergoing voluntary sterilization operation upon either the male or the female adheres to the two-child norm. The incentives that can be availed by such public servants are:

  • two additional increments during the entire service;
  • subsidy towards purchase of plot or house site or built house from Housing Board or Development Authority, as may be prescribed;
  • soft loan for construction or purchasing a house on nominal rates of interest, as may be prescribed;
  • rebate on charges for utilities such as water, electricity, water, house tax, as may be prescribed;
  • Maternity or as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances;
  • three per cent increase in the employer‘s contribution Fund under national pension scheme;
  • free health care facility and insurance coverage to spouse; and
  • such other benefits and incentives, as may be prescribed.

Section 5(Additional incentives to Public servants): This section is applicable to the public servants employed under the State Government, who have only one child and undergo voluntary sterilization operation upon either the male or the female. The incentives that can be availed by such public servants, in addition to incentives provided under Section 4 are:

  • two additional increments during the entire services Provided that the additional increments provided shall be in addition to the increments provided under clause (a) of Section 4;
  • free health care facility and insurance coverage to the single child till he attain the age of twenty years;
  • preference to single child in admission in all education institutions, including but not limited to Indian Institute of Management, All India Institute of Medical Science etc.;
  • free education up-to graduation level;
  • scholarship for higher studies in case of a girl child;
  • preference to single child in government jobs; and
  • such other benefits and incentives, as may be prescribed.

Section 6(Extension of incentive to general public): This section is divided into two clauses. The first clause deals with individuals adhering to two child norm, while the second clause deals with individuals having only one child.

The first clause is applicable to individuals who are not public servants and who by undergoing voluntary sterilization operation upon either the male or the female adheres to the two-child norm. The incentives that can be availed by such individuals are:

  • soft loan for construction or purchasing a house on nominal rates of interest, as may be prescribed;
  • rebate on charges for utilities such as water, electricity, water, house tax, as may be prescribed;
  • Maternity or as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances;
  • such other benefits and incentives, as may be prescribed.

The second clause is applicable to individuals who are not public servants and who have only one child and undergo voluntary sterilization operation upon either the male or the female. The incentives that can be availed by such individuals, in addition to incentives provided under the previous clause are:

  • free health care facility and insurance coverage to the single child till he attain the age of twenty years;
  • preference to single child in admission in all education institutions, including but not limited to Indian Institute of Management, All India Institute of Medical Science etc.;
  • free education up-to graduation level;
  • scholarship for higher studies in case of a girl child;
  • preference to single child in government jobs;

Section 7(Special Benefit to Couple Living under the Below Poverty Line): Any couple living below the poverty line, who have only one child and undergo voluntary sterilization operation upon either the male or the female shall be eligible for a one time lump sum amount from the government of Rs. 80,000 if the single child is a boy and Rs. 1,00,000 if the single child is a girl.

Section 8 – 12 of the population bill provides for the disincentives that shall be borne by people who after the commencement of this Act, procreate more than two children in contravention to the two-child norm laid down in this bill. The disincentives laid down are:

  • Shall be ineligible to the incentives provided under Section 4 to Section 7 of the population bill.
  • Shall be debarred from the benefits of the Government sponsored welfare schemes.
  • There shall be a limit of Ration card units upto four.
  • Shall be barred from contesting election to Local Bodies.
  • Shall be barred from applying to government jobs.
  • Shall be barred from getting promotion in government service.
  • Shall not be eligible to receive any kind of subsidy that is provided by the government.

After laying down the definitions, incentives and disincentives the population bill lays down exceptions to the clauses to the conditions of incentives and disincentives like Adoption, death, disability of child, etc.

Chapter IV and V of the population bill are really interesting. Chapter IV talks about making a fund to satisfy the various amounts that are to be dispensed as incentives under this population bill. Chapter V lays down the duties of the State Government. The duties laid down are primarily of spreading awareness and educating the masses about the issue of population control and its various methods.

Do we need a Population Control Bill?

India is the second most populous country in the world, with a population of around 130+ crores. Now among this 130+ crores, the state of Uttar Pradesh holds the highest share with a population of about 20.4 crores. The population of Uttar Pradesh around 100 years back in the year 1921 is believed to be around 4 crores. In a span of 100 years, the population has grown by five folds. This exponential increase in population has been an area of concern for the governments. Discussions have been very prevalent on the topic of utilising the immense amount of human resource our nation possesses. We’ve always believed that since we as a nation possess a large number of young population, we can strive and achieve any goal we envision.

Although lately, the idea of population control laws have also started gaining traction. Since independence, a bill in regard to population control has been tabelled numerous times. Recently. on the 27th of June 2019, Shri Ajay Bhatt, a member of Parliament introduced a bill to provide for population control by adoption of small family norms and for matters connected therewith which was named, The Population Control Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha. Its Statement of Objects and Reasons were as follows:

“       Next to China, India is the second largest populated country in the world. As the population rises. so will poverty. Being a developing country, the increasing growth rate is dragging India into a vicious cycle of population and poverty, which leads to a development trap. This further increases other problems like illiteracy, unemployment and inflation.

Over population is a hindrance in the path of India’s economic development. Family planning awareness should be sown among the younger generations. Smaller families contribute to the well being of the individual as well as India’s economy. Population control is the appropriate alternative for India to promote, sustain and enhance development. Higher population results in lower resource availability. Rapid population growth affects capital formation, food shortages, consumer prices and social and political unrest.

Therefore, it is necessary to enact a law to put a check on increasing population at the earliest and make effective provisions to control the population of India.

Hence this Bill.”

Although this bill did not become an act and did not gather much attention also, but it surely was an attempt to bring forth a nationwide applicable population control Act.

There have also been reports that suggests, that yes there had been a population explosion in India but now the rate at which the population is growing is very less. To understand the growth in population of a region, the most common used parameter is the rate of natural increase. Rate of natural increase is basically the difference between the birth rate and death rate. According to the United Nations data, the rate of natural increase of population in India(per 1000 population) is as follows[3]:

Thus, looking at the graph it can be said that the rate of population increase has been decreasing. From 22.9 in the period of 1980-1985, we had 10.8 in the period of 2015-2020. Keeping this in mind these and many more facts, can we say that we need a population control law in India?

Population Control Act vis-à-vis the Indian Constitution:

The Indian Constitution under its Entry 20-A of the Concurrent list mentioned in the Seventh Schedule provides for Population Control and Family Planning. This thereby establishes that both the centre and the state governments have the power to make laws in regard to family planning.

An interesting point to note herein is that Entry 20-A was not originally in the Indian Constitution, instead it was added by the Fourty Second Amendment in 1976, which came in effect in the year 1977. This was the first action taken by the government in direction of family planning or as can be said in the direction of population control. When discussion sparked at the amendment, the government brought Article 47 into daylight and said that the framers of the Constitution had envisioned that a situation could arise wherein the government will have to interfere in households in the name of public health.

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution talks about equality before law:

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

The Apex Court in the case of R.K. Garg v. Union of India [(1981) 4 SCC 675] analysed Article 14 by stating that it does talk about equality, but it does not rule out the possibility of intelligible differentia by laying down two conditions for a test on which article 14’s axe would not fall, “(1) That the classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes those that are grouped together from others and (2) that differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the Act

Article 16 of the Indian Constitution talks about equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. The article does provide the governments with the discretion of providing reservations, but it nowhere provides the government with the discretion of providing any disadvantage per se to any citizen.

Scrutinising the population bill through Article 14 and Article 16 it can be said that the distinction/ categorisation that the bill creates determines on as to who will receive the incentives and who will have to bear the burden of the disincentives. To satisfy Article 14, the categorisation will have to be scrutinised on as to whether it is founded on intelligible differentia or not? In the author’s view, the bill in contrary to Article 16 to the extent of disincentivising a particular group.

Conclusion

We need to keep in mind the examples of China and Japan. These countries provide us with experience of as to what are the side effects of a population control policy. China in the year 1979 introduced the on-child policy to control the exponential rise of population in the State. Today, around 42 years later China is facing the side effects of its policy, and in the year 2015 itself China ended the one-child policy. In 1971, China had around 3.8% of its population about the age of 65 years. In 2020, the 65+ years population increased to 12%.[4] This huge rise in old age population has resulted in major loss of labour in the country. Also, this policy has resulted in a drastic change in sex ratio of the country. Basically, it can be said that China did implement a population control law and around 36 years later was itself forced to repeal it.

Similarly, in Japan, the rise in old age population is an issue. In 2010, the percentage of population aged above 65 years was 22.5% which has increased to 28% in 2019.[5] This huge rise in old age population brings a number of complications with it.

These two countries, will have to be kept in mind while understanding any population control law.

The proposed population bill put forth by the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has definitely gained a lot of traction from all sectors of the society. A lot of it is owed to the fact that the ruling party in the State has an image of being pro a particular group and against another group of the society. Also, this move of the Uttar Pradesh Government is being seen as a vote gaining tactic considering the fact that there are elections coming up in the state. Without indulging into these theories, we need to understand that yes, the politics of the State undoubtedly has a very major role to play in the policy making of the State, but political parties come and go, it is the law that stays.


[1] https://indianexpress.com/article/india/draft-population-control-bill-manpower-war-sp-mp-7399546/

[2]https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vhp-raises-objection-to-up-population-bill/article35276190.ece

[3] https://population.un.org/wpp/DataQuery/

[4] https://knoema.com/atlas/China/Population-aged-65-years-and-above

[5] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1149301/japan-share-of-population-aged-65-and-above/

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Law Wire Team
Law Wire Teamhttps://lawwire.in/
Law Wire Team attempts to delve into pertinent (and sometimes not immediately pertinent) questions regarding socio-politics, Law and their interesting matrix.
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