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Gujarat’s Controversial Labour Laws Bill – Gets Presidents Assent

Gujarat’s Controversial Labour Laws Bill – When the Bill was passed in the Gujarat Assembly in February this year, the entire Opposition walked out, terming it as “anti-labour” and “pro-private industries.”

President Pranab Mukherjee has given assent to the contentious Labour Laws Bill of Gujarat, which has provisions to ban strikes in public utility services for up to one year. The Bill was sent for the President’s approval along with the controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, 2015, which is yet to be given the green light.

Mr. Mukherjee has received representations against both Bills from the Opposition in Gujarat.

Of the 65 State laws sent to the President this year, only 34 have got assent.

The President has also refused to give assent to the Sikkim Promotion of Local Employment Bill, 2008, which proposed 80 per cent employment in the private sector for people carrying the Sikkim Subject Certificate.

As their contents had certain clauses repugnant to the Central government laws, the Ministry of Home Affairs had sent the two Bills for inter-ministerial consultation before forwarding them to the President. Not all State laws are sent to the President for assent. It is done only when a law runs counter to the Central government laws, deviates from the national policies and its legal and constitutional validity can be challenged.

When the Bill was passed in the Gujarat Assembly in February this year, the entire Opposition walked out, terming it as “anti-labour” and “pro-private industries.”

Over a dozen amendments were made to the original law regarding labour laws protecting labourers in factories and other sectors. Among other contentious clauses, the time limit for workers to raise objections to the decisions of the industries has been reduced to one year from three years.

The most controversial amendment was over settlement of disputes between workers and the management “out of court” by compounding a certain amount of money in the government agency.

“This provision will reduce unnecessary and endless litigation, as court cases go on for years. Thus, we want to introduce a system wherein labourers can arrive at a compromise with employers without approaching court,” Labour and Employment Minister Vijay Rupani said, defending the provision.

Congress lawmaker Shaktisinh Gohil criticised the government for bringing in the amendments which were against the interests of workers and favoured industrialists.

As for the GCTOC Bill, a senior official of the Union Home Ministry told that it was still in the President’s office but he had not asked for any clarification.

The Union Home Ministry watered down the Bill and prevailed over the Gujarat government’s suggestion to let the State Home Secretary be the final authority on phone-tapping requests.

The Union Home Ministry said the State could not have “absolute powers” and such decisions would be processed only by the Union Home Secretary.

Source: The Hindu

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