This is a series of articles with an attempt to apprise the readers of the important provisions added (or modified or deleted) via the Amendment Bills passed or about to be passed by the Legislature in the present Session, as underneath the gamut of details written and deliberated upon in the Legislature various important provisions are foreshadowed.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- Compensation for road accident victims: Under the Bill, the Central Government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden period, which is, as per the Bill, the time up to one hour following a traumatic injury during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medicine is at highest. The Bill increases minimum compensation in hit and run case from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 2,00,000 in case of death and from Rs. 12,500 to Rs. 50,000/- in case of grievous injury.
- Compulsory insurance: The Central Government will constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund with a purpose to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents. The fund will be used for the treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, compensation to claimants on death and to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run case and compensation to any other person as prescribed by Central Government.
- Good samaritans: The Bill has provisions for the protection of good samaritans who come forward to help the accident victims from any civil or criminal liability. It will now be optional for them to disclose their identity to the police or medical practitioner.
- Recall of vehicles: The Amendment Bill mandates that the Government can now recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. The manufactures can be fined with a heavy penalty in case of sub-standard components or engine.
- National transport policy: The Central Government may develop a National Transport Policy, in consultation with the State Governments which will establish a planning framework for road transport, the grant of permits and specify priorities for the transport system.
- Road safety board: The Central Government will establish a National Road Safety Board through a notification that will advise Central and State Governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including standards of motor vehicles, registration and licensing of vehicles, standards for road safety and promotion of new vehicle technology.
- Offences and Penalties: The Bill increases penalties for several offences under the Act. For instance, the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000. If a vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with motor vehicle standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. If a contractor fails to comply with road design standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to one lakh rupees. The fine for rash driving has been increased from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5,000. Not wearing a seat belt would attract a fine of Rs. 1000 as against Rs. 100 at present.
- Taxi aggregators: The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes. These aggregators will be issued licenses by the State. Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019
- Deposit: The Bill defines a deposit as an amount of money received through an advance, a loan, or in any other form with a promise to be returned with or without interest. Such deposit may be returned either by cash or service and the time of return may or may not be specified. The amounts received in the form of loans from relatives and contributions towards capital by partners in a partnership firm shall not be included in the definition of deposits.
- Unregulated deposit scheme: The Bill bans unregulated deposit schemes. An unregulated deposit scheme is defined as if a deposit is taken for a business purpose and is not registered with the regulators’ list in the Bill.
- Deposit taker: The Bill defines the term deposit takers as an individual, a group of individuals or a company who asks for or receives deposits. Banks and entities incorporated under any other law are not included in the category of deposit takers under the Bill.
- Competent authority: The Bill provides for the appointment of one or more government officers, not below the rank of Secretary to the State or Central Government as the competent authority. Police officers receiving information about the offence committed under the Bill will report it to the competent authority. Further police officer not below the rank of an officer- in -charge of a police station may enter, search and seize any property believed to be connected with an offence under the Bill, with or without a warrant. The competent authority may provisionally attach the property of the deposit taker as well as all deposits received, summon and examine any person it considers necessary for the purpose of obtaining evidence and order the production of records and evidence.
- Designated courts: The Bill provides for the constitution of one or more designated courts in specified areas. This court will be headed by a District & Sessions Judge, or Additional District & Sessions Judge. The designated courts will have the power to make the provisional attachment absolute, vary or cancel the provisional attachment, finalize the list of depositors and their respective dues and direct the competent authority to sell the property and equitably distribute the money realized among the depositors. The court will seek to complete the process within 180 days of being approached by the competent authority.
- Central database: The Bill provides for the Central Government to designate an authority to create an online central database for information on deposit takers. All deposit takers will be required to inform the database authority about their business.
- Offences and penalties: The Bill defines three types of offences and penalties related to them. These offences are (i) running advertising, promoting, operating or accepting money for unregulated deposit schemes; (ii) fraudulently defaulting on regulated deposit schemes; and (iii) wrongfully inducing depositors to invest in unregulated deposit schemes by willingly falsifying facts. For example, accepting unregulated deposits will be punishable with imprisonment between two and seven years, along with a fine ranging from 3 to 10 lakh rupees. Defaulting in repayment of unregulated deposits will be punishable with imprisonment between 3 to 10 years, and a fine ranging from 5 lakh rupees to twice the amount collected from depositors. Further, repeated offenders under the Bill will be punishable with imprisonment between 5 to 10 years, along with a fine ranging from Rs 10 lakh to 5 crore rupees.
The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019
- New Delhi International Arbitration Centre: The Bill provides for the establishment of the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre to conduct the arbitration, mediation and conciliation proceedings. The Bill declares this institution as an institution of national importance.
- International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution: It is a registered society to promote the resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as arbitration and mediation.
- Composition: Under the Bill, the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre will consist of seven members, which are: (i) a Chairperson who may be a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court or an eminent person with special knowledge and experience in the arbitration; (ii) two eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration; (iii) three ex-officio members, including a nominee from the Ministry of Finance and a Chief Executive Officer; and (iv) a representative from a recognized body of commerce and industry, appointed as a part-time member on a rotational basis.
- Term and superannuation: The members of the Centre will hold office for three years and will be eligible for re-appointment. The retirement age for the Chairperson is 70 years and other member is 67 years.
- Objectives: The key objectives of the Centre will be to promote research and study, providing training and conferences in ADR matters, to provide facilities and administrative assistance in arbitration, mediation and conciliation proceedings, maintaining a panel of accredited professionals to conduct arbitration, mediation and conciliation proceedings, to set up facilities in India and abroad to promote the activities of Centre.
- Finance and audit: The Centre will be required to maintain a fund which will be credited with grants received from the Central Government, fees collected for its activities and other sources. The accounts of the Centre will be audited and certified by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG).
- Institutional Support: The Bill specifies that the Centre will establish a Chamber of Arbitration which will maintain a permanent panel of arbitrators. Further, the Centre may establish an Arbitration Academy for the training of arbitrators and conducting research in the area of alternative dispute resolution.
– Kiranpreet Kaur
Associate Partner at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S Nagar (Mohali).