From GST To Mental Healthcare: Here Are The Laws That Were Notified In 2017
The year 2017 saw enactment of around 20 new laws and more than a dozen amendments to existing laws. Here is a list covering most of these legislations:
The Act replaced the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016 promulgated on December 30, 2016. It was passed with the aim of eliminating the “possibility of running a parallel economy” using the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes that had been demonetized.
The Act brought into force the mandatory requirement of quoting Aadhaar for filing Income Tax returns by introducing Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Section 139AA was, however, partially stayed by the Supreme Court subject to the outcome of the Constitution bench judgment in the main Aadhaar case.
Besides, the Act prohibits cash payments above a certain payment, merges quasi judicial tribunals, restructures the appointment of members to certain judicial tribunals and amends the rules on the funding of political parties. Soon after its enactment, several petitions were filed before the Courts across the country challenging the Act's provisions on Tribunals. Thereafter, in December, 2017, the Apex Court had tagged all such Petitions together for joint hearing.
The four Acts were passed in the budget sessions to bring the Goods and Service Tax (GST) into law, taking the country a step closer to its biggest indirect tax reform. The GST subsumed the central excise, service tax, Value Added Tax (VAT) and other local levies to create an uniform market.
The Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, provides for the levy of the Central Goods and Services Tax by the Centre on the supply of goods and services within the boundary of a state.
The Integrated GST Act deals with the levy of Integrated Goods and Services Tax by the Centre on inter-state supply of goods and services.
The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act provides for compensation to the States for the loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the GST.
The Union Territory GST Act makes a provision for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods, services or both by the Union Territories.
The Act intends to change the way we look at mental health and ensure that the law is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It creates a rights-based framework for mentally ill persons. While the Mental Health Act, 1987 provided only general protection against indignant or cruel treatment, Chapter V of the new Act operates as a charter of rights for persons with mental illness, consolidating and safeguarding their basic human rights. It also decriminalizes attempt to suicide and presumes such person to be suffering from severe stress.
The Act seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights, and creates mechanisms for redressing their complaints. Salient features of the Act can be read here.
The Act establishes a legal framework to consolidate the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues. It also aims to replace archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance. To this end, it confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal States of India and this jurisdiction extends up to territorial waters.
The Act declares 20 existing Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as institutions of national importance and confers on them the power to grant degrees.
The Act declares the Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI) as an ‘Institute of National Importance’ under Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. The functions of the Institute include: (i) developing and conducting courses and research related to footwear and leather products’ design and development; (ii) granting degrees, diplomas and certifications; (iii) functioning as a national resource centre for curriculum development, training and skill development in the leather sector; and (iv) developing an international centre in the leather sector.
The Act declares 15 existing Indian Institutes of Information Technology established through public-private partnership as 'Institutions of National Importance'. This will entitle them to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Master of Technology (M.Tech) or Ph.D degree as issued by a University or Institution of National Importance.
The Act amends the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 to extend the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. However, a woman with two or more children will still be entitled to only 12 weeks of maternity leave. The Act also introduces maternity leave of up to 12 weeks for a women who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mothers.
The Act seeks to amend the Customs Act, 1962, the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, the Central Excise Act, 1944, the Finance Act, 2001, the Finance Act, 2005, and repeal provisions of a few other Acts.
The Act seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets. It empowers the Central Government to authorize the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue directions to banks for initiating proceedings in case of a default in loan repayment. These proceedings would be under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
The Act amends the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 to permit the employer to pay an employee’s wages: (i) in coin or currency notes; or (ii) by cheque; or (iii) by crediting them into his bank account. The Act removes the requirement of obtaining written authorization for payment of wages by cheque or through a bank account
The Act amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian. It declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. The Act expands the definition of "enemy property" to include legal heirs of enemies, even if they are Indian citizens, or of another country which is not an enemy, and nationals of an enemy country who have changed their nationality to another country, etc.
The Act amends the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923, which provides for payment of compensation to employees and their dependants in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases. The Amendment Act requires an employer to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the Act. It also penalizes an employer if he fails to inform his employee of this. Such penalty may be between fifty thousand to one lakh rupees.
The Act amends the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964. It modifies the list of notified Scheduled Castes (SC) for the State of Odisha. The castes Sualgiri, Swalgiri have been introduced as synonyms to the Sabakhia caste in this list.
The Act amends the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011. The main Act provides that no action will be taken by any local authority till December 31, 2017 with respect to: (i) encroachment or unauthorized development as of January 1, 2006, (ii) unauthorized colonies, village abadi areas that existed on March 31, 2002 and where construction took place up till February 8, 2007, and (iii) other areas as of February 8, 2007. The Amendment extends this deadline to December 31, 2020.
The Act amends the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research Act, 2007, which declares certain institutions of technology, science education and research as 'Institutes of National Importance' and provides for research, training and dissemination of knowledge in these institutions. The Amendment adds two institutes to the Second Schedule of the Act: (i) Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh); and (ii) Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Berhampur (Odisha).
The Act amends the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008, which facilitates the collection of statistics related to social, economic, demographic, scientific and environmental aspects, by central, state and local governments. The Amendment provides for the appointment of a nodal officer by the Central or State Government. The nodal officer will coordinate and supervise statistical activities under the government by whom he is appointed.
The Act amends the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 by extending the deadline for teachers to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment. Under the main Act, if a state does not have adequate teacher training institutions or sufficient number of qualified teachers, the provision to possess minimum qualifications is relaxed for a period not exceeding five years i.e. till March 31, 2015. The Amendment further adds to this provision by stating that those teachers who do not possess the minimum qualifications as on March 31, 2015 can acquire the minimum qualifications within a period of four years i.e. by March 31, 2019.
The Act amends the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act, 2014, which declares certain Institutes of technology as 'Institutions of National Importance'. Under the main Act, a search-cum-selection committee is tasked with the job of recommending names to the Central Government for appointment of the Director of an institute. The Amendment modifies the composition of the search-cum-selection committee by replacing the Director of an Indian Institute of Information Technology with the Director of an Indian Institute of Technology. The Amendment also declares the Indian Institute of Technology, Design and Manufacturing, Kurnool as an Institute of National Importance.