Wage Code Bill in Lok Sabha

The Government, in the view of labour law reforms, had rationalized 38 Labour Acts into 4 labour codes i.e. Code on Wages, Code on occupational safety, health and working conditions, Code on Industrial Relations, and Code on Social Security.

The Government on 10th August 2017 introduced ‘The Code on Wages’ in Lok Sabha which seeks to absorb four existing labour laws, namely, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. This Code of Wages will dissolve all the four prior Acts. The enactment of Code of Wages Bill will erase the complicated and multiple definitions leading to a better compliance, wage security and social security of the workers.

The gamut of the Minimum Wages Act and the Payment of Wages Act is quite reserved, catering only to Scheduled employments/establishments. This clearly shows the advantage of the Code of Wages Bill which provides for timely payment of wages irrespective to one and all and thus, covering each individual in every sector of employment without any wage ceiling.

With the enforcement of the concept of a National Minimum Wage, no state will be allowed to fix minimum wages below the National Minimum Age for that particular area which has been notified by the Central Government. This provision will assure a basic standard of living for the employees.

The proposal of paying wages through cheques or any electronic modes will not only foster digitalization but also provide to the employee a kind of social and wage security. The provision of an Appellate Authority to be made between the Judicial Forum and the Claim Authority to lead to an efficient, feasible and faster path to grievance redressal of the employees.

Also, there are penalties for the various types of violations of the Code which will be subject to the intensity and the frequency of violations by the offender.

Recently, it had been reported that the National Minimum Wage has been fixed to Rs. 18000 per month by the Central Government. The Government denying all reports clarified that it had not fixed any wage as the National Minimum Wage and thus trashing the reports as baseless. Instead, the minimum wage would be different according to the geographical location of the area, the intensity of work done, and depending on the skills required.

According to Clause 9(3) of the Code of Wages Bill, the Central Government before setting up a National Minimum Wage is supposed to take advice from the Advisory Board which would consist of employees and employers from various sectors of employment. This means that the framework provides for a consultive mechanism for the determination of a National Minimum Wage.

Also, some reports claim that the methodology for the calculation of the National Minimum Wage has been revised increasing the units from three to six. But such provision was solely the demand of the Trade Unions in the previous meeting of the Central Advisory Board on Minimum Wages which has not been incorporated in the Code of Wages Bill. Through the bill has been criticized for being introduced with a short notice, it seems to pave a path to generate greater employment and entrepreneurship.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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ASHISH KUMAR YADAV

Ashish is an undergraduate student at Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi. The institution has a Meta College concept and focuses on an interdisciplinary approach.  He is the co-founder of two non-profit ventures, one of which deals with education and the other in enhancing scientific communication among the masses. He has done three research projects at Cluster Innovation Centre the first aimed to create a prototype of full-fledged Hindi dictionary and another on the Study of a community’s cultural tradition (Banjara community). The third project was Hafta bazaar aimed to digitalize and study the various weekly markets in Delhi. He is quite ardent in the field of economics and journalism and is intrigued by topics from digital marketing to management, which are reflected in his undergraduate studies. He was also a part of a report published on education.

Social values v. Social Reality: Divergent perspectives on Termination of Pregnancy

In India, Abortion (voluntarily causing miscarriage) is illegal[1], only medical termination is allowed.[2] Termination of pregnancy can only be undertaken by registered medical practitioners up to 12 weeks and the opinion of more than two medical practitioners is required if termination of pregnancy is done between 12 and 20 weeks. Termination after the 20 week period is prohibited under the Act.[3]

The act has divided the gestation period into parts which have separate rights associated with them. Such bifurcation raises some fundamental questions such as: when does life begin? Should the child be protected from the time of its inception?

The personhood of the unborn has been a contention for both moral and legal discussion for a long time now. The pro-life contenders argue that the right to life of an unborn child is protected under Article 21 of the constitution of India.[4] Whereas the pro-right contenders hold the view that right to have an abortion is recognized under right to privacy which is part of right to personal liberty (which emanates from right to life).[5]

It is also argued that a child’s right to a dignified life which is a part of right to life[6] would be violated if the mother herself, being the host, is unwilling to carry on with the pregnancy (extreme detachment).[7] Though foetus should have a right to life, a meaningful and wholesome life would not be possible if the mother herself has not been able to form any emotional bonding with the foetus /would-be-child.[8]

Women’s rights activists argue that a woman should have reproductive rights and the entire purpose of introducing the MTP Act was to empower them with the same.

The prolife contenders don’t accept this argument stating that abortion is not within the “right of a women over her body” because of the doctrine of Separate Entity. Stressing on the point that the such right is limited as it is encroaching the right to life of another (the foetus).

Considering both the liberal and moral issues, it is pertinent to note that the life of a child is intrinsically connected to that the mother. Consequently, she before anyone else should have the right to make such a decision based on financial, medical and emotional considerations which would affect the future of both.

There also exists a lot of criticism regarding the 20 week period restriction mentioned in the MTP Act. The question of extending the same first came up in Dr. Nikhil D. Datar v. Union of India & Ors[9] and has since been under judicial scrutiny. Doctors argue that the limit is arbitrary and that the same should be extended as a lot of complexities such as cardiac deformities can only be detected after the 20 week period.

Recently a 10 year old gave birth to a child (conceived as a result of rape) because the Supreme Court rejected the plea for abortion by her parents as the 20 week period had elapsed.[10] Should the court follow the black letter of law in all cases? Should a decision that can alter the course of a minor’s life be not taken by her guardians? Such cases are not uncommon and dilemma of choosing between a solution that either suits our morality or reality still persists.

It’s sad that despite the huge numbers in which such cases are brought before the court, the court has not set precedents or guidelines for governing termination post the 20 week period. It is inhuman to expect a woman pregnant for 20 weeks to knock the doors of the court to decide about her fate and is also unreasonable to expect a speedy decision which is of an essence in these cases.

Another ethical dilemma is regarding abortions conducted in “good faith” under Section 2(b)(2) of the Act, which allows medical practitioners to conduct abortions during the 12 to 20 week period if the foetus is suffering from any physical or mental abnormalities. Does the relaxation in the time period provided for in the act point towards the fact that under our constitution, Right to life of a child with physical or mental abnormalities is lesser than that of a Perfect baby?[11]

It has been observed that a hike in the number of such abortion has arguably lead to further devaluation of differently-abled people. It points towards the darkness that seems to have overtaken our society where individual liberty is now been given more importance than social responsibility and where weeding out of potentially “abnormal” babies is being increasingly normalized.

These issues are neither dealt with in our constitution nor in any international treaty, these are issues that have troubled the consciousness of legal theorist and medical practitioners alike for centuries.

But for most cases that reach the courts, decision is taken according to the provisions of an act (MTP) which was intended to be a population lobby law and not a pro rights law.  Law reflects the consciousness of the society and therefore unless changes are brought into the same, the parameters for deciding its threshold would remain low.

[1] Section 312 of The Indian Penal Code,1860:

 Causing miscarriage.—Whoever voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry, shall, if such miscarriage be not caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the woman, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if the woman be quick with child, shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—A woman who causes herself to miscarry, is within the meaning of this section.

[2] Section 3(2)(i) of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 197:

(i)  the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury physical or mental health ; or

(ii) there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

[3] Section 3(2) of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971:

(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (4), a pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner,-

(a) where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twelve weeks if such medical practitioner is, or

(b) where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twelve weeks but does not exceed twenty weeks, if not less than two registered medical practitioners are.

[4] Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950:

Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

[5] Roe v. Wade 410US 113(1973).

[6] AIR 1978 S.C. 597.

[7] Section 3 of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 197:

Explanation 1.-Where any, pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, the anguish caused by such pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.

[8] Sunanda Bharti (2013) Legal Personality of Unborn: a Jurisprudential Analysis. Retrieved form http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/26532/16/16_abstract.pdf.

[9] W.P. (L) 1816/2008.

[10] Agence France-Presse (7th August, 2017) 10-year-old rape victim denied abortion gives birth to baby girl in India

 Retrieved form http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/17/10-year-old-rape-victim-denied-abortion-gives-birth-baby-girl/.

[11] Geeta Seshu (October 1, 2007) Abortion Dilemmas: Perfect Baby, Imperfect Society. Retrieved form http://www.boloji.com/index.cfm?md=Content&sd=Articles&ArticleID=2386.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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TANVI SINGH

Tanvi Singh is a fourth-year Law student pursuing B.Com. LL.B. (Hons.) at Gujarat National Law University. Tanvi believes that deductions and deliberations must be made sincerely based on well-researched information. Her academic interests are in the field of International Trade Law, Law and Economics, Contracts and Arbitration.

International Trade Laws: Inception and its significance ever since

In ancient period, the International Law was governed by ‘inter-racial’ relationships in all communities. Different communities governed by different religions decided to abide by certain general principles of law which would be acceptable by all on the grounds of humanity and which would lead the society into good code of conduct for the treatment of diplomatic envoys, declaration and termination of war, regulation of welfare within and outside of one’s nationality, the conclusion of treaties, and related matters connected with international relations.

The term ‘International Law’ was first coined by Jeremy Bentham in 1780. It means ‘law of nations’ which corresponds to French and German equivalents ‘Droit International’ or ‘Droit des genes‘; ‘Internationales Recht’ or ‘volkerecht’ respectively. As defined by Sir Cecil Hurst, “International Law is the aggregate of rules which determines the rights which one State is entitled to claim on behalf of itself, or its nationals against another State.”

In the period of globalization and modernization, no country can imagine to operate or survive on their own. Every country has to depend on other countries for the import or export of raw materials and other essential goods for the proper development of its economy. In the primitive times, it was the barter system which helped people of different trades to survive. Now, in the modern times, it has been upgraded with more sophisticated, dignified, and reliable method of the binding written conventional rules aided by different countries for the sole aim of a good code of conduct.

The developing countries generally export raw materials to the developed countries and are dependent on them for their finished goods. International trade is vital for the economic development of the country, raising the living standards of the people and strengthening the position of the country in the international sphere. International trade laws have mainly three objectives:

  • Attainment of foreign policy objectives
  • To increase country’s capabilities
  • To create spheres of influence.

The two controlling holder of international trade laws are:

  • The GATT, 1947 (The General Agreement on Tariff and Trade, 1947)
  • The World Trade Organisation

The GATT – The convention of GATT requires that any proposed change in the tariff or any other policy, of a member country, should not be undertaken without the consent of other member parties to the agreement and all the member countries should have a common goal to reduce the tariffs and other barriers of the international trade, which should be negotiated within the framework of GATT. The Preamble of the GATT mentions four following objectives:

1) raising the standard of living

2) utilization of the resources of the world

3) ensuring full employment and steady growing full volume of real income and effective demand

4) expansion of production and international trade

The World Trade Organisation – The WTO shall facilitate the implementation, administration of the objectives of the Multilateral Trade Agreements and it shall also provide the forum for negotiations among its members concerning their multilateral trade relations in matters dealt with under the agreement of GATT. It shall also administer the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). It also administers the rules and procedures regarding the rules and procedures of settling disputes between the member countries. Some of the agreements are mentioned below:

US – India Strategic Partnership

1) A historic agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation – it addresses India’s surging energy needs for its growing economy.

2) Economy – US – India cooperation to enhance job creation and economic growth, support economic reform and liberalization, develop a bilateral business climate supportive of trade and investment and improve market access for goods and services.

India – EU Relationship

1) Develop and preserve a dynamic agricultural sector

2) High-Level Trade Group to study their bilateral trade and investment relationship.

3) Exchange information and initiate a dialogue on regulatory policy including Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and domestic regulations and market access issues related to services.

4) Joint Working Group on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs).

The developments that international trade law has gained over years of coming into action are:

  • Cooperation among countries – Countries now cooperate with each other through bilateral agreements, treaties and international organisations. It encourages to take a mutual decision for the benefit of not only one country, but also of various other countries.
  • Growth in emerging markets – Developing countries like India, South America and other parts of Asia have increased their trade potential globally. With such developments, international trade holds a significant position nowadays.
  • Dynamic approach – Developments in science and information technology has upgraded the way international trades or business has been carried out over the years.
  • Liberty to transport goods and services internationally – Producers have become more efficient by competing against foreign companies. Though governments have imposed various restrictions on such cross-border movements, it is for the advantage and benefit of such companies.
  • Importing scarce resources – International trade can help a country to import any such scarce resources which are abundant in other countries.

The effectiveness with which international trade can be used as an instrument at an international level solely depends upon a country’s economic development and political scenario. It increases real incomes and consumption which eventually leads to curtail unemployment and foster economic growth.

International trade law has made a fair contribution to the south in the 19th and 20th centuries and in the 21st century it is an integral part of the globalized world and has contributed tremendously over the years, and has given its own share of prosperity.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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SOMANKA GHOSH

Somanka is a fifth-year law student pursuing BA LLB in Calcutta University. She’s also pursuing a diploma course in Entrepreneurship and Business Laws. After interning in various law firms in Calcutta High Court and gaining experiences about the practicalities of legal practice, she’s now keen to test her theories. An enthusiast and diligent worker, she’s also a good researcher and writer.