Parliament Passes Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021

Team SoOLEGAL 16 Aug 2021 4:14pm

Parliament Passes Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021

The Essential Defence Services Act was passed by the Rajya Sabha to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services in order to safeguard the nation's security and the lives and property of the general public, as well as for matters connected with or incidental thereto. On August 3, the Lok Sabha passed the Bill.

Mr. Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence, introduced the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2021. The Bill aims to repeal the Ordinance that was passed in June 2021. The bill authorises the central government to restrict strikes, lockouts, and layoffs in defence-related organisations.

The following are some of the Bill's key features:

1. Essential defence services: Essential defence services include any service provided by:

(i) any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production of goods or equipment required for defence-related purposes, or

(ii) any establishment of the armed forces or connected with them or defence. It also include services that, if discontinued, would jeopardise the security of the establishment providing such services or its employees.

Furthermore, the government may declare any service to be an essential defence service if its cessation would have an impact on:

(i) the production of defence equipment or goods,

(ii) the operation or maintenance of industrial establishments or units engaged in such production, or

(iii) the repair or maintenance of defence-related products.

2. Public utility service: The bill amends the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 to include essential defence services in the definition of public utility services. In the event of public utility services, the Act requires a six-week notice before

(i)  employees go on strike in violation of contract or

(ii) employers carrying out such services perform lock-outs.

3. Strikes as well as lock-outs declared after the prohibition order's issuance, or that began prior to the prohibition order's issuance, will be illegal. The prohibition does not apply to layoffs caused by a power outage or natural disaster, or layoffs of temporary or casual workers.

4. Punishment for illegal lock-outs and lay-offs: Employers who violate the prohibition order via illegal lock-outs or lay-offs will face up to a year in prison or a Rs 10,000 fine, or both.

5. Punishment for illegal strikes: Individuals who initiate or participate in illegal strikes face up to a year in prison or a fine of Rs 10,000, or both. Those who instigate, incite, or take acts to sustain illegal strikes, or who knowingly contribute money for such purposes, will face up to two years in prison or a fine of Rs 15,000, or both. In addition, as per the terms and circumstances of his employment, such an employee is subject to disciplinary action, including termination. If it is not reasonably practical to conduct an investigation, the concerned authority may terminate or remove the employee without further investigation.

6. All crimes punishable by the Bill will be cognisable as well as non-bailable.

Tagged: Essential Defence Services Bill   Essential Defence Services Act   Rajya Sabha   Lok Sabha   Mr. Rajnath Singh   Minister of Defence   Industrial Disputes Act  
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