Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

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Union Cabinet approves Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016.

The proposal to enact to this bill was forwarded by Union Ministry of Shipping to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes.

Admiralty jurisdiction is related to the powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways.

 Key Facts

  • The Bill consolidates the existing laws relating to admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, admiralty jurisdiction of courts, arrest of vessels and related issues.
  • This legislative proposal will also fulfil a long-standing demand of the maritime legal fraternity.
  • It also repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters. They are (i) Admiralty Court Act, 1840 (ii) Admiralty Court Act, 1861, (iii) Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890, (iv) Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, and (v) Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865,

Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016

  • Confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India, thus extending their upto territorial waters.
  • The jurisdiction will be extendable by the Union Government notification upto exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or any other maritime zone or islands constituting part of India.
  • It applies to every vessel irrespective of place of domicile or residence of owner. It does not apply to naval auxiliary, warships and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.
  • Inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from its application. But it empowers Union Government to make it applicable to these vessels also by a notification.
  • It lists the jurisdiction for adjudicating on a set of maritime claims. A vessel can be arrested in certain circumstances in order to ensure security against a maritime claim.

Background

  • India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about 95% of its merchandise trade volume.
  • However, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts under the present statutory framework flow from laws enacted in the British era.
  • The repealing of five archaic admiralty statutes is in line with the Union Government’s commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.

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Rajya Sabha passes Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to raise maternity leave for working women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children.

The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The law protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’

Key Facts

  • The Bill aims at increasing women’s participation in the workforce which is “decreasing day-by-day.”
  • The provisions of bill apply to every establishment employing ten or more persons and include mines and factories.
  • No employer can remove any woman employee on the ground of pregnancy. It is a mandatory for every establishment having 50 or more employees to have a creche.
  • There is also a provision in the bill to provide 12 weeks maternity benefit to a commissioning mother and adopting mother (adopting a newborn aged below three).
  • In this case commissioning mother is defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman.
  • However, a woman who has two or more children will continue to get only 12 weeks maternity leave.
  • With this India will be in third position in the world in terms of the number of weeks allowed for maternity leave behind Norway (44) and Canada (50).

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Parliament passes Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Parliament has passed the Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to help the north-eastern state achieve higher growth in animal husbandry sector.

The Bill proposes to amend the Central Agricultural University Act, 1992 to include Nagaland under the jurisdiction of Imphal Central Agriculture University (CAU).

Key Facts

  • The amendment will help Nagaland to reap the benefit of the Imphal Central Agriculture University which was established for the entire north eastern region.
  • The CAU Act, 1992 provides for the establishment of University in the north eastern region for the development of agriculture and advancement of research in agriculture and allied sciences.
  • It states that CAU is responsible for teaching and research in the field of agriculture for the north eastern states.
  • Earlier, the Act had defined the north eastern region as comprising the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.

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