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Post Office Bill gets Parliament nod

New Delhi: Parliament on Monday passed the Post Office Bill that seeks to simplify the legislative framework to facilitate the evolution of India Post into a citizen-centric service network.

The Lok Sabha passed the Bill after a brief discussion amid protests by opposition members demanding a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the security breach in Parliament on December 13.

The Post Office Bill, 2023, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 4, seeks to repeal the 125-year-old Indian Post Office Act and consolidate and amend the law relating to post offices in the country.

According to the proposed legislation, “the central government may, by notification, empower any officer to intercept, open or detain any item in the interest of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, emergency or public safety, or upon the occurrence of any contravention of any of the provisions of any law for the time being in force”.

Replying to a discussion on the Bill in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan stressed that the provision for interception is needed for national security reasons.

Chauhan also said the proposed legislation entails provisions towards the expansion of India’s Postal services network.

The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, the enactment of a new law in place of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, is with a view to govern the functioning of post offices in the country and provide for a simple legislative framework to facilitate the evolution of post offices into a network for delivery of citizen-centric services.

The Bill seeks to empower the director general of postal services to frame regulations with respect to activities necessary to provide those services and fix the charges for such services.

In his reply, the minister said post offices are practically functioning like banking services and there are 26 crore accounts with Rs 17 lakh crore deposited in post office savings services.

Moreover, three crore accounts have been opened under the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana with Rs 1.41 lakh crore deposited in them, Chauhan informed.

The minister said 3.5 crore people are beneficiaries of the direct benefits transfer scheme courtesy of the post office network.

Further, 1.6 lakh post offices have been connected with core banking and digital banking facilities, he said, adding that in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision, 434 post offices have processed more than 1.25 crore passport applications and 13,500 ‘post office Aadhaar Seva Kendra’ have been opened.

(Published 18 December 2023, 14:33 IST)

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