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Patna High Court quashes Bihar Prohibition of Liquor Act

Patna High Court on 30 September 2016 quashed Bihar government notification completely banning liquor in the state. The court said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution.
●    A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the 5 April 2016 notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state.
●    The court in its verdict said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable. 
●    The same bench had on 20 May 2016 reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law which has stringent penal provisions.
●    Ultra vires means beyond one's legal power or authority. If an act requires legal authority and it is done with such authority, it is characterised in law as intra vires.

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Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.
•    The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. 
•    The law protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’.
•    The ‘maternity benefit’ includes full paid leave from work to take care for her child. 
•    This law is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons.
•    Proposed amendments Increase Maternity Benefit to 26 weeks from 12 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children. 
•    Mandatory 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to ‘Adopting mother’ and ‘Commissioning mother’. 
•    Facilitate Work from home for women during the time of her maternity.
•    Mandatory for establishment having 50 or more employees to have Creche.

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The Lok Sabha has passed the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016

The Lok Sabha has passed the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016 to pave the way for employers in the textile sector to avail of the income tax benefit. 
•    The Bill seeks to amends the Income Tax Act (IT), 1961 and the Customs Tariff Act, 1975.  
These changes are explained below-
•    It will provide income tax benefit to employers in the textile sector on additional employment provided the employee has worked for 150 days and not 240 days as mandated earlier Amendments to IT Act, 1961 
•    In case a public sector company demerges (split) into multiple companies under The Companies Act, 1956 the resultant company will be no longer a public sector company. 
•    The limit of employing employee for minimum of 240 days in the previous year to obtain a deduction on taxable income has been reduced to 150 days for businesses which manufacture apparel.

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Parliament passes Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws Amendment Bill, 2016

Rajya Sabha on 9 August 2016 passed the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The bill seeks to amend four laws namely-
•    Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI)
•    Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (RDDBFI)
•    Indian Stamp Act, 1899
•    Depositories Act, 1996
•    The bill aims to improve ease of doing business and facilitate investment leading to higher economic growth and development.
•    The Bill increases the retirement age of Presiding Officers of Debt Recovery Tribunals from 62 years to 65 years.
•    It also increases the retirement age of Chairpersons of Appellate Tribunals from 65 years to 67 years.
•    It makes Presiding Officers and Chairpersons eligible for reappointment to their positions.
•    It allows banks to file cases in tribunals having jurisdiction over the area of bank branch where the debt is pending.
•    It states that under certain procedures will be undertaken in electronic form.
•    It provides details of procedures that the tribunals will follow in case of debt recovery proceedings.

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The Lok Sabha has unanimously passed the Employee’s Compensation Bill, 2016

The Lok Sabha has unanimously passed the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to reduce litigation in cases of disputes arising over compensation to workers. 
•    The Bill seeks to amend the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923. 
•    This law provides payment of compensation to employees and their dependents in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases. 
•    Duty to Mandatory for employer to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the parent Act. 
•    Such information must be given in writing in Hindi, English, or the relevant official language at the time of employing him. 
•    Any dispute related to an employee’s compensation will be heard by a Commissioner (with powers of a civil court) only if the amount in dispute is ten thousand rupees. 
•    It allows Union Government to further raise this amount. 
•    In parent Act, appeals related to a substantial question of law from the Commissioner’s order will lie before the High Court. 
•    Earlier in the parent Act, any payments towards the employee can be temporarily withheld if an employer has appealed against a Commissioner’s order in High Court. 
•    This provision has been deleted.

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Rajya Sabha passes Mental Health Care Bill

Rajya Sabha on 8 August 2016 passed the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013. The Bill repeals the Mental Health Act, 1987.
•    The upper house passed the bill with record 134 amendments.
•    The Bill provides for mental health care and services for persons with mental illness.
•    It also has a provision to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services.
•    This advance directive has to be certified by a medical practitioner or registered with the Mental Health Board.
Its basic aim is to:
•    Develop quality and service provision norms for such establishments
•    Maintain a register of mental health professionals
•    Receive complaints about deficiencies in provision of services
•    Advise the government on matters relating to mental health
•    It specifies the process to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally ill individuals.

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Rupani sworn in as Gujarat CM; 9 from Anandiben cabinet dropped

Vijay Rupani was today sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat heading a 25-member ministry in which nine from the previous cabinet, including some considered as loyalists of his\ predecessor Anandiben Patel, were dropped.
•    Nitin Patel took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister, a post created for the first time in the state which goes to polls next year.
•    Governor O P Kohli administered the oath of office and secrecy to 60-year-old Rupani, a first time MLA who is considered close to BJP president Amit Shah, and Nitin Patel at a grand ceremony attended by top BJP leaders. Rupani is the 16th chief minister of Gujarat.
•    Ahead of 2017 Assembly polls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, BJP appears to have tried to strike a caste balance by inducting eight Patel leaders, eight OBCs, three from Kshatriya community, two representatives of tribal community and one each from Brahmin, Jain, Sindhi and Dalit communities in the new council of ministers.
•    There is also an attempt to give representation to all regions: Saurashtra, north, south and central Gujarat. The cabinet has only one woman, Nirmala Wadhwani, MLA from Naroda.

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Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff to visit Indonesia

The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC is proceeding on an official tour to Indonesia from 09-13 Aug 16. The visit aims to consolidate existing Maritime Cooperation initiatives with Indonesia as well as explore new avenues in accordance with India's 'Act East Policy'. During the visit                      Admiral S Lanba is scheduled to hold discussions with the Indonesian Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Forces, Chief of Indonesian Navy, besides other Senior Dignitaries and Naval Officers.
•    India and Indonesia have historical linkages which date back centuries. In the modern era, India and Indonesia have been co-founders of the Non Aligned Movement besides mutually beneficial collaborations in multilateral forums such as, ARF, ADMM+, G20, WTO etc. Defence co-operation between India and Indonesia is robust and has seen ascendency through regular ships, aircraft and military delegation visits, training exchanges etc. Both countries had also signed the Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2001. Indonesia have adjoining Maritime Search and Rescue regions and Exclusive Economic Zones and share similar maritime challenges such as long coastline, extensive EEZ, coastal security, large coastal shipping and fishing fleet, wherein both navies have opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences. In addition, common ground exists for cooperation on a number of issues common to both navies.
•    IONS With shared maritime boundary, Maritime Cooperation between the Indian and Indonesian navies has been robust and one of the strong pillars of bilateral Defence cooperation. Indian Navy and Indonesian Navy are partners in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a maritime cooperation construct conceptualised and pioneered by Indian Navy in 2008. Both countries have been conducting Coordinated Patrols along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) since 2002 and 27 editions of coordinated patrols have been completed till date. Both countries had also conducted the first Bilateral Maritime Exercise in Oct 2015. Warships of both countries visit each other’s ports regularly.
•    Staff Talks and IFR 2016 Both navies also engage in Navy to Navy Staff Talks which commenced in 2007. The 8th round of staff talks are scheduled to be held in 2017. Indonesian Navy was one of the first countries to confirm their participation in the International Fleet Review 2016 held at Visakhapatnam and participated in the review with a Ship. The Chief of the Indonesian Navy Admiral Ade Supandi also attended the Review and held bilateral discussions with the Chief of Naval Staff. Indian Navy too participated in the International Fleet Review conducted by the Indonesian Navy in Apr 2016 as well as the Multilateral Exercise Komodo (MNEK) conducted by the Indonesian Navy.
•    Admiral’s Cup at INA    The Indonesian Navy for the first time participated in the Admiral’s Cup Sailing Regatta conducted by the Indian Navy in 2015 at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala from 03-13 Dec 15

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Gujarat HC quashes state government notification for EBC quota

Gujarat high court on 4 August 2016 quashed the state government's notification granting 10 percent reservation for the economically backward classes (EBCs).
•    The Court termed the notification as unconstitutional, which was issued by Anandiben Patel Government on 1 May 2016 granting 10 percent quota for EBCs in higher educational institutions and government jobs.
•    Earlier, the High court issued notices in response to a petition filed by a Rajkot-based writer and social worker, Jayantibhai Manani.
•    The petitioner had asked the high court that on the occasion of the foundation day of Gujarat unreserved economically backward classes Notification, 2016, non-reserved who belongs to the class of people who were provided 10 percent reservation & whose annual family income does not exceed Rs six lakh. The ordinance should be dismissed.
•    State Government spokesperson Nitin Patel has said that Government will challenge this order in the Supreme Court.

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Union Cabinet approves Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016.  The Amendment aims to improve
•    Every year 5 lakh road accidents are reported in the country in which 1.5 lakh people lose their lives.  Government is committed to reduce the accidents and fatalities by 50% in five years.
•    To address the issue of road safety, a draft Road Transport & Safety Bill was prepared soon after NDA Government came to power.  However, most of the States have expressed reservations.
•    To address the issue of road safety and to improve the facilitation of the citizens while dealing with transport departments, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways constituted a Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of the States.  
•    The GoM headed by Sh. Yoonus Khan, Hon. Transport Minister of Rajasthan held three meetings.  A total of 18 Transport Ministers from different political parties participated in these meetings and they have submitted three interim reports. 
•    The GoM recommended that to address the pressing issue of road safety and improving transport scenario, Government should immediately bring amendments to the present Motor Vehicle Act.    
•    On the basis of recommendations of the GoM and other pressing requirements, MoRTH introduced the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 for consideration of the Cabinet. Today Cabinet Chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the bill.
•    In the present Motor Vehicle Act, there are 223 Sections out of which the Bill aims to amend 68 sections whereas Chapters 10 has been deleted and a Chapter 11 is being replaced with new provisions to simplify third party insurance claims and settlement process. 

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