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Child Labour Laws in times of Covid-19
  • By: admin
  • Date: 03 Jul 2020
  • Civil
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India is on the 4th position when talking about the coronavirus badly affected countries. The number of cases in the country is increasing rapidly, and there is yet no solution discovered for the same. The government is trying its best to tackle the situation and therefore, is constantly imposing relaxations on different laws to improve the circumstances for everyone. These relaxations have been imposed on the migrant workers, schools and colleges, large scale and small scale companies, and now also on the child labour laws.

International Labour Organization

The ILO (International Labour Organization) has asked India to ensure that children should not fall into the trap of child labour, post the outbreak of covid-19, which has led to the significant decline in family incomes and due to the disrupted school education. A six-point roadmap for India is laid out which addresses the problem of poverty alleviation measures bring about universal social security, come up with education-related measures to ensure children go back to school, regulate laws and enforce them while ensuring there is the social dialogue between all stakeholders. This was suggested by the director of the ILO, Dagmar Walter.

The thing is, lockdown imposed has made many families helpless and poor. This has, in turn, led to the situation, where the parents will ask their children to work and earn, instead of study, when the lockdown opens. A webinar was arranged on World Day Against child labour which was jointly organised by the ILO, labour ministry and the VV Giri National Labour Institute on Friday in which Walter addressed India.

Coming to a conclusion, that there are high chances, that child labour will increase post-Covid-19, the Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar has ensured that the government will work under a concrete national plan to eradicate child labour within the given time. Centre, states and society at large will have to work collectively to help eradicate child labour from the country. According to the existing laws of India, no child below the age of 14 can be allowed to indulge in any kind of work.

As per the recent reports of ILO-UNICEF, globally 152 million children are working as child labourers out of which 72 million are involved in hazardous jobs. These children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working longer hours. The current pandemic is expected to raise the child labour, the first time in the last 20 years. From 2000, India has only witnessed a decrease of child labour by 94 million, but this gain soon can be reversed according to the warnings of the two multilateral bodies, which are ILO and UNICEF. The studies suggest that a one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 per cent increase in child labour in certain countries. Factors like quality education, better economic opportunities and social protection services can play game changers and reduce poverty as well as increasing child labour in the country.

States like Madhya Pradesh are also more vulnerable because it is among the five states in the country with the highest number of child labourers with total 7,00,239 child labourers according to the 2011 Census. Of it, 4,13,929—that is more than half—are adolescents (15-18 years) while others are in the age group of 5-14 years. MP contributes 7 per cent of the child labourers in the country, while UP tops the list with 22 per cent, followed by Bihar at 11 per cent and Rajasthan 8 per cent.

Formation of Alliance

There is a constant fear that relaxations provided in the labour laws may drive the women and child to join work and earn for their families. To combat this situation, an alliance of NGOs has come together to request the Indian government to review the rules and regulations of the same. The Alliance Working Group on Women in Value Chains (WiVC), have highlighted that how guidelines issued by the government in various states is adopted to promote business operations and as well as to maintain the steady output to drive economic growth that can lead to dilution of labour law. 

To form a group of NGOs, under Working Group on Women in Value Chains (WiVC), the NGOs which have come forward and took a stand are Sewa Bharat, International Development Research Centre, CARE India, Society for Labour and Development, Oxfam India, Save the Children, change alliance and many others.

As the lockdown has lifted at places, the factories have increased the working hours from nine to 10 or 12 hours a day, suspension of inspection mechanisms at someplace, and dilution of the labour laws can adversely impact women and affect children in households which is again a global crisis for the country. In a statement released by the alliance of NGOs, it read, that, "Dilution of monitoring mechanisms through tapered inspection may lead to increased incidences of exploitation and abuse of workers and see children join the workforce."

The migrant labourers are considered as a key element in the urban economy and therefore are called back in the lockdown due to the absence of employment and insecurity of income, resulting in increased vulnerability, exploitation and poverty. Moreover, the extended working hours are expected to impact the time of the parents, and they would be left with less time to concentrate on the well-being and education of their children. As there will be a reduction of benefits for the workers and their families, it will negatively impact the wellbeing of the children. According to the reports suggested, evidence shows that all these factors will result in a decrease in the participation rates of women in the labour market.

The WiVC have requested the government to restore the relevant provisions of labour laws to make sure that the workers and labourers are looked after in the formal and as well as in the informal sector. With this, the government has to ensure the commitment of state and businesses to adhere to internationally recognized labour standards and engage with suppliers to promote the safety and security of workers engaged in various tiers of the supply chain, so that the workers are not scared to come to the workplace. The alliance has further appealed the government to keep a watch on the labour departments in the states to identify violations of relevant provisions of labour laws, including non-payment of wages and exploitative or unsafe working conditions and take action.

Conclusion

The country is already going through one of the major crisis and therefore putting the country in another crisis is not the solution. It is important that when the government is putting on relaxations, it keeps in mind about the circumstances of these poor families who need the utmost support of the government right now. The recent relaxations in labour laws, undertaken in view of the pandemic is further likely to precipitate the crisis in states like Madhya Pradesh, the analysis conducted with the support of Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

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All you need to know: Drafting a Legal Notice

By: admin Civil 12 Feb 2020

Nowadays, we enter into various litigation for some or the other issue. Some prefer to file litigation while others opt to serve a notice to the opponent by showing their intention to file a suit in the appropriate jurisdiction. A legal notice is a written document sent to a person or entity to inform about the grievances and ask them for a remedy, rejection of which will result in legal action against them. Legal notice is the initial step to a legal proceeding. It can be sent against the person or a company by any person whose legal rights have been infringed or have suffered some legal damage.

Validity:

A legal notice is always specific to civil suits. A notice cannot be issued for a criminal suit, as criminal activity is always taken against the offender. It is necessary to serve notice before filing the lawsuit. The primary intention is to give a chance to the party for settlement of dispute without approaching the court. It is easier to compensate for the losses incurred by the aggrieved person.

Importance of legal notice:

The situation arises when one gets confused to initiate a legal proceeding to resolve the matter. Following are the various pointers proving the importance of legal notice:

  • It contains the clear intention of the sender to file a lawsuit to resolve the issue with other parties.
  • A sender can describe his grievance with the help of an Advocate.
  • Serving legal notice allows the receiver to resolve issues out of the court.
  • It acts as a reminder for receiver about the acts that have intentionally or unintentionally done creating a problem for a sender.

Contents:

Legal Notice must include the following things:

  • Name, description and residential address of the sender
  • Name and address of the person against whom the sender has grievances
  • Material fact, Summary of the fact/ Cause of Action
  • Summary of relief claimed
  • Reasonable time to reply the notice by a receiver
  • Signature of Lawyer and Client is a must.

Procedure to file Legal Notice:

It is essential to draft notice meticulously. We are not aware of the legal importance and meaning of the common words which we use casually.

  • Draft the notice (It is always advisable to avail the services of a lawyer to avoid the mistakes.)
  • The notice should be drafted under a letterhead of an Advocate
  • Prefer colour print of the notice consisting logo of the Advocate
  • Keep two copies of the notice, one with sender and one to the receiver
  • Notice to be sent through Registered AD post
  • Copy of receipt of post office and notice should be kept with the sender.
  • It should be noted that while writing a legal notice, one should be extremely careful about every word used in the notice since it cannot be denied in the court of law. Once the legal notice is dispatched, no changes can be made, or one cannot make a contradictory statement from the content stated in the legal notice.

Reply to the Notice:

It is not mandatory to reply to the notice, but it is advisable to do so as no reply can add advantage to the opposite side of the further court proceeding starts. The consequences of not replying notice is not an offence under the law, but if replied, there are chances to put an end to the litigation at the start. The reply must be given in the stipulated time mentioned in the notice by the sender. There is no relevance of a legal notice as soon as the court proceeding starts. In case if the receiver does not appear despite serving summons, then the court shall pass an ex-parte order (order in the absence of the other party not appearing).

Checklist to reply to the notice:

  • Read the contents of legal notice, or the content mentioned in the agreement between the parties.
  • It is necessary to check the limitation period to reply to the notice
  • Check the contractual obligation of the claimant
  • If the content mentioned in the notice is not relevant, then one can counter-threat through a claim or damages against the sender.
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Delay of Condonation

By: admin Civil 29 Jul 2019

Condonation of Delay is defined under section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963. It is the extension of the prescribed period in some instances to make an application or go for an appeal. Section 5 of Limitation Act is not applicable for filing suit as it is an exception to the Act. For taking the benefit of the Doctrine, the applicant must have sufficient cause to condone the delay. It is the discretion of the Court to do so after the applicant states sufficient reason. The Doctrine applies only to the Criminal Proceedings because it does not prohibit any other Sections.
 
To file an appeal, the Code of Civil Procedure has not prescribed a period of limitation. Whereas the Limitation Act, 1963 has provided the period to file an appeal in the court. It is stated that the appeals can be filed in a High Court against a decree or order within ninety days.  And in any other court, the appeal can be filed within thirty days from the date of the decree or order. The period to file the limitation is for the general welfare. As the law is enacted to protect only diligent and vigilant people, courts shall be convinced with a sufficient cause to get the delay to be condoned. 
 
Following are some reasons for filing an application of Delay Condonation:
  1. Mislead by rulings
  2. Mistake of counsel
  3. Mistake of law
  4. Mistake of Court
  5. Delay in getting certified copies
  6. Imprisonment
  7. Illness
  8. Inability to act, etc. 
Condonation of delay, Rule 3-A: For the proceedings of delay condonation, rule 3-A has been inserted by the Amendment Act of 1976. Rule 3-A states that when an appeal is presented before the court after the expiry of the specified period, it shall be accompanied by an application consisting the sufficient cause for not going for an appeal within the time.
 
Before inserting rule 3 - A, in the amendment Act, the general practice was to admit an appeal subject to an opinion regarding limitation.
In the case of  State of M.P vs Pradeep Kumar, the SC stated that the provision described is two-fold in the rule;
  1. to inform the appellant that the delayed appeal will not be entertained unless an application accompanying the delay accompanies it.
  2. to communicate with the respondent that he is willing to do so on the merits mentioned. The provision is directory and not mandatory. 
 
The practice of the Supreme Court in filing the Delay condonation for the special leave petition:
The Special Leave Petition must be filed within ninety days from the date of the order of the High Court. If the petition is filed after the expiry of that period, then an application of delay condonation must be filed, stating the reasons for not filing the petition within the specified time. The SC has the power to condone the delay in filing a special leave petition under exceptional circumstances. The petitioner has to explain the delay of each and every day. The court has the power of not condoning the delay if the reasons given to the petitioner does not convince it. Moreover, if the court satisfies with the sufficient cause that prevents the petitioner from filing the petition, it would issue a notice to the respondent to mention the reason for why the delay of the petitioner shall not be condoned.
 
Limitation ACT
Subject to the provisions of Sections mentioned in the limitation act, 1963, every petition instituted, appeal preferred, and the application filed after the prescribed period is dismissed. As per Section 3(1)  'Period of limitation’ means the period prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the Act and meaning of ‘prescribed period’ means the period of limitation computed as per provisions of the Act.
 
The Act has prescribed the period in the Schedule of Act. The prescribed period is as follows:
  1. For a suit relating to contracts, accounts, declarations, recovery of lawsuits. Suits relating to movable property, etc. the prescribed period is three years.
  2. For suits relating to possession of the immovable property, the period is 12 years and for suits related to the mortgaged property, the period is 30 years.
  3. For suits relating to torts, one year is the prescribed period. Moreover, in the case of compensation for three years. 
  4. In case of an appeal under the Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code - 30 to 90 days.
 
Section 4 states the provision that, if the court is closed on the last day of limitation, the suit, application or an appeal can be filed on very next day when the court reopens. It is based on the principle "actus curiae neminem gravabit", which means that an act of court shall not prejudice anyone. The court can condone the delay if satisfied that it causes were beyond the control of the plaintiff.
 
Section 9 of the limitation act states that when the limitation period starts running, it continues when there is any disability or inability to make an application. However, if the person is disabled at the time of filing a suit or an application, the limitation period will start after the disability of the person is removed.
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Contempt of Court

By: admin Civil 10 Jul 2019

Contempt of Court is any conduct that disrespect or disregard for interfering with or prejudice parties or with their witnesses during the litigation before the respective authority and administration of law. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 governs the contempt law in India.

The act empowers the Supreme Court and High Court to punish acts of contempt. The Supreme Court and High Courts being courts of record have the constitutional validity to punish for contempt of Court and the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, according to the jurisdiction. Contempt of Court can be understood as an offence of defying the court authority by disobeying the instructions laid by the court. The Act defines civil contempt under section 2(a) as contempt of court means civil contempt or criminal contempt. The two types of contempt are different in character and very difficult to differentiate.

Section 2(b) of the 1971 Act not only encompasses willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order etc. of a court, it also takes in its fold a willful breach of an undertaking given to a court of law. The civil contempt is wrong of private nature. It injures the interests of the party, entitled to get benefit from the disobeyed order, whereas criminal contempt is an offence against the society where the contemner undermines the authority of the Court by his words or actions.

Section 2 (c) defines the ‘criminal contempt' as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act, whatsoever which;
(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.

Also, Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the court to take action against the contempt. Article 129 empowers the Supreme Court whereas Article 215 empowers High Courts. Whereas, Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has given them special powers to the respective High Courts to punish contempt of subordinate courts.

Article 129, of the Constitution of India, states that the Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Article 215, of the Constitution of India, states that every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Procedure

The procedures laid as per the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 has to be followed, as mentioned in Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India. An individual can recourse to the following options against the contempt.

1. He may place the information before the Court and request the Court to take action.
2. He may put the information before the Attorney General and request him to take appropriate action.

The contemnor alleged is entitled to get a notice about the same an opportunity of being heard, before considering him guilty of contempt and passing an order. 

Punishment

  1. Supreme Court and High Court are bestowed with the power to punish the contemnor for the contempt of the Court.
  2. As per Section 12 of Contempt of Court Act, 1971, the punishment for the contempt of court can be the simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both.
  3. However, in civil cases, if the Court considers that a penalty is not meeting the ends of justice and that a sentence of imprisonment is necessary then the court shall instead of sentencing him to simple imprisonment, direct that he be detained in civil prison for such period not exceeding six months as it may think fit.

The punishment awarded to an accused may be discharged on apology being made by the accused to the Court's satisfaction. An excuse cannot be rejected on the grounds if accused makes it bonafide.

Limitation

Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 defines the limitation period within which the actions have to be taken against the contempt. It specifies that the limitation period is of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed.

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Procedure to be followed in Civil Recovery Proceedings

By: Advocate Ayantika Mondal Civil 03 Sep 2019

The step-wise procedure to be followed in Civil Recovery Proceedings;

Step 1: Preparation of Plaint - Initially, for the preparation of a plaint, the basic principle of law must be kept in mind while drafting a plaint. The draft must include the material fact, contentions, prayer clause, date and cause of action, jurisdiction, etc. It should be ensured that the Plaint is made in a specific manner and as per legal requirements. Once the Bank files a plaint, it will be addressed as a plaintiff in the whole petition.

Step 2: Remittance of Court Fees & filing the Plaint - Court fee is calculated as per the provisions of Court Fees Act of particular State. Court Fees Act prescribes the ‘Court Fee’ as per the subject matter of specific litigation.

Step 3: Process of service - In order to complete process of service upon the defendant/Defendants, the Court allots a serial number to the case once it is filed, with a prefix indicating the type of the case. (Like "O.S" for "Original Suit"). The judge directs to issue a notice to the Defendant and also gives the date for proceeding with the matter. Accordingly, the notice is issued informing the defendants about the case been filed by the plaintiff against him, and he should appear before the court personally or through a lawyer on the date of matter.

Step 4: Preliminary hearing - On the preliminary hearing, after appearing before the court the defendant can file the written statement on his behalf, and the next date of hearing will be fixed by the court. Usually, a court allows the defendant to file his written statement within a period of 30 days. However, it may exceed a maximum of 90 days.

Step 5: Filing a written statement by the Defendant - When a defendant files his written statement in the Court, he would deny all the assertions in the Plaint and compel the plaintiff to prove every claim. This is also another way to prolong the outcome of the case, which may not be in favour of the Defendant if the plaintiff happens to have a bonafide case.

Step 6: Framing of Issues - A list of disputed questions of fact and law are called issues framed by the court which the plaintiff has to prove on the basis of evidence. The points mentioned by the plaintiff in his plaint, which is not expressly disputed by the Defendant, need not be proved.

Step 7: Defendant (both borrower as well as guarantors) take steps to dispose of most of their assets (including hypothecated assets) –

The following steps should be taken immediately after the suit is filed:

  1. Appointment of interim receiver and application for a temporary injunction.
  2. Interim attachment or injunction and interim sale.

Step 8: Evidence - After the issues are framed, the case is posted for evidence.

(a) Filing documents & leading evidence – After taking the evidence of the plaintiff into consideration, the witnesses if any, on behalf of the Plaintiff step into the witness box to narrate the facts of the case. All witnesses of the Plaintiff will be cross-examined by the lawyer of the Defendant. This process is called"leading evidence.”

(b) Evidence by the Defendant - The defendants is allowed to file any documents which he wants to produce before the court. The witnesses on behalf of the Defendant are cross-examined by the Plaintiff (i.e., by the Plaintiff's lawyer). After the evidence of both sides is filed, the case is adjourned for final arguments.

(c) Closing Arguments - The lawyers representing both the parties are asked to present their closing arguments before the court. It is possible that the judge may not be able to read and assimilate lengthy documents covering evidence on both sides, but he is accustomed for the quick perception of what is stated in the arguments. Documents are not read during the proceedings, and they have to be studied leisurely by the Judge, after court hours.

Step 9: Pronouncement of Judgment & passing of Decree - After concluding the arguments of both parties, the judge may reserve his order to be pronounced on a later date or may deliver the same immediately. Both parties may apply to the Court for a copy of the Judgment.

Step 10: Execution of the Decree - The party in whose favour the Decree is passed is called the decree-holder. The other party is called the Judgment Debtor. The Judgment debtor has to implement the Court's decree. If he fails to implement, the decree-holder can file an execution petition before the Court.

Step 11: Appeal - When a decree has been obtained by the Bank in its favour in the suit filed against the borrower and the guarantor, prompt steps should be taken for execution of such decree for recovery of the Bank’s dues.

Step 12: Filing of Appeal - Where the suit is decreed in favour of either of the party, the aggrieved party may prefer an appeal, if there are valid grounds of law and/or facts to prefer an appeal. The Court, immediately higher in the hierarchy is the Court to which an appeal can be filed. The appeal has to be filed within 30 days from the date of the decree.

Step 13: Execution of Money Decree - Even if the Judgment debtor files an appeal against the Bank before the Appellate Court challenging the money decree passed by the lower Court in Bank’s favour, the Bank should nevertheless proceed to apply for the execution of the decree passed by the lower Court notwithstanding the pendency of such an appeal unless a stay order or injunction order is granted by the Appellate Court restraining the Bank from executing the decree.

The process as above appears very simple, but in real life, the litigation is dragged for several months and even years. This is not only due to the delaying tactics adopted by the Defendant but also due to an enormous backlog of litigations piled up and pending in civil courts.

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