Lok Sabha passes Gratuity and Specific Relief Amendment Bills amid din

Published: March 15, 2018 - 13:54

The Lok Sabha on Thursday gave its nod to two crucial Bills - The Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill and The Specific Relief Amendment Bill amid din without any discussion even as Opposition Members strongly insisted for debate and divisions.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the Members that she also agreed that there should be debate on the Bills , particularly on The Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill, but as chaos prevailed with Opposition Members and NDA ally TDP raising slogans, she allowed Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar to move the bill and the amendments.
The cut motions from RSP member N K Premachandran and Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were also negated by voice vote while the government amendments were accepted.
The Bill among other things empowers the Central government to notify the period of maternity leave eligible for qualifying as continuous service and determine the amount of gratuity available to employees.
The maximum maternity leave under the 1961 Act was changed from 12 weeks to 26 weeks by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017. The Bill removes the reference to 12 weeks in the 1972 Act and empowers the central government to notify the maximum maternity leave.
Under the Act, the maximum amount of gratuity payable to an employee cannot exceed Rs 10 lakh. The Bill removes the existing ceiling and states that the ceiling may be notified by the central government. The Central government may provide tax-free gratuity of Rs 20 lakh to the oraganised sector workers, the Minister said.
Similar scenes prevailed while passing of The Specific Relief Amendment Bill which was piloted by Minister of State for Law P P Choudhary.
Among others, Congress Member Jyotiraditya Scindia said it was the responsibility of the government to run the House in order and important Bills ought to be debated.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also said the government was in favour of discussions and debate on Bills especially The Specific Relief Amendment Bill -- which he said is an 'important piece of legislation'.
Under The Specific Relief Amendment Bill , certain civil courts may be designated as Special Courts by the state government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of a High Court. These courts will deal with cases related to infrastructure projects. Such cases must be disposed off within 12 months from the date of receipt of summons by the defendant. This period can be extended by the courts for another six months. 
Earlier, papers were laid and Telugu Desam Leader Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who stepped down as Civial Aviation Minister, gave a brief statement on the circumstances those led to his resignation from the Union Council of ministers.
The TDP members have been protesting against the government for not designating Andhra Pradesh as a Special Category State. As the pandemonium prevailed, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.