Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

FREE VACCINE PROMISE NOT A VIOLATION OF MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT

Pursuant to a direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the ECI in 2013 framed certain guidelines for election manifestos of political parties. These guidelines were incorporated as Part VIII of the Model Code of Conduct and they are applicable from the date a political party issues its manifesto.

Firstly, as per the guidelines the manifesto shall not contain anything repugnant to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Constitution and shall be consistent with the letter and spirit of other provisions of Model Code.

Secondly, in light of the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution that enjoin upon the State to frame various welfare measures there can be no objection to the promise of such welfare in the election manifesto. However, political parties should avoid making those promises which are likely to vitiate the purity of the election process or exert undue influence on the voters in exercising their franchise.

Lastly, in interest of transparency, level playing field and credibility of promises, it is expected that manifesto also reflect the rationale for the promises and broadly indicate the ways and means to meet the financial requirement for it. Trust of voters should be sought only on those promises which are possible to be fulfilled.

Advocate Saket Gokhale filed a petition on 22nd October before the Election commission of India requiring the commission’s attention towards the comment made by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s leaders which promised free Covid-19 Vaccine to all the people of Bihar. 

The petition highlighted that the statement was not made by the leaders of BJP polling in Bihar but by the Union Minister of Finance Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, which was objectionable and misleading. Secondly, the petition objected to the action of posting the comment via twitter from the official BJP handle.

The main ground of the petition was that the statement made by the political party is in ignorance of the Model Code of Conduct and of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since each and every state and every individual therein is equally entitled to access the vaccine. The petition stated that in the absence of any official policy by the Union government, such promises are baseless.  

Whereas, the political party’s reply to it stated that, since public health being a state subject the state governments can decide the course of action and hence make promises for the same.  

Further, in reply to this petition the Election Commission on 28th October waived the objections and held that the statements and promises made by the party do not violate any code of conduct specifically those mentioned above. Hence the Election Commission of Indian disposed of the petition. 

(Food for thought- What truth will the above-mentioned statement hold for a common man’s understanding and is it likely to exert undue influence on people? – will be added in the slides) 

MADHYA PRADESH HC’S ORDER RESTRAINING PHYSICAL POLL, STAYED BY SC

Bihar State Elections are the first election in the country and the biggest one globally since the pandemic, the first phase of the elections will begin from 28th October, 2020. Several changes and guidelines to maintain norms of social distancing have been observed by the Election Commission keeping in mind safety of the voters and poll officials. The voting timings have been extended. An hour towards the end is reserved for Covid positive patients so that they are not deprived from participating in the democratic process. 

According to the Election Commission of India, 7 lakh hand sanitizers, 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh face shields and 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves have been arranged for the polls. Postal ballot facility has also been made available wherever required on request. Campaigns will also be restricted. Door to door campaigning is permissible but maximum 4 people can accompany the candidate. Apart from these large halls, thermal screening, compulsory masks throughout the process are other protocols in place.

Political campaigns have begun in Madhya Pradesh. Subsequently, a PIL had been filed in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh highlighting that physical campaigning by political parties was causing increase in the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the PIL also stated that nobody from the public is taking any action against these political parties. After hearing this PIL, the Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court passed an order restraining any physical gathering for poll campaign amid the pandemic. 

The High Court’s order stated that the political parties will have to get permission from the district magistrate and if the parties want to hold any kind of physical gathering, a certificate from the poll panel will be required establishing that virtual campaign was not possible under any circumstances. Furthermore, the political parties will have to deposit money for procuring masks and sanitizers for the people taking part in the campaign. In its order, the High Court had also directed the District Magistrates of Datia and Gwalior to assure that FIRs are registered against former Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar for alleged violation of COVID-19 norms during election campaigns.

Three pleas were filed against the HC’s order by Election Commission of India, by BJP leader Pradyuman Singh Tomar and Munna Lal Goyal and heard by Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna. The primary grounds of the same being, violation of “right to conduct elections” and disregarding the guidelines made by ECI. On 26th October, 2020 SC while staying the order of Madhya Pradesh HC, declined to decide or elaborate upon the contentions or merits of the case raised by the appellants. 

Further, it directed the Election Commission of India to take cognizance of issues raised in the petition before the High Court and list it within six weeks. The rationale behind the non-interference was adherence to Part XV, Article 324, 329 of the Constitution which bar judicial interference in the electoral process and fixate the duty on ECI. Hence SC’s order restored the electoral process, however the ECI can take further actions in determining the validity of issues raised.

WHY ARE STATE GOVERNMENTS WITHDRAWING ‘GENERAL CONSENT’ FOR CBI INVESTIGATIONS?

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is constituted under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and its jurisdiction to investigate primarily extends to the Union Territories as per Section 2 of the DSPE Act but the same can be extended by the Central government under section 5 of the act to the states, given the state government has given their general consent under Section 6 of the act. The state governments can through a notification under section 6 withdraw their consent but it will only have a prospective effect and will not affect the ongoing investigations. After which for CBI to investigate new matters within a state, it will have to demand a case specific consent and when denied that consent too, it can approach the Courts for carrying out the investigation. 

On 21st October, the Maharashtra Government revoked its general consent under Section 6, the purpose behind the same was to protect the powers vested with the local state police and preserve the authority of state government. A few months ago, the CBI took over the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case and the drug case. Recently, in the TRP scam case, the Mumbai police is already doing an investigation but the CBI has accepted an FIR in Uttar Pradesh based on a complaint for investigating the TRP scam. 

As per the procedure, if the state government has revoked its general consent and is not allowing a case specific investigation by CBI either, and if the case is partly in two or more states then the CBI can register the case in one state and seek assistance from the other state government. Similarly, in the TRP scam case one of options with CBI is to seek assistance of Maharashtra government, since the case is on a related subject matter. 

Maharashtra Government’s decision makes it the 5th state to have withdrawn the consent. In the past, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan too have taken the same step. The key reason behind this is that the Central agency has on several occasions been alleged of misuse for “political purposes” and corruption. It has also been accused of specifically targeting the central government’s political rivals. For example, AP government’s move is considered as a consequence of the political tension between BJP-led Centre and Telugu Desam Party and Income Tax raids that were instituted against several leaders of the latter party. Similar instances were observed in the other states too. Formerly the Apex Court observed in the famous Coal scam case, the CBI as a “caged parrot” and “its master’s voice” 

Hence the revocation of consent can in certain instances be in the state’s interest, whereas in other cases it might not be in the people’s interest, who may demand interference by an independent agency.

TRP ASSESSMENT: IS INDIA REALLY WATCHING?

TRP stands for “Television Rating Point or Target Rating Point, it is the metric used by the Advertising and Marketing agencies to assess the viewership. TRP shows the amount of time spent by people of different socio-economic categories in watching a particular channel. In India TRP is recorded by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) using Bar-O-Meters that are installed on televisions in appointed households. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry notified the Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India on January 10, 2014 and registered BARC in July 2015.

The problem at hand is that currently there exist barometers in merely 45,000 odd households that represent the TV viewership of the entire country. Since the sample is small, the TRP data can easily be rigged by the person broadcasting, once the houses where the devices are installed are located i.e. one can then bribe the viewers to watch their channels. Moreover, since India follows the international standard of one minute to attain TRP, the broadcaster can ask the cable media operator to show their channel first whenever a person turns on the TV. The 1-minute standard can thus be easily met.

Recently, allegations arose against several news channels for manipulating TRP by altering with the sampling metering services and acquiring paid viewership. FIRs were registered against them by Mumbai Police for offences of criminal breach of trust (Section 409), cheating (420) and criminal conspiracy (120B) under the Indian Penal Code. There is an absence of any specific laws to punish the perpetrators. In the past the BARC too, has filed FIRs in various police stations against the agents/ suspects involved in panel tampering/infiltration but its efforts have been hampered due to absence of any law that deals with the same. Thus, there is a need for an exclusive legal framework to address the issue. Additionally, journalists must refrain from displaying merely TRP-centric news and must adhere to journalist’s principles and ethics.

Free access to drinking water at any hotel- Indian Sarais act, 1867

The Sarais act is an ancient act enacted under the British rule and it provides for regulation of Sarais or buildings used in the Mofussil areas established under British raj for shelter and accommodation of travelers. 

What does Sarai mean in the act?

According to the act, Sarai means where travelers come and take shelter or stay for some period of time or when such buildings are used by travelers for accommodation, that building is known as Sarai. 

Section 7(2) of Indian Sarais Act 1867 is a unique provision that states that the keeper of a Sarai shall be bound at all times as and when required by any Magistrate for accommodation and give them free access to the Sarai and allow them to inspect the same. 

The unique provision that built upon this section is that the “free access” clause above is interpreted for any person to ask and consume water or use the washrooms of such hotels for free at any hotel at any time.

Is it beneficial or should it be repealed? 

There have been various advantages of this act like access to free water in any hotels but this law also has been requested to be repealed for being obsolete as per the 248th Law commission report. Since the hotels are already registered with specific state legislations and the areas aren’t segregated as per Mofussils anymore.

Although, the act hasn’t been repealed till date and it is one of the few lesser known social legislations still in force from the British rule

NHRC’s NEW ADVISORY RECOGNISED SEX WORKERS AS WOMEN AT WORK

The National Human Rights Commission of India is mandated by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to promote the human rights of all in the country. Hence, the commission in its Human Rights Advisory on Rights of Women in the context of Covid-19 dated 7th October, 2020 recognized Sex workers as “Women at Work”. Further, it directed the State Governments to provide assistance and relief to them by taking inspiration from Maharashtra government’s resolution dated 23rd July 2020. Sex Workers can be recognized and registered as “informal workers” so as to avail workers benefits. Moreover, temporary documents can be issued for them to access welfare measures since many of the workers don’t possess citizenry documents. Even migrant sex workers can avail benefits of migrant workers. Further it directed the Protection Officers to act on reports of violence against women. The advisory went on to ensure free access for testing and treatment for Covid-19 along with providing sanitizers and masks and ensure health services for prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and treatment for the same. 

The lockdown had an unprecedented effect which led to the loss of assorted jobs particularly within the informal sector where there’s no availability of food, source of cash and shelter and the disproportionately affected women cover a considerable proportion of such workers. The financial problem of those involved in work that’s already stigmatized like sex work increased rapidly. Sex work needs physical contact, which is restricted considering the COVID-19 outbreak, this hampered their wages. HIV-positive sex workers cannot use the antiretroviral therapy they require for his or her survival and various sex workers don’t seem to be within the scope of state schemes because they do not have identification documents. Access to health care is commonly challenging when one belongs to a marginalized community. Hence, the advisory introduced came as a relief amid the pandemic. 

The National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) consider the advisory as a welcome step and great milestone in the journey of attaining maximum rights for sex workers in the country. It will also help bring about a change in the behavior of police and other law enforcement agencies towards them. It indeed is a moment of celebration for all the sex workers that are fighting every day to strengthen their identities and achieve their right to live and earn by providing sexual services without stigma, discrimination, and violence.

CYBERCRIME IN INDIA- HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT?

In today’s age of technology, the internet and social media have become inseparable part of our lives. However, its increasing use has given rise to a number of crimes in cyberspace. One such crime is cyberbullying which means to bully someone online using digital devices such as mobiles, computers/laptops or tablets via messaging, SMS, social media platforms or any online groups where people can share and exchange messages. 

Sharing or posting inappropriate and harmful misinformation about someone has been made an offense under the Information Technology Act, 2000, The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Under IT Act, Section 66 talks about computer related offences and S. 66 C deals with punishment for identity theft, S. 66D deals with the punishment of cheating by personation using the computer or online resources,  S. 66E deals with the punishment of violation of a person’s privacy, S. 67 talks about publishing or transmitting obscene material in any electronic form along with S. 67A which also consists of sexually explicit act and lastly, S. 67B which talks about the publishing of such materials in electronic form depicting children- which can be excused if it is for public good and learning or is kept or used for bona fide heritage or religious purposes.

Under IPC, S. 292A talks about printing of indecent matter or matter for blackmail, S. 354A talks about sexual harassment or unwelcome physical contact or of the nature of making sexually colored remark or demand/request for sexual favors of pornography. 

POCSO act also protects the children below the age of 18 years from any sexual harassment, pornography or sexual assault which would include any form of cyber-bullying punishable under the act.

The following are the steps an individual can take to file a complaint against the above-mentioned cybercrimes- 

Step 1– Complaining about a person who has committed a cybercrime with the cyber police or Cyber ​​Cell India is the very first and most important step. Various units have been set up by cybercrime cells to investigate crimes committed in different cities. These divisions not only investigate crimes, but also take responsibility for receiving timely reported crime. 

The victim can lodge a complaint at any time under Section 154 of CrPC as “Zero FIR” or through the Cyber ​​Cell or the Cyber ​​Cell’s Crime Investigation Division either offline or online through the  National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal at cybercrime.gov.in 

One can also call the Cyber Crime Helpline number – 155260 (India). 

Step 2 – When filing a complaint, the name, mailing address and telephone number along with the application form is to be sent to the head of the Cyber ​​Crime Investigation Cell.

Step 3 – One will need to provide some documents to file a complaint. The list of documents varies with the type of cybercrime. When filing a complaint, case-by-case documents must be attached, which fully support the facts of the case. The types of documents that need to be attached when filing a cybercrime complaint depend on the nature of the cybercrime.

The awareness about such provisions and the actions has become a necessity due to the changing times.

UN Convention on Illicit Organ Trading – Need of the Hour

Current status:

Illicit organ trafficking at a global level has turned into a lucrative market and unfortunately, this is a lesser discussed form of human trafficking. In 1991, the WHO’s guiding principles on organ transplantation were approved at the 44th World Health Assembly. In 2004, the World Health Assembly issued a resolution for all WHO member states to prohibit transplant tourism.  Further, it called for international cooperation through guidelines for ethical organ procurement based on suitability and safety. It also emphasized the need for cooperation from national oversight committees to ensure implementation. 

However, there is no organized body or all-encompassing piece of legislation or convention that deals with this menace at the international front. It is imperative for both developed and developing countries to formulate a systematized method to curb illicit organ trade.

Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs: 

The UN as of now has no convention in place whereas the European Union in 2015 introduced the above mentioned convention which was the first ever organ trafficking treaty signed by 14 European nations including Britain, Italy, etc. The purpose of the convention is to prevent and combat trafficking in human organs by providing for criminalization of certain acts.  The convention establishes criminal penalties on the non- consensual removal of organs and removal of organs for financial gain from or by the deceased donors. 

Illicit Organ Trade & the Sustainable Development Goals:

Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the introduction of a convention banning illicit trade will further the aim of the 3rd SDG which is to provide good health and well-being of all. It will also address the issue of poverty, a major factor contributing in such illicit trade which is the 1st SDG namely, eradication of poverty. Moreover, banning illicit trade is essential to promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth and decent work for all which is the 8th SDG. 

Combating illicit organ trade is a lengthy  process but an internationally adopted convention is the first step for achieving it. 

Rise in Domestic Violence – A Consequence of Covid-19

In this article the author would be focussing on the rise in domestic violence cases with respect to women during the Pandemic.

The whole world has suffered a major crisis and is continuously fighting the Covid-19 crisis. People across the globe are facing huge repercussions due to it; be it political, social, professional, or economical. The governments have taken a lot of precautions to contain the spread of the virus. Many countries, including India, had announced nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure. India has gone through some rigorous conditions in the past few months.

Though these tough steps taken by the government are understandable and essential for the benefit of people in general, the suffrage of one section of our society has been overlooked. This section has simultaneously suffered from another pandemic, namely Domestic Violence[i]. Due to this, women have been the most affected victims.

This is seen to be a fact not just at a national level but internationally too. On 6 April 2020, the United Nations Secretary called for a ‘ceasefire’ to address the ‘horrifying global surge in domestic violence.’ Since the pandemic, the cases of violence against women are exponentially rising at the global level. The UN reported that Lebanon and Malaysia received a double amount of helpline calls compared to the same month previous year; in China it tripled. In Australia, there was the highest number of google searches for domestic violence help in the past five years.[ii] Similarly, the imposition of lockdown in India led to the same unfortunate consequences.India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday said it registered 587 domestic violence complaints between March 23 and April 16 – a significant surge from 396 complaints received in the previous 25 days between February 27 and March 22.[iii] This is only the tip of the iceberg as there are a huge number of domestic violence cases going unreported.

Causes of the surge in cases

It is not possible to point out only one reason for the surge in cases as several factors play a role in it. According to Sociologist Marianne Hester, “domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as the Christmas and summer vacations.”[iv] The lockdown laid the perfect circumstances for this and as an unfortunate consequence an increase was seen in the instances of domestic violence.

One of the significant reasons for the increase in cases is that India has always followed a patriarchal system, where women are mostly subdued by men. This gender and role discrimination has placed all the burden of domestic work on women. Domestic Work is generally referred to as “women’s work”. Generally female members look after the household chores and the imposition of lockdown has resulted in an increase in workload for her. Many women were put in the position of single-handedly managing their professional work along with the household chores; thereby overburdening them.[v] Now, in these circumstances, if they cause any inconvenience or fail to do something, they are exposed to violence.

The data provided of domestic violence does not show the real picture of this horrifying act as numerous cases go unreported. This is because many women fail to come forward to seek help and suffer in silence. They are clouded by an orthodox ideology or sometimes are even silenced by their family members in order to maintain the honour of the family. Retrieving help from anyone outside becomes impossible for some women who may not have access to relatives, police or any NGOs via mobile phones as many women do not even have mobile phones. They are left in misery being caged with the abusers.[vi]

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the overall unemployment rate may have surged to 23 per cent, with urban unemployment standing at nearly 31 per cent, amid the countrywide lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak.[vii] This scenario suggests the vulnerability of people and their helplessness due to loss of livelihood. The frustration of loss of income and to manage the expenditures of family, especially for males, makes them exert violence on their partners. It is worse if the female spouse is unemployed.[viii]

Another important aspect is that after the 40 days of lockdown, the government had opened the liquor shops as a first step towards easing the restrictions. The government had also levied a special corona tax of 70 percent on alcohol in some places amid concerns of lost revenue.[ix] This in turn magnified the already deteriorated conditions as many men increased their alcohol consumption, thereby increasing domestic violence. This not only added to the financial burden but also towards an increase in abuse against women. So many cases were reported where husbands in an intoxicated state had physically assaulted their wives and children.[x] In doing so, the state somewhere prioritized earning revenue rather than safeguarding the women and children.

According to UNICEF 20 million babies will be born in India till the end of this year.[xi] India also noted a surge of porn usage and sale of condoms.[xii] Women might have been exposed to domestic violence in the form of sexual harassment or marital rape – which unfortunately is not a crime in India.[xiii] In the isolated circumstances created by the lockdown, it is easy for the perpetrators to take undue advantage and shatter their domestic life.

Steps taken by the Government

The government has failed to take any major and significant measures, however, there are few things that governments have done. For e.g. Delhi Commission for Women has set up a helpline number (181) to combat violence and trauma during the pandemic that one can reach out to.[xiv] In UP, the state government has initiated a special helpline for victims of domestic abuse under the title `Suppress Corona, not your voice’.[xv] But as mentioned above some women don’t even have access to communicate or seek help. In such a situation they are left without any solution.

In Tamil Nadu, protection officers have been appointed under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. They are given permission to move during the lockdown and some women have been rescued. The chairperson of NCW claimed that ASHA and Anganwadi and other frontline health workers are counselling against domestic violence and women can report to these workers in case they are facing abuse.

No doubt that the governments are trying their best even in these tough times to protect and safeguard the victims, however, the measures taken are not sufficient. The government should conduct campaigns to make citizens aware of domestic violence. It should ask citizens to be sensitive towards the increased damage of domestic violence and encourage them to intervene if they suspect abuse, using tactics such as the banging on the door or ringing the bell. In countries like France and Spain codewords such as ‘mask 19’ are used as an indication when women are being abused.[xvi]

Conclusion

Family is considered as a place where one secures love, solace, safety, and security but for some women, it has become a place of insecurity and violence. Women are being abused and tortured by their very own family and instead of receiving love and respect, they are forced to bear humiliation and violence without uttering a single word. Thus, to establish a safe and secure society for women, a lockdown should be imposed on the orthodox thinking of people. For creating a better and safe environment for women, governments should implement stringent laws and take all precautionary measures. They should also set up new mechanisms to safeguard women as much as possible.


[i] Section 3, The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005, No. 43 of 2005

[ii] UN News, UN chief calls for domestic violence ‘ceasefire’ amid ‘horrifying global surge’, April 6, 2020. Available at: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061052

[iii] Locked down with abusers: India sees surge in domestic violence, Aljazeera, April 18, 2020.

[iv] COVID-19, Domestic Abuse and Violence: Where Do Indian Women Stand?, EPW Engage, April 17, 2020 Available at: https://www.epw.in/engage/article/covid-19-domestic-abuse-and-violence-where-do

[v] Divya J Shekhar, What the Covid-19 lockdown tells us about the gender gap in house-work, Forbes India, March 30, 2020 05:39:41 PM Available at:

https://www.forbesindia.com/blog/missrepresent-women-gender-sexuality/what-the-covid-19-lockdown-tells-us-about-the-gender-gap-in-house-work/

[vi] Arjun Kumar, Balwant Singh Mehta, Simi Mehta, The link between lockdown, COVID-19, and domestic violence, April 17, 2020

[vii] Coronavirus fallout: Unemployment rate spikes to 23% after lockdown, says CMIE, Business Today, April 7, 2020.

[viii] Schneider D., Harknett K., McLanahan S., Intimate partner violence in the great recession. Demography. 2016;53(2):471–505. Available at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860387/

[ix] Delhi imposes 70% ‘corona’ tax on alcohol after crowding at shops, The Guardian, May 5, 2020.

[x]  Romita Saluja, India’s resumption of alcohol sales during lockdown is fuelling a rise in domestic violence, SCMP, May 20, 2020, 7:30pm. Available at:

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-environment/article/3085319/indias-resumption-alcohol-sales-during-lockdown

[xi] Coronavirus: Health system overload threatens pregnant women and newborns, UN News, May 7, 2020.

[xii] Sonil Dedhia, Coronavirus outbreak: Condom sales in India go through the roof, Hindustan Times, Mar 24, 2020.

[xiii] Laxmi Garg, Marital Rape During COVID Pandemic Available at: Marital Rape During COVID Pandemic

[xiv]Ayushree Nandan, Is domestic violence the next pandemic in India?, TOI, May 21, 2020.. 

[xv] Panicker Lalita, The Lockdown is making women more vulnerable, The Hindustan Times, April 4, 2020.

[xvi] Ivana Kottasová and Valentina Di Donato, Women are using code words at pharmacies to escape domestic violence during lockdown, CNN, April 6, 2020.

OVERVIEW OF LABOUR CODES – 2020

Labour, a subject under the Concurrent list is witnessing several changes. Recently, the Parliament passed three bills, namely- 

1. Industrial Relations Code Bill, 

2. Social Security Code Bill,

3. Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill.

These Codes bring about several reforms and aim at consolidating various existing laws on the above subject matter.

The first bill combines three erstwhile legislations- The Trade Unions Act, 1926, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

It brings notable changes and expands the definitions of several terms such as Industry, Industrial Dispute, Strike, Worker, Employer etc. The earlier threshold of 100 workers for the framing and applying of Standing Orders for matters listed in the Schedule to the Code has been increased to 300 workers. Matters relating to retrenchment, lay-offs and closure do not require permission of the government in establishments with more than 300 workers. The Code further prohibits strikes in all industrial establishments without prior notice of 14 days as opposed to the earlier legislations that limited this to public utilities. This provision has been vehemently criticized by Trade Unions across the country.

The second bill combines nine central legislations and empowers the Central Government to, by notification, apply the provisions of this Code to any establishment. The Code mandates registration and setting up of security funds for unorganized (home-based or self-employed or persons working in the unorganized sector), gig (delivery persons) and platform workers by Central and State Governments.

It makes provisions applicable in times of epidemics to reduce or defer employee/employer’s contributions under PF and ESI for up to three months. This bill too revises and expands certain definitions such as wages, inter-state migrant workers etc. Aadhaar ID has been made mandatory for availing the benefits provided under this Code.

With reference to the third bill, the earlier thresholds requiring a minimum number of workers have been changed in case of factories, contractors and hazardous activities. It fixes the maximum daily work hours at 8 hours per day. Further, it allows women to be employed in all establishments by following necessary safeguards as opposed to the earlier legislations that disallowed them from working in certain dangerous or hazardous operations. The code provides certain benefits for interstate migrant workers and mandates Central and State Governments to maintain databases and record their details on a portal.

The above-mentioned bills now await Presidential assent.