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Maternity Leave in India

Women to get 26 weeks Maternity Leave

Maternity Leave in India

“If you are not utilising a women’s talent, you are only utilising half the talent existing in Universe”

India is becoming one emerging power on global interface. It is one of the countries who has made way to the list of fastest growing economies. But much to our dismay, the female workforce participation has been a cause of concern for decades now in India, which is already the lowest in world. Despite the fact, that women prove better administrators, the dropping number of women professionals is an undermining force vis-à-vis to the growth of the nation. It is a well recorded fact that absence of women from the workforce could cost India up to 2.5-3% points of GDP.

One major reason why women in India are facing such flak is because of their limited presence during their work life since a fair number of them either take a lot of leaves or eternally resign from a job in the wake of taking up household responsibilities, one of which includes family planning and upbringing of kids. This, consequently discourages organisations from hiring women in the first place, since maternity leave has to be paid for by them. This is also discouraging from gender equality perspective, where India is already far-fetched from other countries. As per ASSOCHAM estimates, it is held that more than quarter of urban Indian women quit their jobs after having first child.

While the domestic and mundane chores can well be outsourced, the responsibility of being a mother has no substitute. A woman is mandatorily required to be home and nourish the child pre and post labour. The pains and struggle involved in the pregnancy is yet another challenge posed to them, which necessitates an environment for women, oozing support and encouragement. Initially, the maternity leave in Indian was limited to 3 months, which could be availed in parts or in one go at any point of time during pre & post pregnancy.

Ever since Maneka Gandhi, Child development Minister in India, has taken up the efforts to strengthen the position of working women in India, a ray of hope was emerged throughout the nation. It is because of her sweats and exertions that finally in 2016, the Maternity Bill (Amendment) was passed, where the tenure of paid maternity leave was increased from 3 to 6 months. A landmark bill in the history of India where women got their due and motivation increased manifold. It not only upheaved the participation of women in Indian labour force, but also mandated organisations to treat women equally and not undermine their requirement when it comes to personnel recruitment. And with this step, it placed India at third position in length of maternity leave. It has put India much ahead of many nations in Organisations for Economic Cooperation & Development.

Let’s take a look at salient features of the bill:

  • 1. After 12 weeks of confirmed pregnancy, the women working in organised sector will be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, benefitting both mother and child.
  • The bill is also applicable on cases of adoption and surrogacy. The tenure of paid maternity leave of 12 weeks shall be applicable from the day the child (aged not more than 3 months in case of adoption) is handed over to the mother.
  • The new bill shall be applicable on entities/enterprises/companies having more 10 staff and the women shall be entitle to avail leave only for first two children.
  • The new law also provides for endowing crèche facilities within prescribed distances of a woman’s workplace, allowing woman 4 visits to the crèche per day. This rule is applicable on organisations/establishment with more than 50 employees.
  • A provision for ‘work from home’ is also allowed within the bill by the organisations, if the health of the woman allows her to do so. This may for a period other than maternity bill. Mutually decided by the woman and her employer.

The new law has taken into consideration each and every challenge coming through pre and post-natal period. It is a welcome move strengthening the position of women in India and has been accepted widely by the nation in general. However the reaction from business houses remains mixed. The points put forth by them can’t be completely ignored as they make a point when it comes economic progress of an organisation. Let’s see what have been the cause of worry to these entrprises and to what extent they touch reality.

The Maternity bill passed by the government is definitely a welcome move and in line with India’s initiatives towards women-led development. We at PayU India had identified this early on and were among the first to introduce the paid maternity leave of 26 weeks. Leaving job due to pregnancy is passé; the super women of today can feel secure and ensure better health and wellbeing.” – ChetnaGogia, Director- HR, PayU India.

As great a step as this is in its intent; we view the passing of the Maternity Benefits Amendment bill with both excitement as well as apprehension. Though the bill is a great start towards ensuring that women can continue to contribute to the economy of India. The apprehension is down to a multitude of unanswered questions and their potential impact.

If one were to look at the Nordic countries, we can see that they have closed over 80% gender gap. The one thing that stands out in achieving this, is the introduction of family or paternity leave policies for the workforce. Such policies allow both men and women to take time off from their careers for child or elder care and lets them return to the workforce at the same level.”- Priya Krishnan, Founder and CEO of Klay Schools

We welcome the maternity bill passed in Parliament. While it is a milestone bill with very good intention, chances it backfiring on career of women is also there. 26 weeks of absence of a key employee weighs very heavily on businesses in an extremely competitive, low margin corporate world. Another welcome move is the coverage of unorganized sector but without a strong implementation backbone possibility of employers circumventing the law is very high”. – Lakshmi Murthy, Chief People Officer, ITM Group of Institution

The costs of providing these benefits will be offset in a healthy way in the form of retention and stability within the organisation as fewer women leave to have children” – MoorthyUppaluri, MD, Cutch Recruitment group, India.

There is no taking away from the fact that the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has substantiated the presence of women workforce in India. The government has given their approval to validate indispensability of time required by a mother for his child. But it is to be equally taken care of that any abuse or embezzlement to the provisions by anyone would be a demeaning step to dishearten the thoughts that had gone into framing this.

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Paternity Leave in India

Current provisions relating to Paternity Leave in India

As of now, the concept of paternity has only been mandated by the central government. An expecting father may avail 15 days of leave during or after the delivery of child. This allows enough time to the father to finish off the responsibilities as to hospital processes, setting up a comfortable environment for the wife, without any tensions relating to office and work. The period of 15 days will be lapsed, if not availed in due time, neither will it be encashed. The quantum of 15 days of leave is also applicable in case of adoption and surrogacy up to two children, which reinforces the faith n goodness by the government.

While in private sector the concept of paternity leave remains discretionary. There are companies providing for paternity leave and there are those who don’t. However, most organisations these days have come with family friendly policies and encourage their employees during tough times but the essentiality of provisions is still optional.

Should paternity leave be made mandatory nationwide?

Paternity leave is considered As mentioned earlier in this piece of information, that women are considered natural caretakers, which eventually subsides the responsibilities of father as a guardian. The notion needs to change from tip to toe. Also, women workforce has been always a less of a number as compared to men. In a survey done in 2016, the participation of women workforce has declined straight by 10%. Women only make for 24% of paid labour force in India.

In any case, a women, has to take maternity leave by the third trimester till the child ages at least 6 months. In such a scenario, not providing for paternity leave can eventually led to a negative aspect of not considering women as equal. A lot of companies even consider not hiring women because of their redundant leaves during pregnancy and after birth.The legitimate right for a skilled women to apply for an equal position in an organisation, is thus hindered as compared to men. Also the enactment of Maternity leave rules giving 26 weeks of leave has further agitated the idea that a woman is only liable to raise the child.

Recently Deustche bank in India announced a 6 month leave to fathers as paternity leave. They even said that Parental leave shouldn’t be gender biased. Steps like these are path breaking and instigate a positive vibe of Sharing and distribution of parental responsibilities. The nomenclature to serve the purpose was also altered from maternity/paternity leave as PARENTAL LEAVE POLICY. On the same lines, IKEA has also decided to propose 26 weeks of parental leave.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 may be considered an important victory for women in India. But a paternity leave enactment is what India needs to aptly enforce the rights and duties of both the parents.

Why paternity leave is important?

The below insertions have been taken from Dad-to-be’s in India. This is not only important to get into legal provisions of the paternity leave and enforcing them but also to face the bent of minds of people in our society.

I would go home once a month, and spend two or three days with him,” says Azim, ruefully. “It was only in photographs that I was seeing him grow.” Azim was able to see his new-born only after 6 months when he finally decided to move to Patna leaving his Job.

“I said I should be entitled to paternity leave, and the lady who headed the organisation I was at said ‘Alright! Give him his paternity leave!’ I took a couple of weeks off, but I took it against my annual leave.” Said Joseph working in Chennai. This shows the level of indifference to the Indian Business houses and their lack of empathy to the new fathers.

Globally a new father is allowed to have 4 months of paternity leave either in one go or in parts. Ritesh working with Facebook India says,’Outside of Tech it’s mostly unheard of, i.e. the paternity leave. My friends gets surprised and say,’ why would you get leave? We had to take time off”; “When I take my son out for a walk every evening, I am usually the only dada doing that. I met a lady who said her wants to do that but he doesn’t come out because he doesn’t see other dads doing it.”

While it is the lack of initiative at a primary levels by fathers, it is also the conventional thought process and legal acknowledgment of need of child which a father is accountable for. The same ignorance has led to a lethargic attitude amongst the working population, who no longer see any benefit of paternity leave and even goes on to say that Paternity Benefit Bill will only be a Holiday for men.

Conclusion

Playing a perfunctory role as a father in India will always be debated. For it is for men to realise as to how important to them, their kids are? In absence of any legal enactment by the government for paternity bill and benefits, the thought remains un-entertained. Why is India is lagging behind the even after such economies of scale at GDP level. It is because of this regressive rationale that despite having such resourcefulness, our nation is far behind in terms of personal development and synergy.

A conceiving mother is considered as less capable and men have only activated their dominance as mark of their strength. India, on a serious note, require reforms that gets deep into the roots of such rotten thought process. With government serving the nation and bringing about mandatory policies for Paternity leave, the scenario can be changed. A fair part of country’s business houses have taken a step ahead in this direction. However, unless the nationwide entities are legally bound to introduce Paternity leave execution to be benefitted from, nothing fruitful can be done.

Painting a pacific picture where men and women amiably and equallyshare parenting responsibilities is the need of the hour and we must implement it. For better parenting. For better India.

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INDIAN SUCCESSION ACT 1956

Indian Succession Act 1956

The Indian Succession Act 1956 is an act to regulate the law relating to unwilled succession among Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. An act by Parliament of India which governs Intestacy, which means a condition or circumstance where a person dies without having declared a legal will and determines the procedure of handling of ‘estate’ of the deceased persons. It also called the law of descent and distribution and determines the entitlement(s) of the property under the rules of inheritance. Also it is to be noted that the Act has no role to play in case there is a legal will existing and rules out proper dissemination of properties along with the future income generating from them.

Terminology

It is important to understand few terms before getting into the details of the Act,:

  1. Will: A Will, on the other hand, means a declaration made by a person specifying the way of distribution of his property and estate (if any), to the legal heirs or to any other person as hemay prescribe, upon his death. It can be revoked or altered by the maker of it any time he wants and possess the right to null it.
  2.  Testator – The person who makes a will is also known as a testator. A Testator may or may not register the Will.
  3. Beneficiary: Any person capable of holding property can be beneficiary under a will and therefore a minor, lunatic, a corporation, a Hindu deity or any other juristic person can be a beneficiary.

Applicability

As mentioned above, the Act applies to:

  1. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh
  2.  And their legitimate children, one of whose parents or both of whose parents are either Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh.
  3.  Any person who is convert or re-convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh.
  4. Any person who is not a Muslim, Parsi, Christian or Jew by religion.
    Also the Act lays separate rule for Male Succession and Female Succession separately.

Male Succession

The property of a Hindu Male goes to:

  1. Class I heirs namely Son, Daughter, widow, mother (equal share, since priority heirs), son / daughter of a predeceased son/daughter, widow of a predeceased son, son/daughter/widow of a predeceased son of a predeceased son( one share each after distribution to priority heirs)
  2.  Class II heirs which includes Father, Son’s daughter’s children and Siblings.
  3. Daughter’s grandchildren, Children of Siblings, Father’s parents, Father’s widow (step-mother), Brother’s widow, Father’s siblings Mother’s parents, Mother’s siblings.

Female Succession

The property of Hindu female goes to (in order of priority):

  1.  her sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased children) and husband;
  2.  the heirs of her husband
  3.  her parents
  4. the heirs of her father
  5.  upon the heirs of her mother

Exceptions

In case a Hindu female dies intestate without declaring her will, the property inherited be her from her parents shall go to the heirs of her father only and not on the class of heirs specified above. Similarly, the property inherited by her husband or father-in-law shall go the heirs of her husband, in case of intestacy.

Restrictions

Below restriction have been imposed under the act in certain cases:

  1. No transfer can be made to a person who is not in existence at the time of testator’s death.
  2. No transfer can be made to a person who has not biologically came into this world. So if A has transferred his property to his son B and has willed to further transfer it to B’s son for life (who is not born then), the same is not possible as B’s son is not in existence at testator’s death and is void.
  3. No transfer can be done to a person that may delay beyond the lifetime of a survivor and the minority of some person who shall be in existence at the expiration of that period. A perpetual transfer is void.
  4. If a will is made to a class of persons, some of whom it is inoperative by reasons of the fact that the person is not in existence at the testator’s death or to create perpetuity, such legacy shall be void in regard to those persons only and not in regard to the whole class.
  5.  In case any of the above conditions where inheritance is void, any endowment contained in the same will and intended to take effect after or upon failure of such prior bequest is also void.
  6. In case any future income is to be earned from the property transferred by the testator, no accumulation of the income can be done from the estate so inherited, for more than 18 years, and after the expiry of the said period, the property shall be deemed to have been disposed.

Revocation/Loss of will

A will shall be deemed to have been revoked in case if:

  1. It is re-executed by way of another will by the testator.
  2.  It is burn, torn or destroyed in any other manner, whatsoever.
  3.  It is declared in writing that the testator wants to revoke the will.
  4.  It is lost or if the will was seen with the testator but cannot be found after this death.
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Special Marriage Act 1954

Special Marriage Act 1954 Procedure

Special Marriage Act 1954: – Marriages in India may be an event to rejoice one’s solemnization and a matter of pomp & show, but the legal side of it is generally ignored by the people. The effort to get a marriage registered is hardly being taken by the couples, even though the law binds them to get it done. In 1955, the parliament of India enacted The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, which came into force to administer Hindu Marriages in India Muslim Marriage Law for Islamic Weddings. But it is lesser known fact that A Special marriage act passed in 1954, which aimed at governing special form of marriage that involves an Indian or a Indian living in foreign getting married to a person of another nationality, caste, creed or religion.

The act was an adoption of proposed law during 19th century as a part of Act III 1872. It allows nonconformists to enforce a marriage of their choice and legitimizing it. The marriage may further result in disseverment of one’s own religion and adoption of a new one. Facing a lot of flak initially, for its forwardness to encourage a marriage against then societal norms, it eventually came into force in 1954. Here in this piece of Information, we shall discuss about the Solemnization of Marriage under Special Marriage Act, 1954 and study in depth as to how it works and what are the legal provisions and repercussions of the same. The Act applies to any person irrespective of his/her religion. The applicability extendsto whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir and to the intending spouses (both Indian national and foreigners living abroad)

The whole act can precisely be distributed into four parts:

1. The process (Solemnization of Marriage)

  • a. After the satisfaction on terms relating to age of male and female (21 & 18 respectively); sanity; prohibited relationship and geographical conditions, the parties hall give due notice of intended marriage to marriage officer.
  •  The notice to be published by marriage officer in a book prescribed for that purpose.
  •  Provided there is no objected being cited against the marriage by any person within 30 days of notice publication,
  •  After the objection have been duly inquired and dealt with, the marriage officer, upon declaration signed by the parties and countersigned by himself, may decide the place and date of solemnization of marriage and issue certificate.
  •  In case the marriage is not been formalised within 3 months of decided date, the entire process from point 1 has to be re-performed by both the parties.

2. Registration of Marriages

  • The registration is optional under the Act, however is recommended to get the marriage registered under for evidences purpose.
  • The conditions for registration of marriage is more or less same as solemnization, except the registration would be done after the marriage only.
  • The application shall be forwarded by the couple seeking registration to the marriage officer, upon which the officer shall, after providing for 30 days of public notice for objection by anyone, shall register the marriage, and enter the marriage certificate in marriage certificate book in prescribed form and format.
  • An appeal, in case of non-performance of Marriage officer of his duties, or in case of unnecessary delay in registration, may be pushed against the officer, to the district court.
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Eligibility for Gratuity

Eligibility for Gratuity and its calculation

There are various payable components given to an employee as a part of their salary during and after their services to their respective organisations. One of those components is Gratuity. Most of the times, gratuity is often been correlated or misunderstood with pension. However, there is huge difference between the two. Gratuity is essentially a one time, lump sum retirement benefit plan bestowed to the employees so as to reward them for their contribution to the enterprise. Gratuity payment in India is regulated by the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 and is usually payable at retirement, death or resignation. In this article we shall touch upon the various provisions of Gratuity including its calculation.

Applicability

The payment of Gratuity Act shall be applicable to whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir and to following class/category of entities.

  1. Every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port and railway company
  2. Every shop and establishment in which 10 or more persons are/were employed in preceding last 12 months.
  3. Other establishments where 10 or more persons are/were employed in preceding 12 months.
  4. Any organisation/entity/enterprise/company or class of them, that Central government from time to time may notify in official gazette.

One key takeaway from the above points is that the act shall be applicable to any company which has had a working staff of 10 or more persons at any point of time in preceding 10 months, and the applicability shall not dissolve if the number later reduce down to less than 10 in remaining part of the year.

Eligibility for Gratuity

Since gratuity is a kind ofgratitude extended to employees, the tenure of an employee plays a major part for him to be eligible for it.

  1. The employee must render to the organisation his continuous service.
  2. The tenure of the continuous service must be at least 5 years or more.

To understand the literal meaning of this provision, It is important to understand rationale of Continuous service. An employee shall be said to be in continuous service for a period if he has, for that period, been in uninterrupted service and includes service which may be interrupted on account of sickness, accident, leave, absence from duty without leave, lay off, strike or a lock-out or cessation of work not due to any fault of the employee, whether such uninterrupted or interrupted service was rendered before or after the commencement of this Act.Calculation of Gratuity

Calculation of Gratuity

The amount of gratuity is basically a multiplication of set number of working days out of total 26 working days, with two identifiers namely:

  • Last drawn salary &
  • Number of years of service.

The set number of working days decided for the calculation is 15, which means:

The amount of Gratuity = Last drawn salary X 15/26 X No. of years of service.

Note 1: Last drawn salary must be an accumulation of Basic Salary and dearness allowance only, keeping aside rest of the salary components.
Note 2: Years of service must be rounded off to nearest full year.
Note 3: in case of an employee working on daily wages, the amount of wages only shall be calculated for gratuity computation.
Note 4: In case of disablement, the salary/wages of an employee for the period prior to his disablement shall be taken to be wages received by him during that period and his wages/salary for the period ahead of his disablement shall be taken to be reduced wages.

When does the Gratuity actually become payable- The process, time limit and payment

For the payment of gratuity, an employer is entitled to calculate, notify and pay the employee. However, the employee may also contribute to his gratuity but he is not statutorily bound to do that.

The following procedure for claiming gratuity has to be followed:

  1. The employee has to himself, or though his authorised person, apply to employer for the payment of gratuity.
  2. Upon satisfaction of all the conditions stipulated in the act, the employer has to calculate the gratuity and intimate the employee about the same along with the controlling authority with duly stipulating the amount so calculated.
  3. The gratuity has then to be paid within 30 days from the date of gratuity becoming applicable to the eligible person.
  4. In case of non-payment, the employer shall be eligible to pay simple interest at a rate determined by thegovernment from time to time for repayment of long term deposits. In case of failure to pay gratuity amount, the employer shall be punishable with an imprisonment for not less than six months extendable to 2 years.

Gratuity Tax Exemptions

The government has allowed zero taxon gratuity for central government employees. The same is unfortunately not the case with private sector employees. However, the gratuity amount in case of Private employees is eligible for exemption upto 10 lakhs or 15 days salary for each completed year of service.

Recently in March 2017, initiatives to increase the tax exemption limit by Ministry of Labour and representative of state governments has been surfacing. The tax exemption limit is touted to be increased to 20 lakhs. Also under the current Gratuity payment rules, where employers are not covered under the gratuity Payment Act, then minimum of Rs 10 lakh; or actual gratuity received or half month’s salary for each completed year of service – is exempted from tax. This may change once the Act is amended.

Recent proposals & discussions with respect to Gratuity taken by Government

In February 2017, Central government along with labour ministry has allowed withdrawal of gratuity up to 20 lakhs, prior to which the tax free withdraw ceiling was limited to 10 Lakhs. The amendment, however, is currently applicable to Government employees. This has been a major skip at the government and it is now gearing upto to include private sector under its ambit too. This will done as a part of formal amendment in the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972. The government is also pondering over reducing the tenure of continuous service, which is currently 5 years.

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PROCESS TO FILE AN RTI APPLICATION

Process to File an RTI Application

When you invest into a subject and put your money, time, energy and interest, you want to be well informed about what’s happening with it. You want be abreast of all the developments related to it. As a responsible citizen, we pay taxes and discharge our duties. Therefore, it is our legitimate right to know as how our selected government is functioning & how the society in general, is being taken care of.

Embezzlements and concealment of public records by officials and concerned authorities, so as to deceive general mass for one’s ulterior motives was a frequent sight in Indian republic, that perpetrated within the system during last few decades. It not only affected the right of every Indian to being well informed about the nation that they have rooted for, but also questioned the Indian Judiciary for the longest time. History has it that a lot of judicial decisions were being drooped due the lack of correct information, which a lot of times, was being tempered and compromised with by the public authorities, who are supposed to act as a custodian to Indian archival.

The significance of any piece of information, whether big or small, comes to surface, only when it is most required. Much to the nation’s respite, and to endorseabsolute transparency within the system and regain public trust, Government legalised the right to access any public information by Indian Citizens for a bare minimum of INR 10. The law governing this practice is called Right to Information Act 2005, which is a repealed version of Freedom of Information Act 2002, a precedent to the same act. With this enactment, the government officials were be held accountable and make disclosures on public information, desiredby an Indian Citizen for inspection.

Ever since its enactment, RTI Act has proved to be a beneficial tool in the hands of general public and has exposed many scams detrimental to social interest. Be it, Adarsh Housing Society Scam, 2G scam or the great grand misappropriation of funds in Commonwealth games, RTI has, time and again, proved its mettle and restored faith in generic syntax of Indian working structure. It has also mandated offices to segregate and disseminate information in stipulated formats and categories, so the information may easily be retrieved as and when asked for. The act applies to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Though this article, we intent to add to your knowledge, on how an RTI application can be made and what are the necessary points to be kept in mind while preparing for it.

Process to File an RTI Application

RTI enables every citizen to seekanypiece of public information, without any procedural complications and may be submitted on a plain sheet of paper to authorised personnel.It initially started with physical writing and depositing of application at PIO (Public Information Office), which has now been transformed into an online public platform ; https://rtionline.gov.in/.

The steps to file an RTI application are as follows:

1. FILING AN APPLICATION

  •  An RTI application may be requested on a plain piece of paper in Hindi, English or the official language of a particular region. Though there may be different formats within various departments of public authorities but there is no compulsion to follow them necessarily under the law.
  • The application should be written neatly and in simple language. It preferably pointwise to have easy and clear replies.
  •  The application may be handwritten or electronically typed. However, with emergence of Online RTI facility, it is convenient and more feasible to apply online. But, that does not do away with physical application of an RTI.

2. PAYMENT OF FEES

  • GENERAL FEE: The general fee for filing an RTI application is INR 10, which is required be paid along with the application to the concerned public authority. However, this quantum of fee may differ state to state and even within numerous departments of a government department. General is informed to the applicant while submitting the application to concerned public authority. It is very important to obtain a receipt of paid fee over the counter (whether physical or online) in return of submitting an application, and should be retained as a proof by the applicant for future references. (For an exhaustive view of RTI Fee Structure, please visit:https://rtionline.gov.in/)
  • FURTHERFEE: The amount of further fees is calculated by the public information officer at the time of extracting the details. It depends on the type and nature of data requested for and time taken to inspect the records and documents for its retrieval. The levy of further fees shall also increase if the information is required to be replied in electronic format and necessary charges for diskettes, CD or DVD would accordingly be added. For an exhaustive view of RTI Fee Structure, please visit: https://rtionline.gov.in/ )
  • MODE OF PAYMENT: In most states and government departments, the way of payment of fees is through cash, banker’s cheque or demand draft payable in favour of Accounts officer of the concerned Public Authority. (For an exhaustive view of RTI Fee Structure, please visit: https://rtionline.gov.in/ )
  • NO FEE: In certain cases, payment of fee under RTI Act has been waived off.One, there is no fee for a person below poverty line, provided he produces necessary document certificate for this to PIO to his/her and upon his/her satisfaction, the fee must be waived off. Second, if the concerned public authority fails to reply to an application within stipulated time under the Act, which is 30 days from the receipt of application, the fee in that case, both general and further, shall be waived off.
  • APPEAL AGAINST THE QUANTUM OF FEES: If the applicant considers he amount of fee asked by the PIO is unreasonable, or at any stage he is aggrieved of the fee so demanded, he may appeal against the same to Information Commission, the appellate authority under RTI Act. It will also be the duty of PIO/APIO to inform about this applicant’s right while calculating the required fees.

The fee structure under RTI Act, as explained above, runs differently for different states and works department. It is felt that a level of uniformity must be brought within the same, so there is lesser confusion or chaos prevailing for the general public. Proposals had been made to the Central Information Commission regarding this issue, and the problem is expected to be resolved soon.

3. SUBMISSION OF APPLICATION:

  • Once an RTI application has been made, the same needs to be submitted to PIO or APIO of concerned public authority on payment of prescribed fee.
  • It is the duty of every applicant to receive a dated acknowledgement from the PIO’s counter/online to ensure the completion of his application to the authority. This should be retained for any further references.
  • It is recommended for applicant, to be aware well in advance, of the public department that he has requested information from. And if not known, then one must collect the desired information first and then apply.
  • However, if the application pertains to some different department within the same office, the application is itself forwarded to the right place by the PIO.
  • If the asked public authority is not answerable to questions so raised, the same is being forwarded to the appropriate public authority by PIO/APIO himself within 5 working days. The development on the treatment of an application is expeditiously put to the applicant’s notice too.

Section 7(1) of the RTI act requires the PIO to reply and RTI application within 30 days from the date of receipt. The PIO/APIO is required to comply with the provisions of the Act and furnish information to the applicants in a speedy and transparent manner.
RTI has made a common man powerful, in a way, that reminds him of his fundamental right and all the liberty that he must practice. Be aware. Be informed.

Note: The content above is being gathered from public and government websites & RTI Act, with a view to furnish a platform to general readers have an insight on the subject.

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CYBER CRIMES IN INDIA

Cyber Crimes in India

Gone are the days when accessing internet was anoverpriced matter for an individual/household; when cyber cafes were the only places to have paid usage and having an internet connection at homecame at exorbitant prices. Now to use internet, all you need is a smartphone with umpteen number of data packs for every income brackets to choose from. Online shopping, social networking, gaming, online jobs – there is hardly anything that internet has failed to cover. The technology has taken everything by storm and internet has only upsurge the convenience quotient for Indians. But along with the boon comes the bane. As much as we appreciate the existence and indispensability of internet in our daily lives, there is no taking away from the fact that Cyber Crime is also one of the dark facets pushed in by the internet and that has questionably jinxed the presence of both technology and internet.

Cyber Crime, can be defined as an act of manhandling technology in an unlawful manner by using a computer device as tool or medium with an intention to illegally conceal or steal a piece of confidential information. However, the term is generally and perceptibly quite wide and covers an assortment of activities under its ambit. The mishaps connoted as phishing, illegal downloading, piracy, industrial espionage are nothing but various types of Cyber Crimes.

Most commonly committed cyber-crimes may be enlisted as follows:

  • Unauthorized Access- in simple words, it means hacking, where a person illegally tries to interface a device and use unlawful means to crack hold of it. It included destructing the existing safety apparatus of a device, replacing the same with a new password(s) with a ready-made computer programs to outbreak the aimed computer/device.
  • Virus Attacks- A virus is a program which when inserted in a computer device, infects the user workspace, makes copies of itself and infect the whole working. The multiplicity of programs destroys the core management of the system and they do it redundantly till the complete mechanism is devastated. Examples of Viruses are Worms, Trojan horse, time bomb, bacterium etc.
  • Piracy–Piracy making an unauthorized copy of anything and then selling in place of original one. This includes trademark violations, steal computer source code, illegally downloading movies, copyright infringements etc.
  • Phishing – When an email is sent to your email box from a seemingly legitimate source, generally renowned companies or job offers, it usually contains a link that asks you leakyour confidential information from your system. This act is known as phishing. These are bogus websites to illegally extract the information from people and then using it to their illicit gains.
  • Email spoofing- Whenthe source of an email is being tempered with, it is known as Spoofing. The intention is generally to have monetary gains.

Although India is regulated by Information Technology Act 2000, the rate of cyber-crime cases has increased 300% between 2011-2014 which only goes up to prove that the real applicability of the law is still being quizzed. It has also been noticed that India has become one primary target of these malpracticers and the crimes are mainly rooted from countries like China, Pakistan, Turkey, UAE and Brazil. A study by Indian Computer Emergency team has stated the number of reported cyber crimes were close to 50000 in 2015. The study also underlined that operational systems built around legal technologies with weaker protocols were more prone to these cyber-attacks.

Much to our dismay, it has also been seen in India, that most cyber crimes’ cases don’t have a satisfactory ending, i.e. they don’t end up in conviction. The reasons have been touted as lack of cyber professionals to crack cases and the government have failed to resource and deploy the best set of cyber practices to use. As per Data Security Council of India, Indian government is training police and other official to deal with cyber law crimes, but impromptu transfers of those trained professionals lead to incomplete or no treatment of those cases. Due to such negligence and absence of a robust mechanism to fight cyber-crimes, has led to feeble planning and lesservigilance for upcoming technological threats in India.

In continuation of the same process to fight cyber-crime, formation of NCCC (National Cyber Coordination Centre) has been proposed in 2015, with an intention to ensure cyber security on Indian Internet interface and e-surveillance agency in India. The function and duties of NCCC would be prevent cyber-crime, devising strategies to investigate criminal cases posing threat to Indian Cyber space, review of old and outdated laws and to curb misuse of Social Media. Though NCCC got an in principle nod in 2013 by the then government, it actual formation is still pending.

The fight to control Cyber Crimes in India may be a national subject but the importance of general awareness about technology and consequently about criminal activities involved therein at an individual level cannot be undermined. That is to say, if one is agile enough at a personal level and not fall for vague goof ups and staggering monetary offers flooding over the mails, the effect of these crimes can be dealt to a great extent. There are few basic thumb rules that one should swear by if they are susceptible to to internet usage on a regular basis.

  • Shun off those pop ups appearing every now and then. This lead to various other fatal hyperlinks which further auto install malicious softwares in your device.
  • Install a good Anti-Virus in your system to combat unnecessary show downs and redundancy of pages.
  • Don’t fall prey to those lucrative job offers in your mail. They may sound like genuine stuff, which actually drain a lot of secretive information.
  • Don’t click on hyperlinks that are not secure and show up irrelatively on your browser.
  • Maintain not more than 2 email accounts. It is also imperative that the email account should be protected by two step verification process. Mobile alerts facility, when log in from a different device is done, should be subscribed for.
  • Do not auto save your credit/debit card details on online web portals.
  • Delete the spam folder in your mail box on a daily basis.
  • Avoid online shopping, banking etc. if the network is not properly secured. Don’t fall for free wifi zones.
  • Do not quote your email address or phone number in any kinds of surveys and questionnaires.

The rate at which cyber-crimes are inflating is startling. At an annual inflation of more than 100% in cybercrimes, India need a vigorous and effective plan to circumvent Indian cyber space. Indian government, has from time to time, taken steps and measures, to curb the frequency of Cyber Crimes. Though only steps taken on national level is not going to regulate and battle the derelictions. It is therefore important that defend the occurrence of these cases on an individual level. If the crimes still surface, then they should duly be reported and taken up and treated diligently. The battle against cyber-crime and protecting India from any upcoming cyber threats can only be dealt with combined efforts of both government and citizens. We need to all pull up our socks and shield any kind of detrimental action taken against our nation.

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RERA Act 2017 india

Real Estate Regulation Act,(RERA) 2017 – Salient Features

To have much cumbersome real estate sector run in an efficient and methodical manner, Real Estate Regulation Bill has finally been passed on 19th April 2017. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation issued a notification announcing a series of section coming into force from 01st May 2017. This is in extension to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 that came into force in May 2016. The act has come as a much needed respite to an otherwise chaotic management in Real estate as on today.

With 8 year longefforts coming to fruition, the Act has not only changed the real estate market for better but has also aimed at improving participation from the buyers’ end. It has devised and tight procedure for registering every project and a stern mechanism to deal with people indulging in unfair practices to unethically temper the market forces. With an utmost intent to safeguard buyers’ interest, the act has taken into consideration every pro and con that might have the effect of compromising on their rights and detrimental to their share of investment.

In a nutshell, these provisions relate to the functions and duties of promoters, rights and duties of allottees, registration process of real estate projects with RERA, recovery of interest & penalties, enforcement of orders, offences, penalties and adjudication, taking cognizance of offence.

We shall discuss the each of the salient features of the Act section wise in detail below:

APPLICABILITY– The Act applies to whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Registration of Real Estate Project

The Act has stipulated due procedure for registration making it mandatory for every real estate project to get prior registration with Real Estate Regulatory authority. The application for registration has to be made by the promoters in prescribed form mentioning details of enterprise, the project being carried out, history of the enterprise, required approvals, plan of development, location details, allotment letter, details of contractors, architects and structural designer. On satisfaction, the authority may grant registration within 30 days of application by the enterprise. The promoters are then given a login id on the website of Authority and required to create its own web page.

Registration of Real Estate Agent

Along with the projects being registered, the Act demands the registration of Real Estate Agents. No enterprise shall proceed further with any sale purchase of any plot, apartment or property without having obtained a registration number form the Authority. Any breach to the specified process may lead to hefty penalties under the Act.

Function And Duties of Promoters

The functions and duties of promotes are essentially buyer eccentric. He has to do all as to maintain authenticity in the working of projects, keep the buyers/investors well informed of every aspect of construction at every stage. This includes quarterly updates being uploaded on its web page, making available the letter of allotment to the buyer and postulating details about sanctioned plans, carpet area to include spaces like kitchen and toilets time scheduling, to timely obtain completion and occupancy certificate and to not to take any deposit without first entering into agreement for sale.

Right and Duties of Allotees

The allotees under the act would have to equally agile about their investment plans. They have an entitlement to know stage wise progress on project, to claim possession of apartment and to claim refund of amount paid as interest, if promoter fails to deliver the project on time. Likewise, for any late payment, the allotee would also be liable to pay interest. They must also participate towards registration of the conveyance deed of the apartment.

Real Estate Regulatory Authority

The Real Estate Regulatory Authority formed by appropriate government shall have sufficient number of members as prescribed under the act and one chairperson presiding over them. The authority shall be responsible to accept complaints by any aggrieved person/entity covered under the Act and resolve them expeditiously. Along with registering real estate projects &agents and maintaining records and archiving them for public records, they are also designated to protect interest of allotees, promoters& agents, creating single window systems for time bound projects, creating transparent grievance redressal mechanism and constructing environment friendly sustainable housing. One remarkable feature of this establishment is that the RERA authority has to be formed state wise, which will not lead to less chaotic management of cases, but will also help in speedy redressal of queries at the aggrieved end.

Central Advisory Council

The Central Advisory council under section 41 shall consist representative from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and commerce, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Law and justice, NITIAayog, National Housing Bank, Housing and Urban Development to advise, from time to time, as to how the authority and the act can work in a more effective and translucent manner. The Council shall recommend, the central government, on questions of matter concerning implementation of Act, to foster growth and development of real estate sector.

Real Estate Apellate Tribunal

The Appellate tribunal shall address the appeal made by any aggrieved person/investor/buyer/promoter. A period of 60days has been stipulated under the act to expeditiously prefer/resolve the appeal and pass such orders, final or interim as it may deem fit. The appellate tribunal shall have to state reasons, for not adhering the stipulated timelines. The tribunal shall consist of two whole time members having adequate capabilities as to technical and administrative qualities and one chairperson.

Offences, Penalties and Adjudication

Considering the scope for embezzlement in activities involved in real estate and construction of buildings, apartments, the Act has included stringent provision for offences and levy of heavy penalties on breaching any of those provisions of the Act.

The offences includes :

  1. Non-compliance with the order of RERA Authority, central Advisory Council and Apellate Tribunal.
  2. Providing incomplete or false information about registered projects and concealing information that has the effect of diluting/dissolving investors’/buyers’ money.
  3. Non registration of the projects or real estate agents.
  4. Non-compliance to any other provision of this Act.

The penalties includes imprisonment and fine or both depending upon nature and severity of offence conducted. The imprisonment may extend 3 years and fine up to 10% of the estimated cost of the project.

The real Estate Regulatory Act 2017, has an array of advantages for buyers’ set forth in the act with a deep rooted sight and incumbency upon the builders. The act has also mandated deposition of 70% of the collected funds into an escrow account to ensure hastened deliverance of the projects and avoiding any delay in possessions to the buyers. The clarity endowed in the sale purchase agreement and clearly rolling out the functions and duties of promoters and regular intervention by the buyers is likely to surge the authenticity of the project a notch up. The buyers are now supposed to pay for only carpet area and not super area, as per earlier practice. And lastly the Real estate sector in India is going to experience a boost in FDI’s, which was not the case before this Act coming to fore. This will lead to increased overseas investment, amplified foreign exchange and sky highs GDP’s in Indian economy. The Real Estate Regulatory Act has upheaved the level of confidence in the buyers/customers.

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BAILABLE AND NON-BAILABLE OFFENCES IN INDIA

Bailable And Non-Bailable Offences in India

All offences that are committed by a suspect, more or less fall under two categories in our country, bailable offences and Non-bailable Offenses.

Both categories of offences are explained as under:

Bailable offences

An offence in which the suspect has a right to bail and hence he can apply for it at any stage of custody or the proceedings of the case, such offence is called a bailable offence.

A person who isindictedunder a bailable offence and is detained orimprisoned without a warrant by the officer in charge, or he/ she is takento the Court, at any phase of the proceeding before the Court ,theaccused can be released on bail. Underbailable offences bail is a matter of right of the accused.

The righteous officer or the Court maycontemplate it to be appropriate for that person to be released on a personal bond without sureties. In the instance of bailable offence, one has to only file the bail bonds, application is not required.

Non-Bailable Offences

The second kind is non-bailable offences. In the case of non-bailable offences the grant or rejection of bail is the complete discreation of the court. In the case of non bailable offences, an application has to be made in the court.

When an accused is suspected of, the commission of a non-bailable offence, and he is under arrest or has been imprisoned without a warrant by an officer in charge or appears or is brought before a Court other than the High Court or Sessions Court, he may be released on bail, as long as the Court directs that the person, be released on bail only if such person is below sixteen years of age or is a woman or is sick or ailing.Further, the Court may also direct that a person be released on bail if it is contented that it is fair and appropriate to do so for any other exceptional reason.

The exceptions to not granting bail are listed as follows:

  • No bail will be granted if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person accused is guilty of an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment.
  • No bail will be granted if the offence is cognizable in nature and the person has also been formerlyimprisoned of an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for seven years or more.
  • When the accused is suspected of committing an offence punishable with imprisonment which may extend to seven years or more or of an offence under Chapter 6, Chapter 16 or Chapter 17 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or abetment of, or conspiracy or attempt to commit, any such offence, is released on bail under sub-section (i), the Court may impose any condition which the Court considers necessary for granting bail to make sure that-
  • The accused or suspect shall appear in agreement with the conditions of the bond executed under the Chapter, or
  • Make sure that the accused shall not commit an offence similar to the offence of which he is accused of, or
  • Anything otherwise in the interest of justice.
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CONSUMER RIGHTS IN INDIA

Consumer Rights in India

A Consumer is the one who always has a right to information with regards to the quantity, effectiveness,quality, transparency, price, and the standard of goods or services that he or she wishes to acquire. He has right to be protected against any sort of unfair trade practices. Though, in order to be protected against any unfair trade practices a consumer first and foremost must know his/her rights.

India has enforced various laws over the period of time to safeguard and protect a consumer against various malpractices; the main act shielding the consumer is the Consumers Protection Act 1986. Consumer Protection Act 1986 states that, everyone, be it individual entity,firm, family or company, always and under every circumstance have the right to employ their consumer rights for the purchase of and goods or services.

Most of the consumer rights in India are following:

  1. To have the right to complete consumer education
  2. To be free choice of goods and services
  3. To be protected from all kind of hazardous goods and services
  4. To be fully informed about the performance and quality of all goods and services
  5. To be heard in all decision-making processes related to consumer interests
  6. To be able to seek redressal, whenever consumer rights have been infringed

In case of violation of right a complaint can be made under the following circumstances and reported to the designated consumer court.

  • The goods or services purchased by a person are defected in nature.
  • Resorting to unfair trade practices by a trader
  • Charging rates more than the price quoted
  • Goods or services that bring a hazard to the safety or life of a person offered for sale, unknowingly or knowingly, that cause injury to health, safety or life.
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