August 12, 2017
The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 passed in both houses
The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Arun Jaitley, on July 24, 2017. It seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets. Stressed assets are loans where the borrower has defaulted in repayment or where the loan has been restructured (such as by changing the repayment schedule). It will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017.
Initiating insolvency proceedings: The central government may authorise the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue directions to banks for initiating proceedings in case of a default in loan repayment. These proceedings would be under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
Issuing directions on stressed assets: The RBI may, from time to time, issue directions to banks for resolution of stressed assets.
Committee to advise banks: The RBI may specify authorities or committees to advise banks on resolution of stressed assets. The members on such committees will be appointed or approved by the RBI.
Applicability to State Bank of India: The Bill inserts a provision to state that it will also be applicable to the State Bank of India, its subsidiaries, and Regional Rural Banks.
August 01, 2017
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced by the Minister of Human Resource Development, Mr. Prakash Javadekar in Lok Sabha on April 10, 2017. The Bill amends the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 by extending the deadline for teachers to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment.
Under the Act, if a state does not have adequate teacher training institutions or sufficient number of qualified teachers, the provision to possess minimum qualifications is relaxed for a period not exceeding five years i.e. till March 31, 2015.
The Bill further adds to this provision by stating that those teachers who do not possess the minimum qualifications as on March 31, 2015 will acquire the minimum qualifications within a period of four years i.e. by March 31, 2019.
July 24, 2017
The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016 passed in parliament.
The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016 seeks to consolidate the existing laws on civil matters of admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, and arrest of ships.
Admiralty laws deal with cases of accidents in navigable waters or involve contracts related to commerce on such waters. The Bill repeals laws such as the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890.
Key features of the Bill include:
Admiralty jurisdiction: The jurisdiction with respect to maritime claims under the Bill will vest with the respective High Courts and will extend up to the territorial waters of their respective jurisdictions. The central government may extend the jurisdiction of these High Courts. Currently admiralty jurisdiction applies to the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts. The Bill further extend this to the High Courts of Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala, Hyderabad, and any other High Court notified by the central government.
Maritime claims: The High Courts may exercise jurisdiction on maritime claims arising out of conditions including: (i) disputes regarding ownership of a vessel, (ii) disputes between co-owners of a vessel regarding employment or earnings of the vessel, (iii) mortgage on a vessel, (iv) construction, repair, or conversion of the vessel, (v) disputes arising out of the sale of a vessel, (vi) environmental damage caused by the vessel, etc.
The Bill defines a vessel as any ship, boat, or sailing vessel which may or may not be mechanically propelled.
While determining maritime claims under the specified conditions, the courts may settle any outstanding accounts between parties with regard to the vessel. They may also direct that the vessel or a share of it be sold. With regard to a sale, courts may determine the title to the proceeds of such sale.
Priority of maritime claims: Among all claims in an admiralty proceeding, highest priority will be given to maritime claims, followed by mortgages on the vessel, and all other claims. Within maritime claims, the highest priority will be given to claims for wages due with regard to employment on the vessel. This would be followed by claims with regard to loss of life or personal injury in connection with the operation of the vessel. Such claims will continue to exist even with the change of ownership of the vessel.
Jurisdiction over a person: Courts may exercise admiralty jurisdiction against a person with regard to maritime claims. However, the courts will not entertain complaints against a person in certain cases. These include: (i) damage, or loss of life, or personal injury arising out of collision between vessels that was caused in India, or (ii) non-compliance with the collision regulations of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 by a person who does not reside or carry out business in India. Further, Courts will not entertain action against a person until any case against them with regard to the same incident in any court outside India has ended.
Arrest of vessel: The courts may order for the arrest of any vessel within their jurisdiction for providing security against a maritime claim which is the subject of a proceeding. They may do so under various reasons such as: (i) owner of the vessel is liable for the claim, (ii) the claim is based on mortgage of the vessel, and (iii) the claim relates to ownership of the vessel, etc.
Appeals: Any judgments made by a single Judge of the High Court can be appealed against to a Division Bench of the High Court. Further, the Supreme Court may, on application by any party, transfer an admiralty proceeding at any stage from one High Court to any other High Court. The latter High Court will proceed with the matter from the stage where it stood at the time of the transfer.
Assessors: The central government will appoint a list of assessors qualified and experienced in admiralty and maritime matters. The central government will also determine the duties of assessors, and their fee. Typically, assessors assist the judges in determining rates and claims in admiralty proceedings
APRIL 01, 2017
Govt. enforced provisions of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2016 from April 1, 2017
MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT NOTIFICATION New Delhi, the 31st March, 2017
In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 ( 6 of 2017), the Central Government hereby appoints—
(i) the 1st day of April, 2017 as the date on which the provisions of the said Act, except sub-section (5) of section 3: and
(ii) the 1st day of July, 2017, as the date on which sub-section (5) of section 3 of the said Act, shall come into force.
MCA enforced certain provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
MINISTRY OF CORPORATE AFFAIRS NOTIFICATION New Delhi, the 30th March, 2017
In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 1 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (31 of 2016), the Central Government hereby appoints the 1st April, 2017 as the date on which the provisions of the following sections of the said Code shall come into force:—
(1) section 59;
(2) section 209 to section 215 (both inclusive);
(3) sub-section (1) of section 216; and
(4) section 234 and section 235
December 30, 2016
The President has promulgated the Payment of Wages Act (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, which enables an employer to pay wages by crediting it into the bank account of the employee.
The Ordinance was notified in the Official Gazette on Wednesday and it has already come into force.
Through the ordinance, Section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act has been amended. Earlier, wages were to be paid in current coin or currency notes or in both, and without obtaining a written authorisation of the employee, the employer could not have paid it by cheque or by crediting it in his bank account.
Now, the employer need not obtain any consent from the employee to pay the wages in cheque or by crediting in his bank account.
Further the government can make it mandatory for the employer to pay it by the way of cheque or by crediting in employee’s bank account.
December 29, 2016
Dopt Issues Fresh Guidelines Regarding Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace
Following are the guidelines issued by DoPT;
A) Brief details of the implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act including the number of cases received and disposed shall form a part of the Annual Report of all ministries/ departments and authorities there under.
B) The enquiry of cases must be completed within 30 days and under any circumstances within 90 days from the date of the complaint.
C) The ministries/ departments etc. have to keep a watch on the complainant so as to ensure that she is not victimized in any manner because of her having filed the complaint.
D) The aggrieved woman has been given further option to send representation to the Secretary or head of the organization in case she feels that she is being victimized because of her complaint.
E) The concerned authority will be required to dispose of this complaint within 15 days.
F) All ministries/ departments etc. are now required to submit a monthly progress report to the Ministry of Women and Child Development so that the progress can be monitored.
November 1, 2016
Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 has been amended by the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 (BTP Amendment Act). The rules and all the provisions of the BTP Amendment Act shall come into force on 1st November, 2016. After coming into effect of the BTP Amendment Act, the existing Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 shall be renamed as Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 (PBPT Act).
2. The PBPT Act defines benami transactions, prohibits them and further provides that violation of the PBPT Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine. The PBPT Act prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. Properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the Government without payment of compensation.
3. An appellate mechanism has been provided under the PBPT Act in the form of Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Tribunal. The Adjudicating Authority referred to in section 6(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and the Appellate Tribunal referred to in section 25 of the PMLA have been notified as the Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Tribunal, respectively, for the purposes of the PBPT Act.
4. A Joint / Additional Commissioner of Income-tax, an Assistant / Deputy Commissioner of Income-tax and a Tax Recovery Officer in each Pr. CCIT Region have been notified to perform the functions and exercise the powers of the Approving Authority, Initiating Officer and Administrator, respectively under the PBPT Act.
October 3, 2016
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Highlights of the Bill
The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
Key Issues and Analysis
The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no parking zone).
September 10, 2016
The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016
The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 10, 2016 by the Minister for Labour and Employment, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya.
The Bill amends the Factories Act, 1948. The Act regulates the safety, health and welfare of factory workers. The Bill amends provisions related to overtime hours of work.
Power to make rules on various matters: The Act permits the state government to prescribe rules on a range of matters, including double employment, details of adult workers to be included in the factory’s register, conditions related to exemptions to certain workers, etc. The Bill gives such rule making powers to the central government as well.
Powers to make rules for exemptions to workers: Under the Act, the state government may make rules to (i) define persons who hold management or confidential positions; and (ii) exempt certain types of adult workers (e.g. those engaged for urgent repairs) from fixed working hours, periods of rest, etc. The Bill gives such rule making powers to both, the central and state governments.
Under the Act, such rules will not apply for more than five years. The Bill modifies this provision to state that the five-year limitation will not apply to rules made after the enactment of this Bill.
Overtime hours of work in a quarter: The Act permits the state government to make rules related to the regulation of overtime hours of work. However, the total number of hours of overtime must not exceed 50 hours for a quarter. The Bill raises this limit to 100 hours. Rules in this regard may be prescribed by the central government as well.
Overtime hours if factory has higher workload: The Act enables the state government to permit adult workers in a factory to work overtime hours if the factory has an exceptional work load. Further the total number of hours of overtime work in a quarter must not exceed 75. The Bill permits the central or state government to raise this limit to 115.
Overtime in public interest: The Bill introduces a provision which permits the central or state government to extend the 115-hour limit to 125 hours. It may do so because of (i) excessive work load in the factory and (ii) public interest
AUGUST 31, 2016
THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT BILL
The Mental Health Act Bill 2016 was passed in the Rajya Sabha on 8th August 2016 and is expected to be discussed in Lok Sabha during next session. The Bill repeals the existing Mental Health Act, 1987. The Bill is aimed to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
One of the most important feature of this Bill is that a person attempting suicide shall be presumed, though rebuttable, to be suffering from severe stress and hence, exempt from trial and punishment. The Bill also seeks to impose on the government a duty to rehabilitate such person to ensure that there is no recurrence of attempt to suicide.
The Bill guarantees a right of affordable, accessible and quality mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by Central and State governments. The Bill also makes provision for a range of services to be provided by the appropriate government. The right to access mental healthcare and treatment shall mean mental health services of affordable cost, of good quality, available in sufficient quantity, accessible geographically, without discrimination on the basis of gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, culture, caste, social or political beliefs, class, disability or any other basis and provided in a manner that is acceptable to persons with mental illness and their families and care-givers
The Bill seeks to provide for a person with mental illness to live with dignity and also protect his confidentiality as regards to his illness and treatment as well as provides for medical facilities.
August 22, 2016
SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (AMENDMENT) RULES, 2016 - AMENDMENT IN RULES 2 & 22,
In exercise of the powers conferred by section 55 of the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 (28 of 2005), the Central Government hereby makes the following rules further to amend the Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006, namely:—
Short title and commencement
1. (1) These rules may be called the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Rules, 2016.
(2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.
2. In the Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006 (herein after referred to as the principal rules), in rule 2, in sub-rule (1) after clause (zf), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—
"(zg) "Registration-cum-Membership Certificate" means the membership certificate issued by Export Promotion Council for Export Oriented Units and Special Economic Zones.".
3. In the principal rules, in rule 22, in sub-rule (1), after clause (iv), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—
"(v) The Unit or the developer including co-developer shall obtain a Registration-cum-Membership Certificate for availing exemptions, draw backs and concessions.
August 10, 2016
The Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Passed by Lok sabha. Pending with Rajyasabha as of August 10, 2016
The Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been passed by Loksabha and is pending at the Rajyasabha.
It seeks to amend four laws: (i) Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI), (ii) Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (RDDBFI), (iii) Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and (iv) Depositories Act, 1996.
Amendments to the SARFAESI Act: The SARFAESI Act allows secured creditors to take possession over a collateral, against which a loan had been provided, upon a default in repayment. This process is undertaken with the assistance of the District Magistrate, and does not require the intervention of courts or tribunals. The Bill provides that this process will have to be completed within 30 days by the District Magistrate.
In addition, the Bill empowers the District Magistrate to assist banks in taking over the management of a company, in case the company is unable to repay loans. This will be done in case the banks convert their outstanding debt into equity shares, and consequently hold a stake of 51% or more in the company.
The Act creates a central registry to maintain records of transactions related to secured assets. The Bill creates a central database to integrate records of property registered under various registration systems with this central registry. This includes integration of registrations made under Companies Act, 2013, Registration Act, 1908 and Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The Bill provides that secured creditors will not be able to take possession over the collateral unless it is registered with the central registry. Further, these creditors, after registration of security interest, will have priority over others in repayment of dues.
The Act empowered the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to examine the statements and any information of Asset Reconstruction Companies related to their business. The Bill further empowers the RBI to carry out audit and inspection of these companies. The RBI may penalise a company if the company fails to comply with any directions issued by it.
The Bill provides that stamp duty will not be charged on transactions undertaken for transfer of financial assets in favour of asset reconstruction companies. Financial assets include loans and collaterals.
Amendments to the RDDBFI Act:
The RDDBFI Act established Debt Recovery Tribunals and Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunals. The Bill increases the retirement age of Presiding Officers of Debt Recovery Tribunals from 62 years to 65 years. Further, it increases the retirement age of Chairpersons of Appellate Tribunals from 65 years to 67 years. It also makes Presiding Officers and Chairpersons eligible for reappointment to their positions.
The Act provides that banks and financial institutions will be required to file cases in tribunals having jurisdiction over the defendant’s area of residence or business. The Bill allows banks to file cases in tribunals having jurisdiction over the area of bank branch where the debt is pending.
The Bill provides that certain procedures under the Act will be undertaken in electronic form. These include presentation of claims by parties and summons issued by tribunals under the Act.
The Bill provides further details of procedures that the tribunals will follow in case of debt recovery proceedings. This includes the requirement of applicants to specify the assets of the borrower, which have been collateralised. The Bill also prescribes time limits for the completion of some of these procedures.
August 01, 2016
Benami transactions Prohibition (Amendment) Bill.
1. It empowers the Government to confiscate Benami properties held in the name of another person or under a fictitious name to avoid taxation and conceal wealth.
2. The person found guilty of Benami transaction may have to face rigorous imprisonment for a period not less than one year and which may be extended to seven years. In addition to imprisonment, there would be a penalty of 25 percent which will be calculated on the basis of fair market value of the property.
3. Now following transactions would also be treatedas Benami transaction:
a. Purchase of property by any person in the name of his wife or unmarried daughter
b. The securities held by depository – As a registered owner under the Depository act, or As participant as an agent of a depository.
4. Bill empowers the government to recover property held in following transactions:
a. Where the person in whose name the property is held is a coparcener in a Hindu undivided family and the property is held for the benefit of the coparceners in the family; or
b. Where the person in whose name the property is held is a trustee or other person standing in a fiduciary capacity, and the property is held for the benefit of another person for whom he is a trustee or towards whom he stands in such capacity.
5. It proposes proper Appellate mechanism to deal with Benami transaction.
6. It specifies the procedure to be followed by the authority for imposing penalty in Benami transaction. It also clarifies that any benami transaction on or after the date of commencement of the Benami transaction (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 shall be punishable in accordance with provision laid down by the act.
7. Adjudicating authorities and appellate tribunal appointed under the Money Laundering act, 2002 may discharge the functions until the adjudicating authority are appointed and appellate tribunal is established under the benami act.