Two bills were discussed and passed in Rajya Sabha today. These are: 

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • The Bill addresses incidents of violence against healthcare professionals and damage to property such as clinical establishments. The Bill makes acts of violence against them a punishable offence during an epidemic.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 

  • The IBC Bill temporarily suspends the initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process for a specified period of six months starting from March 25, 2020. During the discussion, one of the issues raised was the Bill’s treatment of defaults. Under the Bill, all applications against any defaults during this period, COVID-related or otherwise, are suspended. 
     
  • A member noted that there is a possibility for the creditors to be worse off at the end of the suspension period as the value of assets of debtors may erode during the suspended period. He urged the government to allow MSMEs to initiate corporate insolvency saying small creditors who have provided services to defaulting large corporations will be rendered helpless without the protection under the Code.
     
  • In her reply, the Finance Minister reiterated that the reason for the suspension was difficulty in finding resolution professionals irrespective of who initiated the proceedings. She added: “The Code balances the rights of creditors and debtors and we can’t allow only the debtors to initiate and deny the option to creditors." 

In Lok Sabha, the three 2019 labour codes were withdrawn and reintroduced. While moving the Bill for introduction, the Labour Minister said that the Standing Committee had submitted 233 recommendations, of which the government had accepted 174. These changes meant that new bills had to be re-introduced. You can read the provisions and recommendations of the Standing Committees on the 2019 bills here: social security, occupational health and safety, and industrial relations.

The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 

  • While discussing the Bill for consideration and passing, Members highlighted the same issues that were raised at the time of introduction yesterday, particularly with regard to the PM CARES Fund. 

The Finance Minister was responding to the debate on the Bill at the time of uploading this note.

Numbers to Note

Rs 1,609 crore

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs provided details of losses incurred due to the halting of metro rail services during Covid-19 period. For the Delhi Metro, losses amounted to Rs 1,609 crore. The losses incurred due to the halting of the other metros were: Rs 170 crore for Bengaluru Metro, Rs 90 crore for Lucknow Metro, Rs 80 crore for Chennai Metro, and Rs 34 crore for Kochi Metro.

88.79 GW

In response to an unstarred question, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines informed the House that a total of 88.79 GW of Renewable Energy capacity has been installed at the end of August 2020. The government has set a target of 175 GW of Renewable Energy Capacity by the year 2022.

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