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Govt proposes liberal hire-and-fire rules for firms with under 300 workers

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In a significant move, companies hiring up to 300 workers will no longer will required to frame standing orders for their employees, according to a new labour law proposed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. A standing order is a legally binding collective employment contract and holds significance as it contains key work-related terms and conditions and is meant to prevent arbitrary dismissal of employees.

Amid opposition, the government on Saturday introduced three crucial labour legislation’s including the Code on Industrial Relations, the Social Security Code and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Condition in the Lok Sabha, paving way for labour reforms in the country.

“We have included 174 out of 233 or 74% of the recommendations of the standing committee on labour across three codes being introduced again as they have undergone substantial changes,” labour and employment minister Santosh Gangwar said in Lok Sabha while introducing the bills.

According to minister Gangwar, even the preamble of the Social Security Code has undergone changes. Before introducing the new bills with substantive changes, the minister had withdrawn the three codes tabled in the Parliament in 2019.

“The government had held nine rounds of tripartite consultations while drafting the three codes,” minister Gangwar added.

The codes will give powers to state governments on rules related to hiring, retrenchment and fixing work hours in their factories and establishments while restricting powers of the workers to form unions. Besides, it will ensure the government extends social security to all, including the unorganized and gig workers in a phased manner.

The union labour ministry has consolidated and amalgamated 29 labour laws into four codes to significantly improve the ease of compliance and hiring and firing of workers while keeping the labour welfare under consideration. The government had earlier notified the Code on Wages which provides for national level floor wage for all workers. The Code, is however, yet to be implemented.

Labour minister Gangwar,assured that the government will take into consideration points raised during the discussion of the three bills in the House.

The code on occupational safety, health and working conditions (OSH&WC Code) and the industrial relations code (IR Code) will give autonomy to states to amend labour laws to suit their industrial needs and attract investments through labour reforms without seeking Center’s permission.

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J&K: Modi Govt’s New Land Policy for state Overturns 7 Decades of Land Reform.

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Modi Govt. on Tuesday notified the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, enabling a host of new changes to the former state.

Under the new arrangements, no domicile or permanent resident certificate is required to purchase non-agricultural land in the UT. The Union home ministry has also notified the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, paving way for the acquisition of land in J&K by all Indian citizens. Previously, article 35-A of J&K Constitution, watered down on August 5, 2019, placed prohibitions on the sale of land to those who were not state subjects.

The latest order also empowers the government to declare any area in J&K as ‘strategic’ and intended for the direct operational and training requirement of the armed forces at the behest of an army officer of or above the rank of a corps commander.

If all of this is part of the BJP’s long-standing agenda of ending J&K’s ‘special status’, there is another change that many in the rest of India may not realise the significance of: the government’s order has also abolished the historic Big Land Estate Abolition Act, 1950 – under whose aegis the former state witnessed the radical redistribution of land which paved way for rural prosperity and ended landlordism in J&K.

The fresh enactments have provoked anger in the Union Territory, where suspicions abound that the Centre is gradually disempowering the local population and consolidating control through untrammeled executive power. For more than two years now, J&K has been without an elected government. All the changes being introduced in the UT have been steamrolled by Centre rather than being legislated by elected representatives of the people.

The MHA has revoked 12 state laws as a whole while another 26 have been adapted with changes or substitutes. Laws which are repealed as a whole include the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act, Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act 1956, Jammu and Kashmir Consolidation of Holdings Act 1962, Jammu and Kashmir Right of Prior Purchase Act, and the Jammu and Kashmir Utilization of Lands Act.

“The changes represent the operational aspect of the big measure taken in August last year,” said Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmiri political analyst. “They have taken the repealing of Article 370 and 35-A to its logical conclusion. It was bound to happen. The order is very long. It will take time even for experts to parse through it before they finally wrap their minds around the kind of alteration that has been wrought. But prima facie, the changes enunciated in the order seem to correspond to the larger objectives being plotted with respect to the demographics of J&K.”

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