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05/12/23 | 10:13 am

Rajya Sabha clears Post Office Bill to revitalise post offices

The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Post Office Bill, 2023. Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnav introduced the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. He said the entire focus of the new law is to facilitate the transition from mail delivery to service delivery and the post office to providing banking services.

Introducing the Bill, Vaishnav said the amendment to the 125-year-old Indian Post Office Act reflects how post offices and postal institutions have been revived in the last nine years under the NDA regime.

He said that in the last nine and a half years, postal services, post offices, and postmen have not been limited to mere correspondence but have transformed into service-providing institutions. Over the years, post offices have become banks in a way. India Post Payment Bank, a major medium to convert the postal system into a banking system, has opened 3.5 crore accounts for women.

He said that from 2004 to 2014, 660 post offices were closed, but from 2014 to 2023, about 5,000 post offices were opened, and about 5,746 new post offices are in the process of being opened.

During this, the MPs expressed concern over the powers being given to the Central Government to stop, open, or seize any item posted for reasons like state security, public order, emergencies, public safety, etc. In response to this, the Union Minister said that this is very important for national security.

According to the Bill, the new enactment has been brought about with a view to providing a simple legislative framework to regulate the functioning of post offices in the country and to facilitate the development of post offices into a network for the delivery of citizen-centric services.

The Bill will empower the Director General of Postal Services to make rules regarding essential activities and fix fees for services.

The Post Office Bill 2023 replaces the Indian Post Office Act, 1898. As per the provisions of the bill, the government may intercept an article transmitted through India Post on specified grounds, including the security of the state and public order. India Post will not incur any liability with regard to its services, except any liability prescribed through Rules. The government will not have exclusive privilege over conveying letters.

Earlier Congress MP Shakti Singh Gohil initiated the discussion on the bill and alleged that the government wants to encourage the private sector only. Aam Aadmi Party Raghav Chaddha opposed the bill and said that this bill will give the government the right to read anyone’s letter in the name of security.

After passing the Bill, the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha were adjourned until tomorrow.

(Inputs from HS) 

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