July 2019

Highlights of this Issue

Union Budget 2019-20 passed by Parliament (p. 2)

Fiscal deficit is targeted at 3.3% of GDP, lower than the estimate of 3.4% in 2018-19.  The income tax surcharge has increased to 25% for income between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, and to 37% for income more than Rs 5 crore.

Finance Act makes several amendments unrelated to taxation

The Act  gives RBI powers for management of NBFCs and housing finance companies, prohibits banks and payment systems to charge for electronic payments, among other changes.

14 Bills passed by Parliament; 7 Bills passed by Lok Sabha

Bills passed by Parliament include the Aadhaar (Amendment) Bill, and the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill.  Bills passed by Lok Sabha include Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill.

Six Bills introduced in Lok Sabha

These include the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, the Transgender (Protection of Rights) Bill, the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, and the Dam Safety Bill.

Cabinet amends terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission

The approved amendment requires the Commission to examine whether a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security should be set up, and if so, how such a mechanism could be operationalised.

Two labour Codes were introduced in Parliament

The Code on Wages was passed by Lok Sabha and is pending approval of Rajya Sabha.  The Code on Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Conditions was introduced in Lok Sabha. 

Committee of CMs set up to discuss measures for transforming agriculture

The Committee includes the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.  It also includes the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

Cabinet approves MSP for Kharif crops and the FRP for sugarcane for 2019-20

The MSP for paddy (common) has been fixed at Rs 1,815 per quintal, a 3.7% increase over the previous year.  The approved FRP for sugarcane is Rs 275 per quintal for a basic recovery rate of 10% (same as 2018-19).

Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019 released

The draft Act seeks to provide for the regulation and speedy adjudication of matters related to rental housing.  It provides for the creation of Rent Authorities and Rent Tribunals.

Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy released for public comments

The Policy seeks to enable efficient use of natural resources and promote upcycling of wastes across all sectors of the economy.  It aims to achieve India’s commitments under the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  

Inter-Ministerial Committee submits its report on Virtual Currencies

The Committee has recommended that all private cryptocurrencies, except any issued by the government, be banned in India.  It has proposed a draft Bill to ban cryptocurrency and regulate any official digital currency in India.

 

Union Budget 2019-20

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

Union Budget 2019-20 passed

The Union Budget for the year 2019-20 was passed by Parliament.[1]  Key highlights include:

  • The government proposes to spend Rs 27,86,349 crore in 2019-20, which is 13.4% higher than the revised estimate of 2018-19.
  • The receipts (other than net borrowings) are expected to increase by 14.2% to Rs 20,82,589 crore.
  • The nominal GDP is estimated to grow at 12% in 2019-20. Revenue deficit is targeted at 2.3% of GDP, higher than the revised estimate of 2.2% in 2018-19.  Fiscal deficit is targeted at 3.3% of GDP, lower than the revised estimate of 3.4% in 2018-19.

Table 1:  Union Budget 2019-20 (Rs crore)

Item

Revised
2018-19

Budgeted
2019-20

% change

Total Expenditure

24,57,235

27,86,349

13.4%

Total Receipts (without borrowings)

18,22,837

20,82,589

14.2%

Fiscal Deficit

6,34,398

7,03,760

10.9%

   As % of GDP

3.4%

3.3%

 

Revenue Deficit

4,10,930

4,85,019

18.0%

   As % of GDP

2.2%

2.3%

 

Sources:  Union Budget 2019-20; PRS.

Key policy proposals in the Budget include:

  • Banking and finance: The government plans to partially guarantee Public Sector Banks (against first 10% of loss) for funds provided in a pooled manner to NBFCs.  Further, Rs 70,000 crore will be provided for recapitalisation of Public Sector Banks.
  • Borrowings: Currently, the government’s gross borrowing programme is funded entirely through domestic borrowings.  The government plans to raise a part of its borrowings abroad in foreign currency.
  • Infrastructure: Rs 100 lakh crore will be invested in infrastructure over the next five years.  Between 2018 and 2030, Rs 50 lakh crore will be invested in railways through public private partnerships.

The major tax changes announced include:

  • Surcharge on income tax: Earlier, a 15% surcharge on income tax was levied for individuals earning over one crore rupees.  The surcharge has been increased to 25% for individuals earning between two crore rupees and five crore rupees, and to 37% for those earning more than five crore rupees.
  • Corporation tax: Earlier, companies with annual turnover below Rs 250 crore paid tax at the rate of 25%.  This threshold has been increased to Rs 400 crore.
  • Road and infrastructure cess: The Road and Infrastructure Cess on petrol and diesel has been increased by one rupee per litre.  Excise duty has also been increased by one rupee per litre for these products.
  • Tax exemptions for electric vehicles: Tax deduction of up to Rs 1.5 lakh will be provided on interest paid on loans taken to purchase electric vehicles.  This deduction will be applicable for loans sanctioned between FY 2019-20 and FY 2022-23.

In addition to changes in tax laws, the Finance Bill, 2019 amended several other laws such as the SEBI Act, the RBI Act, and the Payment and Settlement Systems Act.[2]  The changes include:

  • Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992: The Act has been amended to add capital expenditure under expenses to be incurred by the General Fund maintained by SEBI.  Further, a Reserve Fund has been constituted which will be credited with 25% of the annual surplus of the General Fund.  The remaining surplus will be transferred to the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934: The Act has been amended to enable RBI to take several measures relating to management of NBFCs.  These include changing their minimum net worth requirement, framing resolution schemes, supersession of Board of Directors, and removal of directors.
  • Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007: The Act has been amended to prohibit any bank or payments system provider from charging customers for the use of electric modes of payment.

For more details on the Union Budget and Finance Bill, see here.  To read the PRS blog on the differences between the numbers in the Budget and the Economic Survey 2018-19, see here.

 

Macroeconomic Development

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

Retail inflation at 3.1% in first quarter of 2019-20

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation (base year 2011-12) increased from 3% in April 2019 to 3.2% in June 2019, year-on-year.[3]  Food inflation was at 2.2% in June 2019.  The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation (base year 2011-12) decreased from 3.2% in April 2019 to 2% in June 2019, year-on-year.[4]  Trends in inflation during the first quarter of 2019-20 are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1:  Inflation trends in Q1 of 2019-20 (% change, year on year)

Sources: Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; PRS.

 

Law and Justice

Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[5]  It replaces an Ordinance promulgated on March 2, 2019.[6]  The Bill amends the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.  The Aadhaar Act provides targeted delivery of subsidies and benefits to individuals residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar numbers.

  • Offline verification: Under the Aadhaar Act, an individual’s identity may be verified by Aadhaar ‘authentication’. Authentication involves submitting the Aadhaar number, and their biometric and demographic information to the Central Identities Data Repository for verification.  The Bill additionally allows ‘offline verification’ of an individual’s identity, without authentication, through modes specified by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by regulations.
  • Voluntary use: The Act provides for the use of Aadhaar number as proof of identity of a person, subject to authentication.  The Bill replaces this provision to state that an individual may voluntarily use his Aadhaar number to establish his identity, by authentication or offline verification.  The Bill states that authentication of an individual’s identity via Aadhaar, for the provision of any service, may be made mandatory only by a law of Parliament.
  • The Bill amends the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to state that telecom companies, banks and financial institutions may verify the identity of their clients by: (i) authentication or offline verification of Aadhaar, or (ii) passport, or (iii) any other documents notified by the central government. The person has the choice to use either mode to verify his identity and no person shall be denied any service for not having an Aadhaar number.
  • UIDAI Fund: Under the Act, all fees and revenue collected by the UIDAI shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India. The Bill removes this provision, and creates the Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.  All fees, grants, and charges received by the UIDAI shall be credited to this fund.  The fund shall be used for expenses of the UIDAI, including salaries and allowances of its employees.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[7]  It seeks to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Term of Information Commissioners: Under the Act, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) are appointed at the national and state level to implement the provisions of the Act.  The Act states that the CIC and other ICs (appointed at the central and state level) will hold office for a term of five years.  The Bill removes this provision and states that the central government will notify the term of office for the CIC and the ICs.
  • Determination of salary: The Act states that the salary of the CIC and ICs (at the central level) will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners, respectively.  Similarly, the salary of the CIC and ICs (at the state level) will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Election Commissioners and the Chief Secretary to the state government, respectively.
  • The Bill seeks to amend these provisions to state that the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of the central and state CIC and ICs will be determined by the central government.

For more details on the Bill, see here.  To read the PRS blog on the Bill, see here.

New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[8]  It seeks to establish an autonomous and independent institution for better management of arbitration in India.  The provisions of the Bill will be effective from March 2, 2019.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC): The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of the NDIAC to conduct arbitration, mediation, and conciliation proceedings.   
  • International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR): The ICADR is a registered society to promote the resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution methods (such as arbitration and mediation).  The Bill seeks to transfer the existing ICADR to the central government.  Upon notification by the central government, all the rights, title, and interest in the ICADR will be transferred to the NDIAC.
  • Composition: Under the Bill, the NDIAC will consist of seven members including: (i) a Chairperson who may be a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, or an eminent person with special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration; (ii) two eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration; and (iii) three ex-officio members, including a nominee from the Ministry of Finance and a Chief Executive Officer (responsible for the day-to-day administration of the NDIAC).
  • Objectives and functions: The key objectives of the NDIAC include (i) promoting research, providing training and organising conferences and seminars in alternative dispute resolution matters; (ii) providing facilities and administrative assistance for the conduct of arbitration, mediation, and conciliation proceedings; (iii) maintaining a panel of accredited professionals to conduct arbitration, mediation, and conciliation proceedings.  

Key functions include:  (i) facilitating conduct of arbitration and conciliation in a professional, timely, and cost-effective manner; and (ii) promoting studies in the field of alternative dispute resolution.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[9]  It replaces an Ordinance promulgated on February 21, 2019.[10]  Key features of the Bill include:

  • The Bill makes all declarations of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.  Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.
  • Offence and penalty: The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years imprisonment with a fine.  (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.)  The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by: (i) the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage. 
  • The Bill provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused. The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  • The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared). Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.  The terms and conditions of the compounding will be determined by the Magistrate. 
  • Allowance and custody: A Muslim woman against whom talaq is declared is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.  She is also entitled to seek custody of her minor children.  The amount of allowance and manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Rajya Sabha

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Rajya Sabha.[11]  It seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.  The Act contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration, and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.  Key features of the Bill are:

  • Arbitration Council of India: The Bill seeks to establish an independent body called the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) for the promotion of arbitration, mediation, conciliation and other alternative dispute redressal mechanisms.  Its functions include: (i) framing policies for grading arbitral institutions and accrediting arbitrators, (ii) making policies for the establishment, operation and maintenance of uniform professional standards for all alternate dispute redressal matters, and (iii) maintaining a depository of arbitral awards (judgments) made in India and abroad.
  • Appointment of arbitrators: Under the 1996 Act, parties were free to appoint arbitrators.  In case of disagreement on an appointment, parties could request the Supreme Court, or the High Court, or any person or institution designated by such Court, to appoint an arbitrator.
  • Under the Bill, the Supreme Court and High Courts may now designate arbitral institutions, which parties can approach for the appointment of arbitrators. For international commercial arbitration, appointments will be made by the institution designated by the Supreme Court.  For domestic arbitration, appointments will be made by the institution designated by the concerned High Court.  In case there are no arbitral institutions available, the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court may maintain a panel of arbitrators to perform the functions of the arbitral institutions. 
  • Relaxation of time limits: Under the Act, arbitral tribunals are required to make their award within a period of 12 months for all arbitration proceedings.  The Bill seeks to remove this time restriction for international commercial arbitrations.  It adds that tribunals must try to dispose of international arbitration matters within 12 months.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha.[12]  The Bill provides for the regulation of use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of certain persons. 

  • Use of DNA Data: Under the Bill, DNA testing is allowed only in respect of matters listed in the Schedule to the Bill.  These include offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and for civil matters such as paternity suits.  Further, the Schedule includes DNA testing for matters related to establishment of individual identity.    
  • Collection of DNA: While preparing a DNA profile, bodily substances of persons may be collected by the investigating authorities.  Authorities are required to obtain consent for collection in certain situations.  For arrested persons, authorities are required to obtain written consent if the offence carries a punishment of up to seven years.  If the offence carries more than seven years of imprisonment or death, consent is not required.  Further, if the person is a victim, or relative of a missing person, or a minor or disabled person, the authorities are required to obtain their written consent. 
  • DNA Data Bank: The Bill provides for the establishment of a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks, for every state, or two or more states.  DNA laboratories are required to share DNA data prepared by them with the National and Regional DNA Data Banks.  Every Data Bank will be required to maintain the following indices of DNA data: (i) a crime scene index, (ii) a suspects’ or under trials’ index, (iii) an offenders’ index, (iv) a missing persons’ index, and (v) an unknown deceased persons’ index.
  • Removal of DNA profiles: The Bill provides for removal of the DNA profiles of the following persons: (i) of a suspect if a police report is filed or court order given, (ii) of an undertrial if a court order is given, and (iii) on written request, for persons who are not a suspect, offender or under trial, from the crime scene or missing persons’ index.   
  • DNA Regulatory Board: The Bill provides for the establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board, which will supervise the DNA Data Banks and DNA laboratories.  The functions of the Board include: (i) advising governments on all issues related to establishing DNA laboratories or Data Banks, and (ii) ensuring that all information relating to DNA profiles is kept confidential. 

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Transgender (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2019.[13]  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Definition of a transgender person: The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth.  It includes transmen and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.  Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia, chromosomes, or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.
  • Prohibition against discrimination: The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to: (i) education; (ii) employment; (iii) healthcare; (iv) access to, or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public; (v) right to movement; (vi) right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property; (vii) opportunity to hold public or private office; and (viii) access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
  • Health care: The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.  The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
  • Certificate of identity: A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.  A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha.[14]  It replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Rights of consumers: Six consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to: (i) be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property; (ii) be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services; (iii) be assured of access to goods or services at competitive prices; and (iv) seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.
  • Central Consumer Protection Authority: The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.  It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.
  • Penalties for misleading advertisement: The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.  In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.
  • Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRCs): CDRCs will be set up at the district, state, and national levels. A consumer can file a complaint with CDRCs in relation to: (i) unfair or restrictive trade practices; (ii) defective goods or services; (iii) overcharging or deceptive charging; and (iv) the offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety.  Complaints against an unfair contract can be filed with only the State and National CDRCs.  Appeals from a District CDRC will be heard by the State CDRC, and from State CDRC by the National CDRC.  Final appeal will lie before the Supreme Court.
  • Product liability: Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider, or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.  To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha.[15]  The Bill seeks to repeal 58 Acts in whole and makes minor amendments to two other laws.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Repealing certain laws in whole: The Bill repeals 58 laws that have been listed in the First Schedule of the Bill.  These include 12 Acts which are principal Acts and 46 Acts which are Amendment Acts.  The principal Acts which have been repealed include: (i) the Beedi Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1976, and (ii) the Municipal Taxation Act, 1881.  Note that the repeal of Amendment Acts does not have a material significance since these Amendment Acts have already been incorporated in the principal Acts.
  • Amendment of certain laws: The Bill makes minor amendments to two Acts which relate to substitution of certain words.  The two Acts are: (i) the Income Tax Act, 1961, and (ii) the India Institutes of Management Act, 2017.  
  • For more details on the Bill, see here.

Cabinet approves signing of UN Convention on Mediation

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation.[16]  The Convention seeks to provide an international framework on mediation to ensure that a settlement reached through mediation becomes binding and enforceable on the parties.[17] As per the press release, the provisions of the Convention seek to strengthen alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, like arbitration, conciliation and mediation.

Cabinet approves increase in strength of Supreme Court judges from 31 to 34

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved an increase in the sanctioned number of judges in Supreme Court  from 31 to 34.[18]  Note that a copy of the press release is not available in the public domain.

 

Home Affairs

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha.[19]  It amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.  The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.  Key provisions of the Bill include:

  • Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.  The Bill empowers the government to designate individuals also as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Approval for seizure of property: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism. The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
  • Investigation: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).  The Bill adds another treaty to the list.  This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

For more details on the Bill, see here.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by Parliament.[20]  The Act provides for reservation in appointment and promotions in state government posts, and admission to professional institutions for certain reserved categories.  Professional institutions include government medical colleges, dental colleges, and polytechnics.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Extension of reservation: The Act provides for reservation in appointment and promotions in certain state government posts to persons belonging to socially and educationally backward classes.  It defines socially and educationally backward classes to include persons living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control.  The Bill amends this to include those persons living in areas adjoining the International Border, within the ambit of this reservation. 
  • Further, the Act states that any person who has been appointed on the basis of residence in an area adjoining the Line of Control, must serve in such areas for at least seven years. The Bill extends this condition to persons living in areas adjoining the International Border as well.
  • Exclusion from reservation: The Act states that any person whose annual income exceeds three lakh rupees or other amount as notified by the state government, would not be included within socially and educationally backward classes.  However, this exclusion does not apply to persons living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control.  The Bill states that this exclusion will not apply to persons living in areas adjoining the International Border also.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

      

Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[21]  The Bill amends the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.  The Act provides for a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), as well as Human Rights Courts.

  • Composition of NHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of the NHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC. 
  • The Act provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC. The Bill amends this to allow three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman.  Under the Act, chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, are members of the NHRC.  The Bill includes the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.
  • Chairperson of SHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of a SHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court will be chairperson of a SHRC.  
  • Term of office: The Act states that the chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC will hold office for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.  The Bill reduces the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. 
  • Powers of Secretary-General: The Act provides for a Secretary-General of the NHRC and a Secretary of a SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them.  The Bill amends this and allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[22]  The Bill amends the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008.  The Act provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).  Further, the Act allows for creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.

  • Scheduled offences: The schedule to the Act specifies a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA.  These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.  The Bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following additional offences: (i) human trafficking, (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.       
  • Jurisdiction of the NIA: The Act provides for the creation of the NIA to investigate and prosecute offences specified in the schedule.  The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to investigation of such offences, across India.  The Bill states that in addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.  The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in India.  The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases. 
  • Special Courts: The Act allows the central government to constitute Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.  The Bill amends this to allow the central and state governments to designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for such trials.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Committee appointed on implementation of Assam Accord

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The High-Level Committee for implementation of clause six of the Assam Accord was appointed.[23]  Note that the Committee had been has approved by the Union Cabinet and constituted in January 2019.[24],[25]  The Assam Accord was signed on August 15, 1985.25  Clause six of the Accord states that appropriate constitutional, legislative, and administrative safeguards will be provided to protect the cultural, social, and linguistic identity of the Assamese people.  The Committee will consist of 13 members and will be chaired by Justice (Retd) Biplap Kumar Sharma, former judge of the Guwahati High Court. 

The Terms of Reference of the Committee include: (i) examining the effectiveness of actions taken to implement clause six of the Accord, (ii) assessing the appropriate level of reservation of seats in the Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people, and (iii) suggesting measures to protect Assamese and other languages of Assam.

The Committee is required to submit its report within a period of six months. 

Cabinet approves Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019.[26]  The Bill seeks to extend reservation of ten percent for economically weaker sections in educational institutions and public employment.  A copy of the Bill has not been made available in the public domain.  Note that ten percent reservation for economically weaker sections was introduced through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act.     

 

Health and Family Welfare

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[27]  The Bill amends the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and replaces the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2019.  The 1956 Act sets up the Medical Council of India (MCI), which regulates medical education and practice.  Certain provisions of this Bill will be effective from September 26, 2018.

  • Supersession of the MCI: The 1956 Act provides for supersession of the MCI and its reconstitution within a period of three years from the date of its supersession.  In the interim period, the Act requires the central government to constitute a Board of Governors, to exercise the powers of the MCI.  The Ordinance amends the Act to reduce the time period for supersession of the MCI from three years to two years.
  • The Act provides for the Board of Governors to consist of up to seven members including persons of eminence in medical education, appointed by the central government.  The Ordinance amends this provision to increase the strength of the Board from seven to 12 members.  Further, it allows for persons with proven administrative capacity an experience to be selected in the Board.  The Ordinance provides for the Board of Governors to be assisted by a Secretary General appointed by the central government.

For more details on the Bill, see here

The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was introduced and passed by Lok Sabha.[28]  The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and provide for a medical education system which ensures: (i) availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals, (ii) adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals, (iii) periodic assessment of medical institutions, and (iv) an effective grievance redressal mechanism.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Constitution of the National Medical Commission: The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC). Within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils at the state level.  The NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the central government.
  • Members of the NMC will include: (i) the Chairperson (must be a medical practitioner), (ii) Presidents of the Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate Medical Education Boards, (iii) the Director General of Health Services, Directorate General of Health Services, (iv) the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, and (v) five members (part-time) to be elected by registered medical practitioners from amongst themselves for two years.
  • Functions of the National Medical Commission: Functions of the NMC include: (i) framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals, (ii) assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure, (iii) ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of the regulations made under the Bill, (iv) framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50% of the seats in the private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated as per the Bill.
  • Autonomous boards: The Bill sets up four autonomous boards under the supervision of the NMC. Each board will consist of a President and four members, appointed by the central government. These boards include: (i) the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board and the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, (ii) the Medical Assessment and Rating Board, and (iii) the Ethics and Medical Registration

For more details on the Bill, see here.  To read the PRS blog on the Bill, see here.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha.[29]  The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple and agrees to hand over the child to them after the birth.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Regulation of surrogacy: The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.  Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage.  Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.
  • Eligibility criteria for intending couple: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.  A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of these conditions: (i) a medical certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple, (ii) an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court, and (iii) insurance coverage for a period of 16 months covering postpartum delivery complications for the surrogate.
  • The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: (i) the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years; (ii) between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband); (iii) they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); including a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness; and (iv) other conditions that may be specified by regulations.
  • Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother: To obtain a certificate of eligibility, the surrogate mother has to be: (i) a close relative of the intending couple; (ii) a married woman having a child of her own; (iii) 25 to 35 years old; (iv) a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and (v) possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy. In addition, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.

For more on the Bill, see here.

The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[30]  It amends the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and replaces the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 that was promulgated on March 2, 2019.  The Act sets up the Central Council of Homoeopathy which regulates homoeopathic education and practice.

  • Time period for supersession of the Central Council:  The 1973 Act was amended in 2018 to provide for the supersession of the Central Council.  The Central Council was required to be reconstituted within one year from the date of its supersession.  In the interim period, the central government constituted a Board of Governors, to exercise the powers of the Central Council.  The Bill amends the Act to increase the time period for supersession of the Central Council from one to two years.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[31]  The Bill amends the Dentists Act, 1948.  The Act regulates the profession of dentistry and constitutes: (i) the Dental Council of India, (ii) State Dental Councils, and (iii) Joint State Dental Councils.  

  • A register of dentists is maintained under the Act in two parts, Part A and Part B. Persons possessing recognised dental qualifications are registered in Part A and persons not possessing such qualifications are registered in Part B.  The persons in Part B are Indian citizens who have been practicing as dentists for at least five years prior to a registration date notified by the state government.  
  • Composition of the dental councils: Under the Act, composition of the Dental Council of India, State Dental Councils, and Joint State Dental Councils includes representation from dentists registered in Part B.  The Bill seeks to remove the mandatory requirement of the representation of dentists registered in Part B in these Councils.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Minimum standards for clinical establishments of allopathy and AYUSH proposed

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released the draft Clinical Establishments (Central Government) Third Amendment Rules, 2019.[32]  These rules have been prescribed under the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010.  As health is a state subject, this Act is applicable in all states that have adopted it.  As of 2018, 17 states and union territories have adopted the Act.[33] 

The Act provides for the registration and regulation of clinical establishments and prescribes minimum standards of facilities and services.  Clinical establishments include clinics, hospitals, and super specialty departments. 

The draft rules propose minimum standards for different categories of clinical establishments offering allopathy and AYUSH treatments.  These standards have been set across different parameters such as infrastructure, human resources, equipment, drugs, and support service required.  According to the draft rules, health facilities that do not comply with the prescribed standards, will not be granted registration.

 

Finance

The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[34]  The Bill provides for a mechanism to ban unregulated deposit schemes and protect the interests of depositors.  It also seeks to amend three laws, i.e., the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 and the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Unregulated deposit scheme: The Bill defines a deposit as an amount of money received through an advance, a loan, or in any other form, with a promise to be returned with or without interest. Such deposit may be returned either in cash or as a service, and the time of return may or may not be specified.  Further, the Bill defines certain amounts which shall not be included in the definition of deposits such as amounts received in the form of loans from relatives and contributions towards capital by partners in any partnership firm.
  • The Bill lists nine regulators including RBI and SEBI, which oversee and regulate various deposit-taking schemes. All deposit-taking schemes are required to be registered with the relevant regulator. A deposit-taking scheme is unregulated if it is taken for a business purpose and is not registered with the regulators that are listed in the Bill.
  • Offences and penalties: The Bill defines three types of offences, and penalties related to them.  These offences are: (i) running (advertising, promoting, operating or accepting money for) unregulated deposit schemes, (ii) fraudulently defaulting on regulated deposit schemes, and (iii) wrongfully inducing depositors to invest in unregulated deposit schemes by willingly falsifying facts.  For example, accepting unregulated deposits will be punishable with imprisonment between two and seven years, along with a fine ranging from three to 10 lakh rupees.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Cabinet amends terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved an amendment to the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission.[35]  The Finance Commission is a constitutional body formed every five years to give suggestions on centre-state financial relations.  The 15th Finance Commission (Chair: Mr. N. K. Singh) was constituted in November 2017 to give recommendations for the period 2020-21 to 2024-25 on subjects including: (i) sharing of central taxes with states, (ii) principles which govern the distribution of central grants to states, and (iii) measures to improve the financial position of states in order to supplement the resources of panchayats and municipalities.

The approved amendment requires the 15th Finance Commission to examine whether a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security should be set up, and if so, how such a mechanism could be operationalised.

The Union Cabinet also approved an extension of the term of the 15th Finance Commission by one month.  The Commission is required to submit its report by November 30, 2019.

Inter-Ministerial Committee submits report on virtual currencies and proposes draft Bill banning cryptocurrency

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

A high-level Inter-Ministerial Committee was constituted in November, 2017 to study the issues related to virtual currencies and propose actions to be taken.[36]  The Committee has submitted its report.  The mandate of the Committee included examining the policy and legal framework for regulation of virtual currencies.  Key observations and recommendations of the Committee include:[37]

  • Virtual currencies: Virtual currency is a digitally tradable form of value, which can be used as a medium of exchange or as stored value. It does not have the status of a legal tender.  Cryptocurrency is a specific type of virtual currency, which is protected by cryptographic encryption techniques.
  • The Committee identified several issues with cryptocurrencies such as fluctuating prices, lack of a centralised authority, high energy and computation requirements, vulnerability to money-laundering and terrorism funding. The Committee recommended that all private cryptocurrencies, except any cryptocurrency issued by the State, be banned in India. 
  • Official digital currency: The Committee observed that an official digital currency can have several advantages over the existing payment mechanisms. These include recording of all transactions, safer and cheaper mode of distribution of currency, and cheaper payment mechanism for cross-border payments.  The Committee recommended that an open mind needs to be kept regarding introduction of an official digital currency in India.  .

Draft Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019: The Inter-Ministerial Committee has proposed a draft Bill which bans cryptocurrencies, criminalises activities associated with cryptocurrencies in India, and provides for regulation of official digital currency.  The Bill prohibits generating, selling, transferring, issuance, disposal or use of cryptocurrency in the country.  It prohibits the use of cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange, a store of value or a unit of account.  It provides that cryptocurrency shall not be used as legal tender or currency in India.  The Bill provides that the central government may, in consultation with the central board of RBI, approve a digital form of currency to be a legal tender. 

For a PRS Report and Bill summary, see here.

CAG submits report on compliance audit of GST for the year 2017-18

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) submitted its report on compliance audit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the year 2017-18.[38]  GST has been under implementation since July 1, 2017, when it subsumed various indirect taxes levied on most goods and services by the centre and states.  Key observations and recommendations of the CAG include:

  • Invoice matching: The CAG observed that due to the complex return mechanism and technical glitches, the invoice matching system which matches the GST returns filed by suppliers and recipients was rolled back.  The invoice matching system was designed to verify that the input tax credit (ITC) being claimed by a taxpayer has been paid by his supplier.  In the absence of such a system, ITC is being claimed by taxpayers on self-assessment basis, without any cross-verification.  The CAG observed that the present system is prone to irregular claims of ITC by taxpayers that may go undetected, resulting in frauds.  This has necessitated the continuation of a physical interface between assesses and the tax officials.  The CAG recommended that compliance should be simplified by introducing invoice matching and simplified returns.
  • Effect on IGST settlement: The ITC claimed by taxpayers can be used by them to pay their dues on taxes such as central GST, Integrated GST (IGST) and state GST.  The CAG observed that in the absence of the invoice matching system, irregular or erroneous claims of ITC by taxpayers could affect the process of settlement of IGST with states.  IGST is collected by the central government on inter-state supply of goods and services.  The states are provided their share of IGST by the central government during the settlement process.
  • Issues in IGST settlement: The CAG observed that at the end of the year 2017-18, unsettled balance of Rs 2.1 lakh crore had accumulated in the IGST account after the settlement process.  The CAG noted that this accumulation of huge unsettled balance is partly due to issues faced in the settlement process for many transactions.  It noted that there are inaccuracies in the settlement algorithm that runs on the GST portal based on the returns filed by taxpayers.  Further, it noted that the algorithm was being run on incomplete datasets where the data was not available due to non-implementation of features such as those relating to imports and appeals, and invoice matching system.  The CAG recommended that the Ministry of Finance should take a comprehensive review of the IGST settlements done so far, as these have a bearing on the finances of the central and state governments.
  • GST revenue: The CAG observed that the revenue expected from GST for the year 2018-19 is Rs 5,81,563 crore (as per the provisional figures of the Controller General of Accounts).  This is 22% less than the year’s budget estimate of Rs 7,43,900 crore.

RBI relaxes end-use restrictions for external commercial borrowings

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in consultation with the central government, has relaxed the end-use restrictions relating to External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) for working capital requirements, general corporate purposes and for repayment of rupee loans.[39]

ECBs are loans raised by eligible resident entities from recognised non-resident entities.  These borrowings should conform to certain restrictions for their end-use.  These end-use restrictions are: (i) real estate activities, (ii) investment in capital market, (iii) equity investment, (iv) working capital purposes, (v) general corporate purposes, (vi) repayment of rupee loans and (vii) on-lending activities for the above.[40]

Currently, ECBs for working capital purposes, general corporate purposes or repayment of rupee loans can only be availed from a foreign equity holder, and for a minimum average maturity period of five years.  A foreign equity holder is an entity with 25% direct equity holding or 51% indirect equity holding or a group company with a common foreign parent.  The new rules relax these restrictions to permit borrowings from other lenders eligible for ECBs.  Under the new rules, the norms for these lenders are the following:

  • Eligible borrowers can raise ECBs with a minimum average maturity period of 10 years for working capital purposes and general corporate purposes.
  • Eligible borrowers can raise ECBs with a minimum average maturity period of seven years for repayment of rupee loans raised domestically for the purpose of capital expenditure. For any other purpose, the minimum average maturity period of the ECB should be 10 years.
  • Non-banking financial companies may raise ECBs for the purpose of on-lending, subject to the above conditions on minimum average maturity period.
  • Corporate borrowers can avail ECB for repayment of rupee loans raised for capital expenditure in manufacturing and infrastructure sector and classified as outstanding for over 60 days, under any one-time settlement arrangement with lenders. Further, lenders may also sell these loans to eligible ECB lenders.

RBI constitutes working group to review regulatory framework for Core Investment Companies

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a Working Group to review the regulatory and supervisory framework for Core Investment Companies (CICs).[41] 

CICs are non-banking financial companies carrying on the business of acquisition of shares and securities satisfying the following criteria: (i) 90% (or more) of its net assets are in form of investment in equity shares, bonds, debentures, debt or loans in group companies, (ii) it does not carry other financial activities besides investing in these instruments, granting of loans to group companies or issuing guarantees on behalf of group companies, and (iii) it does not trade its investments, except in block sale for the purpose of dilution or disinvestment.[42]

The Working Group has been constituted with the aim of strengthening the corporate governance framework of CICs.  The terms of reference of the Working Group include: (i) examining current regulatory framework for CICs and suggest changes therein, (ii) examining current process of registration of CICs including the practice of multiple CICs being allowed within a group, and suggest changes therein, (iii) suggesting measures to strengthen corporate governance and disclosure requirements for CICs, and (iv) suggesting measures to enhance RBI’s supervision over CICs.

The Working Group is required to submit its report by October 31, 2019.

Cabinet approves Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019.[43]  The Bill seeks to amend the Chit Funds Act, 1982.  The Act regulates chit funds, and prohibits a fund from being created without the prior sanction of the state government.  Note that a copy of the Bill is not available in the public domain.

Ministry of Finance extends term of the task force drafting new direct tax law

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Finance has extended the term of the task force set up to draft a new direct tax law by 16 days.[44]  The task force was constituted in November 2017 to review the Income Tax Act, 1961 and draft a new direct tax law keeping in view: (i) direct tax system prevalent in various countries, (ii) international best practices, (iii) economic needs of India, and (iv) any other connected matters.

In June 2019, the Ministry broadened the terms of reference of the task force, to include: (i) anonymised verification and scrutiny, (ii) reduction in litigation and expeditious disposal of appeals, (iii) reduction of compliance burden through simplification of procedures, (iv) mechanism for system based cross verification of financial transactions, and (v) sharing of information among departments.[45]

The task force was required to submit its report by July 31, 2019.  This has now been extended to August 16, 2019.

 

Labour and Employment

The Code on Wages, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

The Code on Wages, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha.[46]  It seeks to regulate wage and bonus payments in all employments where any industry, trade, business, or manufacture is carried out.  The Code replaces the following four laws: (i) the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, (ii) the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, (iii) the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and (iv) the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

  • Coverage: The Code will apply to all employees.  The central government will make wage-related decisions for employments such as railways, mines, and oil fields, among others.  The state governments will make decisions for all other employments.
  • Floor wage: According to the Code, the central government will fix a floor wage, taking into account living standards of workers.  Further, it may set different floor wages for different geographical areas. 
  • Fixing the minimum wage: The Code prohibits employers from paying wages less than the minimum wages.  Minimum wages will be notified by the central or state governments.  This will be based on time, or number of pieces produced.  The minimum wages will be revised and reviewed by the central or state governments at an interval of not more than five years.  While fixing minimum wages, the central or state governments may take into account factors such as: (i) skill of workers, and (ii) difficulty of work. 
  • Advisory boards: The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards.  The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.   

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Code on Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha.[47]  It applies to establishments employing at least 10 workers, and to all mines and docks.  The Code replaces 13 labour laws including the Factories Act, 1948, the Mines Act, 1952, and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.  Key features of the Code include:

  • Duties of employers: The Code prescribes certain duties of the employer.  These include: (i) providing a workplace that is free from hazards that may cause injury or diseases, and (ii) providing free annual health examinations to certain employees.
  • Working Hours: Work hours for different classes of establishment and employees will be provided as per the rules prescribed by the central or state government.  Female workers, with their consent, may work past 7pm and before 6am, if approved by the central or state government.
  • Leave: No employee may work for more than six days a week.  Workers must receive paid annual leave for at least one in 20 days of the period spent on duty.
  • Working conditions and welfare facilities: The employer is required to provide a hygienic work environment with ventilation, sufficient space, and clean drinking water.   Welfare facilities include separate bathing places and locker rooms for male, female, and transgender employees and creches.
  • Advisory Bodies: The central and state governments will set up Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Boards at the national and state level, respectively.  These Boards will advise the central and state governments on the standards, rules, and regulations to be framed under the Code.
  • Offences and penalties: Under the Code, an offence that leads to the death of an employee will be punishable with imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine up to five lakh rupees, or both.  Further, courts may direct that at least 50% of such fine be given as compensation to the heirs of the victim.  For any other violation where the penalty is not specified, the employer will be penalised with a fine between two and three lakh rupees.

For more details on the Bill, see here.  To read the PRS blog on the Code, see here.

Voluntary pension scheme for traders and shopkeepers notified

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Labour and Employment notified a voluntary pension scheme called the Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan, Yojana 2019.[48]  It intends to provide a minimum assured pension to self-employed persons.  Key features of the scheme include:

  • Eligibility: The Scheme will apply to shopkeepers, retail traders, and other self-employed persons with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 1.5 crore, between the ages of 18 and 40 years. In order to enrol, the subscriber must have a bank account and Aadhaar number.  Interested persons can enrol themselves through any Common Service Centre in the country, with a pension fund administered by the Life Insurance Corporation.  A Common Service Centre is an access point for delivery of essential public utility services. 
  • Minimum assured pension: Each subscriber under the scheme shall receive a minimum assured pension of Rs 3000 per month after attaining the age of 60 years.  The central government will match the contribution made by the beneficiary.  The government has notified different monthly contribution amounts depending upon the age of joining.  For example, a person entering the scheme at 29 years of age will be required to contribute Rs 100 per month.
  • Family pension: If the subscriber dies while receiving the pension, his spouse will be entitled to receive 50% of the pension as family pension.  If he dies before the pension accrues (i.e. before the age of 60 years), his spouse may either join the scheme by paying the contribution or may exit the scheme.  If they choose to exit, the spouse will receive the beneficiary’s contribution along with accumulated interest earned by the fund or interest at the savings bank interest rate, whichever is higher.  If both the subscriber and spouse die, the entire corpus will be credited back to the fund. 
  • If the beneficiary becomes disabled prior to completing 60 years of age, his spouse may continue the scheme or exit the scheme. On exiting, the spouse will receive the beneficiary’s contribution with interest as actually earned by fund or at the savings bank interest rate, whichever is higher. 
  • Exit and withdrawal: Any person may exit the scheme under the following conditions: (i) if he exits within 10 years, his share of contribution will be returned to him along with savings bank interest, and (ii) if he exits the scheme after 10 years but prior to completing 60 years of age, he will get his share along with the accumulated interest earned by the fund or at savings bank interest rate, whichever is higher.

 

Corporate Affairs

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[49]  It amends the Companies Act, 2013.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Issuance of dematerialised shares: Under the Act, certain classes of public companies are required to issue shares in dematerialised form only. The Bill states this may be prescribed for other classes of unlisted companies as well.
  • Re-categorisation of certain Offences: The 2013 Act contains 81 compoundable offences punishable with fine or fine or imprisonment, or both.  These offences are heard by courts.  The Bill re-categorizes 16 of these offences as civil defaults, where adjudicating officers (appointed by the central government) may now levy penalties instead.  These offences include: (i) issuance of shares at a discount, and (ii) failure to file annual return.  Further, the Bill amends the penalties for some other offences.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Under the Act, if companies which have to provide for CSR, do not fully spent the funds, they must disclose the reasons for non-spending in their annual report. Under the Bill, any unspent annual CSR funds must be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act (e.g., PM Relief Fund) within six months of the end of the financial year.
  • However, if the CSR funds are committed to certain ongoing projects, then the unspent funds will have to be transferred to an Unspent CSR Account within 30 days of the of the financial year, and spent within three years. Any funds remaining unspent after three years will have to be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act.  Any violation may attract a fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,00,000 and every defaulting officer may be punished with imprisonment of up to three years or fine in the same range as above.
  • Commencement of business: The Bill states that a company may not start business, unless it (i) files a declaration within 180 days of incorporation, confirming that every subscriber to the Memorandum of the company has paid for the shares agreed to be taken by him, and (ii) files a verification of its registered address with the RoC within 30 days of incorporation. If it fails to comply with these provisions and is found not to be carrying out business, the name of the company may be removed from the Register of Companies.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Rajya Sabha

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Rajya Sabha.[50]  It amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.  The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Initiation of resolution process: The Code states that a financial creditor may file an application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for initiating the insolvency resolution process.  The NCLT must find the existence of default within 14 days.  Based on its finding, NCLT may accept or reject the application.  The Bill states that in case the NCLT does not find the existence of default and has not passed an order within 14 days, it must record its reasons in writing.
  • Time-limit for resolution process: The Code states that the insolvency resolution process must be completed within 180 days, extendable by a period of up to 90 days.  The Bill adds that the resolution process must be completed within 330 days.  This includes time for any extension granted and the time taken in legal proceedings in relation to the process.  On the enactment of the Bill, if any case is pending for over 330 days, it must be resolved within 90 days.
  • Resolution plan: The Code provides that the resolution plan must ensure that the operational creditors receive an amount which should not be lesser than the amount they would receive in case of liquidation. The Bill amends this to provide that the amounts to be paid to the operational creditor should be the higher of: (i) amounts receivable under liquidation, and (ii) the amount receivable under a resolution plan, if such amounts were distributed under the same order of priority (as for liquidation).
  • Representative of financial creditors: The Code specifies that, in certain cases, such as when the debt is owed to a class of creditors beyond a specified number, the financial creditors will be represented on the committee of creditors by an authorised representative.  These representatives will vote on behalf of the financial creditors as per instructions received from them.  The Bill states that such representative will vote on the basis of the decision taken by a majority of the voting share of the creditors that they represent.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

 

Road Transport and Highways

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Rajya Sabha

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Rajya Sabha.[51]  The Bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to provide for road safety.  The Act provides for grant of licenses and permits related to motor vehicles, standards for motor vehicles, and penalties for violation of these provisions.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Compensation for road accident victims: The Bill provides that the central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.  Golden hour is defined as the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.  The central government may also make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance. 
  • Compulsory insurance: The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.  It will be utilised for: (i) treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, (ii) compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident, (iii) compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident, and (iv) compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government.  This Fund will be credited through: (i) payment of a nature notified by the central government, (ii) a grant or loan made by the central government, (iii) balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), or (iv) any other source as prescribed the central government. 
  • Road Safety Board: The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification.  The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including: (i) standards of motor vehicles, (ii) registration and licensing of vehicles, (iii) standards for road safety, and (iv) promotion of new vehicle technology.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Ministry of Road Transport released several notifications

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released several notifications which seek to incentivise use of newer technology in the transport sector.  These are as follows:

Promoting digital toll payment:  It has been noted that toll payment on national highways through the RFID technology based FASTag has not been increasing.[52]  In order to promote digital payments and seamless passage through the toll fee plazas, all lanes in the fee plazas will be declared as FASTag lanes by December 1, 2019.52  To monitor oversized vehicles, one lane may be maintained as a hybrid lane that will also accept other forms of toll fee payment. 

FASTag is a reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets vehicles pass through toll plazas without stopping for cash transaction.  The tag uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen after the tag account is active

Draft notifications amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989

  • Microdot technology: Motor vehicles or any of their parts that are affixed with microdot technology must comply with the prescribed specifications.[53]  Microdot technology involves spraying the body and parts of the vehicle with microscopic dots, which gives them a unique identification.[54]  This technology will help check the theft of vehicles and use of fake spare parts. 
  • Renewal of fitness certificate: Currently, fitness certificates for transport vehicles must be renewed every year.  The draft notifications provide that fitness certificates for transport vehicles must be renewed within every: (i) two years for vehicles up to eight years old, (ii) one year for vehicles between eight and 15 years old, and (iii) six months for vehicles older than 15 years.[55]  The fees for conducting fitness test for issuing or renewing fitness certificate for vehicles older than 15 years has been increased.  In addition, fitness inspection of buses will also include checking provisions made for differently abled passengers or passengers with reduced mobility. 

Comments on the draft Rules are invited within 30 days from the date of publication.

 

Women and Child Development

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Rajya Sabha

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced and passed by Rajya Sabha.[56]  The Bill amends the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.  The Act protects children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography. 

  • Penetrative sexual assault:Under the Act, a person commits penetrative sexual assault, if he: (i) penetrates his penis into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child, (ii) makes a child do the same, or (iii) inserts any other object into the child’s body.  The punishment for such offence is imprisonment between seven years to life, and a fine.  The Bill increases the minimum punishment from seven years to 10 years.  It further adds that if a person commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below the age of 16 years, he will be punishable with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with a fine. 
  • Aggravated penetrative sexual assault: Under the Act, “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” has been defined to include cases where a police officer, a member of the armed forces, or a public servant commits penetrative sexual assault on a child. The Bill adds two additional grounds. These include: (i) assault resulting in death of child, and (ii) assault committed during a natural calamity, or in any similar situation. 
  • Currently, the punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault is imprisonment between 10 years to life, and a fine.  The Bill increases the minimum punishment from 10 to 20 years, and the maximum punishment to death penalty.
  • Aggravated sexual assault:  Under the Act, “sexual assault” includes actions where a person touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of a child with sexual intent without penetration.  Aggravated sexual assault includes cases where the offender is a relative of the child, or if the assault injures the sexual organs of the child. The Bill adds two more offences to the definition of aggravated sexual assault.  These include: (i) assault committed during a natural calamity, and (ii) administrating any hormone or any chemical substance, to a child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

 

Education

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teacher’s Cadre) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[57]  It replaces an Ordinance promulgated in March 2019.  The Bill provides for reservation of teaching positions in central educational institutions for persons belonging to: (i) Scheduled Castes, (ii) Scheduled Tribes, (iii) socially and educationally backward classes, and (iv) economically weaker sections.  The key features of the Bill include:

  • Reservation of posts: The Bill provides for reservation of posts in direct recruitment of teachers (out of the sanctioned strength) in central educational institutions. For the purpose of such reservation, a central educational institution will be regarded as one unit.  This implies that the allocation of teaching posts for reserved categories would be done on the basis of all positions of the same level (such as assistant professor) across departments.  Note that, under previous guidelines, each department was regarded as an individual unit for the purpose of reservation.
  • Coverage and exceptions: The Bill will apply to ‘central educational institutions’ which include universities set up by Acts of Parliament, institutions deemed to be a university, institutions of national importance, and institutions receiving aid from the central government.
  • However, it excludes certain institutions of excellence, research institutions, and institutions of national and strategic importance which have been specified in the Bill. Further, it also excludes minority education institutions.

For more details on the Bill, see here.  To read the PRS blog on the Bill, see here.

The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.[58]  The Bill seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, which establishes universities for teaching and research in various states.

The Bill provides for the establishment of two central universities in Andhra Pradesh to be known as the Central University of Andhra Pradesh, and the Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh.  The Central Tribal University will take additional measures to provide higher educational and research facilities in tribal art, culture, and customs primarily to the tribal population of India.

Note that the establishment of a Central University and a Central Tribal University in the Andhra Pradesh is obligatory under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

 

Housing and Urban Affairs

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced and passed by Lok Sabha.[59]  The Bill amends the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.  The Act provides for the eviction of unauthorised occupants from public premises in certain cases. 

  • Residential accommodation: The Bill defines ‘residential accommodation occupation’ as the occupation of public premises by a person on the grant of a license for such occupation.  The license must be given for a fixed tenure, or for the period the person holds office.  Further, the occupation must be allowed under the rules made by the central, state or union territory government, or a statutory authority (such as Parliament Secretariat, or a central government company, or premises belonging to a state government). 
  • Notice for eviction: The Bill adds a provision laying down the procedure for eviction from residential accommodation.  It requires an estate officer (an officer of the central government) to issue a written notice to a person if he is in unauthorised occupation of a residential accommodation.  The notice will require the person to show cause of why an eviction order should not be made against him, within three working days.  The written notice must be fixed to a conspicuous part of the accommodation, in a prescribed manner. 
  • Order of eviction: After considering the cause shown, and making any other inquiries, the estate officer will make an order for eviction.  If the person fails to comply with the order, the estate officer may evict such person from the residential accommodation, and take possession of it.  For this purpose, the estate officer may also use such force as necessary.
  • Payment of damages: If the person in unauthorised occupation of the residential accommodation challenges the eviction order passed by the estate officer in court, he will be required to pay damages for every month of such occupation. 

For more details on the Bill, see here.

Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019 released

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019.[60]  The draft Act seeks to provide for the regulation and speedy adjudication of matters related to rental housing.  It also seeks to repeal the existing state/union territories (UTs) Rent Control Acts.  The final draft Model Tenancy Act will be circulated to states.[61]  States may enact a new tenancy law or amend their existing laws to align with the provisions of this Model Act.  Key features of the draft Act include:

  • Tenancy Agreement: The draft Act provides for a tenancy agreement to be signed between the landowner and the tenant (parties).  The duration of tenancy, rent payable, and revision of rent will be as agreed upon between both parties and as specified in the agreement.  No person will let out or rent any premises without such agreement. Further such agreement must be registered with the Rent Authority, in a form as specified in a schedule to the Act.  This will include details such as name, address, PAN and Aadhaar numbers of the landowner and tenant, details of the premises, and the rent payable. 
  • Rent Authority: The District Collector, with prior approval of the state/UT government, will appoint the Rent Authority (at the rank of Deputy Collector).  The Rent Authority, on receiving information on a tenancy agreement, must upload details of the agreement on its website.  The Authority may also, on application by the landowner or tenant, fix or revise the rent, and the date from which the revised rent will apply.  Appeals against the Authority’s orders will lie with the Rent Court, and must be made within 30 days from the date of the order.
  • Rent Courts: The state government may constitute as many Rent Courts as it deems necessary.  Two or more Courts can be constituted for any area.  In such cases the state/UT government may regulate the distribution of business among them.  A Rent Court may consist of two members to be appointed by the state/UT government in consultation with the High Court.  Appeals against a Rent Court’s orders will lie with the Rent Tribunal, and must be made within 30 days from the date of the order.
  • Rent Tribunal: The state government may constitute as many Rent Tribunals as it deems necessary.  In case an area has several such Tribunals, the state/UT government may notify one of them as the Principal Rent Tribunal.  The Rent Tribunal will be headed by a Principal Appellate Member (at the level of a High Court Judge), and comprise of two other members.  The Rent Courts and Tribunals will seek to dispose of a case within 60 days. 

Guidelines for urban water conservation released

India faces the challenge of serving 17% of the world population with 4% of the world’s freshwater resources.[62]  Currently, less than 1/10th of the country’s annual rainfall is being stored.  As per the NITI Aayog, India is facing a water crisis with around 50% of the population experiencing high-to-extreme water shortage.62  In light of this, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has released guidelines for urban water conservation under the Jal Shakti Abhiyaan.62  Key features of the guidelines include:

  • Thrust areas: The guidelines provide for four thrust areas: (i) rain water harvesting, (ii) reuse of treated waste water, (iii) rejuvenation of urban water bodies, and (iv) plantation of trees. 
  • Coverage and timeline: The Ministry of Jal Shakti has identified 255 districts and 1,597 blocks across the country as water stressed.  From these, 756 urban local bodies (ULBs) have been identified as water stressed.  ULBs may carry out these activities in two phases: (i) from July 1, 2019 to September 15, 2019, and (ii) October 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019. 
  • Funding: Cities covered under the AMRUT scheme could use the funds available through it.  Cities not covered under AMRUT could utilise: (i) state funds, (ii) grants available through the 14th Finance Commission, or (iii) explore funds available through corporate social responsibility, and land monetisation, among others. 
  • Rain water harvesting is defined as collection and storage of rainwater from roof-tops, roadside, and open areas, which can be used further or recharged into ground water to augment water resources. ULBs may implement rain water harvesting through various measures including: (i) enforcing such systems through building bye-laws, and (ii) establishing a rain water harvesting cell which will monitor such harvesting in the city. 
  • To promote the reuse of treated waste water, ULBs can ensure dual piping systems in all public and commercial buildings. If the city has a sewage treatment plant, waste water from such a plant should be used for agricultural and industrial purposes, in fire hydrants, and large scale construction activities, among others. 
  • ULBs could rejuvenate urban water bodies by various measure including: (i) cleaning water bodies through de-silting, (ii) protecting shore-lines of water bodies from encroachment, and (iii) arresting the flow of domestic and industrial sewage into the water body.

 

Civil Aviation

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Rajya Sabha

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in and passed by Rajya Sabha.[63]  It amends the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.  The Act established the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA).  The AERA regulates tariffs and other charges for aeronautical services provided at civilian airports with annual traffic above 15 lakh passengers.  It monitors the performance standard of services across these airports. 

  • Definition of major airports: The Act defines a major airport as one with annual passenger traffic over 15 lakh, or any other airports as notified by the central government.  The Bill increases the threshold of annual passenger traffic for major airports to over 35 lakh. 
  • Tariff determination by AERA: Under the Act, AERA is responsible for determining: (i) the tariff for aeronautical services at different airports every five years, (ii) the development fees of major airports, and (iii) the passengers service fee.  It can also call for necessary information to determine tariffs and perform any other tariff-related functions, including amending the tariffs if necessary in the interim period. 
  • The Bill adds that AERA will not determine: (i) the tariff, (ii) tariff structures, or (iii) the development fees, in certain cases. These cases include those where such tariff amounts were a part of the bid document on the basis of which the airport operations were awarded.  AERA will be consulted by the concessioning authority before incorporating such tariffs in the bid document, and such tariffs must be notified. 

For more details on the Bill, see here.  To read the PRS blog on the Bill, see here.

Bids invited for strategic disinvestment of 51% stake in Pawan Hans Limited

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has invited bids for strategic disinvestment of the government’s entire equity shareholding of 51% in Pawan Hans Limited (PHL).[64]  PHL is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry.  It provides helicopter services for offshore operations, inter-island transportation, connectivity to inaccessible areas, rescue work, and tourism. 

In addition to the government’s stake, ONGC has also decided to sell its entire shareholding of 49% in PHL.[65]  The successful bidder identified by the government for sale of its 51% stake will also have the option to buy ONGC’s stake of 49% in the company. 

 

Jal Shakti

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Lok Sabha

The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced and passed by Lok Sabha.[66]  It amends the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.  The Act provides for the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers and river valleys. 

  • Under the Act, a state government may request the central government to refer an inter-state river dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication. If the central government is of the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations, it is required to set up a Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication of the dispute, within a year of receiving such a complaint.  The Bill seeks to replace this mechanism. 
  • Disputes Resolution Committee: Under the Bill, when a state puts in a request regarding any water dispute, the central government will set up a Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), to resolve the dispute amicably.  The DRC will comprise of a Chairperson, and experts with at least 15 years of experience in relevant sectors, to be nominated by the central government.  It will also comprise one member from each state (at Joint Secretary level), who are party to the dispute, to be nominated by the concerned state government. 
  • The DRC will seek to resolve the dispute through negotiations, within one year (extendable by six months), and submit its report to the central government. If a dispute cannot be settled by the DRC, the central government will refer it to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal.  Such referral must be made within three months from the receipt of the report from the DRC. 
  • Tribunal: The central government will set up an Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal, for the adjudication of water disputes.  This Tribunal can have multiple benches.  All existing Tribunals will be dissolved, and the water disputes pending adjudication before such existing Tribunals will be transferred to the new Tribunal. 
  • Composition of the Tribunal: The Tribunal will consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, three judicial members, and three expert members.  They will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.  Each Tribunal Bench will consist of a Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson, a judicial member, and an expert member.  The central government may also appoint two experts serving in the Central Water Engineering Service as assessors to advise the Bench in its proceedings.  The assessor should not be from the state which is a party to the dispute.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha

The Dam Safety Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha.[67]  The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of specified dams across the country.  It also provides for an institutional mechanism to ensure the safety of such dams.  Key features of the Bill include:

  • Applicability of the Bill: The Bill applies to all specified dams in the country.  These are dams with: (i) height more than 15 m, or (ii) height between 10 to 15 m and subject to certain design and structural conditions.
  • National Committee on Dam Safety: The Bill provides for the constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety.  Its functions include: (i) formulating policies and regulations on dam safety standards, and (ii) analysing causes of dam failures.
  • National Dam Safety Authority: The Bill provides for a National Dam Safety Authority.  Functions of the Authority include: (i) implementing the policies formulated by the National Committee on Dam Safety, and (ii) resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state.
  • State Dam Safety Organisation (SDSO): State governments will establish State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs).  All specified dams in a state will fall under the jurisdiction of that state’s SDSO.  However, the National Dam Safety Authority will act as the SDSO in cases where a dam: (i) is owned by one state but situated in another state, (ii) extends over multiple states, or (iii) is owned by a central public sector undertaking.  Functions of the SDSOs include: (i) monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams, (ii) keeping a database of dams, and (iii) recommending safety measures to dam owners. 
  • State Committee on Dam Safety: The Bill provides for the constitution of State Committees on Dam Safety by the state governments.  Their functions include: (i) reviewing the work of the SDSO, (ii) ordering dam safety investigations, and (iii) assessing the potential impact of dams on upstream and downstream states. 
  • Obligations of dam owners: The Bill requires the owners of specified dams to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.  This unit will inspect the dams: (i) before and after the monsoon session, and (ii) during and after every earthquake, flood, or any other calamity or sign of distress. 

For more details on the Bill, see here.

 

Culture

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha

The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha.[68]  It amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951.  The Act provides for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed or wounded on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.  In addition, the Act creates a Trust to manage the National Memorial.

  • Composition of Trust: Under the 1951 Act, the Trustees of the Memorial include: (i) the Prime Minister, as Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) the Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, (v) the Governor of Punjab, (vi) the Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government. The Bill amends this provision to remove the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee.  Further, it clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the Trustee.
  • The Act provides that the three eminent persons nominated by the central government will have a term of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination. The Bill adds a proviso to allow the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

 

Commerce and Industry

Gayatri Mann (gayatri@prsindia.org)

The National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, 2019 introduced

The National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha.[69]  The Bill seeks to amend the National Institute of Design Act, 2014, which declares the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad as an institution of national importance.

  • The Bill seeks to declare four National Institutes of Design in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Haryana as institutions of national importance.
  • Currently, these institutes are registered as Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and do not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas. On being declared institutions of national importance, the four institutes will be granted the power to grant degrees and diplomas.

For more details on the Bill, see here.

 

Agriculture

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

Committee of Chief Ministers set up to discuss measures for transforming agriculture and raising farmers’ income

The Prime Minister has set up a High Powered Committee of Chief Ministers to discuss measures for transforming agriculture and raising farmers’ income.[70]  The Committee includes the Chief Ministers of: (i) Maharashtra (Convenor of the Committee), (ii) Arunachal Pradesh, (iii) Gujarat, (iv) Haryana, (v) Karnataka, (vi) Madhya Pradesh, and (vii) Uttar Pradesh.  It also includes Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, and Mr. Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee are:

  • Discussing measures for transforming agriculture and raising farmers’ income;
  • Suggesting modalities to states for adoption and time-bound implementation of model Acts formulated by the central government relating to agricultural marketing and contract farming;
  • Examining provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, which provides for control of production, supply, distribution, and trade of certain commodities;
  • Suggesting changes to the Act for attracting private investment in agricultural marketing and infrastructure;
  • Suggesting mechanisms for linking market reforms with centrally sponsored schemes such as National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) and Gramin Agricultural Markets;
  • Suggesting policy measures for: (i) boosting agricultural exports, (ii) increasing growth of food processing sector, and (iii) attracting investment in modern market infrastructure, value chains, and logistics; and
  • Suggesting measures for upgrading agri-technology to global standards, and improving the access of farmers to quality seeds, plant materials, and farm machinery from agriculturally advanced countries.

The Committee will submit its report within two months of its notification (by August 31, 2019).

Cabinet approves scheme for creation of buffer stock of 40 lakh MT of sugar

The Union Cabinet approved a scheme for sugar mills to create a buffer stock of 40 lakh metric tonne of sugar.[71]  The scheme requires sugar mills to create and maintain this buffer stock for a period of one year, starting August 2019.  The scheme seeks to: (i) improve liquidity of sugar mills and facilitate clearing of dues of sugarcane farmers, (ii) reduce sugar inventories, and (iii) stabilise the price of sugar in domestic market.

Under the scheme, sugar mills will be provided with financial assistance equivalent to their carrying cost towards maintenance of the buffer stock.  Carrying cost is the cost that the mills would incur in stocking the sugar, including their storage and maintenance costs.  The scheme is estimated to incur a cost of Rs 1,674 crore.

Financial assistance payable to sugar mills will be transferred directly to farmers on a quarterly basis, and will be settled against the dues payable by mills to farmers.  Subsequent balance, if any, will be credited to the mills.

The Department of Food and Public Distribution may modify or withdraw the scheme anytime during the year after a review based on the market price and availability of sugar.

Note that a similar scheme for creation and maintenance of buffer stock by sugar mills was notified in June 2018, which required sugar mills to maintain a stock of 30 lakh metric tonnes of sugar for a period of one year starting July 2018.

Cabinet approves MSP for Kharif crops and the FRP for sugarcane for 2019-20

The Union Cabinet approved the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for Kharif crops for the 2019-20 season.[72]  The MSP for paddy (common) has been fixed at Rs 1,815 per quintal, which is an increase of 3.7% over the previous year’s MSP (Rs 1,750 per quintal).  Table 2 shows the MSPs notified for the marketing season 2019-20, and the change as compared to 2018-19.

Table 2:  MSPs approved for Kharif crops for the 2019-20 season (in Rs per quintal)

Crop

2018-19

2019-20

Change (%)

Paddy (common)

1,750

1,815

3.7%

Paddy (grade A)

1,770

1,835

3.7%

Jowar (hybrid)

2,430

2,550

4.9%

Jowar (maldandi)

2,450

2,570

4.9%

Bajra

1,950

2,000

2.6%

Ragi

2,897

3,150

8.7%

Maize

1,700

1,760

3.5%

Arhar (tur)

5,675

5,800

2.2%

Moong

6,975

7,050

1.1%

Urad

5,600

5,700

1.8%

Groundnut

4,890

5,090

4.1%

Sunflower seed

5,388

5,650

4.9%

Soyabean (yellow)

3,399

3,710

9.1%

Sesamum

6,249

6,485

3.8%

Nigerseed

5,877

5,940

1.1%

Cotton (medium staple)

5,150

5,255

2.0%

Cotton (long staple)

5,450

5,550

1.8%

Sources:  Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare; PRS.

The Union Cabinet also approved the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane for the sugar season 2019-20 (October 2019 to September 2020).[73]  The FRP for 2019-20 remains unchanged from the previous year, i.e. Rs 275 per quintal for a basic recovery rate of 10%.  Basic recovery rate is determined by the recovery of sugar from sugarcane and depends on the sucrose content in sugarcane, production practices, and on the technology and operation of sugar mills, among other things.  A premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal has been approved for every 0.1 % increase in recovery over and above 10%.

Cabinet approves an increase in subsidy provided for sulphur-based fertilisers

The Union Cabinet approved an increase in the subsidy provided for sulphur based fertilisers for the year 2019-20.[74],[75]  The subsidy is provided under the Nutrient Based Subsidy scheme.  Under the scheme, subsidy is provided to fertiliser manufacturers and importers for sale of Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilisers based on the nutrient content present in them.

The subsidy rate for sulphur based fertilisers has been increased from Rs 2.72 per kg for 2018-19 to Rs 3.56 per kg for 2019-20.

The Union Cabinet also approved subsidy rates for other nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash) for the year 2019-20.  The subsidy rates for these nutrients remain unchanged from the previous year, and are as follows: (i) Rs 18.90 per kg for nitrogen, (ii) Rs 15.22 per kg for phosphorus, and (iii) Rs 11.12 per kg for potash.  The approved rates for the year 2019-20 will be effective from the date of notification.

The cost of providing subsidy on P&K fertilisers is estimated to be Rs 22,876 crore in 2019-20.

 

Environment

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy released for public feedback

The draft National Resource Efficiency Policy, 2019 was released by the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change for public comments.[76]  The Policy notes that the material consumption in India has increased by six times from 1.2 billion tonnes in 1970 to 7 billion tonnes in 2015.  It is expected to double by 2030, in view of rapid urbanisation, increasing population, and growing economic development.  These are expected to lead to serious resource depletion and environmental degradation.  The Policy seeks to enable efficient use of natural resources and promote upcycling of wastes across all sectors of the economy.  Key features of the Policy include:

  • Scope: The Policy aims to implement resource efficiency for all resources (e.g. air, water) and materials across all its life cycles including the stages of raw material extraction, processing, and production. 
  • Guiding principles: The Policy is guided by the principles of: (i) reduction in primary resource consumption to sustainable levels, (ii) creation of higher value through resource efficient approaches, (iii) waste minimisation, (iv) ensuring security of material supply, and (v) creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the environment.
  • Authorities: The Policy provides for the establishment of a National Resource Efficiency Authority (NREA) to oversee, administer and review implementation of the Policy.  Respective state governments and ministries will be responsible for developing and implementing resource efficiency strategies.  An inter-ministerial National Resource Efficiency Board will be established to provide guidance on critical aspects of implementation. 
  • Targets and Action Plans: The Policy aims to achieve India’s commitments under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.  The SDGs consist of 12 goals including doubling the rate of global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, and ensuring sustainable food production systems.
  • The Policy states that the NREA will prepare a three-year action plan, in consultation with concerned ministries, state governments, and stakeholders. Resource efficiency strategies will be developed that will lay out sector/region specific scope, targets, timelines, and action plans.  NREA will adopt these strategies into the three-year actions plans for implementation.  The first Action Plan has been prepared for 2019-22.

 

Power

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

Early regulatory approval for renewable energy projects accepted

The Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy approved a proposal for early regulatory approvals for transmission schemes identified for the National Renewable Energy Mission projects.[77]  As per the commitment made under the Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement on Environment, the central government has fixed a target of setting up 175 GW of renewable energy (RE) capacities in the country by the year 2022.  As of May 2019, 80 GW of RE capacity has been commissioned. 

To achieve the remaining target, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has identified transmission schemes for around 66.5 GW of RE generation.  These schemes have been given the status of ‘projects of national importance’.  This will enable early regulatory approvals to these transmission projects.  This seeks to ensure that the transmission work is completed by the time the RE project starts power generation. 

Bidding guidelines for wind power projects amended

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy amended the bidding guidelines for wind power projects.[78],[79]  The amended guidelines include:

  • The timeline for land acquisition for wind power projects has been extended from seven months to the scheduled commissioning date. The commissioning schedule of wind power projects has been defined as 18 months from the date of execution of the power purchase agreement (PPA) or the power supply agreement, whichever is later.
  • The window for revising the declared Capacity Utilisation Factor (CUF) of the wind power project has been increased from one to three years.

For any shortfall in energy corresponding to the minimum CUF, the power generator is liable to pay a penalty to the procurer.  Earlier this was capped at 75% of the tariff under the PPA.  This penalty has now been fixed at 50% of the tariff set under the PPA. 

 

Defence

Vinayak Krishnan (vinayak@prsindia.org)

Ministry introduces scheme for promotion of MSMEs in defence

The Ministry of Defence has introduced a scheme for promotion of MSMEs in the defence sector.[80]  The scheme aims to educate MSMEs in tier II and tier III cities across the country about the requirements of the defence sector, and the provisions introduced by government to incentivise them.  This will be done through organising various events such as conclaves, and workshops.  These events will include industry and MSME presence along with support of the Department of Defence Production.  The objective of these events include: (i) providing MSMEs with relevant information about the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, (ii) giving impetus to defence production in the country for domestic needs and export to friendly countries, and (iii) providing knowledge to MSMEs active in the non-defence sector for their entry in the defence sector. 

Funding for the scheme will be provided by the central government in the following manner: (i) maximum sponsorship of Rs 2 lakh per event for national level events, and (ii) maximum sponsorship of Rs 1 lakh per event for state level events.  An Empowered Committee consisting of three members will be constituted to review proposals under the scheme.   

 

Rural Development

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

Cabinet approves launch of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-III

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the third phase of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.[81]  The scheme aims to upgrade 1.25 lakh km of rural roads during 2019-20 to 2024-25.  The estimated cost for the scheme is Rs 80,250 crore.  Selection of these roads will be based on various parameters such as population served, access to market, and educational and medical facilities, among others.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched in 2000 with the objective of providing all-weather road connectivity to unconnected habitations of designated population size (more than 500 in plain areas and more than 250 in north-east, hilly, tribal or desert areas as per the 2001 Census). 

[1] Union Budget 2019-20, https://www.indiabudget.gov.in.

[2] The Finance (No. 2) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Finance, July 5, 2019, https://www.indiabudget.gov.in/finance_bill.php.

[3] “Consumer Price Index Numbers on Base 2012=100 for Rural, Urban and Combined for the month of June 2019”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, July 12, 2019.

[4] “Index Numbers of Wholesale Price in India (Base: 2011- 12=100) Review for the month of June 2019”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, July 15, 2019.

[5] The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Aadhaar%20and%20Other%20Laws%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[6]  The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Aadhaar%20and%20other%20Laws%20%28A%29%20Ordinance%2C%202019.pdf.

[7] The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Bill%20Summary%20-%20RTI%20Amendment%20Bill%202019.pdf.

[8] The New Delhi international Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/New%20Delhi%20International%20Arbitration%20Centre%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[9] The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Muslim%20women%20%28Protection%20of%20Rights%20on%20Marriage%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[10] The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Muslim%20Women%20%28Protection%20of%20Rights%20on%20Marriage%29%20Second%20Ordinance%2C%202019.pdf.

[11] The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20ARBITRATION%20AND%20CONCILIATION%20%28AMENDMENT%29%20BILL%2C%202019.pdf.

[12] DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, Ministry of Science and Technology, July 8, 2019, https://prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Bill%20Summary%20-%20DNA%20Technology%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[13] The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/The%20Transgender%20Persons%20%28Protection%20of%20Rights%29%20Bill%2C%202019%20Bill%20Text.pdf.

[14] The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20CONSUMER%20PROTECTION%20BILL%2C%202019%20Bill%20Text.pdf.

[15] The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/The%20Repealing%20and%20Amending%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[16] “Cabinet approves signing of the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements resulting from mediation by India”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Law and Justice, July 31, 2019.

[17] “General Assembly Adopts the United Nations Convention on international Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation”, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law,  https://uncitral.un.org/en/news/general-assembly-adopts-united-nations-convention-international-settlement-agreements-resulting.

[18] “Cabinet approves increasing strength of Supreme Court judges from 31 to 34”, The Hindu, July 31, 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-approves-increasing-strength-of-supreme-court-judges-from-31-to-34/article28773734.ece.

[19] The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20UNLAWFUL%20ACTIVITIES%20%28PREVENTION%29%20AMENDMENT%20Bill%20TExt.pdf.

[20] The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Home Affairs, June 24, 2019,   https://prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Jammu%20and%20Kashmir%20Reservation%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf

[21] Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Home Affairs, July 8, 2019, https://prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20PROTECTION%20OF%20HUMAN%20RIGHTS%20%28AMENDMENT%29%20Bill%20text.pdf

[22] National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Home Affairs, July 8, 2019, https://prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/The%20National%20Investigation%20Agency%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019%20Bill%20text.pdf

[23] No.11012/06/2019-NE.VI., Ministry of Home Affairs, July 15, 2019, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/207004.pdf

[24] “Government notifies High Level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, January 6, 2019. 

[25] “Cabinet approves high level committee to implement Clause 6 of Assam Accord”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, January 2, 2019.

[26] “Union Cabinet approves EWS quota for J&K”, The Economic Times, August 1, 2019, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/union-cabinet-approves-ews-quota-for-jk/articleshow/70474657.cms; “10% increase in number of SC judges; J-K reservation bill approved: Key Cabinet decisions today”, Indian Express, August 1, 2019, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/increase-number-sc-judges-jk-reservation-bill-approved-cabinet-decisions-javadekar-5866892/.

[27] The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Lok Sabha, June 27, 2019, June 28, 2019, http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/Asintroduced/110_2019_English.PDF.

[28]The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/NMC%202019%281%29.pdf.

[29] The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Surrogacy%20%28Regulation%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[30] The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of AYUSH, Lok Sabha, June 27, 2019, http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/PassedLoksabha/83C_%202019_LS_Eng.pdf.

[31] The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Lok Sabha, June 27, 2019, http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/Asintroduced/111_2019_Eng.PDFhttp:/164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/PassedLoksabha/83C_%202019_LS_Eng.pdf.

[32] “Draft notification on Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Third Amendment Rules 2019 prescribing ' Minimum standards for different categories of clinical establishments of Allopathy and Ayush”, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, July 17, 2019, https://mohfw.gov.in/newshighlights/draft-notification-clinical-establishment-central-government-third-amendment-rules.

[33] Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2990, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, December 28, 2018, http://164.100.24.220/loksabhaquestions/annex/16/AU2990.pdf.

[34] The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill 2019, Ministry of Finance, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/The%20Banning%20of%20Unregulated%20Deposit%20Schemes%20Bill%2C%202019%20Text_0.pdf.

[35] S.O. 2691(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Finance, July 29, 2019, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/208809.pdf.

[36] Press Release on Report of Committee on Virtual Currencies, Department of Economic Affairs, July 22, 2019, https://dea.gov.in/sites/default/files/Approved%20Press%20Release%20on%20the%20Report%20and%20Bill%20of%20the%20IMC%20on%20VCs%2022%20July%202019.pdf.

[37] Report of the Committee to propose specific actions in relation to Virtual Currencies, Department of Economic Affairs, July 22, 2019, https://dea.gov.in/sites/default/files/Approved%20and%20Signed%20Report%20and%20Bill%20of%20IMC%20on%20VCs%2028%20Feb%202019.pdf.

[38] Report No. 11, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, ‘Compliance Audit of GST for the year 2017-18’, July 30, 2019, https://cag.gov.in/sites/default/files/audit_report_files/Report_No_11_of_2019_Compliance_Audit_of_Union_Government_Department_of_Revenue_Indirect_Taxes_Goods_and_Services_Tax.pdf.

[39]‘External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) Policy – Rationalisation of End-use Provisions’, Notifications, Reserve Bank of India, July 30, 2019, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11636.

[40] ‘Master Direction - External Commercial Borrowings, Trade Credits and Structured Obligations’, Master Directions, Reserve Bank of India, March 26, 2019, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ViewMasDirections.aspx?id=11510.

[41] “Reserve Bank of India Constitutes Working Group to Review Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Core Investment Companies”, Press Release, Reserve Bank of India, July 3, 2019, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=47495.

[42] Master Direction - Core Investment Companies (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2016, Reserve Bank of India, November 9, 2017, https://rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=10564.

[43] ‘Cabinet nod for revised Chit Funds Bill’, The Hindu, August 1, 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-nod-for-revised-chit-funds-bill/article28776485.ece.

[44] “Extension of time of the Task Force for drafting a New Direct Tax Legislation”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, July 31, 2019.

[45] F. No. 370149/230/2017, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, June 24, 2019, https://www.incometaxindia.gov.in/Lists/Latest%20News/Attachments/324/task-force-office-order-dated-24-06-2019.pdf.

[46] The Code on Wages 2019, Ministry of Labour and Employment, July 23, 2019, https://prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Code%20on%20Wages%2C%202019.pdf

[47] The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Occupational%20Safety%2C%20Health%20and%20Working%20Conditions%20Code%2C%202019.pdf.

[48] S.O. 2615(E), Gazette of India,  Ministry of Labour and Employment, July 22, 2019, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/207531.pdf.

[49] The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Bill%20summary%20on%20companies%20bill.pdf.

[50] The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Insolvency%20and%20Bankruptcy%20Code%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019_0.pdf.

[51] The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, As introduced in Lok Sabha, July 15, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Motor%20Vehicles%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[52] “Subject: Promotion of digital payment through RFID based FASTag-regarding”, F.No.H-25016/01/2018-Toll, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, July 19, 2019, http://morth.nic.in/showfile.asp?lid=4621.

[53] G.S.R. 521(E)., Notification, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, July 24, 2019, http://morth.nic.in/showfile.asp?lid=4624.

[54] “Draft Notification Issued Allowing Motor Vehicles and their Parts to be Affixed with Microdots”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, July 29, 2019. 

[55] G.S.R. 523(E)., Notification, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, July 24, 2019, http://morth.nic.in/showfile.asp?lid=4625.

[56] The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Women and Child Development, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Protection%20of%20Children%20from%20Sexual%20Offences%20%28A%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[57] The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Lok Sabha, July 3, 2019, http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/PassedBothHouses/Cent%20edu%20teacher-%2010%20of%2019.pdf.

[58] The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Human Resource Development, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20CENTRAL%20UNIVERSITIES%20%28AMENDMENT%29%20BILL%2C%202019%20Bill%20Text.pdf.

[59] The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, As introduced in Lok Sabha, July 8, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20PUBLIC%20PREMISES%20%28EVICTION%20OF%20UNAUTHORISED%20Bill%20Text.pdf.

[60] The Model Tenancy Act, 2019, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, July 10, 2019, http://mohua.gov.in/upload/whatsnew/5d25fb70671ebdraft%20Model%20Tenancy%20Act,%202019.pdf.

[61] “Model Tenancy Act to be Circulated Soon to States”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, July 23, 2019. 

[62] Guidelines for Urban Water Conservation, Jal Shakti Abhiyaan, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, July 3, 2019, http://mohua.gov.in/upload/whatsnew/5d1c7709d059eGuidelines_UWC_JSA03072019.pdf.

[63] The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019, As introduced in Rajya Sabha, July 12, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/The%20Airports%20Economic%20Regulatory%20Authority%20of%20India%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[64] “Global Invitation for Expression of Interest for Proposed Strategic Disinvestment of 51% stake in Pawan Hans Limited by Government of India”, Ministry of Civil Aviation, July 11, 2019, http://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/Advertisement_0.pdf.

[65] Preliminary Information Memorandum for Inviting Expression of Interest for Strategic Disinvestment of Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) by Government of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, July 11, 2019, http://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/Pawan_Hans_Ltd_Preliminary_Information_Memorandum.pdf.

[66] The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, As introduced in Lok Sabha, July 25, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Inter-State%20River%20Water%20Disputes%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[67] The Dam Safety Bill, 2019, As introduced in Lok Sabha, July 29, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Dam%20Safety%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[68]The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2018, Ministry of Culture, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/THE%20JALLIANWALA%20BAGH%20NATIONAL%20MEMORIAL%20Bill%20Text.pdf.

[69] The National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/NID%20Bill%2C%202019.pdf.

[70] “High Powered Committee of Chief Ministers constituted for ‘Transformation for Indian Agriculture’”, Press Information Bureau, NITI Aayog, July 1, 2019.

[71] “Cabinet approves creation of buffer stock of 40 LMT of sugar for a period of one year from 1st August 2019 to 31st July 2020”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, July 24, 2019.

[72] “A Government that cares for its Farmers”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, July 3, 2019.

[73] “Cabinet approves Determination of ‘Fair and Remunerative Price’ of sugarcane payable by sugar mills for 2019-20 sugar season”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, July 24, 2019.

[74] “Cabinet approves Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers for the year 2019-20”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, July 31, 2019.

[75] “Cabinet approves fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers for the year 2018-19”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, March 28, 2018.

[76] Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy, 2019, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, July 23, 2019,  http://moef.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Draft-National-Resourc.pdf.

[77] “Power Minister approves proposal for early regulatory approval of transmission schemes identified for 66.5 GW Renewable Energy projects” Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Power, July 18, 2019. 

[78] “MNRE amends bidding guidelines for wind power projects”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, July 25, 2019. 

[79] “Amendment to the Guidelines for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding Process for Procurement of Power from Grid Connected Wind Power Projects”, No. 23/54/2017-R&R., Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, July 16, 2017, https://mnre.gov.in/sites/default/files/schemes/WBG%20Amendments%20gazette.pdf.

[80] “Scheme for Promotion of MSMEs in Defence”, Ministry of Defence, July 12, 2019, https://ddpmod.gov.in/sites/default/files/MSME_scheme_Notified_on_12072019%20(1).pdf.  

[81] “Boost to Rural Road Connectivity”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, July 10, 2019.

 

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