Acts and Amendments Current Affairs

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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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Union Cabinet approves amendment to RTE Act, 2009

The Union Cabinet has approved the amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

The amendment seeks to ensure all teachers, in position as on March 2015, acquire minimum qualifications prescribed by academic authority to extend period for such training for 4 years up to March 2019. 

Background

The RTE Act, 2009 envisages free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years. The section 23(2) of the Act specifies that all teachers at elementary level at commencement of this law if did not possess minimum qualifications under it need to acquire these within a period of five years i.e. by March 2015. However, several state governments have reported that 11.00 lakh teachers at the elementary level are still untrained out of a total number of 66.41 lakh teachers. Thus, to ensure that all teachers acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority, it is deemed necessary to carry out appropriate amendment in the RTE Act, 2009 to extend period for such training for four years up to March 2019.

Benefits of Amendments
  • It will enable the in-service untrained elementary teachers to complete their training and ensure that all teachers at the elementary level have a certain minimum standard of qualifications.
  • It will ensure that all teachers attain minimum qualifications as considered necessary to maintain the standard of teaching quality.
  • It will ultimately result in improvement in overall quality of teachers, teaching processes and learning outcomes of children.
  • It will reinforce the Government’s emphasis on improvement of quality of elementary education.

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