Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

Lok Sabha passes Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016

The Lok Sabha has passed the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016.

The Bill aims to establish uniform legal framework by consolidating the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues.

It also aims to repeal five obsolete British statutes statutes (laws) on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters which are 126 to 177 years old and were hindering efficient governance.

The five laws are Admiralty Court Act, 1840; Admiralty Court Act, 1861; Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890; Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891; and Provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865.

Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016
  • It confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India, thus extending their jurisdictions 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.
  • It also provides for prioritization of maritime claims and maritime liens while providing protection to owners, operators, charterers, crew members and seafarers at the same time.

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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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