The following article is a part of a series that will cover the bills that were passed individually and collectively by the two houses in the Parliament’s Monsoon Session
With the monsoon session of the Parliament coming to an end on 12th August 2016, a rush of performance evaluation and the effectiveness of the session seem to be of utmost importance. Out of the 20 meetings that the two houses have had in the past month, the Rajya Sabha has deliberated on different issues for 112 hours, while the Lok Sabha managed to hold discussions (like adults) for 121 hours.
In this session, the Upper House cleared 15 bills while the Lower House cleared 16. Out of the proposals covered, the two houses have collectively passed 13 bills including the much debated Constitution Amendment (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill, 2014.
There are a few bills that were passed by a particular house but failed to be passed to the other, due to the dissolution of the monsoon session. These bills do not lapse, and will still hold importance in the next session. Even though the fate of these bills will be decided in the forthcoming sessions, there is no harm in understanding what these pending bills hold for us in the future.
BILLS PASSED ONLY BY THE RAJYA SABHA
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016
This bill brings in good news for all expecting mothers – maternity benefit can now most probably be availed for 26 weeks. Commissioning mothers and those adopting a child can use these benefits for 12 weeks. Option to work from home and crèche facilities has also been stressed in this bill. Most importantly, the bill makes it mandatory for employers to make their female employees aware of the maternity benefits at the time of appointment.
The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013
India ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, and it is only now that the bill to meet the convention’s guidelines for meeting the primary health care requirements has passed. The patient can now issue a directive regarding the course of his treatment, though it can be altered or reviewed by professionals. Suicide by mentally ill persons is now decriminalized, which in a lot of ways opens doors to their exploitation.
BILLS PASSED ONLY BY THE LOK SABHA
The Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2016
This bill focuses of amending two acts – The Income Tax Act, 1961 and the Customs Tariff Act, 1975. According to this bill, in the case of a company demerger, transfers from the parent company to the resultant company can only be made if the resultant company is not a public sector company. With regards to the Customs Tariff Act, the customs duty on granite and marble will now be 40% from the initial 10%.
The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Amending the act of 1923, this bill introduced to ensure that compensation rights of an employee in case of an occupational disease or accident, is made known to him at the time of appointment. Failure in informing the employee will result in the employer to pay a penalty of anything between Rs.50,000 – Rs.1,00,000.
The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016
When the amendment brought in this bill, the government has clearly forgotten that a labor gets tired too. The bill gives the central government authority in decision-making and goes on to inconsiderately increase the overtime hours per quarter from fifty to a hundred hours.
Statistically, Lok Sabha has been more efficient in working than the Rajya Sabha, but according to the nature of the bills passed by both the houses; their productivity seems to be leading to the exploitation of labour, and highly profitable to the capitalist society. Even though these bills cover a lot about mental health and employee benefits, a few clauses can seem to be very deceiving and non-beneficiary. The underlying meaning to these bills could probably be directed towards improving the country’s economy, and let us just hope it does not lead to lavish profits that are exploited by the government.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.