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Acts Passed by Parliament

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(1) Model Tenancy Act, 2019

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has released the draft Model Tenancy, 2019.

It envisages to balance the interest and rights of both the owner and tenant and to create an accountable and transparent ecosystem for renting the premises in disciplined and efficient manner.

The Model Act provides for its applicability for the whole of the State i.e. urban as well as rural areas in the State.

Features

  • Establish Rent courts and Tribunals
    • Rent Authority may direct for compensation on the person responsible for cutting off or withholding the essential supply.
    • To ensure speedy redressal of disputes, it also proposes to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal that have to dispose off the cases within 60 days.
    • Act provides for fast-track quasi-judicial mechanism for adjudication of disputes. Officer of the rank of deputy collector or higher will act as rent authority to adjudicate any issue arising out of a rental disagreement
  • Rent: All premises (residential or commercial) shall be rented only after a written agreement on mutually agreed terms.
  • Security Deposits: It proposes to cap the security deposit to maximum of two month’s rent in case of residential properties and Security deposit to be refunded by the landlord at the time of taking over vacant possession of the premises.
  • Repair and Maintenance: If the landowner refuses to carry out the required repairs, the tenant can get the work done and deduct the same from periodic rent.
  • Agreement: A digital platform will be set up in local vernacular language of the State for submitting tenancy agreement and other documents.
    • The tenant cannot sublet a part of or the whole property or carry out any structural change without execution of supplementary agreement between landlord and tenant.
    • Landowner cannot cut power and water supply in case of a dispute with the tenant.
    • Act acknowledges property manager (the one who manages property on behalf of the landlord) as a legal entity. It further provides for duties of property manager and consequences of violation of duties.

(2) Right to Information (RTI) Amendment Act

Amendments brought in the RTI Act

  • Removal of fixed term– As per the act, the CIC and ICs will hold office for a term of five years. The Amendment removes this provision and states that the central government will notify the term of office for the CIC and the ICs.
  • Determination of Salary– As per the act, 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 Amendment empowers the Central Government to determine the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of the central and state CIC and ICs.

 (3) Laws Passed on Traditional Medicines

Recently, Parliament passed three Act related to Traditional medicine viz. The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) Act, 2020, The National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Act, 2020 and The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) Act, 2020.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act (NCISM), 2020

  • The Act seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and to provide for a medical education system which ensures:
    • availability of adequate and high-quality medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine
    • adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals
    • periodic assessment of medical institutions and an effective grievance redressal mechanism.
  • Constitution of National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) and State Medical Councils. NCISM would have the following responsibilities:
    • To frame policies for the regulation of medical professionals and institutions for Indian System of Medicine
    • To assess the human resources and infrastructure required in relation to healthcare
    • To ensure that the State Medical Councils of Indian System of Medicine adhered to the regulations laid down by the Act
    • To ensure that the autonomous boards set up under the Act worked in coordination with each other.
  • Autonomous boards: It sets up certain autonomous boards under the supervision of the NCISM. These boards are:
    • The Board of Ayurveda and the Board of Unani, Siddha, and Sowa-Rigpa
    • The Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Indian System of Medicine
    • The Ethics and Medical Registration Board
  • Advisory Council for Indian System of Medicine
  • Uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate education and common final year National Exit Test for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice. Further, there will be a uniform post-graduate National Entrance Test for admission into post-graduate courses in each of the disciplines of the Indian System of Medicine in all medical institutions.
  • National Teachers’ Eligibility Test for postgraduates of each discipline of Indian System of Medicine who wish to take up teaching that particular discipline as a profession.

The National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Act, 2020

  • The Act seeks to repeal the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and provide for a medical education system which ensures availability of adequate and high quality homoeopathic medical professionals, etc.
  • Constitution of the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) and State Medical Councils for Homoeopathy o Functions of NCH: same as of NCISM but with regards to homeopathy
  • Autonomous boards: The Act sets up certain autonomous boards under the supervision of the NCH. These are:
    • Homoeopathy Education Board:
    • Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Homoeopathy
    • Board of Ethics and Medical Registration for
  • Advisory Council for Homoeopathy
  • Entrance examinations for UG, PG and license for practice.
  • National Teachers’ Eligibility Test
  • Appeal on matters related to professional and ethical misconduct: The State Medical Councils and the Board of Ethics and Medical Registration for Homoeopathy have the power to take disciplinary action against the medical practitioner including imposing a monetary penalty.

The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) Act, 2020

  • It seeks to merge three Ayurveda institutes into one institution by the name of Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA). The proposed Institute will be situated in the campus of Gujarat Ayurveda University, Jamnagar and will be an institution of National Importance.
  • Objectives of the Institute:
    • develop patterns of teaching in medical education in Ayurveda and pharmacy,
    • bring together educational facilities for training of personnel in all branches of Ayurveda,
    • attain self-sufficiency in postgraduate education to meet the need for specialists and medical teachers in Ayurveda, and
    • make an in-depth study and research in the field of Ayurveda.

(4) Code on Industrial Relations, 2020

  • The code combines the features of three erstwhile laws: Trade Unions Act 1926, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

Major provisions under the code:

  • Definition of worker: It defines a ‘worker’ as any person who work for hire or reward. It excludes persons employed in a managerial or administrative capacity, or in a supervisory capacity with wages exceeding Rs 18,000.
  • Standing Orders: All industrial establishment with 300 workers or more must prepare standing orders on the matters relating to:
    • classification of workers,
    • manner of informing workers about work hours, holidays, paydays, and wage rates
    • termination of employment, and o grievance redressal mechanisms for workers.
  • Prior permission of the government for closure, lay-off and retrenchment: It is required for an establishment having at least 300 workers to seek prior permission of the government before closure, layoff, or retrenchment. Central government is empowered only to allow an increase in the threshold through notification.
  • Negotiating Union and Council
    • Sole Negotiating Union: If there are more than one registered trade union of workers functioning in an establishment, the trade union having more than 51% of the workers as members would be recognised as the sole negotiating union.
    • Negotiation Council: In case no trade union is eligible as sole negotiating union, then a negotiating council will be formed consisting of representatives of unions that have at least 20% of the workers as members.
  • Tribunals for settlement of disputes: for the settlement of industrial disputes. Each Industrial Tribunal will consist of a Judicial member and an Administrative member.
    • The code classifies any dispute in relation to discharge, dismissal, retrenchment, or otherwise termination of the services of an individual worker to be an industrial dispute.
  • Fixed term employment: Fixed term employment refers to workers employed for a fixed duration based on a contract signed between the worker and the employer. It may allow employers the flexibility to hire workers, reduce the role of a middleman such as an agency or contractor, and also benefit the worker and help improve the conditions of temporary workers in comparison with contract workers who may not be provided with such benefits.
  • Re-skilling fund: To re skill those workers who are fired from their jobs. Contributions for the fund will be made from the employer of an industrial establishment amounting to fifteen days wages last drawn by the worker immediately before the retrenchment along with the contribution from such other sources.

(5) Code on Social Security, 2020

The Code replaces nine laws related to social security. These include the Employees’ Provident Fund Act, 1952, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, and the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 among others.

Major provisions of the code

  • Applicability: The code is applicable to any establishment (subject to size-threshold as may be notified by the central government).
  • Social security fund: The code states that the central government will set up such a fund for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers. Further, state governments will also set up and administer separate social security funds for unorganised workers.
  • Provisions for registration of all three categories of workers – unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers.
  • National Social Security Board: for the purposes of welfare of above three categories of workers and recommend and monitor schemes for them.
  • Contribution for Schemes: schemes for gig workers and platform workers may be funded through a combination of contributions from the central government, state governments, and aggregators.
  • Changes in definitions: These include expanding the definitions of

(i) ‘employees’ to include workers employed through contractors,

(ii) “inter-state migrant workers” to include self-employed workers from Gig workers refer to workers outside the traditional employer-employee relationship.

(iii) “platform worker” to additional categories of services or activities as may be notified by the government,

(iv) audio-visual productions to include films, web-based serials, talk shows, reality shows and sports shows

  • Term of eligibility for gratuity for journalists: The code reduces the gratuity period from five years to three years for working journalists.
  • Offences and penalties: The code changes the penalties for certain offences. For example, the maximum imprisonment for obstructing an inspector from performing his duty has been reduced from one year to six months.

(6) Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020

  • It consolidates 13 existing acts regulating health, safety and working conditions. These include the Factories Act, 1948, the Mines Act, 1952, and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.

Major provisions under the code:

  • Threshold for coverage of establishments
    • Factory: It defines a factory as any premises where manufacturing process is carried out and it employs more than: (i) 20 workers, if the process is carried out using power, or (ii) 40 workers, if it is carried out without using power.
    • Establishments engaged in hazardous activity: It includes all establishments where any hazardous activity is carried out regardless of the number of workers.
    • Contract workers: Code will apply to establishments or contractors (including the offices of the central and state governments) employing 50 or more workers (on any day in the last one year) and prohibits contract labour in core activities (to be determined by the appropriate government). It also defines a list of non-core activities comprising 11 works including: (i) sanitation workers, (ii) security services, and (iii) any activity of intermittent nature.
  • Work hours and employment conditions
    • Daily work hour limit: fixes the maximum limit at eight hours per day.
    • Employment of women: women will be entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work. In case they are required to work in hazardous or dangerous operations, the government may require the employer to provide adequate safeguards prior to their employment.
  • Exemption: The code empowers the state government to exempt any new factory from the provisions of the Code in order to create more economic activity and employment.
  • Inter-state migrant workers
    • Definition of inter-state migrant worker: any person who moves on his own to another state and obtains employment there and is earning a maximum of Rs 18,000 per month, or such higher amount which the central government may notify.
    • Benefits for inter-state migrant workers: include: (i) option to avail the benefits of the public distribution system either in the native state or the state of employment, (ii) availability of benefits under the building and other construction cess fund in the state of employment, and (iii) insurance and provident fund benefits available to other workers in the same establishment.
    • The code removed the provision for Displacement allowance which was there in the 2019 bill to pay a displacement allowance to inter-state migrant workers at the time of their recruitment, which was equivalent to 50% of the monthly wages.
    • Database for inter-state migrant workers: the central and state governments to maintain or record the details of inter-state migrant workers in a portal and the migrant worker can register himself on the portal on the basis of self-declaration and Aadhaar.
    • Social Security Fund for the welfare of unorganised workers: The amount collected from certain penalties under the Code will be credited to the Fund. The government may prescribe other sources as well for transferring money to the Fund.

(7) Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Act, 2020

  • The Act provides an opportunity to taxpayers to settle direct tax disputes by paying due taxes with complete waiver of interest and penalty till June 30, 2020.
  • It is applicable to all the appeals/petitions filed by taxpayers or the income tax department, with the following forums: Commissioner of Income-tax (Appeals); Income-tax Appellate Tribunal; High Court; or Supreme Court as on the 31st day of January, 2020 irrespective of whether demand in such cases is pending or has been paid.
  • Pending appeal may be against disputed tax, interest or penalty.
  • Once the dispute is settled under the Act, taxpayer shall get the following immunities
    • Such cases cannot be reopened in any other proceeding by any tax authority or designated authority;
    • Opting for the scheme shall not amount to conceding the tax position and tax authority cannot claim that taxpayer has conceded to the decision on the disputed issue.

(8) The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020

  • Trade of farmers’ produce: The Act allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside: (i) the physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts and (ii) other markets notified under the state APMC Acts.
  • Electronic trading: It permits the electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area. An electronic trading and transaction platform may be set up to facilitate the direct and online buying and selling of such produce through electronic devices and internet.
  • Market fee abolished: The Act prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.

(9) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020

  • Farming agreement: The Act provides for a farming agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.
  • Pricing of farming produce: The price of farming produce should be mentioned in the agreement. For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price must be specified in the agreement.
  • Further, the process of price determination must also be mentioned in the agreement.
  • Dispute Settlement: A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes. The Board should have a fair and balanced representation of parties to the agreement.

(10) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020

  • Regulation of food items: The Act provides that the central government may regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, only under extraordinary circumstances.
  • These include: (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.
  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowered the central government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities. The central government may regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of such essential commodities.
  • Stock limit: The Act requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.
  • A stock limit may be imposed only if there is: (i) a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and (ii) a 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.
  • The increase in price will be calculated over the price prevailing immediately preceding 12 months, or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower.

(11) The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019

Major Provisions:

  • It invalidates the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) as void and illegal.
  • It also makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence with imprisonment up to three years and fine.
  • It also provides to make the offence cognizable, if information relating to the commission of an offence is given to the Police, by the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced or by any person related to her by blood or marriage (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.).
  • The Act also provides scope for reconciliation without undergoing the process of Nikah Halala if the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings and settle the dispute.
  • Allowance: A Muslim woman, against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
  • Custody: A Muslim woman, against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

(12) The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019

  • Definition of a transgender person: The Act defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.
  • Prohibition against discrimination: The Act prohibits 8 types of discrimination against a transgender person, including
    • denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to: education; employment; healthcare;
    • access to goods, facilities opportunities available to the public;
    • right to movement and right to reside, rent, or own property;
    • opportunity to hold public or private office; and o access to a government or private establishment which has custody of a transgender person.
  • Recognition of Identity: It provides for the right to self-perceived gender identity. A certificate of identity as a transgender person can be issued by the District Magistrate. A revised certificate can also be obtained after Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS).
    • Offences and penalties: It recognizes the following offences against transgender persons. Penalties for these offences vary between six months and two years, and a fine.
    • forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes),
    • denial of use of public places, o removal from household, and village,
    • physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse.
  • National Council for Transgender Persons will be setup with representatives from the government, transgender community and experts in the field. It will advise the government on formulating policies for the community, and monitor the implementation, and address grievances, among others.
  • Welfare measures by the government: Government must take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training and self- employment, create schemes that are transgender sensitive, and promote their participation in cultural activities.
  • Health care: The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centre 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.

(13) New Education Policy, 2020

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

  • Present Status and issues: Quality ECCE is not available to crores of young children, particularly children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Key Provisions under NEP 2020
  • Universal Access for children of 3-6 years: bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years (crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child) under school curriculum.
  • ECCE will be delivered through Anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum.
  • Pre-school sections covering at least one year of early childhood care and education will be added to Kendriya Vidyalayas and other primary schools, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
  • NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8.
  • Implementation to be jointly carried out by Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.

Attainment of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

  • National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD: Under it, States/UTs will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.
  • National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated to ensure the availability, accessibility, quality, and readership of books across geographies, languages, levels, and genres.
  • National Repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy will be made available on the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA).

Curtailing Dropout Rates and Ensuring Universal Access to Education at All Level

  • Policy aims to achieve 100% GER in preschool to secondary level by 2030. Following are the initiatives to achieve this:
  • Providing effective and sufficient infrastructure so that all students have access to safe and engaging school education.
  • Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Programmes offered by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and State Open Schools will be expanded and strengthened with special emphasis on Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs).
  • Tracking students as well as their learning levels through counsellors or well-trained social workers.

Curriculum and Pedagogy Present status

  • Restructuring school curriculum and pedagogy in a new 5+3+3+4 design
    • 5 years of the Foundational Stage (covering ages 3-8): 3 years of Anganwadi/pre-school + 2 years in primary school in Grades 1-2
    • 3 years of the Preparatory Stage (covering ages 8-11): Grades 3, 4, 5.
    • 3 years of the Middle Stage (covering ages 11-14): Grades 6, 7, 8.
    • 4 years of the High Stage (covering ages 14-18): Grades 9, 10, 11, 12.
  • Reduced curriculum content to its core essentials to enhance essential learning and critical thinking.
  • Experiential learning will be adopted in all stages, including hands-on learning, artsintegrated and sports-integrated education.
  • Freedom of choosing a variety of subjectcombination: no rigid separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extracurricular’, or ‘co-curricular’, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams.
  • Introduction of contemporary subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking, Holistic Health, Organic Living, Environmental Education, Global Citizenship Education (GCED), etc..
  • Vocational education through 10-day bagless period sometime during Grades 6-8 where students will intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc.
  • National Curricular Framework for School Education will be developed by the NCERT.

Student Assessment

  • School examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority.
  • Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued but redesigned.
  • National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body under MHRD.

Multilingualism and the power of language

  • Medium of instruction up till grade 5, and preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be home language/ mother-tongue/ local language.
  • ‘The Languages of India’ a fun project/ activity on to be taken by every student under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative.
  • Three languages formula with greater flexibility.
  • All classical languages (Sanskrit,Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia) will be widely available in schools as options. In addition, Pali, Persian, and Prakrit will also be widely available as options.
  • Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country.

Equitable and Inclusive EducationProvisions for Socio-Economically Disadvantaged groups –SEDGs

  • Setting up of
  • Gender Inclusion Fund for female and transgender students
  • Special Education Zones (SEZs)- Large populations from SEDGs to be declared SEZs.
  • Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education.
  • Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities.
  • Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras to promote social, intellectual, and voluntary activities.
  • Special mechanisms for children belongingto tribal groups to receive quality education
  • Fee waivers and scholarships will be offered to meritorious students from all SEDGs
  • Additional Schools- Setting-up of additional JNVs and KVs in aspirational districts/SEZs

Robust Teacher Education and Recruitment

  • New and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (by 2021)
  • By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree.
  • NTA testing for admission to B.Ed.
  • Setting-up of National Mission for Mentoring with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty
  • Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) for all teachers across Foundational, Preparatory, Middle and Secondary stage in both public and private schools.
  • More autonomy to teachers in choosing aspects of pedagogy in classroom teaching
  • National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022.
  • Restructuring of NCTE- National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) to be restructured as a Professional Standard Setting Body (PSSB) under General Education Council (GEC).

(14) The Consumer Protection Act, 2019

  • Creation of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA): Its primary objective is to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers and will be assisted by a Director General of Investigation which will look into cases and submit its report to the Authority.
  • It is empowered to:
    • Conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints/prosecution. ▪ Order recall of unsafe goods and services.
    • Order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.
    • Impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements.
    • file Suo-motu cases on behalf of a class of customers, thereby initiating class action suits.

– Class Action, also known as Representative Action, is a form of lawsuit where a large group of people collectively brings a claim to the court.

-It is filed generally when a number of people have suffered the same or similar injuries.

  • Simplification of consumer dispute adjudication process
    • State and District Commissions are now empowered to review their own orders
    • Empowerment of Consumer Commissions to enforce their orders.
    • Deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within the specified period of 21 days.
    • Ease of approaching Consumer Commissions through filing from place of residence/work, e-filing, videoconferencing for hearing.
  • Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism
    • A complaint will be referred by a Consumer Commission for mediation, wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it.
    • Mediation will be held in the Mediation Cells to be established under the aegis of the Consumer Commissions.
    • No appeal against settlement through mediation.
  • Regarding E-commerce entities:
    • They are required to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options, etc. including country of origin which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
    • E-commerce platforms have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within forty-eight hours and redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt under this Act. For this purpose, they need to appoint a grievance redressal officer.
    • Sellers cannot refuse to take back goods or withdraw services or refuse refunds, if such goods or services are defective, deficient, delivered late, or if they do not meet the description on the platform.
    • The rules also prohibit the ecommerce companies from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit through unjustified prices
  • Introduction of the concept of product liability: A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller to be responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective product or deficiency in services.
  • Punishment
    • The Act provides for punishment by a competent court for manufacture or sale of adulterant/spurious goods.
    • The court may, in case of first conviction, suspend any license issued to the person for a period of up to two years, and in case of second or subsequent conviction, cancel the license.
  • Other provisions:
    • There will be no fee for filing cases up to ₹5 lakh.
    • The amount due to unidentifiable consumers will be credited to Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF).
    • The State Commissions will furnish information to Central Government on a quarterly basis on vacancies, disposal, pendency of cases and other matters.
    • It provides for Central Consumer Protection Council as an advisory body on consumer issues to be headed by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution with the Minister of State as Vice Chairperson and 34 other members from different fields. It will also have Minister-incharge of consumer affairs from two States from each region- North, South, East, West, and NER.

(15) Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020

  • Prohibition to accept foreign contribution: Under the Act election candidates, editor or publisher of a newspaper, judges, government servants, members of any legislature are prohibited to accept any foreign contribution.
    • The Amendment adds public servants to this list. Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
  • Transfer of foreign contribution: Under the Act, foreign contribution cannot be transferred to any other person unless such person is also registered to accept foreign contribution.
    • The Amendment prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person.
  • Aadhaar, passport and OCI card for registration: Amendment adds that any person seeking prior permission, registration must provide the Aadhaar number of all its office bearers, directors etc. In case of a foreigner, they must provide a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification.
  • FCRA account: Amendment states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as ‘FCRA account’ in such branch of the State Bank of India, New Delhi, as notified by the central government.
    • No funds other than the foreign contribution should be received or deposited in this account.
    • The person may open another FCRA account in any scheduled bank of their choice for keeping or utilising the received contribution.
  • Restriction in utilisation of foreign contribution: Under the Act, if a person accepting foreign contribution is found guilty of violating any provisions of the Act, the unutilised foreign contribution may be utilised, only with the prior approval of the central government.
    • The Amendment adds that the government may also restrict usage of unutilised foreign contribution for such persons based on a summary inquiry, and pending any further inquiry.
  • Renewal of license: Under the Act, every person who has been given a certificate of registration must renew the certificate within six months of expiration.
    • Amendment adds that, the government may conduct an inquiry before renewing the certificate to ensure that the person has fulfilled all conditions specified in Act.
  • Reduction in use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes: Under the Act, a person who receives foreign contribution must use it only for the purpose for which the contribution is received. Further, they must not use more than 50% of the contribution for meeting administrative expenses.
    • Amendment reduces this limit to 20%.
  • Suspension of registration: Under the Act, the government may suspend the registration of a person for a period not exceeding 180 days.
    • Amendment adds that such suspension may be extended up to an additional 180 days.

(16) Aircraft (Amendment Bill, 2020) Passed by Parliament

  • Bill amends Aircraft Act, 1934 that regulates manufacture, use, sale and license for civil aircrafts.
  • It seeks to provide statutory status to three pre-existing bodies
    • Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA): carries out oversight and regulatory functions.
    • Bureau of Civil aviation security: carries out regulatory oversight functions related to civil aviation security.
    • Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau: carries out investigations related to aircraft accidents and incidents.
  • It empowers DGCA to levy penalties of upto ₹1 crore on airlines, airports and other aviation entities.

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