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Ahead of elections, most populous state UP plans 2-child policy, is preparing draft bill

Justice (retd) AN Mittal, who heads UP law commission, said it will take at least 2 months to prepare the draft bill for two-child policy, after consultations with all stakeholders.

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Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, could soon have a two-child policy aiming to encourage people to have small families. The UP State Law Commission has started work on a draft bill to bring a legislation, which could propose to limit the benefits of state schemes only to those with two children or less.

While the UP government has not made any announcement in this regard yet, Justice (retired) Aditya Nath Mittal, the law commission chief, confirmed to ThePrint that they have begun the groundwork and discussions to prepare the draft bill.

Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office also told ThePrint the draft bill was a one of the topics of discussion during a recent meeting between CM Yogi Adityanath and some officials.

Assam is also planning a similar policy, with Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently announcing that his government would gradually implement the two-child norm for availing benefits under specific schemes funded by the state.

Justice Mittal, a retired Allahabad High Court judge, said it would take at least two months to prepare the draft for UP, after consultations with all stakeholders and also taking into account the public opinion.

Speaking about the reason for bringing such a law, Justice Mittal said: “Population control is a necessity. UP has more than 22 crore population, which is higher than many countries. So it’s necessary that at some point of time one should take measures.”

Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh also hinted that the draft bill is being prepared, but said they could not share further details.

Mittal said such drafts have been discussed several times in Parliament also but were not passed.

In his Independence Day address in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken on the issue of “population explosion”, and even said population control was a form of patriotism as he praised those going for small families. “Those who follow the policy of small family also contribute to the development of the nation. It is also a form of patriotism,” he had said.

Speaking an en event in February this year, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also spoke about the rising population in the country and the efforts undertaken to encourage family planning. “More people require more resources, and as the population increases, the earth’s resources deplete,” he had said.

Mittal, however, stressed that “population control is different from family planning”, and that “it is not against any particular religion and human rights”.

“The law is aimed to help in population control in the most populous state of the country,” he said.

Also read: SC allows Health Ministry to be party in PIL seeking measures to control population


What the draft bill will contain  

Justice Mittal said while he won’t be able to divulge the content of the draft, he believed it should contain measures to check the rising population.

The draft could suggest limiting benefits of state government programmes such as subsidies on certain products and services, ration distribution, employment etc to people with two children or less, he added.

“I do not want to say that there would be some ‘strict action’ provision in it, but there should be some suggestions,” Mittal said.

“While drafting this law, all aspects will be looked into and an exhaustive study of all such laws will be carried out,” he said, adding that they will also study such laws followed in other countries.

Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal said: “No formal announcement has been made regarding preparation of such bill. Whenever it gets drafted, it will be sent to the department concerned and then the government will take a call on it.”

UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh said: “When the draft gets prepared, we will see but right now I can’t say anything. Only departments concerned or who are drafting it can give you the details.”

Asked why such a bill is being drafted just seven months before the state elections, Justice Mittal said it has nothing to do with the elections.

A source close to the CMO, however, said the aim could be to create an environment of talks regarding the “population control issue” before the state goes to polls.

“The Yogi government will definitely try to bring such bills in the last assembly session before the election to create some ‘mahaul (environment)’ related to the population control issue. This government has already brought the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, and the Cow-Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, and they have helped in building Yogi’s image as a strong CM,” the source said.

India was one of the first countries in the world to initiate a family planning programme, in 1952, aimed at “lowering fertility and slowing the population growth rate”.

India’s National Family Planning Programme aims to reduce India’s overall fertility rate to 2.1 by 2025.

Also read: Court junks plea for population control law after Modi govt silence


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