Key Bills recently in news : Summary report Part 2
The representation of the people ( Amendment and Validation ) bill, 2013
The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014
Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996
Service rules related to the conduct of civil servants amended
FDI policy in defence revised
Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014 notified
- Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 referred to Select Committee
The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014
- The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 23, 2013. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on the same day. The Bill seeks to amend the Representation of People Act, 1951 (RPA, 1951). The two key changes brought about by the Bill are:
- Even if a person is prohibited from voting due to being in police custody or in jail, as long as his name is entered on the electoral roll he shall not cease to be an elector. This implies that he can file nomination for an election.
- The definition of “disqualified” in the Act has been amended. Currently, the definition of disqualified means disqualified for either being chosen as or being a Member of Parliament or a State Legislature. The amendment adds a ground to the definition that the disqualification has to be due to conviction for certain specified offences and can be on no other ground. Conviction for one of these offences would result in the person’s name being removed from the electoral roll and he would cease to be an elector.
- This amendment Bill seeks to address the situation arising out of the Supreme Court’s judgment.
- On July 10, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest elections to legislative bodies. The RPA, 1951 states that any contestant to an election to legislative bodies has to be an “elector”, i.e., his name should be on the electoral roll and he is not subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 16 of the Representation of People Act, 1950. Among other things, that section disqualifies anyone from being on the electoral roll if he is disqualified from voting under the provisions of any law relating to corrupt practices and other offences in relation to elections. Another provision in the RPA, 1951 says that anyone in prison or on the lawful custody of the police (other than preventive detention) is not entitled to vote.
- The Supreme Court concluded that a person in jail or police custody is not entitled to vote, and therefore, is not an elector, and thus, cannot contest elections.
- The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 11, 2014 by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad.
- According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the Bill seeks to repeal those enactments which have ceased to be in force or have become obsolete. In all, the Bill seeks to repeal about 36 laws and pass amendments to two laws.
- Repealing certain laws: The Bill repeals certain laws that have been listed in the First Schedule of the Bill. Of the 36 Acts, four Acts are being repealed entirely. These include The Indian Fisheries Act, 1897, The Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947, The Sugar Undertakings (Taking Over of Management) Act, 1978 and The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.
The remaining 32 Acts that are being repealed are amendment Acts. The changes have been incorporated into the principal Acts.
- Amendment of certain laws: The Bill amends some provisions of The Prohibition of Manual Scavengers Act, 2013, and The Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011. These rectify typographical and certain patent errors, like the year of enactment respectively.
Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996Law Commission submits report on Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 The Law Commission of India submitted its report on Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 to the Law Ministry on August 7, 2014.13 The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 deals with domestic arbitration and conciliation, international commercial arbitration and the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.The Law Commission noted that there are certain problems with the current law. These include: (i) delays in and huge costs associated with the arbitration process, (ii) arbitration related litigation which remain pending before the courts, and (iii) a challenge to an arbitral award is made before the Courts and remains pending for several years.The Law Commission has suggested that the following issues be addressed:
- Encouraging institutionalized arbitration: Courts must encourage parties to refer their disputes to institutionalised arbitration. The centre may also consider the formation of the Arbitral Commission of India.
- Conduct of arbitral proceedings: The practice of frequent and baseless adjournments must be discouraged. Continuous sittings of the arbitral tribunal for the purposes of recording evidence and for arguments must be ensured.
- Delays in courts, and before the tribunal:
- (i) The issue of frivolous complaints must be addressed by implementing actual costs on the party.
- (ii) The High Courts must have the power of making appointments of arbitrators. This function may be delegated to specialized, external persons or institutions.
- iii) International commercial arbitrations, involving foreign parties, must be heard expeditiously and by judges at the High Court level.
Service rules related to the conduct of civil servants amendedThe centre has amended the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968. These rules or conduct are applicable to the three All India Services-Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service. The amendments require civil servants to maintain high ethical standards, integrity and honesty, and political neutrality. They are also required to promote principles of merit, fairness and impartiality, accountability and transparency, responsiveness to the public.Further, the amendments also specified:
The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry made several changes to the policy on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence on August 26, 2014.The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry made several changes to the policy on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence on August 26, 2014.Portfolio investment permitted: FDI limit of 49% would be inclusive of all kinds of foreign investment (eg. Foreign Direct Investment, investments by Foreign Institutional Investors,Foreign Portfolio Investors, Non Resident Indians, etc.). Portfolio investment by investors however cannot exceed 24% of the total equity of the investee/joint venture company.Other changes:
- Upholding the supremacy of the Constitution and democratic values
- Defending the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order and morality
- Taking decisions solely in public interest and using public resources efficiently
- Declaring any private interests relating to public duties and taking steps to resolve any conflicts in a way that protects the public interest.
- Not placing himself under any financial or other obligations which may influence him in the performance of his official duties;
- Acting with fairness and impartiality and not discriminating against anyone, particularly the under-privileged sections of society;
- Refraining from doing anything which is or may be contrary to any law, rules, regulations and established practices.
- License applications will be considered and given by the DIPP in consultation with the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs.
- The Chief Security Officer of the investee/ Joint Venture Company should be a resident Indian citizen.
- The investee/joint venture company should be self-sufficient in areas of product design and development.
- FDI in defence was previously subject to a three year lock-in-period for transfer of equity from one non-resident investor to another non-resident investor, and such transfers also needed a prior approval of the government. These requirements have been removed.
Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014 notifiedThe Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014 was notified by the government on August 25, 2014.
The Act was passed by Parliament on August 12, 2014. The Act amends the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 (the SEBI Act) and makes consequential amendments to the Securities Contracts
(Regulation) Act, 1956 and the Depositories Act, 1996.The key amendments are:
Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 referred to Select CommitteeThe government has proposed some amendments to the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 on July 30, 2014. The Bill, currently pending in Rajya Sabha, was introduced on December 22, 2008. It proposes to amend the Insurance Act, 1938, the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. The Standing Committee on Finance submitted its recommendations regarding the Bill on December 13, 2011.The Bill has been referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha for examination. The report is expected in the first week of the next Parliament session.
- Collective Investment Schemes (CIS): The definition of CIS has been expanded to include all pooling of funds of Rs 100 crore or above, that are not regulated by any law.
- Search and seizure: The SEBI Act allowed the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to conduct search and seizure operations on a suspected violator‟s premises after obtaining permission from a First Class Judicial Magistrate. The Act amends this provision, requiring SEBI to obtain permission from the Magistrate or Judge of a court in Mumbai (as designated by the government).
- Consent settlement and disgorgement:
- The Act explicitly permits SEBI to:
- (i) enter into a consent settlement with a person against whom proceedings have been initiated, and
- (ii) order disgorgement of unfair gains made by a market participant.
- Attachment of property: The Act permits SEBI to attach bank accounts and property,and arrest and detain a person for his failure to comply with disgorgement orders or pay any monetary penalty.
- Special courts: The Act provides for the establishment of special courts to try offences under the SEBI Act.
The new amendments include the following:
- Foreign shareholding: The Bill permits a foreign company to hold up to 49% stake (vs. 26% in the Insurance Act) in an Indian insurer. The new amendments permit foreign investors (including Foreign Institutional Investors) to hold up to 49% stake in an Indian insurance company, which is Indian owned and controlled as per the prescribed manner.
- Shareholding of Indian promoters: The Insurance Act mandates Indian promoters to reduce their shareholding in insurance companies to 26% within 10 years. The government or Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) can make rules/regulations regarding such excess shareholding. The Bill proposed to delete the provision regarding reduction of shareholding. The new amendments seek to also delete the government/IRDA’s power to make rules/regulations. Instead, the government will have the power to make rules regarding the manner of ownership and control of an Indian insurance company.
- Collector nominee: The Bill defines a collector nominee as a nominee other than a beneficiary nominee who is liable to pay the benefits of a policy to the beneficiary nominee or legal heirs of policy-holders or their representatives. Such payments have to be made in accordance with IRDA regulations. The new amendments remove the stipulation regarding compliance with IRDA regulations.