Bills and Amendments Current Affairs

Parliament passes Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017

The Parliament has passed Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to empower government to fix period of maternity leave and tax-free gratuity amount with an executive order. The Bill seeks to amend Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 on two issues related to maternity leave and ceiling of gratuity payable to an employee.

Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972

It allows for payment of gratuity to employees in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railways, company, or shop employing 10 or more workers.  Under it, employees are paid gratuity if they have provided at least 5 years of continuous service at time of termination. Gratuity is calculated based on 15 days of wages for each year of continuous and complete service, subject to a ceiling.

Key Features of Bill

The Bill empowers central government to notify period of maternity leave eligible for qualifying as continuous service and determine amount of gratuity available to employees. The maximum maternity leave, for the purpose of calculating continuous service under Act, was based on maternity leave provided under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.  The Bill removes the reference to 12 weeks in Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and empowers central government to notify the maximum maternity leave. Under the Act, maximum maternity leave was 12 weeks and was changed to 26 weeks by Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.

The Bill removes the existing ceiling of Rs 10 lakh amount of gratuity payable to an employee and states that the ceiling may be notified by the central government. It will allow revision of the limit from time to time with the increase in wage and inflation and future pay commissions. The implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, has increased ceiling gratuity for Central Government employees from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.


Cabinet approves amendments in Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved proposal for moving official amendments in Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016. Once the Bill is enacted by Parliament, National Surrogacy Board (NSB) will be constituted at central level. The States/UTs will constitute State Surrogacy Boards (SSBs) and State Appropriate Authorities within 3 months of notification by Central Government.


India has emerged as surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy, exploitation of surrogate mothers and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes. The 228th report of Law Commission of India has recommended for prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in November 2016 which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in January 2017. The committee had held various meetings with various stakeholders for holding discussions and to receive their suggestions.

The proposed legislation proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing NSB at central level and, SSBs and Appropriate Authorities in States/UTs. It also seeks to ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy to needy Indian infertile couples. The Bill will apply to whole of India, except Jammu and Kashmir.

Significane of Bill

The proposed law will regulate surrogacy services in country and rein unethical practices in surrogacy. It will prevent commercialization of surrogacy and prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy. It will prohibit commercial surrogacy including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes. It will allow ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples on fulfillment of certain conditions and for specific purposes. It will protect rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected.