The above is true in the judicial landscape of India. 2017 was a year full of lots of amendments in laws. When laws are amended, it shows the legislative arm of government is working.
In legal terms, a bill is a proposed law intended for the parliament for consideration. Once the parliament passes the bill, it becomes an Act. Upon implementation by the executive arm of government, the bill becomes a law. On the other hand, an amendment is the addition or subtraction or improvement of an existing law for the common good of the public.
In the light of the above, this article will take a look at the top amendments that were carried out by the Indian parliaments in 2017. Without further ado, let’s get started.
THE REAL ESTATE REGULATORY ACT
Top on our list is the Real Estate Regulatory Act. Before the parliament took steps to create the Act, the Indian real estate was fraught with lots of fraudulent activities and scams. This led to several potential investors losing their hard earned money. The parliament in March 2017 took the bull by the horn to create the Act. Under the Act, every state in India is expected to set up an independent regulator (Real Estate Regulatory Authority). The agency would be saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and setting up guidelines on how players in the sector should operate.
The Act requires that all builders in the sector must register with the agency, particularly those intending to develop over 500 square meters of land. The Act also provides that the registration must be done before the builders can engage in advertisement or marketing. Failure for players in the sector to comply with the Act may result in prison terms of up to 3 years or payment of 10% fine. The 10% fine would be calculated based on the total cost of the project.
COMPANIES AMENDMENT ACT 2017-
The second amendment on our list is the Companies Amendment Act. Lok Sabha in the wisdom on the 27th of July 2017 passed the Companies Act Bill, 2016. The action of the parliament was to remove the seeming complexity inherent in the existing law that was passed in 2013. The challenges in the law made it difficult for the government to achieve the ease of doing business.
The amendment done in 2017 provides for an easy compliance system which increased the amount payable from Rs. 20 crores to Rs. 100 crores. The amendment made it possible for companies to comply with the scheme. In addition, the amendment paved the way for private securities to be listed but with a limit of 8 years.
SCRAPPING OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CESS ACT 1986-
Since the introduction of GST in the taxation policies of the country, a lot of ugly changes took place. The parliament after a careful consideration of the policies repealed the Research and Development CESS Act, 1986. The move to repeal the Act was informed by the proposal submitted to the parliament by the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley in April 2017.
The Act was the major law streamlining the imposition of payment on import and export, particularly the import and export of technical goods, as well as goods that will encourage technology to improve the Indian economy.
IIIT ACT 2017-
This article won’t be complete without mentioning the amendment of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Bill.
Both houses of the parliaments passed the amendment to the IIIT Act 2014. Out of the two houses, the Lok Sabha house passed the bill first before the other house.
The IIIT Act 2017 made provision for the recognition of certain technology-based institutions in the country. The Act also aimed to develop technical knowledge and shore up manpower for the ICT industry.
THE NABARD ACT AMENDMENTS-
In 2017, the parliament introduced and passed the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill amended the existing NABARD Act 1981. NABARD, as the name implies is the agency saddled with the responsibility of providing credit facilities to rural farmers in India. Based on the amendment on the bill, the Union government increased the capital vote to the agency to Rs. 30,000 crores from Rs. 5000 crores.
In addition, the amended law provides an allowance for the government to increase the allocation to the agency only after consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
BANKING REGULATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2017-
The Lok Sabha house in August 2017 passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill was intended to add some provisions to the already existing Banking Regulation Act, 1949. The amendment was intended to add the following provisions:
- Provision for the proper management of stress assets
- Provision for management of non-performing loans
Based on the above provisions, the Central government has been empowered to direct the Reserve Bank of India to protect financial institutions under the insolvency and bankruptcy code, 2016.
The amendment also made it possible for the RBI to give directions to banks on how to resolve the issue of stress assets timely.
PAYMENT OF WAGES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2017-
The parliament on the 7th of February 2017 passed the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which replaced the president’s ordinance in 2016. The amendment made it possible for employers of labor to pay their workers through a cheque or direct deposit the sum in the various accounts of their workers.
Before the amendment, employees had to go through a lot to receive their salaries. Employers had to obtain permission before salaries were paid. But with the passage of the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017, employers can now pay their workers through the following means:
- Bank deposit to workers’ bank account
- In currency notes or coins
The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was informed as a result of the demonetization policy. The policy made it difficult for employers of labor to pay cash directly to their workers.
DENTISTS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2017-
The two houses of the parliament in 2017 passed the Dentists (Amendment) Bill into law which amends the Dentists Act, 1948. The Dentists Act, 1948 was fraught with lots of unclear terms and redundancies.
The amendment was sought by the Union cabinet with a view to resolving the above challenges.
The amendment was geared towards the membership of Dental Council of India. Membership of the council fell under section 3 clause (f). The amendment provides for an election into the council.
PAYMENT OF GRATUITY (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2017-
This list would not be complete without mentioning the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017. 2017 was a historic year for workers. The Union cabinet introduced the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with a view to amending the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. Before the amendment, private sector employees were not covered by the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972. But the amendment has led to the appraisal of gratuity limit of both private and public sector employees.
The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is a social safety net enacted to enable workers in both private and public sectors to retire well, even if the retirement is as a result of an accident or physical disablement.