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DIVORCE NOTICE:-

Divorce among Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslims by the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, Parsis by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 and Christians by the Indian Divorce Act, 1869. All civil and inter-community marriages are governed by the Special Marriage Act, 1956 respectively.

HINDU MARRIAGE ACT,1955

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 there are two sections for Divorce.
  • Mutual Divorce U/s .13 (B)
  • Divorce U/s. 13
The Notice regarding divorce is the way where both the parties have one chance of reconciliation, or come in front and talk on issues and try to solve them.

Mutual Divorce under Section 13(B) of the Hindu Marriage Act: Under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the parties can seek divorce by mutual consent by filing a petition before the court. Mutual Consent Divorce is the simplest way of coming out of the marriage and dissolve it legally. Mutual consent means that both the parties (i.e husband and wife) are agreed for a peaceful separation.

Divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act: Under this section, there are various grounds i.e. adultery, cruelty, deserting the other party for 2 years, conversion to another religion, unsound mind, mental disorder, etc. to file divorce.

Procedure for filing the divorce is that you may send a notice to the other party, stating the reason to file a divorce petition, asking another party whether they are ready to reconcile the issues. This notice should mention waiting period of 15 or 30 days in order to receive the revert from the other party. After the completion of the waiting period, if other party refuses to reply or is not replying then you can file a Civil case against him/her.

There is no compulsion to send a Legal Notice to the other party, you can directly file a case against him/her. The jurisdiction to file divorce may be the place the party resides, or they lastly resided together.

SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT, 1954

Under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 there are two sections for Divorce.
  • Mutual Divorce U/s .28
  • Divorce U/s. 27
The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament Of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party. The Act originated from a piece of legislation proposed during the late 19th century. Marriages solemnized under the Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws. It can apply in inter-caste and inter-religion marriages.

Now a day’s youth generation was getting married with their own choice and they prefer who has a better compatibility with them, rather than marrying someone who belongs to their caste or their religion.

All religions are equal and marriage amongst it should not be a big deal. Caste or religion is conferred on us by birth and not by choice. Thus, the Special Marriage Act is a special legislation that was enacted to provide for a special form of marriage, by registration where the parties to the marriage are not required to renounce his/her religion.

Under this Act, if any spouse wants to take a divorce she/he can file a case at any District Court. Explained in detail as below:

Every petition under Chapter V or Chapter VI shall be presented to the district court within the local limits of whose original civil jurisdiction.

  • (i) the marriage was solemnized; or
  • (ii) the respondent, at the time of the presentation of the petition, resides; or
  • (iii) the parties to the marriage last resided together; or 2[(iii a) in case the wife is the petitioner, where she is residing on the date of presentation of the petition; or]
  • (iv) the petitioner is residing at the time of the presentation of the petition, in a case where the respondent is, at that time residing outside the territories to which this Act extends, or has not been heard of as being alive for a period of seven years by those who would naturally have heard of him if he were alive.]


(2) Without prejudice to any jurisdiction exercisable by the court under sub-section (1), the district court may, by virtue of this sub-section, entertain a petition by a wife domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends for nullity of marriage or for divorce if she is resident in the said territories and has been ordinarily resident therein for a period of three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the husband is not resident in the said territories.

Before filing case, one legal notice of waiting period for 15 or 30 days be dispatched to the other party, in order to notify him/her whether he/she wants a divorce or is intending to go for reconciliation. If another party has replied within and he/she is ready for divorce then they can go for the Mutual Divorce. In case there are clashes in resolving problems and disputes between both, so you can file divorce on followings ground i.e. Adultery, Cruelty, desertion, imprisonment for seven years and more or unsound mind, or mental disorder respectively.


Tenant Eviction Notice

Tenant can be evicted from the premises after considering the rental Laws of the India, the conditions prescribed in the rent agreement and valid reasons of the eviction. Tenant Eviction Notice is a way to remove the tenant from rented premise of landlord, before filing lawsuit.The landlord must give reasonable time to tenant to vacate the rented property by serving a written notice not less than 30 days or of a period as mentioned in the rent agreement.Notice shall contain valid reasons of eviction and it is advisable to get it drafted through expert property lawyer. It should contain the time and date by which tenant has to vacate the property.

The landlord can file the lawsuit in appropriate jurisdiction of court, in case of refusal of notice or not satisfactory reply from tenant.After filing the case court may send the eviction notice to the tenant to vacate rental property. In the majority of cases, the tenants leave the rented premises after receiving a legal notice from the court.

Always remember that, don’ttakematters into your “Hand”

Without help of court and police, evictions are illegal in every state. Even if tenant is liar, deadbeat and causing physical damage to landlord’s property, landlords cannot do any of the following actions without court permission:-
  • Removing the tenant’s stuff from the property.
  • Removing the tenant or his family members.
  • Changing the locks or lock-out the tenant.
  • Shutting off essential utilities (electric, gas, water, etc)
  • Unleashing a family of skunks in the tenant’s basement (aka, harassment)

Eviction Notice Procedure:-

The eviction notice,considered valid only when it contains all the necessary requirements. It should indicate tenant name, date, reason and requires a response as per mention in notice.Eviction notice process also depends upon court jurisdiction and the various situations including time taken by the tenant for reply.

Types of Eviction Notices:-

  1. Notice to Pay Rent or Quit:- if tenant is not paying rent then landlord can give 10 to 15 days notice period. Law suit can be filed in case tenant is not paying rent even after receiving the said notice.
  2. Notice to Correct a Violation of the Lease or Quit:-if tenant violates the lease and rental agreement, landlord can give notice to the tenant with fix reasonable time to fix the violation. In case of failure by tenant Lawsuit can be filed by the landlord.
  3. Notice to Quit:-In this case landlord gives a simple notice to tenant to vacate the premises, failing which the landlord can move to the court with Lawsuit.

As mentioned above in detail, in case you are facing any issue with the tenant, legal notice is the option to be exercised before approaching the Court. Legato helps you in connecting with experienced lawyers who can assist you in drafting legal notice and even in filing lawsuit as a next step.


Refund of Security Deposit

In India most probably peoples reside on a rental basis. Because of exorbitant rates of properties in metro cities like Mumbai, many people are in the form of traveller workers. Living as a tenant can be a comfortable deal but sometimes there are cases where the tenant has to face rental issues and other related problems like getting an unwarranted eviction notice, or rude behaviour and also Refund of Security. So, let us understand the steps for a refund of security deposit from the landlord.

If you want to vacate the rented premises or to the shift any other place, you have to inform the landlord before one month about vacating the premises and ask refund of security deposit. In case the landlord is not ready to return the security deposit, always give your landlord 30 days written notice when you decide to move and ask him regarding refund of security deposit along with a photocopy of security deposit receipt through Registered post Ad/ Speed Post via email or Courier. After receiving notice, if the landlord does not reply positively then you can file Civil Suit for money inform of deposit and a criminal case for Cheating and Criminal breach of trust Or Continue to live the premises without paying rent till the security money is adjusted.

CONTENTS THAT’S NEEDS TO BE CHECK

Provide your Forwarding Address to Landlord
Notify your landlord of your forwarding address in writing, regardless if he asks. In many states, if a renter doesn't provide a forwarding address then, landlords aren't responsible for the same deposit refunds.

Before Moving to check the list of Premise
Before moving from rented premise prepare the checklist of the things, that helps you to what charges if any, you'll be responsible for. Bring your move-in checklist for cross-referencing. If you disagree with damages you can ask the landlord for the same.

If you are living group/ friends
Most leases with multiple renters hold each individual fully accountable for the group as a whole. That means each renter is responsible for the full amount of the rent and any damages, regardless of who caused it. So make sure you're not stuck with the bill for your roommate's wild party that resulted in three holes in the wall. In some states, the security deposit is refunded in equal portions, regardless of who wrote the original check.

Charges?
Typically, damage charges can't exceed actual repair costs. Fees for items like carpet, which depreciate in value over time, should take normal wear and tear into account.

When you will get a security deposit?
(1)After completion of agreement period or when you vacate the rented premises.
(2) You'll receive a letter with itemized deductions that explains why some or all of your deposit is not being returned.

No Letter or Deposit?
What if the allotted time passes and you never receive a letter or a refund? Don't worry. These are steps in place to protect your rights.

  • A form of Request for Return of Security Deposit along with a photocopy, this is usually available from a local tenants association.
  • Send it to your former landlord via certified mail with a request for return receipt.
  • Keep the return receipt.
  • Wait seven days (from the date of receipt) for a response.

If your landlord doesn't refund the deposit after the seven-day notice, you can sue him in small claims court. If your landlord sends a letter on time saying he is withholding some or all of your deposit, but you think the amount is too high, you can still sue him in small claims court.


Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection is always been very evolving sector due to increase in consumerism. In this outlook of business competition, the consumer is and will always be the king. In this scenario, it is very important to understand your rights as a consumer under the Laws of the Land.

In 1986, the Consumer Protection Act was passed for the better protection of the interest of consumers. It is the first and the only Act of its kind in India, which has enabled ordinary consumers to secure less expensive and often speedy redressal of their grievances. The Act provides for consumer protection councils at district (district forums), state (state consumer redressal commissions) and centre (centre consumer redressal commissions) level.

Section 7 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines the word “CONSUMER”.It regulates the relationship between individual consumers and the business that sell or buy or avail, goods and Services.The act provides for the path of preventing consumers from frauds and scams of service and sales contracts, eligible fraud, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy. Following are the rights to the consumers, as provided in the Act.

  • Right to Safety
  • Right to be Informed
  • Right to Choose
  • Right to be Heard
  • Right to be Seek Redressal
  • Right to Education

SECTORAL LAWS PROTECTING CONSUMERS IN INDIA

Besides the Consumer Protection Act 1986, various laws and Regulations in India protect the interests of consumers, some of which are:
  1. The Bureau of Indian Standard Act 2016: This Act contains provisions for establishing voluntary standards to bring under compulsory certification regime any article, process or service which it considers necessary from health, safety, environment, prevention of deceptive practices, security etc. point of view. Some provisions of this act have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory.
  2. The Legal Metrology Act 2009: The Act helps to weight and measure that is used for trade or commerce or for protection of human health and safety.
  3. The Essential Commodities Act 1955: The Act empowers the Government to regulate prices, production, supply, distribution etc. of essential commodities for maintaining or increasing their supplies and for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices.
  4. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006: The Act envisages regulation of the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of food to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and for consumers connected therewith.
  5. The Contract Act 1872: The Act binds people on their promises made in a contract. The Act also provides remedies available to parties in case of breach of contract.
  6. The Sale of Goods Act 1930: The act provides safeguard and relief to customers in case goods that are not complying with the expressed conditions and warranty.
  7. The Competition Act, 2002: The Act governs Indian competition law. It replaced the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. Under this legislation, the Competition Commission of India was established to prevent the activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.
  8. The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940: The Act regulates the import, manufacture and distribution of drugs in India. The primary objective of the act is to ensure that the drugs and cosmetics sold in India are safe, effective and conform to the state quality standards.
  • The Agriculture Produce Act, 1937 provides grade standards for agricultural commodities and livestock products. The quality mark provided under the act is known as AGMARK-Agricultural Marketing.
  • The Consumer Guarantees Act, states that when a business supplies you with consumer products and any problem occurs, you can ask them to fix the problem under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). This act applies for auctions, online sales, or an agent or broker who sells on behalf of someone as well. An online trader has to make it clear if they are in the trade.

In India, the rights of consumer protection are specified in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. There are Separate Consumer Dispute Redress Forums set up throughout India in each and every district level in which a consumer can file his complaint in simple format along with nominal court fees and his complaint will be decided by the Presiding Officer of the District. The complaint can be filed by consumers for goods as well as of the services. An appeal could be filed to the State Consumer Disputes Redress Commissions and after that to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, in case Consumer is not getting any refund, clarification, claims or good services, then he has a right to knock the door of the redressal forums. Consumers can file Complaint within 2 years from the date of action arise. In case of delay, he has to give a specific reason for it. If the Judge i.e the President and the members get satisfied with the reason for filing the complaint then and only then the matter is admitted. The consumer has a right to file the Complaint in a District Forum within the local limits were the cause of action arose or at the place of a branch of the Opposite party.


CHEQUE BOUNCE NOTICE

Cheque bounce is very much common term we hear or experience in day to day life. As word suggests it is dishonor of the cheque issued. Cheque bouncing cases comes under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881 (the Act) and creates criminal liability, punishable with fine and imprisonment under the Act and under Indian Penal Code, 1960.

Meaning of Cheque:-

‘Section 6’ of said Act, says that, “A "cheque" is a bill of exchange drawn on a specified banker and not expressed to be payable otherwise than on demand.”

Meaning of Cheque Bounce Notice:-

Cheque bounce notice is only intimation to the issuer that legal action will be taken by the cheque beneficiary in case of non-payment of cheque amount on an immediate basis. Cheque bounce is a condition arising due to dishonor of the cheque issued. Sending notice to the person issuing cheque, for the dishonor of said cheque is the first and foremost step to initiate legal case under the Act. Notice provides chance to the issuer of the cheque to make the payment good and so as to avoid the law suit. Recently, Parliament has passed The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, for quick prosecution in case of cheque bounce. Under this, once lawsuit is filed, an order may be passed by the Court asking the payment of interim compensation to the complainant by the defaulter.

Things to be looked at while issuing Cheque Bounce Notice:-

  1. It must be in reference to Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
  2. In case the defaulter if the Company then notice should give reference to Section 138 along with section 141 of the Act.
  3. Information regarding the cheque presentation.
  4. Reason for non-realization of payment.
  5. Information regarding the request made to the cheque issuer to make payment on an immediate basis.
  6. A notice must be sent within 30 days of return of cheque to the cheque issuer.

Methos of sending Legal Notice:-

  • It is always advisable to draft and send the notice by taking assistance of the legal professional so as to avoid any future issues, which may be caused due to lack of substantial content as per legal requirements. Generally notice needs to be on a plain paper or on the letterhead of the business/lawyers. Notice shall be duly signed and also sealed, in case sender is the Company. It needs to be dispatched at the address of the cheque issuer through Registered post AD/ Speed post/ courier . Sending notice through email is allowed if the sender is business entity. Cheque beneficiary/ Complainant can retain one copy (called as a OC Copy) of the notice with himself. Legal notice shall contain following details and information.
  • Name of the cheque beneficiary;
  • Name and address of the check issuer/s;
  • Cheque retun date;
  • Reasons for cheque return;
  • Request made to check issuer for immediate alternate payment; and
  • That it is issued as per the Sec. 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act
  • Reference of Section 141 also needs to be provided in case notice being issued to non-individuls

When Cheque Bounce Notice is Issued and Next Procedure?

  • The first condition is that cheque must be towards the liability.
  • Within a period of 6 months of validity of cheque, it should be presented by the beneficiary.
  • Due to insufficient funds/Stop Payment the bank must have returned the cheque.
  • Within 30 days of the receipt of information from the bank regarding the insufficiency of funds, demand is raised by the payee by giving a written cheque bounce notice for the payment.
  • Within 15 days of the receipt of the written notice of cheque bounce, drawer fails to make payment of the said amount then payee can file a complaint before a magistrate within 30 days.
  • A complaint has to be filed in such a state where the bank is situated.

In case, you forgot to send the legal notice within 30 days from the date when bank memo received at that time there is only one option, if the cheque is still within its validity period, he can again present the cheque to the bank for clearing the amount. If the cheque is returned unpaid for the second time, then this time he can issue a legal notice within 30 days from the date of the cheque being returned unpaid for the second time. [However, if the validity period of the cheque is already over, then this option cannot be exercised.


Labour and Services in India

In India, there are different types of Act which are governed by state and central to protect and provide all facilities to the labourers. It is safeguarding the interest of workers as part of the fundamental rights of the constitution of India. Indian labour law makes a distinction between people who work in "organized" sectors and people working in "unorganized sectors". People who do not fall within these sectors, the ordinary Law of contract applies. The working people and their organizations include trade unions and employee unions, enforced by government agencies.

Labour is the amount of physical, mental and social effort used to produce goods and services in an economy. It supplies the expertise, manpower, and service needed to turn raw materials into finished products and services

The labour law is reflective of various struggles in the society, including employers cost capabilities, employees demands, health safety conditions, political pressures during a given point of time. Following are the few points:-

  • Working hours per day and week.
  • Guidelines for spread-over, rest interval, opening and closing hours, closed days, national and religious holidays, overtime work.
  • Employment of children, young persons and women. Rules for annual leaves, maternity leaves, sick leaves and casual leaves, etc.
  • Rules for employment and termination of service.
  • Unemployment
  • The minimum age for employment
  • Night Shifts for Men’s and Women’s.
  • Maternity production

Domestic workers in India

Child labour in India is prohibited by the Constitution, article 24, in factories, mines and hazardous employment, and that under article 21 the state should provide free and compulsory education up to a child is aged 14.

Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressed) Act, 2013

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal) Act, 2013 (SHW Act) was enacted by the Parliament to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith. The SHW Act makes it mandatory for every organization having 10 employees and more to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to entertain complaints that may be made by aggrieved women.

The SHW Act also provides that the aggrieved women may in writing make a complaint of sexual harassment as the case may be within a period of three months from the date of occurrence of such incident. Further, in a case where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical incapacity or Death, a complaint may be filed inter alia by her relative or legal heirs.


TRADEMARK AND COPYRIGHT

Protection of Intellectual property repeatedly goes un-noticed by the business owners. Very few business or start-up owners understand the importance of safeguarding their Intellectual Property in long run. It is therefore highly very important for a business owner, a startup owner, a creative person or an inventor to have clarity about the concepts of Trademark, Copyright.

Trademark: A trademark is a symbol, logo, design, word, phrase, colour, sound or a combination of these which is used for the purpose of trading goods or providing services. It indicates the source of goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of others. It provides individuality of rights to the use of a trademark in relation to the product or service

Procedure for Registration of Trademark

Documents can be filed by a person or through his duly authorized agent to the appropriate office of the trademark registry. The Registry must be in the territorial jurisdiction where the business is located. Documents must be a filed at the office personally through registered post Ad or by submitting Documents on their official website.

Documents must be a filed in Hindi or English, it must be handwritten or typed. It should contain the detailed information/contents of the business i.e. Name, the address for service of person, details, and grounds, etc.

Types of Trademark

  • Product Trademark
  • Service Trademark
  • Collection Trademark
  • Certification Trademark

Types of Trademark

Suit for infringement/breach/violation, etc., to be instituted before District Court.—
(1) No suit—
  • for the infringement of a registered trademark; or
  • relating to any right in a registered trademark; or
  • for passing off arising out of the use by the defendant of any trademark which is identical with or deceptively similar to the plaintiff's trademark, whether registered or unregistered, shall be instituted in any court inferior to a District Court having jurisdiction to try the suit.

(2) For the purpose of clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (1), a "District Court having jurisdiction" shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) or any other law for the time being in force, include a District Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction, at the time of the institution of the suit or another proceeding, the person instituting the suit or proceeding, or, where there are more than one such persons any of them, actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or personally works for gain. Explanation —For the purposes of sub-section (2), "person" includes the registered proprietor and the registered user.

Copyright: Copyright is a right given to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and a number of other works of the intellect. It normally means that only the creator has the right to make copies of his or her works or prevents others from making copies. The basic idea behind such protection is the premise that innovations require incentives. Copyright recognizes this need and gives it a legal sanction. Copyright protects all of them.

Section 62 of the Copyright Act, 1957:

Jurisdiction of court over matters arising under this Chapter.—

(1) Every suit or other civil proceeding arising under this Chapter in respect of the infringement of copyright in any work or the infringement of any other right conferred by this Act shall be instituted in the district court having jurisdiction.

(2) For the purpose of sub-section (1), a "district court having jurisdiction" shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), or any other law for the time being in force, include a district court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction, at the time of the institution of the suit or other proceeding, the person instituting the suit or other proceeding or, where there are more than one such persons, any of them actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or personally works for gain. The Copyright Act, 1957 gives the rights, procedure, authorities established and relief modes under copyrights. It lays down a definition of copyright and states the types of works protected under this law i.e. literary works, dramatic works, artistic works, musical works, cinematograph films, and sound recordings.


Corporate

The definition of corporate is something related to a business group or a business that operates as a single legal unit.

A corporation is a form of organization that has an existence independent of its owners. It has powers and liabilities of the separate and individual form of its owners. They can be organized for many purposes and can come in many ways.

Corporate Structure:-

  • How a business is organized to accomplish its objectives.
  • It determines the ownership, control, and authority of the organization.
  • There are three group of characteristics are represented: shareholders, directors, and officers.
  • Ownership belongs to the shareholders.
  • Control is exercised by the board of directors on behalf of the shareholders, while authority over the day-to-day operations is vested in the officers.

Limited Liability:-

If the corporation cannot pay debts, in this case, company assets must be seized and sold. But although you can lose your investment, the creditors cannot attach your personal assets (such as cars, houses, or bank accounts) to satisfy their claims.

Personal liability may also be imposed if the corporation does not comply with required legal formalities or fails to keep proper records.

Forming a Corporation:-

If you want to form a corporation, it is necessary to obtain a state charter. Here are some things to do before you apply:
  • Choose the state in which you want to incorporate, this will be your head office or where it conducts most of its business.
  • Choose and decide the Officers.
  • Although many states require at least two or three parties to form a corporation, they need not all be the shareholders.
  • Friends or family members to serve as the initial officers.
  • If you are the sole shareholder, you alone will control the corporation's activities.

Shareholders:-

In a corporation, a group of shareholders has shared ownership, represented by holding shares of common stock. Most business corporations are established with the goal of providing a return for its shareholders in the form of profits. Shareholders have the right to share in the profits of the business but are not personally liable for the company's debts. This concept is known as limited liability and is one of the main advantages of the corporation in a form of doing business.

Board of Directors:-

The board of directors is responsible for overseeing and directing the business of the corporation in the best interest of the shareholders. The key point here is an oversight; the board is not expected to actually operate the business. Rather, its purpose is to oversee operations, approve major plans, and monitor financial performance. The board generally performs the following functions:
  • Select, evaluate, fix the compensation for, and, when necessary, replace the company's chief executive officer
  • Oversee the business operations to evaluate whether the business is being properly managed
  • Review and approve major corporate plans, financial objectives, annual budgets, and strategies
  • Review the adequacy of financial accounting, auditing, and other systems to comply with applicable law

The board of directors is generally comprised of three types of people. The chairman of the board is technically the leader of the corporation, responsible for running the board effectively.

To prevent the concentration of power and information in one or a few individuals, boards are advised to have a balance of executive and non-executive directors, some of whom are independent.

An executive director is also an executive of the company, such as a CEO or CFO. A non-executive director is not a part of management and is valued for external perspectives and unique expertise.

“Non-executive” directors should meet in private regularly, without the presence of “executive” directors, according to governance experts.

Employees must be appointing any of Director to fix their salary.

Profit and losses are not always fixed in the corporation as they are always fluctuating in nature. It mainly depends upon the share market.


STARTUP

There are no limits on who can become a great Business entrepreneur. You don't necessarily need a college degree, a bunch of money in the bank or even business experience to start something that could become the next major success. However, what you do need is a strong plan and the drive to see it through.

Things to remember and required to start a business/company.

1. Select a Name & Legal Structure:- There are 4 types of legal structure/organization, of which you can select any one of them.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Corporation or S-Corporation

2. Start a Market Research:- Is anyone else already doing what you want to start doing? If not, is there a good reason why? Start researching on the thing what you have decided to start and collect the information, also contact the peoples who can help you in this matter.

3. Write your Business Plan:- A Business Plan is a written description of how your business will evolve and from when it starts to the finished product.

  • Title Page: Start with the name, the name of your business, which is harder than it sounds.
  • Executive Summary: This is a high-level summary of what the plan includes, often touching on the company description, the problem the business is solving, the solution and why now.
  • Business Description: What kind of business do you want to start? What does your industry look like? What will it look like in the future?
  • Market Strategies: Who is your target audience, and how can you best sell best to that market?
  • Competitive Analysis: What are the strengths and weakness of your competitors? How will you overcome them?
  • Design & Development Plan: What is your product or service and how will it develop? Then, create a budget for that product or service.
  • Operations & Management Plan: How does the business function on a daily basis?
  • Finance Factors: Where is the money coming from? When? How? What sort of projections should you create and what should you take into consideration?

Start learning as much as you can about the production, New thing, development of Busines/company, so you can improve the process and your hiring decisions as time goes along.

4. Obtain your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN): If you are set up as a Corporation, LLC or Partnership (or a sole proprietorship with employees), apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS. A FEIN will be necessary to open a bank account or process payroll.

5. Open the Company Bank Account:- Select a bank and open the company bank account.

6. Lease Office, Warehouse or Retail Space (if not home-based):- Depending on your type of business (retail, office or warehouse), arrange for office space to be leased. Contacting a commercial realtor in your area can be helpful. Also, make sure to arrange for utilities and office furniture.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits:-

  • A. Federal Permits: Depending on the type of business you are in, you may need a Federal license or permit.
  • B. State Licenses: Some occupations and professions require a State license or permit. Laws vary from State to State, however, if you are engaged in one of the following professions, you should contact the responsible state agency to determine the requirements for your business. State license and permits are based on the Products sold.
  • C. Sales Tax Permit: If your company sells physical products within the state where it does business, you may have to collect and pay sales tax. This is usually accomplished by obtaining a State Seller’s Permit or Resale Permit.
  • D. Business License: Most Cities or Countries requires you to obtain a business license, even if you operate a home-based business. This is a license granting the company the authority to do business in that city/county.

8. Hire Employees (if applicable):- If you intend to hire yourself or others as a full or part-time employee of your company, then you may have to register with the appropriate State Agencies or obtain Workers Compensation Insurance or Unemployment Insurance (or both).

9. Set up an Accounting and Record-Keeping System:- Setup your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years.

10. Obtain Business Insurance:- There are many types of insurance for businesses but they are usually packaged as “General Business Insurance” or a “Business Owner’s Policy”. This can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. A decent policy can run as little as $300/year and offers a great extra level of protection.

11. Systemize and Organize:- Prepare the business as if someone needs to take it over and run it for you. These means have a method to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your permits, etc. Basically, try to make the operational aspect of the business as automated and efficient as possible so you can concentrate on growing your business.

12. Develop a Business Identity:- Order business cards, letterhead and promotional materials for your business. A professionally created logo can make your business look professional and established.

13. Get the Word Out (Marketing):- Now that you’ve set-up the company for success, you need to get the word out. Create a marketing plan for your products and services that target your ideal customer.


SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Supreme Court of India is the highest court in the Republic of India; it is a ladder of the court in many legal jurisdictions. Supreme Court is also known as apex court and the highest or final court of appeal. The decisions of a supreme court are not subject to further review by any other court, but their Orders are full and final and duty bound to all lower courts and can only be modified in some cases like death sentence by the President of India. It has several jurisdictions namely Original, Appellate, and Advisory.

Supreme court typically functions as an Appellate Court, which means hearing appeals from decisions of lower trial courts, or from intermediate-level appellate courts. Supreme Court of India is located at New Delhi. The Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President of India, as per the guidelines of the Constitution Of India. These judges get retired at the age of 65. There are currently 24 judges including Chief Justice of India against a maximum possible strength of 31.

COURTS IN INDIA:-

  • Supreme Court
  • High Court of every state
  • City Civil and Session Court
  • Metropolitan Magistrate Court.
  • District Court.
  • Lower Courts

In India, the Supreme Court of India was created on January 28, 1950, after acceptance of the Constitution. Article 141 of the Constitution of India states that the law declared by the Supreme Court is to be binding on all Courts within the territory of India. It is the highest court in India and has ultimate judicial authority to interpret the Constitution and decide questions of national law (including local by-laws). The Supreme Court is also vested with the power of judicial review to ensure the application of the rule of law.

FACILITIES OF SUPREME COURT OF INDIA:-

  • Display Board
  • Judge’s Library
  • E- Committee
  • Law Officers
  • Mediation and Conciliation Committee
  • Legal Aids
  • Important Links
  • List of Advocates on record
  • Notice and circulations.
  • Museum
  • E- visitors pass

Note that within the constitutional structure of India, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has a special status vis-a-vis the other states of India. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is an article that gives independent status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution namely Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.

The principles applied by the Supreme Court in its decisions are binding upon all lower courts; this is intended to apply a uniform interpretation and implementation of the law. The decisions of the Supreme Court are not necessarily binding beyond the immediate case before it; however, in practice, the decisions of the Supreme Court usually provide a very strong precedent, or jurisprudence consternate, for both itself and all lower courts. It is also known as the court of records, i. e. all judgments are recorded and printed. These are cited in lower courts as case - law in various cases.


IMMIGRATION

Now a day’s India has been receiving large numbers of immigrants, mostly from the neighbouring countries and some from other parts of the world, and hence it needs to be seen as a major immigration country. The objective of immigration is gaining citizenship or nationality in a different country. In India, the law relating to citizenship or nationality is mainly governed by the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution of India provides for a single citizenship for the entire country.

The provisions relating to citizenship are contained in Articles 5 to 11 in part II of the Constitution of India. Articles 5 to 9 of the Constitution determine the status of persons as Indian citizens at the Commencement of the Constitution. Article 10 provides for their continuance as such citizens subject to the provisions of any law that may be enacted by the legislature. Under article 11, the Constitution expressly saves the power of parliament “to make any provisions with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship”. Article 5 states that at the commencement of this constitution, every person belonging to the following categories, who has his domicile in the territory of India, shall be a citizen of India:

  1. Who was born in the territory of India; or
  2. Either of whose parents were born in the territory of India;
  3. Who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement

Article 6 of the Constitution provides for the rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan. Article 7 of the Constitution has made provisions for citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan and Article 8 of the Constitution provides for the rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India

When a person enters a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence and ultimately gaining citizenship, it is called Immigration. Immigration Law constitutes a very complicated set of rules, regulations, and exceptions. But the residence of immigrants is subject to the conditions set by the Immigration Law. Every nation has specific laws to govern Immigration within it.

There are 86 Immigration Check Posts all over India, catering to international traffic. Out of these, 37 ICPs are functioning under the Bureau of Immigration, while the remaining are being managed by the concerned State Governments.

Immigration Law is the law which exclusively governs Immigration in a nation. For instance, a Government may in its discretion determine who it may allow in, and for how long, and who it may deport, the subject of course to internationally accepted basic human rights and principles.

The objective of immigration is gaining citizenship or nationality in a different country. In India, the law relating to citizenship or nationality is mainly governed by the provision of the Constitution. The Constitution of India provides for a single citizenship for the entire country.

So far as foreign citizens are concerned, Immigration Law is related to the Nationality Law of a national governing the matters of citizenship. International Law regulates Immigration Law concerning the citizens of a country. Hence, Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.

What is Embarkation Form?

A departure card, also known as an outgoing passenger card or embarkation card, is a Legal Document used by immigration authorities to provide passenger identification and an effective record of a person’s departure from certain countries. It also serves as a declaration in relation to health and character requirements for non-citizens entering a particular country.

Typically the information on the departure card includes

  • Full name
  • Nationality
  • Passport number
  • Flight number or name of aircraft, ship or vehicle
  • Purpose of trip: vacation, education/study, visiting relatives/families, business, diplomatic
  • Duration of stay
  • Destination (next stop of disembarkation)
  • Address in country

VARIOUS ACTS GOVERNING IMMIGRATION INTO INDIA:

  • The Citizenship Act, 1955
  • The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939
  • The Immigration (Carriers Liability) Act, 2000
  • The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920
  • The Passports Act, 1967
  • The Emigration Act, 1983
  • Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976
  • The Foreigners Act, 1946
  • Foreigners Law (Application and Amendment) Act, 1962.


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Intestate Succession

As the name suggests, a will is a declaration that expresses the desires or wants of a person with relation to his property and estate and also provides for its transfer upon his/her death. In ordinary language, succession means inheritance. When a person dies, inheritance or succession follows.

 

Hindu Succession Act

The Hindu Succession Act is the act which states the rules and procedures relating to inheritance applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists etc. Majority of India follows the Hindu Succession Act, whereas for Muslims Sharia law is prevalent in India. The Indian Succession Act which covers Christians as well as those people who are not covered under the Hindu Succession Act and Sharia Law.

Succession is a very complex process in a diverse and dynamic country like India. There are two types of Succession:

  1. Testamentary successionIt is a type of succession in which the deceased had executed a will, and the property is divided as per the execution of the will.
  2. Intestate succession: In India, as per the provisions of Indian Succession Act, 1925 if one dies without writing a valid will, he is said to be died intestate and his property will be distributed as per the provisions of the succession law applicable to him.

 

Intestate Succession

A person is said to die intestate when he/she dies without making a will that means without disposing off his/her property to the heirs.  Sometimes, disposition under the will is also not possible on account of the illegal bequest or invalid bequest.  Intestacy can either be total or partial.

Under the circumstances, when a person dies intestate, the deceased’s assets are distributed among the heirs as per the provisions of the Indian Succession Act. The distribution or vesting of the assets takes place according to the relevant personal laws. There are situations, when there is more than one heir, thus giving rise to complexities and difficulties.

 

Intestate Succession among Hindus                                                                                                                    

The laws relating to intestate succession among Hindus was amended and consolidated by the Hindu Succession Act passed in the year 1956. The law is applied to all the persons who practise religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. In the year, 2005, the act was further amended. The act contains provisions related to the situation where an individual dies without making a will.

 

Below mentioned are the claims that can be made when a male dies without making a will.

1st Claimant: They are known as the Class I legal heir, which includes the mother, wife and children of the deceased. All of them have equal rights over the assets. In case, any child of the deceased is no more than the property is given to the child and wife of the deceased child.

2nd Claimant: When there is no one available from class I legal heirs, then the class II legal heir comes into the picture. They are father, sibling, living children’s grandchildren, sibling’s children of the deceased.

3rd Claimant: When class I legal heirs and class II legal heirs are absent then the property can be claimed by the Agnates. They are defined as the distant blood relatives of father’s side, also known as Male Lineage.

4th Claimant: When all the three levels of the class heir are absent, then the property is given to the Cognates. Cognates are the ones who are blood relatives of the mother’s side, also known as Female Lineage.

 

Below mentioned are the claims that can be made when a female dies without making a will.

1st Claimants: The first claimants of the deceased female are the children and the husband. They can divide the property among them equally.

2nd Claimants: When the class I heirs are not available; the claim is made by the heirs of the husband.

3rd Claimants: In the absence of 1st and 2nd claimants, the mother and father of the deceased can make a claim.

4th Claimants: There are chances when 3rd claimants are not there to claim property, and therefore the heir of the father gets the property.

5th Claimants: At the last, to opt for the property of the deceased, the claim is given to the heir of the mother.

There are circumstances when an intestate dies, and no claimants are available. In such a situation, the property is devolved to the State Government by following the procedure of the law.

 

Where there’s Covid, there’s Will

Due to the recent outbreak of Covid-19 across the country and the lockdown imposed by the Central Government, it is noticed that the number of request for drafting wills had increased tremendously. The older people and rich people have started thinking to execute their wills in the amid fear of Coronavirus. People have started considering that dying after executing a will is far better than dying intestate, for the sake of the family as well as the society.

 

Conclusion

In ancient times, executing a will was considered a taboo in India. However, as the time has passed, people have realised the importance and need of executing a will as it not only saves a lot of time while dividing the property but also helps to divide the property without any conflicts between the family, it is recommended that when a person wants to execute his/her will, they should always consult a legal person whom they trust. Legal advice in such a matter is essential. Writing a will, once considered a somewhat morbid exercise, is now a must-do for India’s rich as well as the middle class.

Corporate India's Covid-19 Action Plan: How to Balance Data Protection with Emergency Response

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, effectively urging countries to take all necessary measures to detect, test, isolate treat people in order to avoid handful of cases resulting into clusters and community transmissions that further stress capacity of global public health institutions. In case of COVID-19, the pandemic declaration is reflective of its spread, unlike intensity. Both prior to and post issuance of the WHO directive, the Indian Government, through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has notified multiple travel, immigration, employment and public health-related advisories to proactively contain and delay onset of the outbreak in India.

Some of these measures include all except specific visas to India to be suspended until April 15, 2020, requiring persons having visited Italy/South Korea to submit negative status COVID-19 declarations from recognized laboratories of such countries as a condition for entry into India, mandatory medically supervised quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for persons having visited high-risk countries, home quarantine for all travellers entering India, to name a few. The State and municipal authorities have separately issued travel and public health advisories directed at private citizens, organizations and public administration bodies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented disruption to civic and business activities across the world, and it is fair to assume that the evolving situation will continue to demand more resources, mobilization, focus and expense in times to come.

Like other countries, the responsibility of responding to the COVID-19 crisis is largely affixed on immigration and public health professionals in India, however managing a novel crisis of such magnitude surely mandates an organized and consistent response from all capable stakeholders. It’s therefore good to see corporate organizations extending proactive health, safety, accessibility, employment protection and continuity measures to protect their employees and partners from possible exposure. Their objective is two-fold, one – depending on the industry and nature of employees in question, to comply with their statutory obligations relating to providing a safe working environment to all employees; and two – to respond, contain and delay a public health crisis with the means at their disposal, ensure business continuity in view of the expanding nature of the disease, reduce chances of community transmission in their offices in order to avoid a complete shutdown of business activities on a long-term basis.

The initial step of any corporate COVID-19 action plan will be to collect and monitor information pertaining to employees and partners, including their travel history (both official and personal), symptoms including of self and of family members, interaction with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 persons, as well as medical information. It’s fair to assume that most organizations are unlikely to have pre-existing disaster management plans that are specific to prevention of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, that has resulted in companies collecting and asking for information not anticipated either in policies or consent frameworks established till date. This practice is of concern, as it is equally important for employers to understand the need to balance emergency response with protection of privacy of their employees, workers, consultants or extended workforce. It is interesting to see how data protection principles are implemented in practice in times of emergencies, as it is then naturally desirable to find a consent-based or legitimate purpose approach towards personal data to be an academic objective – good to have, but who can really implement this? And if it this endeavour is even proportionate considering the risks involved in taking time to implement a program that is legally compliant? Practical approach is key, but how to implement that is often fraught with uncertainty.

Current legal position in India

The current data protection law (IT Act) classifies an employee’s physiological and / or health information, medical records as sensitive personal data (SPDI), which is considered sensitive and therefore worthy of more protective safeguards. Information such as travel history of self and family members, exposure to suspected persons, may be classifiable as personal data (PI) which is protected but with lesser restrictions.

IT Act – SPDI and PI

The law entails that any SPDI collected, processed or stored either for providing a service or under a lawful contract or otherwise must be described under a privacy policy, informed consent should be obtained prior to collection of the SPDI, purpose of usage of the SPDI should be disclosed in advance, and the SPDI collected should be stored only for the period necessary to serve the specified purpose. Organizations are mandated to implement reasonable security practices and procedures such as ISO 27001 for that are commensurate with nature of its business. Collection, processing and storage of PI can be done provided a privacy policy is put in place.

All employers can therefore collect health information/records or travel history of an employee by stating its intended purpose under a privacy policy. For collection of SPDI, additional consent requirements are to be met, and the SPDI can be collected only in connection with providing a service (say, arranging an insurance provider for health coverage) or under terms of a lawful contract. Organizations are not liable for accuracy of the information submitted by the employees, if it is requested to transfer such information to Government agencies. Employees are legally entitled to refuse consent, though this right seems to be available only when an employer is collecting SPDI for providing a service.

COVID-19 data protection practices in other countries

EU General Data Protection Regulation (EUGDPR) is more nuanced and allows organizations to collect and process information on grounds of legitimate interest, or to comply with their employer or legal obligations, as applicable in each country. Despite this enablement, data protection authorities across Europe have asked employers to exercise caution in implementing their COVID-19 action plans and urged them to consider proportionality even in face of a pandemic situation. Some examples are:

– The Italian Privacy Authority on March 02, 2020 has asked employers not to collect employee health information or ask them about contact with suspected symptom persons in a systematic and generalized manner, and stated that such inquiries and checks should instead be conducted by civic and public health administration authorities.

– In France, the Data Protection Authority has reminded employers of their legal obligations under EUGDPR and French public health codes and clarified that COVID-19 action plans cannot require disclosure of medical and health information which goes beyond the management of suspected exposure, and infringe on privacy rights of employees and visitors. It has specifically stated that checking of body temperature and systematic daily processing of said data, asking employees /visitors to submit health declarations is not legally permissible. It has instead encouraged employers to educate employees, ask employees to undergo tests with public health authorities, and set up remote working facilities.

-The UK data protection authority, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has taken a more pragmatic approach and assured employers that they are cognizant that in pressing times, usual governance and compliance frameworks could be relegated lesser priority, and that employers will not be penalized if they are prioritizing other areas to contain the outbreak amongst their employees, visitors and partners. ICO has however confirmed that this flexibility should not be construed by organizations to forego principles of proportionality, and only such information which is not excessive in the given circumstances should be collected and processed by employers.

Corporate India COVID-19 response

Companies are asking employees, visitors and contractors to share travel history (professional/personal) to high-risk countries, share travel history of family members to high-risk countries, share symptoms of self or family members, undergo mandatory health check-ups, and submit medical declarations. Travel history of self and family members is being correlated with symptoms for persons who have not visited high-risk countries by employers, for possible community transmissions. Persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are asked to identify persons of contact, to assist employers to administer quarantine and hygiene measures. Employees are also asked to submit medical records for processing of leave, medical coverage, and remote working assistance. Employers have also set in place extensive hygiene measures and have encouraged employees with or without symptoms to work from home, discouraged travel plans or any large gatherings.

Areas of concern – data protection perspective

The above measures are helpful in containing community transmission and allowing businesses to address business continuity concerns, but employers are also unknowingly exposing themselves to legal risks by requesting for mass and constant information disclosures. For instance, many employers do not have privacy policies or consent frameworks that envisage collection of information on grounds of prevention of public health emergency, or community transmissions. Many nascent companies have not invested infrastructurally on security procedures relevant for processing and storage of medical records of their employees.

Collection of travel history, exposure to suspected or exposed persons

Travel history of employees, or whether they have and exposure to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 person is classifiable as PI and can be obtained without consent. While is important for the same to be envisaged under the employer’s privacy policy, at a practical level, official travel data will anyways be visible to employers. If described under the privacy policy or with certain amendments to such policies, travel plans of employees and their family members (if proportionate to responding to the current crisis), any COVID-19 exposure details can be requested.

Collection of medical records or medical condition

Health data – namely, medical information, records, condition, information on exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 persons if accompanied with symptoms is classifiable as SPDI and can be collected, processed or stored with prior consent of the employee/visitors. Some companies may have obtained such consents through employment contracts, code of conduct applicable to employees, but this is a good time to assess if additional information being collected and processed as part of COVID-19 response is legally obtainable through existing consent frameworks. If such consents are not in place, corporates should incorporate obtaining them in their action plan steps. Failure to do so can expose them to compensating persons affected by any negligence or improper handling of their SPDI. Some companies are also asking for health data / declarations from their partners, visitors, consultants etc., and consent requirements will equally apply to such relationships.

Other compliances

Maintenance of adequate security procedures such as ISO 27001 is mandatory for processing and storage of SPDI, and all organizations should assess if their security standards are equipped to handle SPDI particularly health data of various employees and visitors in a systematic manner for a prolonged period of time. The IT Rules also require organizations to store SPDI until the purpose intended has been achieved, upon which the information stored should be destroyed or scrubbed from security systems as per prescribed procedures. Even though principles of data minimization are more explicitly contemplated under the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and not under the IT Act, it’s still advisable for organizations to collect and process data which is proportionate to the threat envisaged to their business structures, and the urge to initiate proactive measures that are more appropriately performed by civil or public health authorities should be curtailed. Data minimization standards will already be applicable to global organizations and should be equally implemented in India. Excessive data collection will ultimately be susceptible to cybersecurity threats, which in context of health data can have complicated outcomes for data subjects.

General Q&A’s for employers

Some general Q&A’s relevant for corporate India are given below. Many of the situations described below are fact-specific, rapidly evolving and will differ in each State. Employers are advised to seek specific counsel prior to implementing their

COVID-19 action plans.

Have employment and public health authorities issued specific guidance to employers? Any specific data protection guidance?

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed employers to arrange work from home for employees required to undergo home quarantine for minimum 14 days after returning from high-risk countries. Many Indian States such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Orissa, Gujarat, Maharashtra have notified COVID-19 as an epidemic under the Epidemics Diseases Act, 1897 empowering State and district level authorities to undertake expansive measures to contain outbreak of the disease. So far, in context of employers, these notifications only prohibit organizations from sharing any misinformation regarding COVID-19, which in our view would mean sharing of inaccurate information on nature and spread of the disease, its symptoms etc. as that is best addressed by public health bodies who are qualified to dispense such information. Advisories for employers are emerging daily across States and municipalities and will need to be checked on a case to case basis. Karnataka being the IT hub of India has been particularly active in issuing advisories, and has recommended employers to avoid large gatherings, cancel meetings, conferences, and allow remote working facilities for all employees. There are news reports of Karnataka contemplating mandatory work for home for all offices.In Karnataka, all workers covered under ESI Act who are confirmed COVID-19 cases can now avail mandatory paid leave of 28 days from their respective employers by submitting medical certificate issued by ESI hospitals. All non-ESI covered employees can avail an equivalent leave from their employers under applicable provisions of the Karnataka shops and establishment act. In this case, employers will automatically be in receipt of medical records of confirmed COVID-19 employees and can rely on such information to implement quarantine measures and educate other employees to undergo testing at Government facilities.So far, employers have been advised to grant paid leave and implement remote work facilities and except for Karnataka,have not been specifically asked to obtain and store medical records of employees.

Do I need to respond to this crisis?

Legally, the severity of your response is at your discretion. Understandably, corporates across the world are responding actively to this crisis in interest of business continuity, and not necessary to tick a legal compliance. In India, some employment legislations such as the Factories Act, ESI Act require mandatory reporting of occupational diseases by employers but COVID-19 has not been notified under said laws. Public health notices issued by Government authorities such as Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are also directed at citizens, and not specifically at organizations. No specific data collection obligations have been imposed on employers, though they can be justified by employers in view of other employment laws.

What more can I do to enforce success of company’s quarantine measures?

Persons who have travel history to COVID-19 countries and exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 person are mandatorily required to under medical screening at the nearest hospital, and such communication can be disseminated by employers for wider reach. Government has also encouraged employers to cancel conferences, and any non-essential travel (professional or personal).

Can employees refuse to share their travel history? Or whether they have interacted with any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 person?

No. Official travel history of an employee is employer information, so no specific request is required in this regard. Companies can validly ask employees to divulge personal travel plans, or exposure with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 persons (including family members) in the interest of providing a safe working environment for all employees and third parties visiting the workplace, and also to better inform other employees of exposure and / or quarantine measures. Exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 person if not accompanied with symptoms is not yet a medical condition, hence no specific consent is required to collect such information. Employers can also access CCTV imaging to verify the trail of exposure of suspected employees in order to enforce their quarantine measures. Employers should at all times practice data minimization practices and destroy information which is irrelevant or no longer serving the purpose of COVID-19 action plans.

Can employers ask employees to share their medical condition or records, including whether they have COVID-19 specially when they are displaying symptoms at the workplace?

This is tricky, as technically Government authorities have directly asked citizens to undergo medical screening at hospitals if they have travel history to COVID-19 countries combined with exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 persons. If

any citizen is found to be infected, his/her information is transmitted by the relevant hospital to the district-level health authorities. Private bodies have not been asked to collect such information.

Employers can support requests for collection of SPDI such as medical condition, records on following grounds:

– Employers need to receive medical certificate certifying COVID-19 status in order to grant paid leave to the employee. Karnataka has made this mandatory, other States will follow suit;

– Employers can argue that they need to know such information in interest of providing a safe working environment for all employees, and protect themselves from tortious claims of negligence from other infected employees;

– If employers have obtained prior consent for collection and processing of such SPDI in employment contracts or code of conduct.

If we have legitimate grounds for collection of SPDI, do we really need consent?

Yes, since Indian law does not expressly permit collection of SPDI on grounds of legitimate interest or legal compliance alone. If no prior consent has been obtained, employers should include them as part of their COVID-19 action plans.

Refusal from employees can be expected and should be handled firmly with sensitivity. Employees may be concerned about possible discrimination, leave with no pay, forced quarantine upon disclosure of such information, and employers should extend support in this regard. Having said the above, like global data protection regulators, Indian authorities are likely to be accommodating of governance gaps in some areas provided employers are able to exhibit pressing needs to act upon their emergency plans, without obtaining relevant consents. The gaps should be addressed immediately once the risk is mitigated.

Can employees refuse to give consent for collection of their SPDI, like health records?

Technically, employees cannot refuse consent as the IT Act is unclear on whether employees can deny such information in public health emergencies or only when SPDI is sought in connection with provision of goods or services by the employer. I don’t have consent framework in place, I also don’t have time to do this and would like to contain the infection urgently.

Doesn’t the law envisage an exceptional situation?

Unfortunately, not. While you can continue with your emergency response in order to provide a safe working environment to your employees, from a data protection perspective, you will still not be compliant. We do expect Indian regulators to be accommodating of such gaps however, and this situation will have more clarity in some time.

Once I have obtained the medical reports, what are my obligations?

You are bound to retain and share it, only as permitted under law. Government agencies are permitted to request for SPDI to verify identity, with a written request.

Can I disclose the name of the employee to inform other possibly affected employees?

No. There are better methods of implementing quarantine measures. Personal and sensitive information of an employee should be protected, and names of affected or suspected employees should be scrubbed while being processed internally as part of action plans. It’s also important to mention that employers are obligated to extend measures to protect employees from any form of discrimination that may be attributed to their medical condition or diagnosis.

Should employers report to Government agencies once they have information of any employee’s confirmed COVID-10 status?

There is no such obligation under law as on date. The Government has directed mandated citizens of India to undergo screening and quarantine as per their travel history, symptoms and exposure to suspected COVID-19 persons. Employers should widely disseminate this directive amongst their status and network.

Can I ask employees / visitors to submit to temperature reading, medical tests prior to entering the building?

Depends what you are trying to ascertain. If it’s simply to check a fever prior to allowing entry, anyone can do that. However, any invasive or COVID-19 related checks should only be conducted by a medical professional, who may submit information to the employer or State medical authorities for necessary action. Medical professionals are themselves obligated to receive and handle patient information in a prescribed manner.

Patenting Covid-19 Related Inventions

Across the world scientists and researchers are working tirelessly to develop cheap and time effective diagnostic kits, cures and vaccines for the novel COVOD-19. There is also a pressing need for low cost ventilators.

Abbott’s diagnostic test to deliver positive results in five minutes is a major- breakthrough. In India, Mylab Discovery is the first company to receive approval in India for manufacturing their Covid-19 test kits. Even non-pharmaceutical companies are pitching in to help in this time of crisis. One example is Mahindra & Mahindra, which is working towards launching a low-cost ventilator.

In times of emergency, when an invention is the need of the hour, should innovators file patent applications to protect their innovations? What if they don’t file for patents in the larger good? Can innovation still be rewarded pending patent or without patent protection?

PATENTING COVID-19 RELATED INVENTIONS

At the outset, it is important to examine what kind of Covid-19 related inventions may be patentable in India. Like most jurisdictions, under the Indian Patents Act, 1970 ("the Patents Act"), a product or process that satisfy novelty, non-obviousness and utility, can get patent. However, the Patents Act excludes certain inventions from the scope of patentability, e.g. use of a known or already existing drug for treatment of Covid-19 may not be patentable in India.

India also prohibits patenting of methods of treatment. This includes methods of diagnosing a disease. While methods of diagnosing Covid-19 may not be patentable, a diagnostic instrument itself can be protected as a patent. Software per se is not patentable in India. However, software combined with hardware may be patentable. Thus, software enabled diagnostic instruments could be patentable.

As per the well-known Section 3(d) of the Patents Act, exclusion, new forms of a known substance (such as salts, esters, isomers, etc) are not patentable unless such new form results in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance.

Indigenous innovators can e-file patent applications in India even during lock-down. Since patent is a territorial right, applications need to be filed either through the Patent Cooperation Treaty or directly in other jurisdictions within prescribed timelines with Indian filing date as priority date1. In case of existing patents, they should be available to meet the demand during exigencies.

EXPLOITING AND REWARDING INNOVATION

We examine a few approaches to enable use or exploitation of pending patent applications and/or granted patents below:

- Acquisition or use of pending or granted patents by Indian Government in public interest

The Patents Act allows government of India to acquire an invention covered by a pending patent application or a granted patented for a public purpose by paying compensation to right holders. Compensation is determined based on several factors such as the expenditure incurred in connection with the invention and, in the case of a granted patent, the term of the patent, the period during which and the manner in which it has already been worked (including the profits made during such period by the patentee or by their licensee).

Separately, the Patents Act also allows the government (state, central or a government undertaking) to use an invention that forms subject matter of patent applications or are granted patents. Such use includes the right to sell the invention. Use by the government must be made upon commercial terms agreed between the patentee/applicant of the invention and the government either before or after use has begun.

Compulsory licensing of existing patents

In times of national emergency/extreme urgency, the Central government can suo moto make a declaration for grant of compulsory license in relation to a patent. Thereafter, any person interested can apply for a compulsory license. A license will then be granted on such terms and conditions decided by the patent controller.

In fact, it has been reported that some countries have already issued compulsory licenses for existing drugs currently being tested for treatment of Covid-19. Israel has issued a compulsory license related to lopinavir/ ritonavir, including in combination with other products.

On the other hand, several companies, including the patentee for the drug lopinavir/ ritonavir, are relinquishing their rights in their patented drugs in view of the pandemic. While companies are foregoing monetary incentives, such acts will bring immense goodwill and are helpful in creating a positive brand image.

Exploitation of pending patents or in the absence of patents

An important question to consider is whether innovators can be rewarded. Pending or in the absence of patent. In this state of urgency, innovators may not file patent applications before commercialising their innovations. Even if a patent application is filed, grant of a patent would take several years in most jurisdictions. Technically, a patentee’s monopoly kicks in once the patent is granted. It should be explored whether in such situations, patent grant may be expedited.

Even in the absence of a patent, innovators could and should still be rewarded. This can be done by way of licensing or royalty deals, acquisition deals or joint venture deals, where the innovator (company or individual) transfers the trade secret, know-how, formulation or technology to other entities with good manufacturing capacities or governments. Joint ventures could also be formed between two or more innovators, who pool in their resources together to find a much-needed resolution for this pandemic in public good.

In all these scenarios, the commercial interest and investment of the innovator are secured, and public good is ensured.

TAKE AWAY

While a patent is an important right, the need of the hour is to balance commercial interests v/s community interest. Making inventions, know-how, technology and formulations available not only in India but across the world is of utmost importance at this stage. Innovators therefore need to decide how to exploit their patents or inventions to battle this pandemic, and whether large profits should be forgone for humanity. At the same time, it is also important for the community to respect inventions and give due credit and respect to research and innovation. Compulsory licensing, royalty based deals, joint ventures and collaborations on reasonable terms, instead of strictly enforcing patent rights, is the need of the hour. When the whole world is fighting this pandemic together at war footing, innovations must act as a weapon which can help in winning this battle.

LLP Settlement Scheme

It has been noticed by the Government that a large number of LLPs have failed/defaulted in filing Form-3 LLP [LLP Agreement and changes therein]; Form-4 [Notice of Appointment, cessation, change in name/ address/ designation of Designated Partner or Partner]; Form-8 [Statement of Account & Solvency (Annual or Interim)] and Form-11 [Annual Return of LLP] and in the event of such defaults an additional fee of INR 100/- (Rupees One Hundred Only) is levied under the LLP Act, for every day of such delay.

Due to such hefty fine involved in case of default in filing of e-forms mentioned above by the LLPs, many representations have been made from various quarters for waiver of fees or relaxation in additional fees.

As a part of ease of doing business and to give an onetime relaxation in additional fees to the defaulting LLPs to make good their default by filing pending documents and to serve as a compliant LLP in future the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, vide circular dated 4th March, 2020 have introduced a scheme - ‘LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020’ (“Scheme”), for allowing an onetime condonation of delay in filing the e-forms mentioned above which have not been filed by the LLPs with the Registrar.

Highlights of the Scheme

  • The Scheme shall come into force on 16th March 2020 and shall remain in force till 13th June 2020.
  • The Scheme shall apply only for the filing belated Form 3, Form 4, Form 8 and Form 11 which were due for filing till 31st October 2019. (The Scheme shall not apply to LLPs who have filed Form 24 with the Registrar for striking-off its name from the ROC.)
  • Reduced additional fee: The defaulting LLPs can file the said e-forms during the currency of this Scheme by making payment of an additional fee of INR 10/- per day (as against INR 100/- per day) for the delay in filing in addition to normal fee applicable for filing of suche-forms, however, the maximum additional fee shall not exceed INR 5000/- (Rupees Five Thousand Only) per e-form.
  • The defaulting LLPs availing benefit of this Scheme shall be provided with immunity from prosecution by the Registrar for such defaults.
  • Further, after completing of this Scheme, those LLPs which have not availed this Scheme and are in default of filing any of the e-forms within the specified period as per the LLP Act shall be subject to action/prosecution from the Registrar under the LLP Act

Revised LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020

MCA vide its General Circular No. 13/2020 dated 30th March, 2020, has revised the existing LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020 and thereby the last date of filing of pending documents has changed from 13th June, 2020 to 31st March, 2020. Further, by keeping the existing Scheme, certain additions in the terms and conditions have been made, which are as follows:

  • Revision in the existing Scheme: Apart from the following changes, all other conditions of the existing Scheme shall remain the same:
    1. Para 8(i) of the Scheme, effective Date: Effective date of the LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020 has revised from 16th March, 2020 - 13th June, 2020 to 16th March, 2020 - 31st March, 2020.
    2. Para 8 (vi) of the Scheme, Immunity from Prosecution: Under this Para, the last date of filing of pending documents was 13th June, 2020, which has revised to 31st March, 2020.
  • Extended LLP Settlement Scheme 2020: New Para 8A has been added in the existing Scheme and thereby it has extended to the further period, i.e., from 01st April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020. The details of the Scheme are as follows:
    1. Effective Date of the Scheme: Effective date of LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020 shall be in force from 01st April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020.
    2. Applicability: This Scheme shall be applicable to all the belated filings, which shall be due for filing till 31st August, 2020 at the normal fee. In the previous Scheme, only 4 (Four) forms were allowed to file i.e., Form-3, Form-4, Form-8 and Form-11.
    3. Late filing fee under the Scheme: No late filing fee shall be charged on the belated documents till 30th September, 2020.
    4. The Scheme shall not apply: Further, this Scheme shall not apply to those LLPs who have applied for striking off their names from the register of ROC as per Rule 37(1) of the LLP Rules, 2009
Companies Fresh Start Scheme, 2020

In continuation with the several measures from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, one more major relief has announced by the MCA, vide it's General Circular No-12/2020 dated on 30th March, 2020, through the launching of one-time settlement scheme for the Companies popularly known as “Companies Fresh Start Scheme 2020 (“CFSS-2020”) to grant one-time immunity from hefty fee and prosecution against the defaulting Companies.

This CFSS-2020 has introduced to facilitate the Companies registered in India to make a fresh start on a clean slate by making their defaults good. Under this Scheme, the Companies shall be eligible to complete all their belated filings at a reasonable fee, without any penalty or late fee.

  • Effective Date of the Scheme: This Scheme shall be effective from 01st April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020 in which the defaulting Companies can complete their belated filings (any of the documents, statements, returns etc., including annual statutory documents) by paying the normal statutory fee.
  • Applicability of the Scheme: This Scheme is applicable to all the defaulting Companies, whose belated filings with the Registrar of the Companies (ROC) was due on any given date in accordance with the provisions of this Scheme.
  • Scheme for Inactive Companies: The defaulting inactive companies, while filing due documents under this Scheme can simultaneously apply either for:
    1. declaring themselves as Dormant Company under Section 455 of the Companies Act, 2013 (the Act) by filling Form MSC-1 on MCA
    2. striking off the name of the Company by filing Form STK-2 on MCA
  • Forms which cannot be filed under this Scheme: Except below-mentioned forms, all other forms can be filed under this Scheme:
    1. Form SH-7 (Increased in Authorized Capital),
    2. Form CHG-1 (Creation or Modification of Charge),
    3. Form CHG-4 (Satisfaction of Charge),
    4. Form CHG-8 (Application to C.G for extension of time for creation or modification of charge)
    5. Form CHG-9 (Creation or Modification of Charge for Debentures)
  • Non-applicability of the Scheme: The Scheme shall not apply in the following cases:
    1. The Companies which are strike off and the Companies against which strike-off action has been initiated by the concerned authority;
    2. The Companies who have applied for strike off of its names from the register of Companies;
    3. Amalgamated Companies under the Scheme of arrangement or compromised under the Act;
    4. The Companies who have applied for obtaining Dormant status under Section 455 of the Act, before the commencement of this Scheme;
    5. Vanishing Companies;
    6. Filing of forms SH-7, CGH-1, CHG-4, CHG-8 and CHG-9;
  • Consequential Proceedings under the Scheme: This Scheme protects the Companies from the launching of prosecution or proceedings associated with delay of belated filings with the ROC and shall not cover any other consequential proceedings, including those involving the interest of shareholders or any other person, as being the Company or its directors or Key managerial personnel.

For Example, Immunity shall be provided for delay in filing of Form PAS-3 for allotment of shares and not on account of utilization of money raised through private placement beforethe filing of Form PAS-3 for allotment of shares.

  • Withdrawal of appeal or proceeding initiated: The Companies shall require withdrawing all the appeals filed against the order(s) of any competent court or authority made in the matter of statutory filings against the Company, and submit the proof of such withdrawal along with the application form under the Scheme.
  • Extension of the last date for filing of an appeal: MCA has extended the last date for filing of an appeal under Section 454(6) of the Act, against the adjudication order scheduled in between 1st March, 2020 - 31st May, 2020 to 30th September, 2020. Therefore, the Companies and their officers who have missed the last date for filing an appeal can file the same before the Regional Director till 30th September, 2020.

Further, no prosecution under Section 454(8) of the Act shall be initiated against the Companies by the adjudicating authority, during such extended last date, for the delay in filing of any documents, forms, statements etc., on MCA.

  • Application and granting of Immunity Certificate: The application for immunity can be made after completion of all the belated filings, in the Form CFSS-2020 with no filing fees. However, said the application could not be made after the expiry of 6 (Six) months from the closure of the Scheme. Further, Immunity Certificate shall be granted by the designated authority based on the declaration filed by the Company in Form CFSS 2020.

The designated authority upon the filing of an application in the Form CFSS-2020 shall withdraw all the pending proceedings or adjudications, in the name of the Company and its officers, before the concerned court under Section 454 of the Act, except proceedings or adjudications mentioned as follows:

    1. Immunity shall not be applicable, in cases of the pending appeal and the case of management dispute of the Companies pending before the court of law or tribunal;
    2. Immunity shall not be granted, in cases of (i) conviction order issued by the court; (ii) penalty order imposed by the adjudicating authority for which no appeal could be preferred, before the announcement of this Scheme.
Relief measures introduced by the Ministry of Finance under COVID-19

Due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a complete lockdown for a period of 21 days on 24th March. The lockdown will last till 14th April 2020. The Officials have also warned all the citizens of India to practice social distancing in order to fight against COVID-19. The Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 has been invoked by the Central and State Governments after being satisfied that the state/country is threatened with the spread of COVID-19 virus. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had introduced various relief measures. They are as follows:

Relief package for poor

The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs. 1.7 lakh crore relief package for poor people. The main aim was to help the people, who were hit hardest by the COVID-19 lockdown. It was stated that around 800 million people wouldget free grams and cereals along with cooking gas apart from cash through direct transfers for a period of 3 months. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana includes higher wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act, Rs. 1,000 ex-gratia payment to nearly 30 million poor senior citizens, widows and disabled people. Farmers will get the first installment of Rs. 2,000 under the KisanSamman Nidhi in the first week of April.

The government had increased the wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act scheme from the existing Rs 182 to Rs 202. The women who are holding bank accounts under the financial inclusion scheme Jan Dhan will get an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 500 per month for a period of the next threemonths. The government had announced the supply of 5 kg of either rice or wheat and 1 kg of lentil of choice free of cost to poor households every month for a period of next threemonths, in addition to the existing 5 kg of wheat/rice that was announced earlier.  The government had also announced collateral-free loans worth up to Rs 10 lakh for women self-help groups under the DeenDayal Upadhyaya National Rural Mission scheme. The limit which applied to the existing scheme has been doubled to Rs. 20 Lakh.

Medical Insurance cover for healthcare providers

The Union Health Ministry had stated that 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, will get Rs. 50 lakh insurance cover under a national scheme for them. They will be covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme for Health workers fighting COVID-19, which was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 26th March.

The Central Government has approved the launch of insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme will be funded through the National Disaster Response Fund budget operated by the Ministry for this purpose.

The Ministry stated that besides, healthcare workers in Government institutions, the insurance scheme will also cover private hospital staff, retired staff, volunteers, contract workers, daily wagers and even outsourced staff hired by the Central government, State governments and autonomous healthcare institutions.

The Ministry stated that the insurance will provide a comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs. 50 lakh for 90 days to a total of around 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of patients suffering from coronavirus infection and who may be at risk of being impacted by this.

The actual payment by the insurance company to the beneficiary will be under certification of the authorized Central/State government officials. The order stated that the insurance provided under this scheme would be over and above any other insurance cover being availed by the beneficiary.

Relief package for the organized sector

The Centre had stated that it will pay Employees Provident Fund contribution on behalf of both the employee and the employer for a period of three months for individualsmall companies. The government had stated that the companies with up to 100 employees in which 90 per cent of the staff is paid less than Rs 15,000 per month wouldbe entitled to receive the benefit. The government will also permit withdrawals of up to 75% of non-refundable advance or three months of wages from the Employees Provident Fund account, whichever is lower.

Reliefs under Income tax

The government has extended the deadline for filing tax returns by three months. The last date for income tax returns for Financial Year 2018-2019 has been extended to 30thJune 2020, and for the delayed payments the interest rate has been reduced to 9% from 12%.

The mandatory linking of Aadhaar cards with PAN cards and the direct tax Vivad se Vishwas scheme has also been extended to 30th June 2020.In Vivad Se Vishwas scheme, the earlier criteria of not paying a 10% additional amount till March 31 was extended to June 30.

For delayed payments of advance tax, self-assessment tax, regular tax, TDS and equalization levy, among others, made between 20th March and 30th June, the interest rate has been reduced to 9% from 12-18% earlier. No late fee and penalty shall be charged for delay relating to this period.

The assesses and/or the tax authorities have got an extended time limit of up to 30th June 2020 where the time limit for the following compliance matter expires between 20th March 2020 and 29th June 2020:

  • Issue of notice/intimation/notification/approval order/sanction order
  • Filing of an appeal/furnishing of a return/statements/reports or any other documents
  • The time limit for the completion of proceedings by the tax authority
  • Investment in saving instruments or investments for rollover benefit of capital gains under the Income Tax Act, Wealth Tax Act, Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, Black Money Act, STT law, CTT Law, Equalization Levy law, and the Vivad Se Vishwas law

Reliefs under Custom Act

The government had stated that the Customs Clearance shouldbe made available on 24*7 basis till 30th June 2020. The time limit for any compliance under the customs act and other allied laws has been extended to 30th June 2020.

Reliefs under GST Act/ Indirect Tax

  • The last date to avail the Saba Vishwas scheme is extended to 30th June 2020. No interest for this period shall be charged if paid by 30 June 2020.
  • The due date of filing GST annual returns for the Financial year 2018-2019 has been extended to 30thJune 2020.
  • The Last date for filing GSTR-3B in March, April and May 2020 will be extended till the last week of 30 June 2020 for those taxpayers who are havingaggregate annual turnover less than Rs. 5 Crore. There will be no interest, late fee, and penalty to be charged. The same benefit to be available for taxpayer having aggregate turnover of more than Rs. 5 crores with an exception that interest at the rate of 9% p.a. will be charged instead of 18% p.a. and the reduced interest rates will apply for tax payments made between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020.
  • The Date for opting for composition scheme is extended till the last week of June 2020.
  • The due date for issue of notice, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of the appeal, furnishing of return, statements, applications, reports, any other documents, or time limit for any compliance under the GST laws where the time limit is expiring between 20thMarch 2020 to 29thJune 2020 shall be extended to 30 June 2020.

Conclusion

The Government of India is taking all the necessary steps in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection among the citizens of India. All the citizens must take precautions as per the advisories that are being issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. These are the testing times for the country, and we all can do our best by co-operating with the government.

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