Lok Sabha passed two bills today. These were the Specific Relief and the Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill. Both bills were passed without discussion.

Specific Relief Amendment Bill:

The Bill seeks to change the framework of remedies available to parties in case of a breach of contract. It amends the Act of 1963. Under the current Act, monetary compensation is the primary remedy and specific performance is the exceptional remedy.  The Specific Relief Amendment Bill seeks to reverse this framework.  It makes specific performance the primary remedy, and compensation the exception. 

Further the Bill also introduces a new remedy known as substituted performance.  In case of breach by one party, the other party can get substituted performance by a third party. The costs of this can be recovered from the party which has committed the breach.

In addition, the 1963 Act prohibits courts from granting injunctions in certain cases, such as where it might affect the proceedings in a criminal matter.  The Bill seeks to expand this and prohibit courts from granting injunctions if it delays the completion of infrastructure projects.  The Bill adds a Schedule which specifies the list of infrastructure projects that the prohibition applies to.

Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill

Bill empowers the central government to (i) notify the period of maternity leave eligible for qualifying as continuous service; and (ii) determine the amount of gratuity available to employees.

The maximum maternity leave, for the purpose of calculating continuous service under the Act, was based on the maternity leave provided under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.  The maximum maternity leave under the 1961 Act was changed from 12 weeks to 26 weeks by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017. The Bill removes the reference to 12 weeks in the 1972 Act and empowers the central government to notify the maximum maternity leave.

Under the Act, the maximum amount of gratuity payable to an employee cannot exceed Rs 10 lakh.  The Bill removes the existing ceiling and states that the ceiling may be notified by the central government.

The House adjourned soon after the passage of the bills.

No business was taken up in Rajya Sabha.

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