25 laws passed by Parliament in Monsoon Session and what you should know about them

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The Leaflet, September 24, 2020

THE Monsoon Session of the Parliament came to an abrupt end on September 23 following the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The session began on September 14 and, after 7 days of functioning, was adjourned sine die.

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% during the Monsoon Session, 2020.

In this session, 22 Bills (16 in Lok Sabha and 06 in Rajya Sabha) were introduced in parliament. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha individually  passed 25 Bills each and 27 Bills were passed by both the Houses of Parliament. The rate of passage of Bills per day was. 2.7 Bills, which is the best rate till now.

Below are the key points that you need to know about the 25 bills that were passed by the Parliament in this session.

AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020

The bill creates a framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce. A farming agreement can be linked with insurance or credit schemes by the Central or State Government or any financial service provider to ensure ‘risk mitigation’ and ‘flow of credit’ to farmers. The minimum period of an agreement will be one crop season or one production cycle of livestock. It is the responsibility of the buyer to provide agricultural equipment to the farmer. Click here to read the Bill.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020

Aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside the Agriculture Produce Market Committee’s yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition. The proposed law will allow intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets thus giving freedom for the farmers and traders to sell or purchase farm products anywhere. State governments cannot levy any market fee, cess or levy on farmers or traders in ‘outside trade areas’. It also establishes a dispute resolution mechanism to the farmers. Click here to read the Bill.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Empowers the central government to control the production and trade in certain commodities. It aims at removing fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference and invite investment into the sector. The law removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and allows their regulation only in extraordinary circumstances of an extraordinary price rise, war and natural calamities.

COVID-19 RELATED LEGISLATIONS

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Provides preventive measures for the violence against ‘health care personnel’ and damage of property during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has provisions of imprisonment from three months to five years and a fine between 50 thousand rupees to two lakh rupees. It also expands the powers of the Central Government to prevent the spread of such diseases.

The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Reduces the sumptuary allowance payable to each minister by 30% for a period of one year commencing from April 1, 2020 to meet the exigencies arising out of COVID-19. Click here to read the Act

The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Reduces the salary of Members of Parliament by 30% for a period of one year commencing from April 1, 2020 to meet the exigencies arising out of COVID-19. Certain Rules under the 1954 Act were also amended to reduce allowances for constituency and office expenses. These amendments have been made for a period of one year effective from April 1, 2020.

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS MEASURES

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020

Temporarily suspends initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process under Sections 7, 9 and 10 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code for a specified period of six months or such further period, up to one year. The central government may extend this period to one year through notification. Click here to read the Act

The Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020

Bilateral Netting refers to offsetting or balancing of all claims arising from dealings between two parties, to determine a net amount payable or receivable from one party to another. The Bill enables two counterparties in a bilateral financial contract to offset claims against each other to determine a single net payment obligation. It empowers financial regulators  Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) etc as authorities competent to notify a qualified financial contract.

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Removes penalty and imprisonment in certain offences and reduces the amount of fine payable in certain offences, among others. The Bill makes three changes.  First, it removes the penalty for certain offences.

The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020

Provides relief to taxpayers for challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic such as deadline extension for filing returns and for linking PAN and Aadhaar. It also provides tax benefits on donations made to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES FUND).

LABOUR SECTOR REFORMS

The Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020

The code consolidates 13 laws related to health, safety, and working conditions of workers.  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. It has increased the threshold limit of contractor employees from 20 to 50. The code defines a migrant worker as someone who has come from his/her own state to seek employment in another state, and who earns up to Rs 18,000 per month. Click here to read the Code.

The Industrial Relations Code, 2020

The government has made it easier for employers to fire employees by raising the threshold of number of employees required in an organisation for retrenchment and closure of establishments without government approval from 100 to 300. It subsumes and rationalises the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Click here to read the Code.

The Code On Social Security, 2020

It intends to provide universal social security to all workers, including the unorganised and the gig and platform workers. The code also proposes the formation of a social security fund to provide social security sums to the three classes of workers. It subsumes and rationalises the nine central labour laws relating to social security. Click here to read the Code.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020

Streamlines and strengthens the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. The bill also proposes to enable the Centre to allow an NGO or association to surrender its FCRA certificate. Click here to read the Bill.

HEALTH SECTOR

The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019

It repeals the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973, and sets up the National Commission for Homoeopathy to regulate homoeopathic education and practice. Click here to read the Act.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019

Repeals the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970, and sets up a National Commission to regulate the education and practice of Indian systems of Medicine. Click here to read the Act.

The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Extends the tenure of Board of Governors for a period of one year. seeks to amend the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and replaces the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on April 24. The 1973 Act was amended in 2018 to provide for the supersession of the Central Council of Homoeopathy. The council was required to be reconstituted within a year from the date of its supersession. This provision was amended in 2019 to require the reconstitution of the council in two years

The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Provides for supersession of the Central Council of Indian Medicine by the Board of Governors for a period of one year.seeks a year’s time to reconstitute the central council and provides for a board of directors to exercise its powers in the interim period.

EDUCATION SECTOR

The Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020

Establishes Rashtriya Raksha University as an institute of national importance, which will be a multi-disciplinary university to create new knowledge through research and collaboration. The noted wings are policing, the criminal justice system and correctional administration.

The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Declares five Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) set up under Public Private Partnership mode in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala, and Raichur as institutions of national importance.

The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020

Established a state-of-the-art Ayurvedic institution called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) at Jamnagar, Gujarat, with the status of institution of national importance. Click here to read the Act

The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020

Establishes National Forensic Science University as an institute of national importance.

MISCELLANEOUS

The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 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 the Act.

The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Strengthens the regulatory framework of co-operative banks, and enables RBI to prepare a scheme for reconstruction or amalgamation of a banking company without imposing a moratorium. As per the amendments, co-operative societies that function as banks will be governed by the same rules as scheduled commercial banks and will be subjected to regulation by the RBI. Cooperative banks so far have been under the dual control of cooperative societies as well as RBI. RBI will also be able undertake a scheme of amalgamation or reconstruction of a co-operative bank without placing it under moratorium. Earlier, if a bank was placed under moratorium, it not only limited withdrawals by depositors, but also disrupted a bank’s lending operations.

The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

It includes 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.

(The Leaflet thanks Jithendra Palepu for his assistance with the report.)

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