Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

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Lok Sabha passes Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Lok Sabha has unanimously passed the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to reduce litigation in cases of disputes arising over compensation to workers.

The Bill seeks to amend the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923. This law provides payment of compensation to employees and their dependents in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases.

Key Features of Bill

  • Duty to inform employee of right to compensation: Mandatory for employer to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the parent Act.
  • Such information must be given in writing in Hindi, English, or the relevant official language at the time of employing him.
  • Penalty for failure to inform: If employer fails to inform his employee of his right to compensation he will be fined penalty between Rs. 50, 000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
  • Appeals from the Commissioner’s order: Any dispute related to an employee’s compensation will be heard by a Commissioner (with powers of a civil court) only if the amount in dispute is ten thousand rupees. It allows Union Government to further raise this amount.
  • In parent Act, appeals related to a substantial question of law from the Commissioner’s order will lie before the High Court.
  • Deletion of withholding payments pending appeal provision: Earlier in the parent Act, any payments towards the employee can be temporarily withheld if an employer has appealed against a Commissioner’s order in High Court. This provision has been deleted.

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Parliament passes The Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill, 2014

The Parliament passed The Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill, 2014 after it was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha by approving all the amendments made by Rajya Sabha earlier.

The bill now will go states (15 out of total 29 states) for approval as per Article 368 of Constitution as it constitutional amendment bill dealing with changes in the features of fiscal federalism.

The passage of bill will pave the way for the roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) i.e. uniform taxation regime across the country.

Comment

  • GST is considered as great step towards transformation and transparency in tax regime.
  • It will bring freedom from tax terrorism as it will be levied on consumption rather than production.
  • GST will also benefit states which are considered backward states and also address the problem of imbalanced development.
  • It will help to curtail black money as traders will be compelled to give proper bills.

Long term effects GST

  • Eliminate multiple taxes on firms, thus help in ease of doing business.
  • Lead to uniform, seamless market across the country.
  • The uniform rate GST rate will check evasion and boost growth rates.
  • Reduce logistic costs for firms due to elimination of centre-states taxes.
  • Reduce the prices of capital goods and also boost economic (GDP) growth.
  • The need for financial documentation will increase and thus reduce black money.
  • It will also work as a catalyst to strengthen federal structure of the country.

Short term negative impacts

  • First one or two years of implementation will see a negative impact of higher inflation.
  • There will be also a temporary dip in growth before the economic fruits of a common national market kick in.

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Rajya Sabha passes Mental Health Care Bill

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Mental Health Care Bill to provide better healthcare for people suffering from mental illness and also to decriminalise suicide.

The progressive legislation and is patient centric Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda.

Key Features

  • The Bill provides, every person has right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government.
  • Under it, these also have right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, access to their medical records free legal services etc.
  • It also has a provision to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of mental health care and services.
  • The Bill focuses on community based treatment and special provisions for women and health have also been provided.
  • In case of person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumedto be suffering from mental illness at the time of attempting suicide unless proved otherwise.
  • Such person shall not be liable to punishment under section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • It also provides for establishment of Central and State Mental Health Authority. It also establishes Mental Health Review Commission and Board (MHRCB) as a quasi-judicial body.

Background

The Bill was proposed as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India is signatory. It requires the countries to align their laws with the Convention. In India, around 6 to 7 per cent of the population suffers from some kind of mental illnesses, while 1 to 2 per cent suffers from acute mental disease.

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