Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

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Parliament passes Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Parliament 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.

It was passed in the Lok Sabha and already has been passed in the Rajya Sabha. India will be in third position in terms of the number of weeks allowed for maternity leave in the world after Norway (44 weeks) and Canada (50).

Key Features of the bill
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 which protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’
  • Maternity leave: Increased to 26 weeks for the working women for the first two children. Woman with two or more children will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
  • Woman who adopts a child below the age of three months and also commissioning mothers are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
  • In this case, commissioning mother is defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
  • Crèche facilities: Every establishment with more than 50 employees must provide for crèche facilities for working mothers.
  • Such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche.
  • Work from home: Employer may permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so. This must be mutually agreed upon by the woman and employer.
  • Information about benefits: Establishment must inform a working woman of all benefits available under this law at the time of her appointment. Such information must be given in electronically or writing.
  • Applicability: The provisions of this law will apply to every establishment employing ten or more persons and include mines and factories. No employer can remove any woman employee on ground of pregnancy.

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West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017 passed

The State Legislative Assembly has passed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017, by a voice vote.

It repeals the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010. It aims to overhaul private healthcare in state and take stringent measures against health institutions accused of medical negligence and corrupt practices.

Key Facts
  • The legislation seeks to bring transparency, end harassment of patients and check medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes. It brings clinics, dispensaries and polyclinics under its ambit.
  • It makes mandatory for private hospitals to pay compensations in case of medical negligence. Hospitals violating this law will be liable to pay fine of Rs. 10 lakh or more.
  • Compensation in case medical negligence: Rs 3 lakh for minor damages, Rs 5 lakh for big damages and minimum Rs. 10 lakh in case of death. This compensation will be given within six months. The compensation amount will not be more than Rs 50 lakh.
  • Regulatory Authority: Establishes 13 member West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission to monitor activities of private hospitals.
  • The high-powered commission will be headed by sitting or former judge. It will have status of a civil court. It will be empowered to summon both parties in case of a dispute and examine case before passing an order.
  • Penal measures: It ranges between compensation and scrapping the licence of the physician/hospital. The commission can put offender behind bars up to 3 years. It can also order trying the offender under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions if it deems fit.
  • Fair Pricing: Hospitals with more than 100 beds must start fair price medicine shops. They are mandated to declare bed charges, ICU charges and package costs which can’t be altered.

Bengal Bill

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Government notifies Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017

The Union Government has notified the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017 to prohibit the holding, transferring or receiving of scrapped old Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes from 31 December, 2016,

This law makes possession of more than a certain number of the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes a criminal offence.

Key Features of Act
  • It ends the liability of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government on the demonetised Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes.
  • It prohibits the holding, transferring or receiving of demonitised notes from 31 December, 2016 and confers power on the court of a first class magistrate to impose the penalty.
  • Possessing more than 10 pieces of old notes by individuals and more than 25 pieces for study, research or numismatics purposes will attract a fine of Rs. 10,000 or five times the value of cash held, whichever is higher.
  • Fine of a minimum of Rs, 50,000 will be imposed for a false declaration by persons for being abroad during the demonetisation period (9 November-30 December, 2016).
Background

The Union Government had demonetised old Rs.500 and Rs. 1,000 notes from November 2016 on the recommendations of the RBI’s central board to eliminate unaccounted money and fake currency notes from the financial system. As a follow up, The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017 was passed by Parliament in February 2017 and received assent of President Pranab Mukherjee on 27 February 2017. The law aims to eliminating the possibility of running a parallel economy using demonetised currency notes.  The demonetisation had abruptly sucked out 86% of the currency in circulation in the form of Rs.500 and Rs. 1,000 out of the system.

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