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Legal Aptitude News - May 2016

Legal Aptitude

  • The US Jury of St Louise ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay 55 million USD to Gloria Ristesund, who claimed that company’s talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.

  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court has termed reservation in promotions in the state as unconstitutional. Ruling in this regard was given by HC division bench chaired by Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar on the petitions filed several employee associations and social organizations.

  • The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has launched a mobile app “Indian Customs- Guide to Travellers” for dissemination of information about Customs Baggage Rules, 2016.

  • The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 came into force on 1 May 2016. In this regard, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) had notified 69 of the total 92 sections of the Act to bring it into force from 1 May 2016.

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 for the establishment of funds under the public accounts of Centre and each State towards compensatory afforestation.

  • The Gujarat Government has accorded minority status to the Jain community in the state.

  • The Supreme Court of India has ruled that Telecom companies will not compensate mobile phone users for inconvenience caused by call drops. In this regard, the apex court has struck down the TRAI Regulation which made it mandatory for telecom companies to compensate subscribers for call drops from January 2016.

  • The Parliament has passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill, 2016. It seeks to ensure time-bound settlement of insolvency, faster turnaround of businesses and create a unified data base of serial defaulters.

  • The Parliament has passed the Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 after with the Lok Sabha adopted certain amendments made by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill seeks to amend the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 that provides for development and regulation of certain industries.

  • The Union Government has constituted a three member committee to prepare a policy framework for online taxi aggregators and other transport operators. The committee will be headed by Sanjay Mitra, Secretary of Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.

  • Parliament has passed the Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2016 to widen the ambit of law dealing with this anti-hijacking crime. The Bill was first passed in the Rajya Sabha and later in the Lok Sabha in May 2016.

  • The Supreme Court has the upheld constitutional validity of penal laws on defamation as the right to life under Article 21 includes the right to reputation.

  • The Union Government has approved National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, 2016 to promote the IP regime and to encourage innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in India.

  • The world’s first robot lawyer named ‘ROSS’ has been employed by a US law firm Baker Hostetler. The first of its kind artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer will assist the law firm and its various teams in legal research.

  • Union Government has opened a special Tatkal like window to expedite examination process of patent applications by start-ups as well as of entities choosing India for filing the first patent.

  • Odisha Governor Dr. SC Jamir has promulgated Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 to ensure use of Odia in all government systems.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of two Bills in the Parliament for certain amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950. These bills seek to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes in respect of five States, namely, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Tripura.

  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the reservation for Jats and five other communities (Jat Sikhs, Bishnois, Muslim Jats, Rors and Tyagis) provided by the Haryana government.

  • Parliament has passed Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016. The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

  • Google won the US court battle with software firm Oracle after a jury ruled it did not unfairly appropriate parts of the Java programming language. Oracle had argued that Google had infringed its copyright and had sought nearly 9 billion dollars in damages.

June 2016

  • The Sri Lankan Parliament has unanimously passed the Right to Information (RTI) bill aimed at restoring transparency and good governance in the country. The RTI bill seeks to give citizens access to public information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority.

  • The Union Government has banned use of potassium bromate (KbrO3) as a food additive as it is carcinogenic. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Health Ministry based on the recommendation of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). FSSAI had recommended the Health Ministry to remove potassium bromate from the list of permissible food additives after a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found out that it is widely prevalent in bread and refined flour.

  • Maharashtra Government has accorded minority status to Jews in the state as per the provisions of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission Act, 2004. Decision in this regard was taken at the state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai. With this, Maharashtra becomes second state in the country to accord minority status to Jews after West Bengal

  • The Expert Committee that was constituted to examine the Specific Relief Act, 1963 has submitted its report to Union Law and Justice Minister D. Sadananda Gowda. The committee has suggested recommendations for modifications in the decades old law to ensure the ease of doing business in the country. The recommendations have been made in the context of the various developments which have taken place since enactment of law in 1963. It also has taken into consideration of present changed scenario involving public private partnerships (PPP), contract-based infrastructure developments and other public projects, involving huge investments.

  • The Election Commission (EC) has urged the Union Government to amend the electoral law Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951 to empower it to either postpone or countermand elections if evidence emerges of use of money to influence voters. In this regard, EC has asked Union Government to insert a new clause ‘58 B’ in the RPA, 1951 to allow adjournment or countermanding (declaring invalid) of election on the grounds of use of money power (bribery) in the affected polling areas. The provision would also empower the EC to re-schedule the elections in such areas.

  • The Union Information and Broadcasting ministry has framed a New Print Media Advertisement Policy for Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP). The objective of the policy is to promote transparency and accountability in issuing of advertisements in print media.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Civil Aviation Policy 2016 to boost the domestic aviation sector and provide passenger-friendly fares. This is for the first time since Independence that an integrated Civil Aviation Policy has been brought out by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The policy’s mission is to provide safe, secure,  sustainable and affordable air travel for passengers and air transportation  of  cargo  with  access to various parts of India and the world. Civil Aviation Policy 2016 aims at making India the 3rd largest civil aviation market by 2022 from the current 9th position.

July 2016

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the comprehensive Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015 to curb domestic black money. The amendment bill seeks to amend and strengthen the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988 in terms of legal and administrative procedure. The Bill seeks to (i) Amend the definition of benami transactions to widen the scope for legal action (ii) Specify penalties for entering into benami transactions and (iii) establish adjudicating authorities and Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions. It add other transactions which qualify as benami, such as property transactions where: (i) the owner is not aware or denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, (ii) transaction is made in a fictitious name (iii) person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable. The Bill also adds provisions to establish an Appellate Tribunal in order to hear appeals against any orders passed by the Adjudicating Authority.

  • The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the GST (Goods & Services Tax) constitutional amendment Bill in order to incorporate suggestions made by states. This decision follows a crucial meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The Cabinet has approved removal of 1% additional tax on inter-state sales as proposed in the Constitutional Bill.

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016 without discussion. The bill seeks to amend the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 which provides Lokpal (at Centre) and Lokayukta (at States) statutory backing to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.

  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands has ruled against Antrix Corporation in the case with Devas Corporation over sharing of spectrum on satellites. The PCA tribunal has found the Union Government’s actions in annulling a contract between Devas and Antrix Corporation Ltd. and also that it has denied Devas commercial use of S-band spectrum constituted an expropriation (state actions in modifying the property rights of an individual in the exercise of its sovereignty. Following the ruling, India may have to give 1 billion compensation to Devas.

  • The Parliament has passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016.  The bill was first passed in Rajya Sabha and later in Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament. It seeks to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 to widen the scope of the law against child labour and stricter punishments for violations. The Bill calls for complete ban employment of children below 14 in all occupations and enterprises, except those run by his or her own family.

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016 for opening six new IITs. The Bill seeks to amend the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 to add six new IITs as institutions of national importance.

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the National Institute of Technology, Science, Education and Research (Amendment) (NITSER) Bill, 2016. The bill seeks to establish a National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Andhra Pradesh as an institute of national importance under the NITSER Act, 2007 with effect from August 2015.

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 to protect transgenders from discrimination. Through this Bill the Union Government has evolved a holistic mechanism for the social, economic and educational empowerment of marginalized transgenders community. The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against them and also bring them into the mainstream of society.

  • The Supreme Court has accepted major recommendations of the Lodha Committee on reforms in BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), the world’s richest cricketing body. The committee had submitted its recommendations to Supreme Court in January 2016. The committee was constituted by SC to bring structural reforms in the country after it had come under the scanner for its opaque functioning and conflict of interests among its top office-bearers.

  • The Parliament has passed the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016 to provide statutory status to the existing Regional Centre for Biotechnology in Faridabad, Haryana. The Bill seeks to provide legislative backing to the Regional Centre and also confers upon it the status of an institution of national importance.

  • India’s first e-court (paperless court) was opened at High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad which is the common high court for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It was inaugurated by Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur who heads the e-Committee of the Supreme Court. Key Features The purpose of e-court is to ensure speedy justice for the litigants. The e-Courts will ensure easy and better access to justice for public.

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has signed seven unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers to reduce tax litigation. With this, CBDT has so far entered into 77 APAs. This includes three bilateral APAs and 74 unilateral APAs. These 7 APAs signed pertain to various sectors like banking, information technology and automotives. Some of these APAs have rollback provisions. APA usually is signed between a taxpayer and the central tax authority (in case of India it is CBDT) on an appropriating transfer pricing methodology for determining the value of assets and taxes on intra-group overseas transactions.

  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague, the Netherlands has rejected China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of South China Sea. Ruling in this regard was given by a five-member tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague in a case brought by the Philippines. The ruling came from an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which both China and Philippines have signed. The ruling is binding but the tribunal has no powers for enforcement.

  • The Union Government has notified the UIDAI (Terms and Conditions of Service of Chairperson and Members) Rules, 2016 to give legal status to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). These rules have been framed as per provisions of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. These rules have detailed provisions for appointment of its chairperson and members. The Chairperson of UIDAI will be selected on the recommendation of a search-cum-selection committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary.

  • The Supreme Court has ordered the restoration of former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh. Verdict in this regard was given by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice JS Kehar on a bunch of petitions. These petitions were dealing with discretionary powers of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa to summon or advance the assembly session.

  • The Supreme Court of India has ruled that army and paramilitary forces cannot use excessive and retaliatory force during counter-insurgency operations in disturbed areas declared disturbed under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958. The verdict was given by SC bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit on the plea filed by the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM). In the plea EEVFAM had sought a SIT probe into the killing of 1,528 persons by the Manipur Police and security forces since 1978.

  • The Kerala Government has proposed a “Fat Tax” on fast food items like burgers, pizzas, donuts and pasta etc. served in branded restaurants in a bid to discourage the junk food culture. The first-of its-kind move in the country was announced in the maiden budget of the CPI(M)-led LDF Government in Kerala presented by Finance Minister Dr. T.M. Thomas Isaac. The revised state budget for 2016-17 expects the Fat tax will add an additional Rs.10 crore to the state coffers. The fat tax’s major concern is with issues related to public health more than revenue generation. The revenue impact of the fat tax will be modest, but it could have a big impact nationwide on the food industry if other states follow suit.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has given his assent to the legislation consisting of a package of controversial anti-terror amendments. The legislation, dubbed as Big Brother law, was adopted by the lower and upper houses of the Russian parliament in June 2016. The nick-name Big Brother law was coined by Edward Snowden, US intelligence contractor turned privacy activist. He has condemned the law despite being given asylum in Russia.

  • Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to introduce minimum wages for part time workers. In this regard, the Labour Department has issued a notification. With this, part time workers in the state now come under the Minimum Wages Act 1948. As per the new rule, it is now mandatory for employer to pay 50% of the prescribed a day minimum wage to a person who works for less than four hours in a day.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval to The High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 to change names of the High Courts based on the nomenclature of the cities they are located in. The Bill facilitates changing of the names of Madras High Court as Chennai High Court and Bombay High Court as Mumbai High Court. After the enactment of this act, the High Courts of Bombay and Madras will named after the names of the cities in which they are located.

  • The Union Government has unveiled the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP), 2016 for adaptation of comprehensive exploration of non-fuel and non-coal mineral resources. It was unveiled by the Union Minister of Steel and Mines Narendra Singh Tomar at the National Conclave on Mines and Minerals at Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

  • India’s first Commercial Court and Commercial Disputes Resolution Centre was inaugurated in Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh. It was inaugurated by State Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh along with Supreme Court judge Madan B. Lokur. The first Commercial Court and Commercial Disputes Resolution Centre complex has ultra-modern facilities like e-Court, e-Library, e-Filing, Video-conferencing and e-Summons. It will help in improving the judicial system and the investors and business world. It will also facilitate the investors in their commercial dealings. The court also consists of an arbitration centre and a mediation centre

  • The Kerala Government has banned ‘electronic cigarettes’ alias ‘e-cigarettes’ as its use can cause various health issues, including cancer and heart ailments. In this regard, an order was issued that banned the production, sale and advertisement of e-cigarettes in the state. With this, Kerala becomes the fourth state in India to ban e-cigarettes. Punjab was the first state to ban the same in November 2014 under the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003. It was followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka. E-cigarettes are handy battery-powered devices that emit doses of vaporised nicotine. It produces the feel of tobacco smoking.

  • The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) which forms part of the National Command Authority (NCA) has been added to the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005. In this regard, Union Government has issued a notification mentioning SFC has been brought under sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the RTI. The Section 24 of the RTI exempts security and intelligence establishments from its purview.

  • The Parliament has passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016 after it was approved by the Rajya Sabha. The bill provides for establishment of funds under the public accounts of the Centre and State levels for compensatory afforestation.

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