New Consumer Protection Act to come into force from 20th July 2020: State Commission to have limit upto 10cr

By SRELJ Bureau

The salient features of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 :

1. All the District forums are renamed as District Commissions. Hence forth all the District Forum now be called as Commissions.

2. To file an appeal, Opposite Party needs to deposit upto 50% of the amount ordered by District Commission.

3. An appeal can be now filed within 45 days of Order.

4. The original pecuniary jurisdiction of District Commission shall be uptil Rs. 1 Crore, State Commission from 1 Cr – 10 Cr. and NCDRC to be more than Rs. 10 crore. All Orders for aggregations of consumer will be applicable.

5. Now complainant can also institute the complaint within the territorial jurisdiction of the Commission where the complainant resides or personally works for gain besides what was provided earlier

6. Very important provisions under Section 49(2) and 59(2) of the new act gives power to the State Commission and NCDRC respectively to declare any terms of contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void.

7. A second appeal to NCDRC has been provided U/s 51(3) if there is a substantial question of law involved in the matter

8. Power of revision can still be exercised by NCDRC U/s 58(1)(b) and by State commission under 47(1)(b) of the Act.

9. Power of review has been conferred to District Commission, State Commission and NCDRC U/s 40, 50 and 60 of the Act respectively

10. NCDRC can hear appeals against the order of Central Authority by virtue of Section 58 of the Act

11. Period of limitation in filing of complaint remains 2 years with a provision for condonation of delay power U/s 69 of the Act

12. Section 70 provides for administrative control of State Commission over District Commission and that of NCDRC over State Commission. It inter alia provides for investigation into any allegations against the President and members of a State Commission / District Commission and submitting inquiry report to the State Government concerned along with copy endorsed to the Central Government for necessary action

13. Mediation is given statutory status by way of introduction of Section 74 in the new Act. As a new measures to solve problems out of court and through mediation, this new initiative has been provided.

14. A product liability action may be brought by a complainant against a product manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller, as the case may be, for any harm caused to him on account of a defective product.

15. Chapter III of the Act provides for creation of Central Authority to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class

16. The Central Authority shall have an Investigation Wing headed by a Director General for the purpose of conducting inquiry or investigation under this Act as may be directed by the Central Authority.

With new New Consumer Protection Act, which was awaited long back there was huge confusion as to financial jurisdiction. Now after the notifications, State Commission now can deal with transactions up to 10 cr.

RBI Governor announces further moratorium period of three months for Home loans and other loans

By SRELJ Bureau

RBI Governor on 22nd May 2020 announced a further moratorium period of three months. the statement said :

“The RBI had earlier, on two separate occasions (March 27 and April 17, 2020), announced certain regulatory measures pertaining to (a) granting of 3 months moratorium on term loan installments; (b) deferment of interest for 3 months on working capital facilities; (c) easing of working capital financing requirements by reducing margins or reassessment of working capital cycle; (d) exemption from being classified as ‘defaulter’ in supervisory reporting and reporting to credit information companies; (e) extension of resolution timelines for stressed assets; and (f) asset classification standstill by excluding the moratorium period of 3 months, etc. by lending institutions.

In view of the extension of the lockdown and continuing disruptions on account of COVID-19, the above measures are being extended by another three months from June 1, 2020 till August 31, 2020 taking the total period of applicability of the measures to six months (i.e. from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020). The lending institutions are being permitted to restore the margins for working capital to their original levels by March 31, 2021. Similarly, the measures pertaining to reassessment of working capital cycle are being extended up to March 31, 2021”.: RBI Governor Statement on 22/5/2020.

Representation to register Retailers and Building and Construction Professionals as MSMEs will be examined: Shri Gadkari

By SRELJ Bureau

Union Minister for MSME and Road Transport and Highways, Shri Nitin Gadkari today assured the Retailers Association of India and Practicing Engineers, Architects and Town Planners Association (India) that their request for registering as MSMEs will be examined expeditiously. He felt that this need to be explored from the point of these bodies being employment creators and whether various benefits such as insurance, medical, pension, etc can be provided to workers.

He also called upon the retailers to start exploring option of home delivery and maintaining social distancing, availability of sanitizers for customers/employees and use of masks at all retail outlets.

The Minister was addressing meetings today via video conferencing with the representatives of Retailers Association of India and representatives of Practicing Engineers, Architects and Town Planners Association (India) on impact of COVID-19 on their respective sectors. During this interaction, the representatives expressed concerns regarding various challenges being faced by them amid COVID-19 pandemic along with few suggestions and requested support from the government to keep the sector afloat.

He also called upon the Engineers, Architects and Town planners to explore decongesting over crowded cities and   participate in the development of rural, tribal and backward regions especially along the Green Expressways like the new Delhi -Mumbai Exoressway which is passing through such areas. He said various clusters and logistics parks will come up up on this ambitious project offering huge opportunities.

Some of the major issues highlighted and the suggestions given included: registering retailers/restaurants/architectural firms as MSMEs, starting Malls with conditions of safety measures related to COVID-19, starting operations of e- Commerce companies for non-essential items, relief in rentals for retailers, extension of moratorium to 9 months, reduction in bank interest rate from 10% to 4-5%, adherence to RBI guidelines by private banks, applying GST on receivables only, registration of builders as MSME who are already registered under RERA Act, etc.

Shri Gadkari called upon the industry that it is needed to be ensured by industries that necessary preventive measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He emphasized on usage of PPE (masks, sanitizer etc.) and advised to maintain social distancing norms during business operations.

He mentioned that all the stakeholders must adopt an integrated approach to come over the crisis while ensuring the lives and livelihood of the people. Shri Gadkari also urged the industry to have a positive attitude during this time to tide over this crisis.

The Union Minister emphasized that special focus towards export enhancement is the need of the hour and necessary practices shall be adopted to reduce power cost, logistics cost and production cost to become competitive in the global market. Further, he mentioned that there is also need to focus on import substitution to replace foreign imports with domestic production.

He further mentioned that work on Green Express Highway has already started, and this is an opportunity for industry to make future investments in industrial clusters, logistics parks equipped with state-of-art technology. He opined that there is a need to expand the horizon of industrial cluster in areas other than metro cities and urged industries for participation.

The Minister recalled that Government of Japan has offered special package to its industries for taking out Japanese investments from China and move elsewhere. He opined that it is an opportunity for India which should be grabbed.

Shri Gadkari responded to the questions from representatives and assured all possible help from the government. He informed that he would take up the issues with related departments. He emphasized that industry should take a positive approach and tap the opportunities that will be created when the COVID-19 crisis gets over.

Clarification in respect of residency under section 6 of the Income-tax Act, 1961

By SRELJ Bureau

Section 6 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) contains provisions relating to residency of a person. The status of an individual as to whether he is resident in India or a non-resident or not ordinarily resident, is dependent, inter-alia, on the period for which the person is in India during a year.

Various representations have been received stating that there are number of individuals who had come on a visit to India during the previous year 2019-20 for a particular durationand intended to leave India before the end of the previous year for maintaining their status as non-resident or not ordinary resident in India. However due to declaration of the lockdown and suspension of international flights owing to outbreak of Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), they are required to prolong their stay in India. Concerns have been expressed that they may involuntarily end up becoming Indian residents without any intention to do so.

In order to avoid genuine hardship in such cases, the CBDT has decided vide circular no 11 dated May 8, 2020, that for the purposes of determining the residential status under section 6 of the Act during the previous year 2019-20 in respect of an individual who has come to India on a visit before 22nd March, 2020 and:

  • has been unable to leave India on or before 31st March 2020, his period of stay in India from 22nd March, 2020 to 31st March, 2020 shall not be taken into account; or
  • has been quarantined in India on account of Novel Corona Virus (Covid-19) on or after 1st March, 2020 and has departed on an evacuation flight on or before 31st March, 2020 or has been unable to leave India on or before 31st March, 2020, his period of stay from the beginning of his quarantine to his date of departure or 31st March, 2020, as the case may be, shall not be taken into account; or
  • has departed on an evacuation flight on or before 31st March, 2020, his period of stay in India from 22nd March, 2020 to his date of departure shall not be taken into account.

Further, as the lockdown continues during the Financial Year 2020-21 and it is not yet clear as to when international flight operations would resume, a circular excluding the period of stay of these individuals up to the date of normalisation of international flight operations, for determination of the residential status for the previous year 2020-21 shall be issued after the said normalisation.

Right of Multiple entry Life-long Visa facility to visit India for OCI Cardholders, to remain in abeyance till Prohibition on International Air Travel of passengers from/to India is lifted

By SRELJ Bureau

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order specifying that the right of multiple entry life-long visa facility for visiting India for any purpose granted to persons registered as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders would continue to be kept in abeyance till the prohibition on international air travel of passengers from/to India is lifted by the Government of India.

Any foreign national holding an OCI card who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons during this period would have to contact the nearest Indian Mission. Further, in case of persons holding OCI card who are already in India, the OCI card shall remain valid for their stay in India for any length of time.

 

Click here to see Official Order

Physical Registration of Leave and License agreements discontinued till July 2020 in Maharashtra

By SRELJ Bureau

Government of Maharashtra have decided to discontinue physical registration of leave and license Agreement in Maharashtra. Now till July 2020 all leave and license agreements shall be registered online only. There will be no physical presence of parties to the leave and rent agreements in Maharashtra.

Government of Maharashtra have decided to avoid any rush at registration centres. To keep social distancing, Govt had announced that till July 2020 there will be no physical registration of the leave and license agreements.

The module is developed and made available by the Department of Stamps and Registration.
It provides facility of online registration of Leave and License Agreement to citizen.
Citizen can,
      1) Prepare the agreement       5) Submit it for registration
      2) View the draft                    6) Get it registered
      3) Modify if required               7) Get the status of registration through SMS
      4) Execute (sign) it
All these activities can be performed from anywhere anytime, without going physically to Sub Registrar Office.

Land Use Change for Central vista Development/ Redevelopment Project Approved; includes New Parliament building

By SRELJ Bureau

The Govt has approved the land use change as required for the Central Vista Development/Redevelopment project on the recommendations of Delhi Development Authority (DDA). This paves the way for the construction of new Parliament building and other projects in the prestigious Central Vista project.  This decision will ensure that the green areas and Public-Semi-Public spaces are adequately compensated or enhanced.

The Central Vista of New Delhi houses Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, North and South Block, India Gate, National Archives etc. All these iconic buildings were constructed before 1931, the year in which the new capital was inaugurated. The other office buildings were built on various plots subsequently to address the office requirements of Central Ministries and Departments in an unplanned manner.Parliament House building came up in 1927 and is declared Heritage building. Its facilities and infrastructure are inadequate to meet the current demand. Therefore, there is an imperative need to construct a new state-of–art Parliament building in close vicinity. This proposal may address not only the space requirement but may result into an iconic structure as a symbol of democracy.

The offices of the Central Government are spread over different locations which affects inter-departmental coordination, and unnecessary travel leading to congestion and pollution. Further, most of the existing buildings have outlived their structural lives. The Hutments, which occupy huge area in the Central Vista, came up as temporary structures during the Second World War. Development of Common Central Secretariat will create modern workspaces with latest technology for better productivity and efficient utilization of human resources.Rajpath and avenue in Central Vista which includes greens and water bodies adjoining it, symbolizes the magnificence of the Capital City and is a tourist place of national importance. Upgrading its facilities and rejuvenating the green spaces is necessary. In view of the above, we have taken up the Central Vista Development/ Redevelopment Project.

The objectives of the Project include upgrading Parliament’s space and facilities; consolidating, rationalizing and synergizing government functioning; refurbishing and better equipping the Central Vista Avenue; strengthening cultural institutions in the Central Vista.  This change in land use will pave the way for development/re-development of these projects.

Lok Sabha passes Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020

By Legal Bureau

Lok Sabha passed the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in New Delhi today. The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act of 2014 and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017 are the unique initiatives of the Government of India to impart knowledge in the field of Information Technology to provide solutions to the challenges faced by the country.

Introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will amend the principal acts of 2014 and 2017. It will grant statutory status to five Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Public Private Partnership mode at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur and declare them as Institutions of National Importance along with already existing 15 Indian Institutes of Information Technology under the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017;

Speaking after the passing of the Bill, Union HRD Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ thanked the Members of the House for their support in passing the Bill. Shri Pokhriyal said that the Bill will encourage IIITs to promote the study of information and technology in the country through their innovative and quality methods. The Minister said that the Bill will declare the remaining 5 IIITs-PPP along with the existing 15 Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Public Private Partnership mode as ‘Institutions of National Importance’ with powers to award degrees.

The Minister said that under the leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Indian institutions are performing well in the global institutional rankings and he hoped that in future all these IIITs will also make a mark  in the world’s top institutions. He informed that among the higher education institutions in the country, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have improved their global rankings significantly. There are now 24 Indian higher education institutes in the QS list of 1000 global institutes in 2020 against 14 in 2017. Similarly, there are now 36 Indian higher education institutes in Times Higher Education (THE) global 1000 institutes against 3 in 2013.

He assured that with this step, all these institutions will be able to spread the information related to information and technology in the country in a better way.

Shri Pokhriyal informed that this Bill 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.  It will also enable the Institutes to attract enough students required to develop a strong research base in the country in the field of information technology, he added.

 

Background   

(i)         IIITs are envisaged to promote higher education and research in the field of Information Technology.

 

(ii)        Under the Scheme of Setting up of 20 new IIITs in Public Private Partnership (IIIT PPP) mode as approved by the Union Cabinet on 26.11.2010, 15 IIITs are already covered by the IIIT (PPP) Act, 2017, while remaining 5 IIITs are to be included under the Schedule of the Act.

 

Implementation Strategy and targets

The objective of the present proposal is for formalization of IIITs at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur. After passage of the Act by the Parliament, they will be covered under the IIIT (PPP) Act, 2017, similar to the other 15 IIITs established under the scheme in PPP mode.

 

No. of beneficiaries

The emerging needs of the industry and the economy, as a whole for skilled technical manpower is expected to be met from the talent pool of trained personnel of the institutes.

 

States/districts covered

States: Gujarat (Surat), Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal), Bihar (Bhagalpur), Tripura (Agartala), Karnataka (Raichur).

 

Every Institute shall be open to all persons irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, domicile, ethnicity, social or economic background

IBBI amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016

By SRELJ Bureau

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 on 6th January 2020.

The amendment clarifies that a person, who is not eligible under the Code to submit a resolution plan for insolvency resolution of the corporate debtor, shall not be a party in any manner to a compromise or arrangement of the corporate debtor under section 230 of the Companies Act, 2013. It also clarifies that a secured creditor cannot sell or transfer an asset, which is subject to security interest, to any person, who is not eligible under the Code to submit a resolution plan for insolvency resolution of the corporate debtor.

The amendment provides that a secured creditor, who proceeds to realise its security interest, shall contribute its share of the insolvency resolution process cost, liquidation process cost and workmen’s dues, within 90 days of the liquidation commencement date. It shall also pay excess of realised value of the asset, which is subject to security interest, over the amount of its claims admitted, within 180 days of the liquidation commencement date. Where the secured creditor fails to pay such amounts to the Liquidator within 90 days or 180 days, as the case may be, the asset shall become part of Liquidation Estate.

The amendment provides that a Liquidator shall deposit the amount of unclaimed dividends, if any, and undistributed proceeds, if any, in a liquidation process along with any income earned thereon into the Corporate Liquidation Account before he submits an application for dissolution of the corporate debtor. It also provides a process for a stakeholder to seek withdrawal from the Corporate Liquidation Account.

The amended regulations are effective from 6th January 2020. These are available at www.mca.gov.in and www.ibbi.gov.in.

Draft New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Rules issued for public consultation

By SRELJ Bureau

The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC), Act 2019 was enacted with a view to provide for the establishment and incorporation of the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre for the purpose of creating an independent and autonomous regime for institutionalised arbitration and to make it a hub for institutional arbitration and to declare the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre to be an institution of national importance. The Act replaced the ordinance on the subject which had come into force on 2nd March, 2019.

As per section 5 of the Act, NDIAC will be headed by a Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a High Court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration, law or management, to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. Besides, it will also have two Full-time or Part-time Members from amongst eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration, both domestic and international. In addition, one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry shall be nominated on rotational basis as a Part-time Member. The Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice; Financial Adviser nominated by Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive Officer, NDIAC will be ex-officio Members.

Section 23 of the Act provides for the Secretariat to the Centre inter-alia comprising Registrar, Counsel and other officers & employees etc.

In this regard, the Department of Legal Affairs has prepared the following draft Rules:

 

  1. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the terms and conditions and the salary and allowances payable to the Chairperson and Full-time Members) Rules 2020.
  2. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the travelling and other allowances payable to Part-time Members) Rules 2020.
  3. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the number of officers and employees of the Secretariat of the Centre) Rules 2020.
  4. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the qualifications, experience, method of selection and the functions of the Registrar, Counsel and other officers and employees of the Centre) Rules 2020.

 

The Government intends to consult all stakeholders in the process. A copy of the aforesaid draft Rules have been uploaded on the website of the department of Legal Affairs (http://legalaffairs.gov.in/). Accordingly, DoLA has commenced public consultation on the draft rules with the timeline of submission of comments by 14th March, 2020.

1 2