Contents

  1. Labour codes could be implemented by mid-2021
  2. HC nod to terminate 28-week pregnancy
  3. MoEFCC’s Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE)

LABOUR CODES COULD BE IMPLEMENTED BY MID-2021

Context:

The four labour law codes enacted by Parliament in 2020 and 2019 could be implemented before the earlier target of April 1 2021, according to Union Labour and Employment Ministry officials.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. New Labour Codes: Consolidations of the existing labour laws
  2. Labour Code on Wages, 2019
  3. Labour Code on Industrial Relations
  4. Labour Code on Social Security & Welfare
  5. Labour Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions
  6. Issues related to New Labour Codes
  7. Challenges with Indian Labour laws

New Labour Codes: Consolidations of the existing labour laws

The 2nd National Commission of labour had recommended simplification, amalgamation and rationalisation of Central Labour Laws.

In 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced four Bills on labour codes to consolidate 29 central laws.

These Codes regulate:

  1. Wages,
  2. Industrial Relations,
  3. Social Security, and
  4. Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions.

Labour Code on Wages, 2019

  • The Code will apply to any industry, trade, business, manufacturing or occupation including government establishments.
  • Wages include salary, allowance, or any other component expressed in monetary terms. This will not include bonus payable to employees or any travelling allowance, among others.
  • It differentiates the central and State Jurisdiction in determining the wage related decision for establishment such as Railways Mines and oil fields.
  • A concept of statutory National Minimum Wage for different geographical areas has been introduced. It will ensure that no State Government fixes the minimum wage below the National Minimum Wages for that particular area as notified by the Central Government.

Labour Code on Industrial Relations

  • It increases the employee limit from 100 to 300 above which, the government approval is needed for layoff/retrenchment/closure. This provision has been criticized sharply by the labour groups and trade unions.
  • It provides that 10% of workers shall apply (be applicant) for registering a trade union – this has also invited opposition from various worker groups and trade unions.
  • For employers employing < 50 employees, the requirement to provide a minimum of 1 months’ notice and retrenchment compensation (severance) is to be removed.
  • The threshold for negotiating council of trade unions have been reduced from 75% workers as members to 51% of workers.
  • Workers may apply to the Industrial Tribunal in case of dispute – 45 days after the application.

Labour Code on Social Security & Welfare

  • Definition of employee and categorization of workers covers all kinds of employment including part-time workers, casual workers, fixed term workers, piece rate/ commission rated workers, informal workers, home-based workers, domestic workers and seasonal workers.
  • A proper percentage-based structure for contribution, vis-à-vis socio economic category and minimum notified wage, has been put in place under the Code.
  • It introduces new approaches to ensure a transparent and fair financial set up, such as,
    • Time bound preparation of Accounts within six months of the end of the financial year;
    • Provision for social audit of social security schemes by State Boards after every five years;
    • Accounts of Intermediate Agencies to be subject to CAG Audit on the same lines as that of Social Security Organizations.
  • Wage Ceiling and Income Threshold: The term ‘wage ceiling’ is for the purpose of determining a maximum limit on contribution payable; whereas the term ‘income threshold’ is for the purpose of enabling the government to provide for two different kind of schemes (for same purpose) for two different class of workers.
  • Contribution Augmentation Funds would be established through which governments could contribute to the social security in respect of workers who are unable to pay contribution.
  • National Stabilization Fund will be used for harmonizing the Scheme Funds across the country and will be managed by the Central Boards.

Labour Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions

  • Centre has been empowered to prescribe standards on occupational safety and health
  • Annual health check to be made mandatory in factories and its charge will be borne by the employers
  • Appointment letters for all workers (including those employed before this code), underlying their rights to statutory benefits.
  • At least 50% of penalty levied on employers could go towards providing some relief to families of workers who die or are seriously injured while working.
  • National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board at national level and similar bodies at state level, have been proposed to recommend standards on related matters. · Appointment of facilitators with prescribed jurisdiction for inspection, survey, measurement, examination or inquiry has been proposed.
  • Mandatory license for every contractor who provides or intends to provide contract labour. Also, license is needed for industrial premises as well.

Issues related to New Labour Codes

  • According to Indiaspend’s analysis, the new codes may impact the number of permanent jobs in seasonal factories – which will result in a decline in wages, benefits and work conditions and reduced accountability for companies.
  • The report points out that as per the Bills’ fixed-term contracts clause, there will be a reduction in the number of permanent jobs and that the ambiguity on the definition of ‘trade unions’, may lead to diluting working rights.
  • With unclear terms for short-term workers, Indiaspend’s report argues that states will have more authority on lay-offs. As per the International Labour Organisation, at least 41 lakh people in the country have lost their jobs while the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) estimated 2.1 crore salaried jobs were lost following the lockdown.
  • Under the new Industrial Relations Code, a trade union can be deregistered for contravention of unspecified provisions of the code. It simply says that deregistration would follow in case of “contravention by the Trade Union of the provisions of this Code”. The possibility of deregistering a trade union in this unspecified manner shifts the balance completely in favour of employers, who continue to enjoy protection under the Companies Act. This violates the principles of equality before the law and of natural justice.

Challenges with Indian Labour laws

  • Organised sector is stringently regulated while the unorganized sector is virtually free from any outside control and regulation with little or no job security.
  • Wages are ‘too high’ in the organised sector and ‘too low’, even below the subsistence level in the unorganised sector. This dualistic set up sug­gests how far the Indian labour market is seg­mented.
  • Social security to organised labour force in India is provided through a variety of legisla­tive measures.
  • Work­ers of small unorganised sector as well as in­formal sectors remain outside the purview of these arrangements.
  • Multiplicity of Archaic Labour Laws: Labour is a concurrent subject and more than 40 Central laws more than 100 state laws govern the subject.
  • Trade Union Act, 1926 provide that any seven employees could form a union.
  • Multiplicity of trade unions hamper dispute resolution.
  • In­ter-union rivalry and political rivalries are con­sidered to be the major impediments to have a sound industrial relation system in India.
  • Rigid Laws: Job security in India is so rigid that workers of large private sector employing over 100 work­ers cannot be fired without government’s per­mission.
  • 71% of men above 15 years are a part of the workforce as compared to just 22 percent women- Gender Inequality
  • Due to unskilled labour force, employer resort to contract employment to fire them if they are not good.

-Source: The Hindu


HC NOD TO TERMINATE 28-WEEK PREGNANCY

Context:

The Delhi High Court granted permission to a woman to terminate her 28-week pregnancy after AIIMS medical board said her foetus can be aborted as it suffered from anencephaly, a condition where the skull bone is not formed.

In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act stipulates a ceiling of 20 weeks for termination of pregnancy, beyond which abortion of a foetus is statutorily impermissible.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recently in News: 2020 Law says Abortion till 24 weeks is only for Special categories
  2. Background on Abortion in India
  3. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
  4. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Recently in News: 2020 Law says Abortion till 24 weeks is only for Special categories

  • In 2020, the Lok Sabha passed a Bill to extend the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 weeks to 24 under special circumstances.
  • The “special categories of women” include rape survivors, victims of incest, the differently abled and minors, Health Minister said moving the Bill.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to amend the MTP Act, 1971, was passed by a voice vote.

Background on Abortion in India

  • Abortion in India is legal in certain circumstances. It can be performed on various grounds until 24 weeks of pregnancy. In exceptional cases, a court may allow a termination after 24 weeks.
  • When a woman gets a pregnancy terminated voluntarily from a service provider, it is called induced abortion. Spontaneous abortion is when the process of abortion starts on its own without any intervention. In common language, this is also known as miscarriage.
  • Before 1971, abortion was criminalized under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, describing it as intentionally ‘causing miscarriage’.
  • It was in the 1960s, when abortion was legal in 15 countries, that deliberations on a legal framework for induced abortion in India was initiated.
  • The alarmingly increased number of abortions taking place put the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on alert.
  • To address this, the Government of India instated a Committee in 1964 led by Shantilal Shah to come up with suggestions to draft the abortion law for India.
  • The recommendations of this Committee were accepted in 1970 and introduced in the Parliament as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 provides the legal framework for making CAC services available in India.

Termination of pregnancy is permitted for a broad range of conditions up to 20 weeks of gestation as detailed below:

  1. When continuation of pregnancy is a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or could cause grave injury to her physical or mental health;
  2. When there is substantial risk that the child, if born, would be seriously handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities;
  3. When pregnancy is caused due to rape (presumed to cause grave injury to the mental health of the woman);
  4. When pregnancy is caused due to failure of contraceptives used by a married woman or her husband (presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health of the woman).

The MTP Act specifies

  1. who can terminate a pregnancy;
  2. till when a pregnancy can be terminated; and
  3. where can a pregnancy be terminated.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

It is an Amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.

Proposals of the Bill:

  1. The requirement of the opinion of one registered medical practitioner (instead of two or more) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation (foetal development period from the time of conception until birth).
  2. Introduce the requirement of the opinion of two registered medical practitioners for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
  3. Increase the gestation limit for ‘special categories’ of women which includes survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently-abled women and minors.
  4. The “name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed”, except to a person authorised in any law that is currently in force.

-Source: The Hindu


MOEFCC’S MANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS EVALUATION (MEE)

Context:

Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change released the Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) report of 146 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Protected Areas
  2. Highlights of the Latest MEE report

Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Protected Areas

  • MEE of Protected Areas has emerged as a key tool that is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.
  • The assessment process of India’s National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries adopted from IUCN WCPA (World Commission on Protected Areas) framework of MEE.
  • MEE is defined as the assessment of how well NP&WLS are being managed—primarily, whether they are protecting their values and achieving the goals and objectives agreed upon.
  • The ratings are assigned in four categories, as Poor – upto 40%; Fair – 41 to 59%; Good – 60 to 74%; Very Good – 75% and above.
  • A new framework for MEE of Marine Protected Areas has also been jointly prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and MoEF&CC.
  • The MoEF&CC has also launched the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos (MEE-ZOO) framework which proposes guidelines, criteria and indicators for evaluation of zoos of the country in a manner which is discrete, holistic and independent.

Highlights of the Latest MEE report

  • The results of the present MEE assessment of protected areas in India are encouraging with an overall mean MEE score of 62.01% which is higher than the global mean of 56%.
  • The eastern region of India presents the highest overall mean MEE Score of 66.12% and the Northern region represents the lowest mean MEE Score of 56%.
  • Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary and Great Himalayan National Park (GNHP) in Himachal Pradesh have performed the best among the surveyed protected areas (Total -146).
  • GHNP was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2014, in recognition of its outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation.
  • Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary (declared in 1976) is located at a height of 5000 feet and overlooking River Tirthan. It is a part of Seraj Forest Division. This sanctuary is connected to the Great Himalayan National Park.
  • The Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh was the worst performer in the survey.
  • A 7 km stretch of Ganga River between Rajghat (Malviya Bridge) to Ramnagar Fort, for the conservation, propagation and development of wildlife and their environment was declared as the Kachhua Vanyajiv Abhyaranya (Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary) via notification in 1989.

-Source: Indian Express

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