Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

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Parliament passes The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Parliament has passed The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill amends the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923.

It ensures compensation up to Rs 1 lakh to employee if an injured in an industrial accident and imposes hefty penalty in case of any violation by the employers.

Salient features of the Bill
  • Mandatory for employers to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the Act. Such information must be given in writing at the time of employing him.
  • Employer will be penalised if he fails to inform his employee of his right to compensation. Such penalty may be between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
  • Raises amount in dispute related to compensation, distribution of compensation, award of penalty or interest, etc to Rs. 10, 000. It permits the central government to further raise this amount.
  • Provision of withholding payments pending appeal if an employer has appealed against a Commissioner’s order has been deleted.
The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923
  • It provides payment of compensation to employees and their dependants in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases.
  • It provides that any dispute related to an employee’s compensation will be heard by a Commissioner (with powers of a civil court).
  • Under it, appeals from the Commissioner’s order, related to a substantial question of law, will lie before the High Court only if amount in dispute is at least Rs. 300.

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Government to enact law to enforce dam safety regulations

The Union Water Resources Ministry has drafted new dam safety bill to contemplate an institutional mechanism to improve safety of around 5300-odd dams across in India.

The new law has been vetted by the Union Law Ministry. It will now go to the Union Cabinet for approval and its introduction in Parliament. 

Need for such law

  • There are around 4900 large dams in India and several thousand smaller ones. However, large reservoirs and water storage structures, in the past few decades, are not seen as a model of safety.
  • The failure of these dams due to lack of safety could cause massive disaster such as the 1979 Machchu dam failure in Morbi, Gujarat, in which estimated 25,000 people were killed.
  • Recent analysis of the state of India’s dams also has found that half of them did not meet contemporary safety standards. So there is need of much stricter safety criteria.

Key facts

  • Currently, dam safety guidelines are not effectively enforced by the States. The dam safety bill, proposes a Central authority and State-level bodies that will enforce regulation.
  • It proposes safety criteria including increasing the spillway (a design structure to ease water build-up) and preventing ‘over-topping’ in which the dam overflows and causes it to fail.
  • It also proposes fine on dam and project proponents in the fall short, though they are unlikely to face imprisonment.

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Cabinet approves setting up of National Commission for Socially and Educationally backward classes

The Union Cabinet approved setting up of National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) as a constitutional body.

In this regard, constitutional amendment bill for amending Constitution mainly by insertion of Article 338B will be soon introduced in the Parliament.

Union Cabinet has approved
  • Creation of a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) under new Article 338 B.
  • Composition of the new NSEBC will include Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other Members.
  • Insertion of provision after Article 341 and 342 by inserting Article 342 A to provide for Parliament’s approval for every inclusion into and exclusion from the Central List of Other Backward Class (OBCs).
  • Insertion of a new Clause (26C) under Article 366 of the Constitution to define Socially and Educationally Backward Classes;
  • Repealing of National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 and Rules framed under it. Dissolution of the Commission constituted under the Act of 1993;
Background

There have been demands in Parliament for grant of constitutional status to the NCBC to enable it to hear the grievances of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the same manner like that of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (constituted under Article 338) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (constituted under Article 338A) hear complaint.

About National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)

  • NCBC was established in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgement in the Indra Sawhney case (Mandal case) as per the NCBC Act, 1993.
  • Function of NCBC: Examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists.
  • Hear complaints of under-inclusion or over-inclusion of any backward class in such lists.
  • Tender such advice to the Central Government as it deems appropriate.
  • Its advice was ordinarily binding upon the Central Government.

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