Highlights Of Parliament: Monsoon Session 2020

first_imgTop StoriesHighlights Of Parliament: Monsoon Session 2020 Akshita Saxena2 Oct 2020 5:37 AMShare This – xThe Monsoon Session of the Parliament concluded on September 23, 2020 after both the houses adjourned sine die, a week ahead of their schedule, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The session began on September 14, 2020 and was scheduled to end on October 1, 2020. However, it was cut short as several MPs tested Covid positive. During the session, both Houses made arrangements for MPs to…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Monsoon Session of the Parliament concluded on September 23, 2020 after both the houses adjourned sine die, a week ahead of their schedule, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The session began on September 14, 2020 and was scheduled to end on October 1, 2020. However, it was cut short as several MPs tested Covid positive. During the session, both Houses made arrangements for MPs to ensure physical distancing protocols, and the Parliament functioned in two parts with one House sitting in the morning and the other sitting in the afternoon. A total of 25 Bills were cleared by the Parliament, including 11 bills to replace the ordinances promulgated between April and June, this year. Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Prahlad Joshi said that the productivity of Lok Sabha was approximately 167% and that of Rajya Sabha was approximately 100.47%. Also Read: Farmers’ Bills Chaos : Rajya Sabha Suspends 8 Opposition MPs The highlights of key legislative actions during the Monsoon session are given below: Farmers’ Bills 1. Ac to provide for Contract Farming The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 provides a national structure for contract farming via agreement between a farmer and a buyer before the production of farm produce. It protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business, at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework, in a fair and transparent manner. The Act establishes a Registration Authority to provide for e-registry and for registration of farming agreements. It also provides for conciliation and dispute settlement mechanism for settlement of disputes under the farming agreement. The Act received Presidential assent on 24th September 2020. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 17th September, 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on 20th September 2020. Click Here to read salient features of the legislation and Parliamentary debate on it. Also Read: Explained: The 3 Farmers Bills And The Controversies Surrounding Them 2. Act to enable free-market trade of farm produce The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 permits sale and purchase of farmers’ produce at remunerative prices through ‘competitive alternative trading channels’ to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free “inter-State” and “intra-State” trade of farmers’ produce outside physical premises of markets notified under various State legislations. In simple terms, the Act permits the sale of agricultural produces outside the markets (mandis) regulated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs), constituted by different state legislations. It also permits electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce in the specified trade area. The Act received Presidential assent on 24th September 2020. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 17th September, 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on 20th September 2020. Click Here to read salient features of the legislation and Parliamentary debate on it. To Read a Critical Comment on the Farmers’ Bills, Click Here. 3. Act to remove Stock Limit on Agricultural Produce The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 was passed by the Parliament 22nd September, 2020, to empower the central government to designate certain commodities such as food items, fertilizers, etc. as essential commodities and regulate its production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce, for securing their ‘equitable distribution’ and ‘availability at fair prices’. The Act provides that the Central Government may regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils. This power can be exercised only under “extraordinary circumstances” like (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature. The Act was signed by the President on September 24, 2020. Click Here to read salient features of the legislation and Parliamentary debate on it. To Read a Critical Comment on the Farmers’ Bills, Click Here. Labour Codes The three labour codes passed by the Parliament during this session are part of the four codes that consolidate 29 central labour laws. In 2019, the Code on Wages was passed. These three Bills relax labour laws to ease operational requirements for the Industries while introducing social security for all workers, including inter-state migrants and unorganized workers. They were notified by the Central Government on September 29, 2020. 1. Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020 The Code repeals as many as 13 central labour laws and empowers the state government to exempt any new factory from the provisions of the new Code, in order to create more economic activity and employment. The government has allowed a single licence for staffing firms to hire workers on contract across different locations, replacing the earlier system of multiple licences. The Code defines an establishment as a place where any hazardous activity is carried out regardless of the number of workers. In case of factories however, the minimum threshold of 10 (where manufacturing process is carried out using power) and 40 workers (where it is carried out without using power) has been increased to 20 and 40 respectively. Further, women shall be entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work (earlier they were precluded from being employed in dangerous operations). It also mandates the Government to mandate the data on inter-state migrant workers and lists certain benefits for them. The legislation was passed in the Lok Sabha on 22nd September 2020 and in the Rajya Sabha on 23rd September 2020. Click Here to read salient features. 2. Industrial Relations Code, 2020 The Code amalgamates and combines three major laws governing employee-employer relationship, after making some key amendments to the provisions. It consolidates the following central enactments and repeals them: (i) Trade Unions Act, 1926; (ii) Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1947, and (iii) Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. It expands the definition of ‘industrial dispute’ to include dispute arising out of discharge, dismissal, retrenchment or termination of workers. It also expands the definitions of strike, workers and employers. Further: (i) Threshold workers-limit for framing Standing Orders increased; (ii) Notice period for strike made applicable to all establishments; (iii) Notice period for lock-out made applicable to all establishments; (iv) Threshold employee-limit for prior government permission for retrenchment, lay-off, closure increased; (v) Reference system for disputes abolished; (vi) Voluntary reference to Arbitration allowed. The legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha on 22 September, 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on 23 September 2020. Click Here to read salient features. Also Read: New Labour Laws Explained (Part 1): Industrial Relations Code 2020 3. Code on Social Security, 2020 The Code subsumes and rationalises 9 central labour laws and empowers the central government to set up funds for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers. It mandates that the Central Government should frame a scheme for the welfare of these classes of employees in relation to (i) life and disability cover; (ii) health and maternity benefits; (iii) old age protection; (iv) education; and (v) any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government (Chapter IX). Also, the State Governments are mandated to frame scheme for these employees in relation to (i) provident fund; (ii) employment injury benefit; (iii) housing; (iv) educational schemes for children; (v) skill upgradation of workers; (vi) funeral assistance; and (vii) old age homes Every unorganised worker, gig worker or platform worker shall be required to be registered under the Code provided that the person has completed 16 years of age. Aadhaar number is mandatory for such registration. The legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha on 22 September, 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on 23 September 2020. Also Read: New Labour Laws Explained (Part II) : The Code On Social Security 2020 Laws to enhance Ease of doing Business 1. Act to Decriminalize Minor Procedural Offences/ Technical Lapses Under Companies Act, 2013 The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed by the Lok Sabha on September 19, 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on September 22, 2020, to decriminalize minor procedural or technical lapses under the Companies Act, 2013, into civil wrong, with an aim to enhance the ease of doing business in India. It proposes to amend 64 provisions of the Act to make overall 75 changes. Primarily, it empowers the Central Government to de-list certain classes of companies, in consultation with SEBI, primarily for listing of debt securities. It incorporates a new Chapter XXIA in the 2013 Act to govern Producer Companies (earlier governed by the 1956 Act) and set up new NCLAT Benches. The legislation was signed by the President on September 28, 2020. Click Here to read salient features of the legislation and Parliamentary debate on it. 2. Act to Permit Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts The Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Act, 2020 provides a legal framework to enable two counterparties in a bilateral financial contract to offset claims against each other to determine a single net payment obligation due from one counterparty to another in the event of default. Netting refers to determination of “net claim” after setting off all the claims/ obligations arising from mutual dealings between two parties to Qualified Financial Contracts (as notified by the relevant authorities which may be RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, etc.). The provisions of the Act shall apply to QFCs between two qualified financial market participants, where at least one party is an entity regulated by the specified authorities. The legislation was cleared by the Lok Sabha on September 20, 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on September 23, 2020. It was signed by the President on September 28, 2020. Click Here to read salient features of the legislation. Laws to regulate Health Structure 1. Act to protect the Healthcare Personnel combatting Epidemic Diseases The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020 prohibits commission/ abetment of an act of violence against a healthcare service personnel or any damage/ loss caused to any property during an epidemic. Contravention of the provisions of the Act constitutes a cognizable and non-bailable offence, punishable with imprisonment between three months and five years, and a fine between Rs 50,000 and two lakh rupees. The Act also expands the powers of the Central Government to prevent the spread of such diseases by making provision for inspection of any vehicle, detention of travellers, etc. The legislation was passed by the Rajya Sabha on September 19, 2020and by the Lok Sabha on September 21, 2020. It was notified by the Central Government on September 29, 2020. Click Here to read salient features of the legislation and Parliamentary debate on it. 2. The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 The Bill seeks to repeal the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and to set up a National Commission for Homoeopathy. It provides for a medical education system that improves access to quality and affordable medical education, ensures availability of adequate and high-quality Homoeopathy medical professionals in all parts of the country. The bill focuses on promoting universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective and makes services of Homoeopathy medical professionals accessible to all the citizens. Its objective is to provide periodic and transparent assessment of medical institutions and facilitates maintenance of a Homoeopathy medical register for India and enforces high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha during this year’s Budget Session on March 19, 2020 and by the Lok Sabha on 14th September 2020. Click Here to read salient features. 3. National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970, and set up a National Commission to regulate the education and practice of Indian systems of Medicine. It provides for a medical education system that improves access to medical education, ensuring availability of medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine in all parts of the country. The Bill encourages medical professionals to adopt the latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research. It enforces high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services. It was passed in the Rajya Sabha during this year’s Budget Session on March 19, 2020 and by the Lok Sabha on 14th September 2020. Click Here to read salient features. 4. Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Act, 2020 The Act amends the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973. The 1973 Act was amended in 2018 to provide for the supersession of the Central Council of Homoeopathy and it was required to be reconstituted within one year. This period was amended in 2019 to require the reconstitution of the Central Council in two years. In the interim period, the Central Government constituted a Board of Governors, to exercise the powers of the Central Council. The Act extends the tenure of Board of Governors for a period of one more year, with effect from April 24. The legislation was passed by the Parliament on September 21, 2020 and received Presidential assent on September 28, 2020. Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. 5. Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Act, 2020 The Act provides that the Central Council of Indian Medicine will stand superseded from April 24, 2020 by a Board of Governors appointed by the Central Government, which will exercise the powers of the Central Council for a period of one year. The Council was first superseded in the year 2018, for a period of one year. This period was extended for another year in 2019 and the present Act extends the tenure of the Board for one more year, to reconstitute the Council. The legislation was passed by the Parliament on September 21, 2020 and received Presidential assent on September 28, 2020. Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. Covid-19 related Legislations 1. Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020 This Bill seeks to amend the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952 and reduce the salaries and sumptuary allowances of Ministers by 30% for a period of one year (starting from April 1, 2020), to supplement the financial resources of the centre to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on September 18, 2020 and by the Lok Sabha on September 21, 2020. Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. 2. Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 The Bill seeks to reduce the salaries of Members of Parliament by 30% for one year, to supplement the financial resources of the centre to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. It also proposes to amend certain Rules under the Members of Parliament Act, 1954 to reduce allowances for constituency and office expenses. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on September 18, 2020 and by the Lok Sabha on September 15, 2020. Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. 3. Bill to temporarily suspend initiation Of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process under IBC The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 restricts initiation of CIRP, voluntary or by the creditors, for defaults that arose during the six months from March 25, 2020. This period may however be extended by the Central Government to one year, through notification. The Bill also prohibits the Resolution Professional from filing an application before the NCLT to contribute personal assets of the director or a partner of the corporate debtor to the company assets. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on September 19, 2020 and by the Lok Sabha on 21st September 2020. Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. 4. Legislation to relax Tax Filings The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020 empowers the Government to extend time limits for compliance or completion of: · Issuing notices and notifications, completing proceedings, and passing orders by authorities and tribunals · Filing of appeals, replies, and applications, and furnishing documents · Making any investment or payment for claiming certain deductions or allowances under the IT Act. To this end, it amends as many as eight legislations viz. the Wealth-tax Act, 1957, Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act), Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, three Finance Acts, the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, and the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020. The legislation was passed in the Lok Sabha September 19, 2020 and was returned by the Rajya Sabha on September 22, 2020 Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. Laws to regulate Education Sector 1. The Rashtriya Raksha University Act, 2020 The Act seeks to establish the Raksha Shakti University, Gujarat (established under the Raksha Shakti University Act, 2009) as a University called the Rashtriya Raksha University in Gujarat. It shall have the status of an institution of national importance. It was passed by the Parliament on September 22, 2020 and notified by the Central Government on September 28, 2020. To Read more about the Act, Click Here. 2. The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020 The Act amends Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act, 2014 and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017. It five Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) set up under Public Private Partnership mode in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala, and Raichur, set up under the Public Private Partnership mode, as institutions of national importance. Up till now, these institutes were registered as Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and did not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas. However now, the five institutes shall have the power to grant degrees. It was cleared by the Parliament on September 22, 2020 and notified by the Central Government on September 28, 2020. Click Here to read more. 3. The National Forensic Sciences University Act, 2020 The Act merges the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar and the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, New Delhi, and form an institute of national importance. The newly formed University will be known as the National Forensic Sciences University, with its campuses both in Delhi and Gujarat. It was passed by the Parliament on September 22, 2020 and notified by the Central Government on September 28, 2020. To Read more about the Act, Click Here. 4. The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 The Bill seeks to merge three Ayurveda institutes, namely: · Institute of Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Jamnagar; · Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Jamnagar; and · Indian Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jamnagar; into one institution of National Importance. The proposed Institute that will go by the name Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, will be situated in the campus of Gujarat Ayurveda University, Jamnagar. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 19, 2020, during this year’s Budget Session and by the Rajya Sabha on 16th September 2020. Click Here to salient features and parliamentary debate. Miscellaneous 1. Act To Regulate Funds Received As Foreign Contributions The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020 streamlines the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 by strengthening the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution. It regulates the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions by individuals, associations and companies and prohibits public servants from accepting any foreign contributions. This is in addition to the bar placed on election candidates, editor or publisher of a newspaper, judges, government servants, members of any legislature, and political parties, among others. Sub-granting of foreign funds has been prohibited. The legislation was passed in Lok Sabha on 21 September, 2020 and by Rajya Sabha on 23 September, 2020. Click Here to read salient features and parliamentary debate. Also Read: Explained : Changes Brought To Foreign Contributions Regulation Act 2. The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Act aims to protect the interest of the depositors and regulate functioning of Cooperative Banks by bringing them under regulatory framework of Reserve Bank of India. The law does not apply to: primary agricultural credit societies co-operative societies whose principal business is long term financing for agricultural development. The legislation was passed by the Parliament on 22nd September 2020 and was notified by the Central Government on September 29, 2020. To read further about its salient features and parliamentary debate, Click Here. 3. The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 The Bill aims to bring the Aircraft Act, 1934 in line with the internationally accepted standards, procedures and practices as laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It was cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 17, 2020 during this year’s budget session and by the Rajya Sabha on September 15, 2020. It converts the three existing regulatory bodies under the Civil Aviation Ministry- the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) into statutory bodies. Click Here to read more. 4. Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Act, 2020 This legislation was passed by the Parliament on 23rd September 2020 and it came into force on September 29, 2020. It notifies Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi in the list of official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to the existing Urdu and English. Click Here to read more.Inputs by Ayushi MishraSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more