GOVERNMENT OF INDIA HAS RECENTLY ISSUED BAN ON USE OF ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

The Union Cabinet of India chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has recently approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Ordinance, 2019 on 18-09-2019. The Government of India has taken this initiative to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in India, in overall interest of public health as envisaged under Article 47 of the Constitution of India 1950 as amended thereof.

According to the Union Cabinet, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is said to be the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes. These products are sold in market with attractive appearances and multiple flavours, which have successfully induced a large of number of people, especially among youth and children, to use battery-operated devices including e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, etc.

As per the Cabinet, the Ordinance recognizes production, manufacture, etc of e-cigarettes as a cognizable offence and provides the following punishment for the same:

A) For production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes:

  • Imprisonment of up to 1 year or fine up to Rs. 1 Lakh or both for the first offence; and
  • Imprisonment of up to 3 years and fine up to Rs. 5 Lakhs for a subsequent offence.

B) Storage of electronic-cigarettes:

  • Imprisonment of up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000/- or both.

C) Deposit of existing stocks of e-cigarettes in any nearby police stations:

  • The Sub-Inspectors of Police at every police station have been authorized to take action against offenders including those who have not deposited their existing stock of banned e-cigarettes, on the date of commencement of the Ordinance.

This move of the Government is aimed at protecting the younger generation from the increased risk of addiction to e-cigarettes, and further, at controlling and reducing the use of tobacco and associated diseases, etc in the country.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

AMENDMENTS IN MOTOR VEHICLES ACT

The Motor Vehicles Act 1988 needed a change as the traffic in India has increased by leaps and bounds. The Ministry of Transport and Highways (Ministry) felt that there was an urgent need to amend the Motor Vehicles Act. As per the data of the Ministry roughly 1.5 lakh people were killed in road accidents every year in India. Hence to introduce an efficient, safe and corruption free transport system in the Road and Transport Minister of India Shri Nitin Gadkari introduced the new Motor Vehicles Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Parliament.

The said Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is based on the recommendations of the Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of States constituted by the Ministry to address the issue of road safety and to improve  the inter personal dealings of citizens with transport departments. 

The said  Bill was passed by both Houses and notified on 28th August 2019 by the Ministry and the amendments came into force from 01st September 2019.

The Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019, which contains 63 provisions that deal with penalties, licenses, registration and the National Transport Policy has several amendments. Some of the amendments of interest to the public are:

S no. PENALTY OLD AMOUNT NEW AMOUNT
  1. Penalty for offenses where no penalty is specifically provided Rs 100 for first offense and Rs 300 for second/  subsequent offense. Rs 500 for first time offense, Rs 1,500
for subsequent offense
2. Violation of road regulations Rs 500 to Rs 1,000
3. Disobedience of orders of Authority and refusal to share information   Rs 500   Rs 2000
4. Un authorized use of vehicles without license Rs 1000 Rs 5000
5. Driving without license Rs 500 Rs 5000
      6. Over-speeding Rs 400 Rs 1000 – Rs 2000 for light motor vehicle, Rs 2,000 – Rs 4,000 for medium passenger or goods vehicles and impounding of driving licence for second/subsequent offence.
      7. Drunken Driving       – Imprisonment up to 6 months and/or fine up to Rs. 10000 for first offence and imprisonment up to 2 years and/or fine of Rs. 15000 for second offence.
8. Driving uninsured vehicle fine of Rs. 1000 and/or punishment up to 3 months

 
Rs. 2000 and/or imprisonment up to 3 months for the first offence and fine of Rs. 4000 and/or imprisonment up to 3 months for the second offence.

 
9. Causing obstruction to free flow of traffic   Rs 50 Rs 500

Applicants seeking learner’s license can now apply to any licensing authority in the State online. The minimum educational qualification to drive a transport vehicle has been removed.

In the case of hit-and-run, the compensation amount provided by the Government to the victim’s family has been increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh.

Concerning road accidents, a time limit of six months has been specified for applying for compensation to the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highway Nitin Gadkari announced on 11th September 2019 that States were free to make changes in the penalties under the new Motor Vehicle Act. The statement comes after some States, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Bihar, expressed dissent over its implementation in totality, as the new law led to hefty penalties on traffic violators. The Minister said the idea of imposing fine was to make people disciplined not to collect revenue from fine.

“The Motor Vehicle Act is in our concurrent list, in which both State and Centre governments have the right to formulate the law. Fines vary as per violation, and States have the right to take the decision,” said the Minister.

The Gujarat Government reduced the challan amounts imposed under the new Motor Vehicles Act for breaking traffic rules. BJP-ruled Gujarat is the first State to do so. The new rules will come into effect from 16th September, 2019 onwards. The Delhi Government is also considering reducing certain penalties.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced that the fines laid down in the new act were the maximum suggested and his Government had reduced them after detailed deliberations.

The new Motor Vehicles Act after implementation has now reduced accidents and the fear of heavy penalties has reduced traffic violations. It is hoped that with these changes in the Motor Vehicles Act India will now follow the footsteps of advanced Countries.

GOVIND GUPTA

ASSOCIATE

THE INDIAN LAWYER

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CALLS UPON THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA TO TAKE ACTION ON UNIFORM CIVIL CODE

The Supreme Court Of India vide its Judgment dated 13.09.2019 in the matter of   Jose Pualo Coutinho vs. Maria Luiza Valentina Pereira and Anr, observed that till date there has been no efforts and attempts made to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the Country. This comment was made while the Court was deciding a personal law matter pertaining to a Goan couple. The Court observed that the  Government has failed to give attention to Article 44 of the Indian Constitution and  promulgate a Uniform Civil Code for the entire country.  It further commented that despite a passage of 63 years since the codification of Hindu Law in 1956 no action has been taken to codify a Uniform Civil Code for all religious sectors.

The Bench comprising of Justice Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose while delivering a verdict in a divorce case of a Goan couple, said that Goa where the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867 is applicable held that this case was a ‘shining example’ for the Government to enforce a Uniform Civil Code.

The Supreme Court wrote “Whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard.

Justice Aniruddha Bose observed while holding that it will be the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 as applicable in the State of Goa, which shall govern all personal law issues including the rights of succession and inheritance even in respect of properties of a Goan domicile situated outside Goa, anywhere in India.

With this judgment the Supreme Court of India has brought on centre stage the urgent necessity of implementing a Uniform Civil Code for the country. This judgment can give momentum to the Modi lead BJP Government in taking a decision towards enforcing of a Uniform Civil Code.

SOURABH KUMAR MISHRA

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

INDIA HOLDS BILATERAL TALKS WITH CHINA AND RUSSIA FOR STRENGTHENING STRATEGIC COOPERATION 2019

India has recently held bilateral talks with China and Russia with an aim to increase investment flows, boost economic growth and facilitate bilateral trade between India-China and India-Russia.

India-China strategic cooperation

India is scheduled to hold the 6th India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (the Event) in New Delhi from 07-09-2019 to 09-09-2019 for enhancing bilateral practical cooperation. Various round table meetings would be held at the Event to discuss about facilitating bilateral trade and investment flows and to address relevant economic and commercial issues across various sectors such as infrastructure, energy, high-tech, resource conservation, pharmaceuticals and policy coordination and to further attend technical site visits.

This Event would be led by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), India, that designs strategic and long-term policies and programmes for the Government of India, and the National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC), China, that formulates and implements strategies of national economic and social development for the People’s Republic of China.

India-Russia strategic partnership

India and Russia have recently held bilateral meetings to deepen the cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector for 2019-2024 in Moscow on 29-08-2019. The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Minister of Steel of the Republic of India, Mr. D. Pradhan and the Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, Mr. A. Novak discussed about the following ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector:

1- Increased supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia to India, so that India can transform itself into a gas-based economy.

2- Increased participation of public and private sector companies of Russia in development of gas pipeline networks and city gas distribution infrastructure in India, and augmentation of investments in Indian refining, petrochemical and associated sectors.

3- Collaboration of Indian and Russian companies for exploring possibility of LNG projects in the Arctic region and other joint projects in third countries in the energy sector.

4- Diversification of existing training and knowledge exchange programmes, joint research in energy sector, etc.

5- Potential agreements between India and Russia for supply of crude and fuel oil to Indian refineries.

6- Execution of 35 commercial documents between Russian and Indian companies, a few of which have been listed below:

  • Memorandum of Understanding for the Manufacture and Assembly of Primary Trainer Aircraft, DAKSH between Yakovlev Design Bureau and Bharat Earth Movers Limited
  • Memorandum of Understanding between Far Eastern Mining Company and the State Trading Corporation of India Ltd.
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Skolkovo Foundation and the Global Education and Leadership Foundation

Thus, these measures seem to portaray the sincere efforts of the Government of India to boost economic growth, increase bilateral trade and investment flows, and further, strengthen strategic bilateral cooperation with China and Russia.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

JOURNEY OF TRIPLE TALAQ IN INDIA

Talaq is an Islamic word for divorce and means separating and breaking ties of marriage. As per Sharia law there are many more ways in which a marriage can be ended but triple talaq is one of them. Muslim Marriage is a civil contract, the Muslim Law imposes obligation upon the husband to pay consideration of the marriage to the wife as a mark of respect. As per Hanafi law talaq -ul-biddat or triple talaq can only be given by husband and has validity in the eyes of law.  Talaq- ul-biddat can be performed by husband by saying the word talaq thrice in a single sitting. No evidence is required to prove the talaq pronounced by husbands, also the presence of third person is not necessary and the women are left with no options.

Triple talaq haunts Muslim women. When she knocks the court’s door for maintenance, the husband tries to defend himself by pretending to have divorced his wife in the past, even if it is not so because no burden of proof lies on husband to prove the statement of triple talaq and intention for dissolution of marriage. Such incidents become stressful for women when court refuses to give any relief in their favour.

Over 22 countries in the world have declared the practice of triple talaq as null and void. On 18th April 1996 a rally towards Mantralaya in Bombay marked the first step for protecting Muslim women against the evil Triple Talaq.

In Mohd. Ahmed Khan v Shah Bano Begum (AIR 1985 SC 954) Five -Member Bench of Supreme Court held that Section 124 of Criminal Procedure Code which talks about maintenance will be applicable to every divorced wife irrespective of any religion. Even after this development there were numerous cases where the women were denied justice.

In 2017 in Shayara Bano and others v. Union of India and others, Writ Petition (C) No. 118 of 2016 the Supreme Court of India comprising of a Five Judge’s Constitution Bench passed landmark judgment in the history of triple talaq by banning the Muslim practice of triple talaq in India by declaring it as an unconstitutional and struck it down by 3:2 majority.

On 28th December 2017 The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 [The Bill] was introduced in Lok Sabha and was also passed the very same day. Though it could not be passed by Rajya Sabha as the time it reached there the tenure of the Government was over and the bill ultimately lapsed.

Again, in July 2019 the Bill was introduced in Parliament and was finally passed by both the Houses. It received the assent of the President on 31st July 2019 and was also notified in the Official Gazette. It is said to replace the Triple Talaq Ordinance which was promulgated in February 2018. According to the newly passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 [The Act] any pronouncement of talaq by a Muslim husband upon his wife, by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form or in any other manner whatsoever, shall be void and illegal, and punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Thus, the 1400-year-old unfair practice comes to an end the great relief of Muslim Women who were left with no resort. With the passing of the new Act the divorced women can claim their rights which were previously denied to them and hereafter the mere pronouncement of the word Talaq will not constitute dissolution of marriage.

Aakritee Gambhir

Associate

The Indian Lawyer