On February 1, Hon’ble Finance Minister (FM), Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the last full annual budget before the upcoming general elections that are due to take place in 2024. This Budget lays the foundation for sustained inclusive growth supported by robust infrastructure. It’s no surprise that a sizeable amount of the Budget was allocated to the agricultural sector, startups, MSMEs, infrastructure, and the simplification of personal tax.
Overall, this Budget sets out the blueprint for a more developed India and solidifies the country's position as one of the fastest-growing larger economies in the world.
For more in-depth analysis of Union Budget 2023, download the full report here: https://insights.seamlessglobal.co/union-budget-2023
A circular has been issued by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) regarding the extension to crediting/debiting Non-Resident (NR) accounts in UPI and IMPS domestic transaction" wherein transfer of funds has been permitted between NRE accounts and other permissible accounts.
There has long been requests to the Corporation with regards to the Non-resident (NR) accounts and other permissible accounts having international numbers to be allowed to transact in UPI. There has also been customer demand in the ecosystem to enable UPI for their NR accounts to have an international number and experience the seamless and instant journey of UPI. Earlier UPI being a sim-linked payments process, NRIs required an Indian mobile phone number which required regular payments of phone bills or prepaid top-ups to keep the number active. By linking the accounts with a non-Indian sim card, the maintenance cost is eliminated. That said, the level of compliance by banks may increase if the user migrates from an Indian mobile number to a foreign number. Even under the existing mechanism, the linkage of the mobile number is with NRO/NRE. With the migration to a foreign number, the FEMA and AML related compliances which the member banks must undertake will increase.
In view of the above, members of the UPI eco-system have been advised the following:
- Non-Resident account types like NRE/NRO accounts having international mobile numbers shall be allowed to get on-boarded/transact in UPI, provided:
- It is ensured by member banks that such types of accounts are only allowed as per the extant FEMA regulations and adherence to the guidelines/instructions issued from time to time by the concerned regulatory departments of the Reserve Bank of India.
- All the necessary Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/ Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT) checks and compliance validation/account level validations as per the extant rules applicable under the regulatory guidelines shall be the responsibility of the remitter/beneficiary banks.
- Initially, the corporation will be enabling the transaction from mobile numbers having the country code of the countries along with the current domestic country code. The first phase of rollout is extended only to ten countries — Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, the US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the UK and shall extend to other country codes in near future through an addendum or guidelines issued by NPCI. Members are advised to comply with the above directives by April 30, 2023.
The Reserve Bank of India has introduced the ‘Fully Accessible Route’ for Investment by Non-residents in Government Securities – Inclusion of Sovereign Green Bonds.
The Government Securities eligible for investment under the FAR (‘specified securities’) were notified by the Bank earlier. Now, all Sovereign Green Bonds issued by the Government in the fiscal year 2022-23 as ‘specified securities’ have been designated under the FAR. The Directions contained in this circular have been issued under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. They are without prejudice to permissions/ approvals, if any, required under any other law.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) on January 10, 2023, issued a notification regarding the implementation of UGC guidelines for pursuing two academic programs simultaneously as it had come to the notice of the UGC that students are facing difficulties as HEIs insist on migration certificates, In the absence of these certificates, the students are not granted admission and that defeats the facility of pursuing two academic programs simultaneously.
UGC has requested that the universities may devise facilitative mechanisms through their statutory bodies by implementing the guidelines to allow the students to pursue two academic programs simultaneously.
The University Grants Commission (UGC), has issued a notification regarding compliance with the notification of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting by HIE’s.Ministry of Education vide its Office Memorandum dated November 29, 2022, forwarded an Advisory dated October 21, 2022, issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the subject of "Issues relating to Broadcasting and Distribution Services by Central Government Ministries / Departments / State Governments and other institutions/bodies. A copy of the same is attached herewith.All the higher educational institutions are requested to comply with the provisions mentioned in the Advisory described above of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, adhering to the timeline recommended.
Last date to receive comments on draft UGC (setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 has been extended by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in continuation of the UGC Public Notice No. F.No. 1-3/2022(NEP) dated January 05, 2023, seeking comments from the stakeholders on the draft University Grants Commission (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023. In view of the requests being received from the stakeholders to extend the last date for submitting comments/suggestions/feedback on the aforesaid draft Regulations, the last date for receiving comments on the draft regulations is hereby extended to February 03, 2023
The Indian government has introduced certain amendments and additions to the Competition Act 2002. Objective of the Competition Act is to encourage a competitive marketplace in India and prevent monopolies. The amendments put forth are listed below:
- Combinations to be regulated based on transaction value: Any person or enterprise are prohibited from entering into a combination which may cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition by the Act. Combinations include mergers, acquisitions, or amalgamation of enterprises. Earlier the prohibition applies to transactions where parties involved have: (i) cumulative assets of more than Rs 1,000 crore, or (ii) cumulative turnover of more than Rs 3,000 crore, subject to certain other conditions. The bill has expanded this prohibition to combinations including transactions with a value above Rs 2,000 crore.
- Time limit for approval of combinations increased: The Bill reduces the time limit to 150 days from the earlier 210 days under the Act requiring the CCI to pass an order on an application for approval of combinations.
- Definition of control for classification of combinations to be modified: For classification of combinations, the Act defines control as control over the affairs or management by one or more enterprises over another enterprise or group. This definition has been modified by the bill ‘as the ability to exercise material influence over the management, affairs, or strategic commercial decisions.’
- Anti-competitive agreements: Anti-competitive agreements under the Act include any agreement related to production, supply, storage, or control of goods or services, which can cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India. Any agreement between enterprises or persons, engaged in identical or similar businesses, will have such adverse effect on competition if it meets certain criteria. These include: (i) directly or indirectly determining purchase or sale prices, (ii) controlling production, supply, markets, or provision of services, or (iii) directly or indirectly leading to collusive bidding. To this, the bill adds that enterprises or persons not engaged in identical or similar businesses shall be presumed to be part of such agreements, if they actively participate in the furtherance of such agreements.
- Provision for Settlement and Commitment in anti-competitive proceedings: Under the Act, CCI may initiate proceedings against enterprises on grounds of: (i) entering into anti-competitive agreements, or (ii) abuse of dominant position. The Bill allows CCI to close inquiry proceedings if the enterprise offers: (i) settlement (may involve payment), or (ii) commitments (may be structural or behavioural in nature). The manner and implementation of the framework of settlement and commitment may be specified by CCI through regulations.
- Decriminalisation of certain offences: The Bill changes the nature of punishment for certain offences from imposition of fine to penalty. These offences include failure to comply with orders of CCI and directions of Director General with regard to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has issued a clarification on the holding of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) through Video Conference (VC) or Other Audio Visual Means (OAVM). The companies whose AGMs are due in the Year 2023 can conduct their AGMs on or before September 30, 2023.The requirements laid down in General Circular 20/2020 which state “Clarification on holding of annual general meeting (AGM) through video conferencing (VC) or other audio visual means (OAVM)” must be followed. Further, clarification is provided that this shall not be construed as conferring any extension of time for holding of AGMs by the companies. The companies which have not adhered to the relevant timelines shall be liable for legal action.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has made amendments to the Companies (Registration Offices and Fees) Amendment Rules, 2023 to further amend the Companies (Registration Offices and Fees) Rules, 2014. The amendment states that e-forms wherever applicable shall be signed by Insolvency resolution professional or resolution professional or liquidator of companies under insolvency or liquidation, as the case may be, and filed with the Registrar along with the fee as mentioned in Table annexed. In the Annexure to the rules, for Form GNL-2, Form GNL-3 and Form GNL-4, the Form No. GNL-2 Form for submission of documents with the Registrar, Form No. GNL-3 Particulars of person(s) charged for the purpose of subclause (iii) or (iv) of clause 60 of section 2, Form No. GNL-4 Form for filing Addendum for rectification of defects or incompleteness forms shall be substituted.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has published the Companies (Incorporation) Amendment Rules, 2023 to further amend the Companies (Incorporation) Rules, 2014. In rule 4 which states “Nomination by the subscriber or member of One Person Company” the name of the person nominated who shall in the event of the subscriber’s death or his incapacity to contract, become the member of that One Person Company shall be mentioned in the memorandum of One Person Company and such nomination details along with the consent of such nominee shall be filled as a declaration and the said Form along with the fee as provided in the Companies (Registration offices and fees) Rules, 2014 shall be filed with the Registrar at the time of incorporation of the company along with its e-memorandum and e-articles."
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has issued the Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) (Amendment) Rules, 2023 to further amend the Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Rules, 2014. In Rule 14 which states “Disqualification of directors, a declaration regarding disqualification shall be required in form DIR-8.Whenever a company receives the information in Form DIR-8, company shall, within thirty days of such receipt, file Form DIR-9 with the Registrar. Until now, form DIR-9 was used only when a company failed to file the financial statements or annual returns, or failed to repay any deposit, interest, dividend, or failed to redeem its debentures, as specified in section 164(2). However, after this amendment, the Companies are required to file this form whenever form DIR-8 is received regarding disqualification of director under section 164(1) also. Any application for removal of disqualification of directors shall be made in Form DIR-10 and filed before the Regional Director.
The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, (FSSAI) has issued a notification regarding ease of doing business: instant renewal of license/ registration to be applicable on applications received on or after January 12, 2023
The notification states the following:
- Renewal of license/ registration upon submission of the application by the FBO will be granted instantly, without requiring the scrutiny or approval of the concerned authority, on the following conditions:
- No change in the existing details of the license/registration shall be allowed.
- Validity of the Renewal: a) For License: This renewal of the license shall be for 1 year only
- b) For Registration: Renewal shall continue as per existing provision i.e. for 1-5 years, based on the selection and payment made by the FBO in the application.
- FBOs whose licenses/ registrations have been suspended/canceled, shall not be allowed to renew their license/registration.
- A declaration to be submitted by Food Business Operator (tick in the checkbox) has been added in FoSCoS.
- The renewal of license and registration shall be available as early as 180 days prior to the expiry date, FBOs are advised to apply for renewals as early as possible without waiting for the expiry date to avoid last-minute rush and to avoid the eventual penalty (due to expiry) in case of unavoidable online/portal related glitches on the day of expiry.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification regarding the Escalation matrix for raising grievances/queries related to Central Licenses/Applications on their online platform, Food Safety Compliance System (FoSCoS) for the issuance of Pan-India FSSAI License and Registration. The Central Licensing Authorities (CLA) has been appointed.
FBOs can utilise the prescribed escalation matrix in case they are aggrieved by the decision taken by CLA namely: -
- In case any Food Business Operator (FBO) is aggrieved by the CLA – The Concerned Regional Director.
- In case the FBO further wants to represent the case after receiving comments from the concerned regional director or in case no comments have been received within 21 days from raising the request – Executive Director (Compliance Strategy), FSSAI, HQs.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a notification regarding the import of High-Risk food products at specific ports-reg to come into effect from March 01, 2023.
The FSSAI in consideration of the comments received from the stakeholders to envisage a robust import control system in India and ensure efficient monitoring and traceability of high-risk products has decided that the import of milk and milk products, egg powder, meat and meat products including poultry, fish, and their products, foods for infant nutrition/ infant foods, nutraceuticals, health supplements, foods for dietary uses, probiotic and prebiotic foods, and foods for special medical purposes shall be permitted through only 79 designated ports which are directly manned and managed by FSSAI.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed manufacturers including re-packer and re-labellers to upload or link mandatory lab testing reports, every six months on FOSCOS.
Conditions of License number 12 annexure-3 of schedule 2 of FSG (Licensing and Registration) of food businesses, 2011 specifies that food business operator shall ensure testing of relevant chemical and/or microbiological contaminants in food products in accordance with these regulations as frequently as required on the basis of historical data and risk assessment to ensure production and delivery of safe food through own or NABL accredited /FSSAI notified labs at least once in six months.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has published draft regulations for foreign universities looking to set up campuses in India. As per the guidelines only those foreign universities which are duly recognised and reputed in their home jurisdictions and have secured a position within the top 500 of overall / subject-wise global rankings will be eligible to set up campuses in India after securing due approval from the UGC. The initial approval for such universities shall only be for 10 years and will be renewed in the ninth year subject to meeting of certain conditions.
Only full-time programmes in physical mode and not online or distance learning may be offered by foreign universities. These universities will have the freedom to devise their own courses, admission process and fee structure. Foreign universities will have to ensure that the quality of education imparted at their Indian campuses is on par with their main campus. Cross-border movement of funds by such universities shall be governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Act. Further, Indian campus of a foreign university may not act as representative office of the parent entity. .
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has notified the University Grants Commission (Categorization of Universities (only) for Grant of Graded Autonomy) (First Amendment) Regulations, 2022 further amending the University Grants Commission (Categorization of Universities (only) for Grant of Graded Autonomy) Regulations,2018. The amendment states that Universities may offer courses in the Open and Distance Learning mode, without the approval of the Commission, provided it satisfies all the conditions laid down under the regulations, by whatever name they orc called, pertaining to open and distance learning mode notified by the UGC from time to time. Universities may offer courses in the Open and Distance Learning mode, with approval of the Commission, provided it satisfies all the conditions down under the regulations, by whatever name they are called, pertaining to open and distance learning mode notified by the UGC from time to time.
Source: https://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/9087783_Graded-Autonomy-First Amendment-Regulation-2022.pdf
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a notification for introduction of Common University Entrance Test (CUET) UG/PG 2023 for admission into UG/PG programs in Central Universities and other participating Universities. CUET aims at providing a common platform and equal opportunities to candidates across the country, especially those from North-East, rural, and other remote areas, and helps to establish better connections with the Universities. The process of application for CUET-UG 2023 is likely to be started in the first week of February 2023 and the examination will be conducted between the 21 and 31 of May 2023.For Post-graduate programs CUET-PG 2023 is expected to be held in the first/second week of June 2023, and the tentative schedule of the same will likely be announced in the first week of January for the same. Some of the features of CUET UG/PG 2023 are:Pattern of question papers and number of subjects will remain the same. A candidate can opt for as many as 6 Domain subjects in addition to the General Test and one/two languages. Multiple regional languages are allowed as medium of examination - Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu, and Urdu.Results of CUET-UG are expected to be announced in June 2023, third week 2023 and for CUET-PG in the July 2023, first week so that the academic session begins by August 2023.
Amendments have been made to the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, (Amendment), 2022 published by National Medical Commission.Addition has been made to “Qualifying Criteria” as below:
“The condition of ‘fully functional hospital for a minimum period of 2 years shall not apply in case of Universities or deemed to be universities within the meaning of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, having experience in establishing and running fully functional recognized medical colleges and hospital of 1000 beds or more, for at least two years, anywhere in India, provided that: -
(i) The building of both the hospital and the medical college is owned and managed by the same organization.
(ii) The building of the proposed medical college has not been used for any other purpose before making an application to the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) of the National Medical Commission (NMC) for the establishment of new medical colleges.
(iii) At the time of application, the said medical college has an established multi-specialty hospital with at least 1000 in-patient beds and fulfilling all other norms under the regulation.”
DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY
Security practices and procedures of The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 have been notified by the Ministry of Electronics and Technology (MeiTY), through a press release listing the security practices and procedures that a body corporate or any person collecting, receiving, possessing, storing, dealing, or handling information on behalf of the body corporate is required to observe for protecting the personal data of users. These practices and procedures include the requirements that such body corporate or person publish on the website a policy for privacy and disclosure of personal information, data or information, to use information collected for the purpose for which it has been collected, to keep it secure and to obtain the prior permission of the information provider for disclosing personal data.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued rules regarding the Digital Security of Citizens to ensure that the Internet in India is Open, Safe, Trusted, and Accountable for the citizens. Specific obligations have been cast on intermediaries vis-à-vis what kind of information is to be hosted, displayed, uploaded, published, transmitted, stored, or shared. The IT Rules, 2021 also require intermediaries to remove any content violative of any law for the time being in force as and when brought to their knowledge either through a court order or through a notice by an appropriate government or authorized agency.
The following due diligence is to be conducted by the intermediaries:
- To inform their users of the said rules and to make reasonable efforts to cause the users not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share, among others, information that belongs to another person, or is obscene, or is invasive of another’s privacy, or is insulting or harassing on the basis of gender, or is racially or ethnically objectionable, or encourages money laundering, or promotes enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or caste with the intent to incite violence, or is harmful to the child, or infringes IPR or impersonates another person, threatens the unity, integrity, defense, security, the sovereignty of India, public order, prevents investigation, or violates any law.
- To provide information or assistance for prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution under the law, or for cyber security incidents upon receipt of an order from a lawfully authorized government agency.
- To establish a grievance redressal machinery to resolve complaints of violation of the rules within 72 hours of report.
- In case of significant social media intermediary having more than 50 lakh registered users in India, to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, a nodal contact person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and a Resident Grievance Officer, publishing monthly compliance reports, etc.
Failure to follow diligence as provided in the IT Rules, 2021, by intermediaries, shall result in their loss of exemption from liability under section 79 of the IT Act and shall be liable for consequential action.
A press release is issued by The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, (MeiTY) on regarding the Mandatory Verification of Social Media Accounts by an intermediary under the IT rules. The move is aimed at ensuring an Open, Safe Trusted, and Accountable Internet by addressing the risk posed by fake accounts. The due diligence required of an intermediary under the IT Rules also includes the following:
(i) To make reasonable efforts to cause the users not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share, among others, information that deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation or information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature, or impersonates another person.
(ii) In the event of a violation of the above, do not host, store or publish, voluntarily or upon actual knowledge on receipt of a grievance or court order or notice from the appropriate government or its agency, unlawful information prohibited under the law in relation to defamation, the interest of public order, decency or morality, or incitement to an offense relating to these.
(iii) To provide, upon receipt of an order from a lawfully authorized government agency, information or assistance for prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution under the law.
(iv) To have in place a grievance redressal machinery and resolve complaints of violation of the rules within 72 hours of being reported.
Section 66D of the IT Act penalizes cheating by impersonating by means of any communication device or computer resource and the same is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to one lakh rupees. It has been categorised as a cognizable offense, empowering State police departments to take preventive and penal action as per law in respect of the same.
The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has examined a notification requesting for removal of export requirements and an extension in timelines for registering IMEIs of locally manufactured phones and stipulated the following:
(1) The requirement of registration of IMEIs of mobile phones being manufactured in the country for export is kept in abeyance till further orders.
(2) The request to give additional 3 months’ time for the rules to be effective is not accepted and rule 4 (1) of the prevention of tampering of the Mobile Device Equipment Identification Number (Amendment) Rules, 2022 shall come into force with effect from January 1, 2023.
The Ministry of Commerce and industry, through a press release announced the revision of the scheme Start-Ups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP). The scheme was aimed at facilitating start-ups in filing and processing their patent, design, or trademark application through the assistance of IP facilitators. The facilitator’s fee is borne by the office of the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Government of India
Now, the scheme has been revised and facilitation fees have been notably increased by at least 100% to further encourage the IP facilitators to provide quality services to start-ups in order to increase the number of IP Applications filed by them, Additionally, start-ups are also being provided fee rebates under respective IP legislations. Start-ups are provided an 80% fee rebate in filing patent applications and a 50% fee rebate in filing trademark applications. Provisions are also made for fast-tracking examination of start-up patent applications.
The Ministry of Electronics and Technology (MeiTY), has issued a Press release regarding the Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) and introduced four new schemes.A financial incentive of 25% on capital expenditure for the identified list of electronic goods that comprise the downstream value chain of electronic products, i.e., electronic components, semiconductor/display fabrication units, ATMP units, specialized sub-assemblies, and capital goods for manufacture of aforesaid goods has been provided by the SPECS scheme. Applications for the scheme may be filed till March 31, 2023.
Many other flagship schemes have been launched apart from SPECS, such as the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme which extends an incentive of 6% to 4% on incremental sales (over a base year) of goods under target segments that are manufactured in India to eligible companies, for a period of five years.Under the PLI scheme, four new schemes have been introduced, Modified Scheme for setting up of Semiconductor Fabs in India, Modified Scheme for setting up of Display Fabs in India, Modified Scheme for setting up of Compound Semiconductors / Silicon Photonics / Sensors Fab / Discrete Semiconductors Fab and Semiconductor Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) / OSAT facilities in India, Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme.
This incentive will be available to the approved projects under the scheme for the investment made within 5 years from the date of acknowledgment of the application subject to minimum threshold value of capital expenditure being met and commencement of commercial production, and compliance to other terms and conditions stipulated in Scheme /Guidelines / Approval Letter.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has issued the National Geospatial Policy, 2022, approved by the Union Cabinet.
The National Geospatial Policy, 2022 (the Policy) seeks to strengthen the Geospatial sector to support national development, economic prosperity, and a thriving information economy.
The main aim of the policy is to make India a World Leader in Global Geospatial space with the best in the class ecosystem for innovation. The policy aims to develop a coherent national framework in the country and leverage it to move towards a digital economy and improve services to citizens. It also seeks to enable easy availability of valuable Geospatial data collected utilizing public funds, to businesses and the general public and have a thriving Geospatial industry in the country involving private enterprise.
The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, Haryana has issued notification regarding Online registration through MCA Portal and inspection of the units stating the following:
Units registered with MCA are to start the compliance of various applicable provisions of ESI Act, 1948 from the date the threshold limit of employees is reached. Companies registered through MCA portal and not coming under the purview of Statutory Provisions of the ESI Act, have been exempted from making compliance for the next 6 months or till they reach the threshold of ESIC coverage, whichever is earlier. This can be done by logging in the ESIC website to further extend the ‘dormant’ mode after 6 months. Failure to immediately extend the ‘dormant’ mode by companies will automatically activate the registration and the company has to start compliance under ESIC Act. Action will be taken against defaulters.
The Bombay High Court has made important observations in the case of Chanda Kochhar v ICICI Bank Limited [Suit Number 114 of 2022] regarding revocation of retirement. The issue before the court was ‘could the employer bank could treat employee’s services as having been ended by way of termination for cause, especially when previously request for an early retirement had been excepted by the employer. In its Interim order the court accepted the employer bank’s contention that the bank did not have knowledge of all facts regarding the misconduct and breaches of the employee at the time of the request for early retirement and its acceptance. Therefore, the revocation of the early retirement acceptance by the employer was valid in the present case. The court relied on the fact that since an inquiry was ongoing at the time early retirement was offered, the employer bank could neither have asked the employee to resume her duties as the MD and CEO or terminated the services of the employee as MD and CEO pending the inquiry. Hence, the employer was left with only one option, that was to accept employee’s request for early retirement without being aware of the full facts regarding the employee’s conduct. However, on the issue of whether employee was entitled to demand reinstatement of her ESOPs on the basis that her employment had ended not by way of termination for cause but by early retirement. The court observed that the ESOP contract is separate from the employment contract and is specifically meant to reward the employee’s good performance by giving them a stake in the Company’s future. Therefore, the court held that ‘good conduct’ cannot mean that in future if the misconduct of an employee is discovered after their retirement, such ESOPs can be revoked. Employee was thus entitled to retain them.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on has further amended the Food Safety and Standards Regulations.
In “General principles” Reduction of disease risk claims by manufacturers shall specify the number of servings of the food per day for the claimed benefit.”;
A disclaimer shall be mentioned prominently on the front of the pack of the label where the meaning of a trademark, brand name, or fancy name containing adjectives such as “natural”, “fresh”, “pure”, “original”, “traditional”, “authentic”, “genuine”, “real”, appearing in the labeling, presentation or advertising of a food is such that it is likely to mislead the consumer as to the nature of the food.The disclaimer shall state that this is only a brand name or trademark, or fancy name and does not represent its true nature; (to be chosen as applicable). Size of the disclaimer is also specified.
Procedure for redressal of non-compliance has been amended to state that the food business operator or the marketer is to submit the information sought within thirty days from the date of receipt of letter seeking clarification.
DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ("MeitY") has released an updated data protection bill for India named the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 ("DPDPB"), after a series of draft laws. The current version of the DPDPB is more business friendly and less complicated, than its predecessors. Key points of the new DPDPB are:
- Personal Data is no longer categorised into ‘sensitive’ and ‘critical’ data which required more complicated compliance obligations. The DBDPB has removed 'non-personal data' from the applicability of law.
- The DBDPB covers the processing of personal data within India if such personal data is collected from data principals (individuals to whom personal data relates) online or if such data is collected offline but is subsequently digitised. Processing of personal data outside India also falls within the scope of the DBDPB if the processing is done for profiling or activity of offering goods or services to, Indian data principals.
Processing of personal data can be done on the following grounds:
Consent: The primary ground for processing of personal data is consent. The new DPDPB also takes into account the concept of "deemed consent", which is broader as it considers a data principal to have given consent for the processing of their personal data if (a) such data has been shared voluntarily, (b) the processing activity is necessary for the provision of any service or benefit by the State, (c) the processing is necessary for compliance with any law or judgment, (d) the processing is necessary for responding to a medical emergency or for providing medical treatment, (e) the processing is in connection with employment purposes, or (f) if the processing is necessary for ensuring public safety and public interest. Additionally, the government has the right to prescribe additional grounds for processing.
Languages and Translations: The DPDPB creates an obligation for information notices about processing activities to be provided to data principals by data fiduciaries. Data fiduciaries are, persons who alone or in conjunction with others determine the purposes and means of processing personal data. These notices must be made available in English as well the 22 Indian languages listed in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Localisation Relief: The new DPDPB does not have a localisation requirement unlike previous versions. However, cross border transfers may only take place on the basis of adequacy decisions issued by the Indian government, with a few exceptions for public interest, enforcement actions, and law order. Presently no indications have been given on which jurisdictions may fall within the scope of adequacy.
Data Protection Board of India: A new authority, The Data Protection Board of India ("Board") shall be responsible for enforcing the provisions of DPDPB. Its composition is to be specified at a later stage but it will operate as an independent body and function in a "digital by design" manner. The Board will act upon complaints made by affected individuals, central or any state government references, court directions, or a data principal’s failure to comply with their obligations under the law. Appeals will lie with High Courts against decisions of the Board. Power to refer complaints to mediation or other dispute resolution mechanisms have also been given to the board.
Penalties: Financial penalties of up to INR 500 crores in each instance may be imposed by the board if it determines signification non-compliance by an individual or entity. Data principals may also face penalties for a breach of their obligations under the DPDPB.
The Australian Parliament passed the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill 2022 (Bill) which was introduced to parliament on October 26, 2022.
The following have been amended by the bill:
- Privacy Act 1988 - The Australian Information Commissioner’s enforcement and information sharing powers have been expanded and penalties for serious or repeated interferences with privacy have been increased;
- Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005- The Australian communications and media authority has been enabled to disclose information to a non-corporate commonwealth entity that is responsible for enforcing one or more laws of the commonwealth; and
- Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010- The Australian information commissioner has been allowed to delegate certain functions or powers.
The maximum penalties for serious or repeated privacy breaches have been increased from the current $2.22 million for organisations to an amount not more than the higher of the following:
- $50 million;
- 3 times the value of that benefit that the body corporate, and any related body corporate, have obtained directly or indirectly and that is reasonably attributable to the conduct constituting the contravention, if the value of the benefit can be determined by the court.
- if the value of that benefit cannot be determined by the court —30% of the adjusted turnover of the body corporate during the breach turnover period for the contravention.
Angelene Falk, Australian information commissioner has said the changes create “closer alignment with competition and consumer remedies” under the EU GDPR and “facilitate engagement with domestic regulators and our international counterparts to help us perform our regulatory role efficiently and effectively.”
The increase in penalties is being seen as intended to act as a powerful deterrent, so organisations no longer see privacy risk as a ‘risk of doing business’.
A five Judge bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld the 10% EWS reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to the economically weaker sections of the society. The majority view, in the 3-2 verdict of the Constitution Bench, described reservation as “an instrument not only for inclusion of socially and educationally backward classes to the mainstream of society, but also for the inclusion of any class or section so disadvantaged”. Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela M Trivedi and JB Pardiwala affirmed the amendment, while Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat dissented, recording their dissent as EWS quota is “contradictory to the essence of equal opportunity” and “strikes at the heart of the equality code”. The Bench agreed that the state has been given the power under the provision to make special provisions for admissions to private unaided institutions. Justice Pardiwala and Trivedi also noted that reservation was originally intended for a limited period and that there’s a need to revisit and align it with the present scenario. Justice Pardiwala said that, “Reservation, should not be allowed to become a vested interest.” Justice Trivedi held that “treating economically weaker sections of citizens as a separate class would be a reasonable classification, and could not be termed as unreasonable, or unjustifiable classification, much less a betrayal of basic feature or violative of Article 14”. Subsequently a review petition has also been filed against the judgment by All India Backward Classes Federation in December on the grounds that “EWS is reservation for upper caste/ forward classes, with a creamy layer exclusion. It is social/caste reservation, not solely economic reservation.”
Draft University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2022 have been issued by UGC to replace The University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2019. This has been done to bring the regulations in line with NEP 2020.
As per the preamble the draft seeks to “Regulate in an orderly manner, the process of declaration of institutions of academic excellence as Deemed to be Universities; and, further to maintain the quality of higher education imparted by Institutions Deemed to be Universities consistent with the ideals of the concept of a university;”
Topics covered in this draft are: objectives of an institution deemed to be university, eligibility criteria for an institution to be declared as institution deemed to be University, governance structure, procedure for declaration of an institution as an institution deemed to be University, off campus centre(s), governance, tenure and membership rules of executive council, admission procedure and fee structure among others.
The (Minimum Standards and Procedures for Award of Ph.D. Degree) Regulations, 2022 have been published by UGC which shall apply to every university, college, and every institution deemed to be a university under section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. The regulations stipulate the eligibility criteria for admission to the Ph.D. program. Program duration has been specified as a minimum duration of three (3) years, including course work, and a maximum term of six (6) years from the date of admission to the Ph.D. program. Special relaxations have been given for women candidates.
Additionally, the regulations state the procedure for admission and eligibility criteria to be a research supervisor, co-supervisor. Other regulations for admission of international students in the Ph.D. program, Course Work, evaluation and assessment methods, minimum standards/credits for award of the degree, etc. are also listed. Further requirements for academic, research, administrative, and infrastructure requirements to be fulfilled by colleges to get recognition for offering Ph.D. programs are stated in the regulations along with conditions for grant of Ph.D. degree and issue of a provisional certificate.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines for engagement of ‘Professors of Practice’ in Universities and Colleges. One of the proposals made by the National Education Policy 2020 is the provision of comprehensive education in higher education institutions which necessitates the involvement of professionals, experts from the industry, etc. in the teaching and learning process. A new position named "Professor of Practice" has been introduced by UGC for this purpose and the instructions for engaging Professors of Practice have been published. Additionally, the UGC has written to all HEls regarding the rules for the engagement of a Professor of Practice. The eligibility criteria for appointment of such Professors of practice are given as “Distinguished experts who have made remarkable contributions in their professions from various fields such as engineering, science, technology, entrepreneurship, commerce, social sciences, media, literature, among others and have proven expertise in their specific profession or role with at least 15 years of service/experience, preferably at a senior level.” Lack of formal academic qualification will not disqualify a person having exemplary professional practice from such appointment. It is also stipulated that at a given time number of Professors of Practice in a higher educational institute should not exceed 10% of total sanctioned posts in the HEI. It has been requested that vice-chancellors of universities and principals of colleges initiate and make necessary changes in their statutes/ordinances/rules/regulations for the engagement of Professors of Practice in their institutions. Action taken in the matter is to be shared in the university activity monitoring portal (uamp.ugc.ac.in).
The UGC has reiterated its order issued in August 2022 which required all colleges and universities to ensure full refund for students who wish to migrate or cancel their admission before October 31, 2022. It has warned that failure to comply will result in the loss of eligibility to receive UGC grants withholding of grant allocated to it, withdrawal of its university affiliation or loss of its deemed-to-be-university status for the institute. The UGC order was made necessary due to delay in several entrance exams such as CUET, JEE Main and Advance holding up admissions for lakhs of students at some of the top public funded institutions. This reiteration is issued in light of some private universities levying heavy penalties on students who wished to migrate to central universities. UGC has made it clear that the fee is to be refunded in totality and in case cancellation or withdrawal is made before December 31, 2022 only upto Rs. 1000 may be deducted as processing fee.
RESERVE BANK OF INDIA
Notification has been issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regarding the operationalization of the Central Bank Digital Currency – Retail (e₹-R) Pilot. The e₹-R will be in the form of a digital token representing legal tender to be issued in the same denominations that paper currency and coins are currently issued. The distribution of digital tokens would be through intermediaries, i.e., banks, and the users can transact with e₹-R through a digital wallet offered by the participating banks stored on mobile phones/devices. Transactions can be both Person to Person (P2P) and Person to Merchant (P2M).
Currently eight banks have been identified for participation in this pilot which shall be done in a phased manner. In the first phase four banks, viz., State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, and IDFC First Bank in four cities across the country will participate. Second phase will see four more banks, viz., Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank joining this pilot. Initially four cities, viz., Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar will be covered and later extend to Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna, and Shimla.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has re-issued the ‘Master Direction on Import of Goods and Services’ compiling the instructions issued on the import of goods and services into India. Any deferred payment arrangements (including suppliers’ and buyers’ credit) entered into for upto 3 years for import of capital goods and up to one year in case of import of non-capital goods shall be treated as trade credits. Where usance import bills have been pre-paid, remittances may be made only after reducing the proportionate interest for the unexpired portion of usance. This reduction shall be at the rate at which interest has been claimed or LIBOR/any other widely accepted/alternative reference rate of the currency in which the goods have been invoiced, whichever is applicable. If interest is not claimed separately or indicated expressly, remittances may be allowed after deducting the proportionate interest for the unexpired portion of usance at LIBOR/any other widely accepted/alternative reference rate 15 of the invoice currency.
A scheme for financial support for project development expenses of PPP Projects – IIPDF Scheme (India Infrastructure Project Development Fund Scheme) has been notified by the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The IIPDF Scheme will aim to increase the quality and quantity of PPP projects processed through the central or states project pipeline. It will enable the project sponsoring authority to source funding upto Rs. 5 crore for a single proposal, to cover the PPP transaction costs. This funding shall be inclusive of any tax implications. Funding requirements over and above Rs.5 Crore are to be borne by the project sponsoring authority. The project development funding, will be in the form of a grant subsidy and are not to be recovered.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has issued a notification for the handling of customer complaints through the NPCI website for IMPS transactions in reference to RBI circular for digital payments dated August 06, 2020. In the circular, RBI has advised banks & NBFCs to implement an online dispute resolution process for handling and resolving customers’ complaints. Banks and NBFCs are also to provide access to customers to lodge disputes and grievances regarding failed transactions. Option for customers to lodge complaints for IMPS transactions has been enabled on the NPCI website. Customer shall receive a complaint reference number (CRN) upon lodging a complaint. Customers and member banks will be able to check the status of the transaction and the status of the complaint raised, on the NPCI website through the CRN number. The adjustment report shall contain details of the complaint, made available to the members. Once the dispute is resolved the complaint shall be auto-closed by the system. If a customer does not receive resolution of their complaint for more than 30 days, they shall have the option of approaching the banking ombudsman for redressal.
FAQs on Social Stock Exchange (SSE) have been issued by The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The FAQs essentially revolve around questions on Social Stock Exchange (SSE), addressing important issues such as eligibility to get registered or raise funds through Social Stock Exchange/stock exchange; meaning of for-profit social enterprise in the context of a Social Stock Exchange; criteria for registration on the Social Stock Exchange in respect of not-for-profit organizations among others.
ESIC has launched their online maternity benefit claim facility. This facility was launched by Shri Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Labour & Employment to make the benefits easily accessible to the beneficiaries at their convenience. This new facility will make the process of claiming maternity benefits for insured women easier as the process has now been made online, where the beneficiaries, can now claim the maternity benefits from anywhere at their convenience. Earlier, beneficiaries had to visit the respective branch offices physically for claiming the maternity benefits. Maternity benefit is given in the form of cash benefit in case of certain contingencies such as in the advanced stage of pregnancy, after delivery / in the unfortunate event of confinement or miscarriage and who meet the eligibility conditions. Payment at the rate of 100% of wages is paid for of 26 weeks as maternity benefit to the insured woman by ESIC to compensate for the loss of income during her childbirth. Maternity benefit of Rs 37.37 crore during the year 2021-22 has been provided to a total of 18.69 lakh women.
DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF FOREIGN TRADE
The Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI) has launched ICEGATE Helpdesk providing for the redressal of grievances related to Remission of Duties and Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP). Grievances such as resolution/examination of exporter grievances related to scrolling out of shipping bills, generation of e-scrips, and transfer of e-scrips are included in the helpdesk which provides 24x7 service to exporters to lodge their grievances by calling a toll-free No. 1800-3010-1000 or by emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) .Email for escalation is also given: email@example.com
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022 to come into force on April 01, 2023. The rules shall apply to every manufacturer, producer refurbisher, dismantler and recycler except for those specifically excluded. The Rules notify about the Extended Producer Responsibility Framework and discuss the Responsibilities of the Manufacturer, producer, refurbisher, etc. involved in manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, refurbishing, dismantling, recycling and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment listed in Schedule I, including their components, consumables, parts and spares which make the product operational but it does not apply to
(a) waste batteries as covered under the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022;
(b) packaging plastics as covered under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016;
(c) micro enterprise as defined in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006; and
(d) radio-active wastes as covered under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
Entities falling under the ambit of the rules must register on the portal as manufacturer; producer; refurbisher; or recycler. All manufacturer are required to collect e-waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and ensure its recycling or disposal; file annual and quarterly returns in the laid down form on the portal on or before end of the month succeeding the quarter or year, as the case may be, to which the return relates
Producers of electrical and electronic equipment are to create awareness through media, publications, advertisements, posters or any other means of communication. Producers must also file annual and quarterly returns in the laid down form on the portal on or before the end of the month succeeding the quarter or year to which the return relates. Extended producer responsibility targets must be obtained and implemented by them as per Schedule-III and Schedule-IV through the portal.
Refurbishers must collect and handover e-waste generated during the process of refurbishing and to registered recycler and upload information on the portal; the refurbished equipment shall be as per Compulsory Registration Scheme of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Standards of Bureau of Indian Standards framed for this purpose. Refurbishers must file annual and quarterly returns in the laid down form on the portal on or before the end of the month succeeding the quarter or year, to which the return relates.
In reference to the provisions of MAP (II-B) of EDLI (Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance) Scheme 1976, the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has issued a notification to ease the process of disbursement under the EDLI scheme. The EDLI scheme is a mandatory insurance cover provided to all subscribers of EPF scheme wherein the insurance cover depends on the salary drawn in the last 12 months of the employment before death
The relevant provisions of MAP (II-B) of EDLI Scheme 1976 state that
- The assurance benefit is payable on the death of the member, while in service.
- In cases where an employee member was on leave without wages (consequently no contribution was payable by the employer) or absent for any other reason and expired during the period, the assurance benefit is admissible irrespective of the fact that no contribution was paid by the employer, provided he was on the muster rolls of the establishment on the day of death and satisfied the prescribed conditions.
Upon receiving complaints about some offices rejecting the claim benefits under EDLI scheme stating that contribution was not received for preceding days even where an employee has died while in service, on account of such NCP days, all ZOS/ROS have been directed to settle the claims strictly in accordance with scheme provisions. It has also been stipulated that all verification should be done within 7 days without causing any distress to the family of the deceased employee. Enforcement officer is also required to list out clearly the reason for rejecting the employer’s claim where the employer denies the member’s name in the muster rolls and the EO says otherwise.
The Government of Haryana has revised minimum wages with effect from July 01, 2022, in the State of Haryana. Some of the revised rates are listed below:
- Unskilled workers- Rs.10098.88.
- Semi-skilled (A) workers- 10603.78, Rs.11133.96.
- Semi-skilled (B) workers- 11690.67, Rs.12275.21.
- Skilled (A) workers- Rs.12888.97.
- Skilled (B) workers- Rs.10603.78.
- Highly Skilled workers- Rs.11133.96.
Detailed list of revised minimum wages has been published in Notification No. IR-2/2022/33216-33346
The Government of Delhi has revised the minimum rate of wages of the scheduled employment, to be payable with effect from October 01, 2022. Some of the revised rates are listed below:
- Unskilled workers- Rs.646/- per day and per month is Rs.16,792/-
- Semi-skilled- Rs.712/- per day and per month is Rs.18,499/-
- Skilled- Rs. 783/- per day and per month is Rs.20,357/-
For Clerical and Supervisory Staffs in all Scheduled employments the following rates of minimum wages will be applicable:
- Non-Matriculate - Rs.712/- per day and per month is Rs.18,499/-
- Matriculate but not Graduate - Rs.783/- per day and per month is Rs.20,357/-
- Graduate and above - Rs.852/- per day and per month is Rs.22,146/-
The revised minimum rate of wages will be effective from October 01, 2022.
A district court in Delhi has recently held that using the word ‘F**k off’ to address a woman is offensive and constitutes Sexual harassment.
Additional Sessions Judge, Sanjay Sharma of Tis hazari Court in Delhi upheld the charges framed against the accused by a Mahila court in August, under IPC sections 354A (sexual harassment), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation). The argument presented by the accused, that the phrase is used to ‘ask someone to leave’ as per its dictionary meaning, was rejected by the court and it was further stated by the court that “in the Indian society, schools and colleges this word is not used to ask anyone to leave. In ordinary sense, the said word is abusive, offensive and humiliating”.
Thus, in the light of facts and circumstances the charges of sexual harassment against the accused were upheld.
The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has published International Financial Services Centres Authority (Setting up and Operation of International Branch Campuses and Offshore Education Centres) Regulations, 2022. The regulations are aimed at enabling foreign universities to establish International Branch Campuses (IBC) and allowing an offshore educational centre (OFC) to be established by a foreign educational institution not being a foreign university for both Indian and international students. These International Branch Campuses are expected to promote research in the areas of banking, insurance, capital markets, funds management, fintech, longevity finance, sustainable finance, quantum computing, etc. so that top-tier human resources in the financial, technological, and associated industries are created. The move is also aimed at protecting the interests of the student community who enrol in such programmes.
The regulation specifies the following details:
- Permitting research programmes in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Procedure for grant of registration, eligibility and application for registration
- Enforcement action including suspension, cancellation of registration, and imposition of penalty by the authority for violation of these regulations
- Provision for maintenance of accounts and annual reports by the International Branch Campuses (IBC) or offshore educational centre (OEC) as may be specified by the authority.
A Three-judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (SC) in the case of New Noble Educational Society v. CCIT and Another, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1458, has laid down, inter alia, that for Exemption under Section 10 of the IT Act, the word ‘solely’ is to be read to mean exclusively and not primarily. Earlier SC judgements had held the prevailing view that for the purpose of Specified Exemption, the Predominant Test would suffice i.e., whether only the predominant purpose of the institution should be education or the educational institution should be exclusively engaged for the purpose of education (Predominant Test).
More clearly, the Supreme court order means that all the objects of an institution seeking exemption under Section 10 must relate to imparting education or in relation to educational activities. There is no bar on earning surplus income by these institutions provided it be generated through education related activities only.
Educational institutions have eligibility for tax exemption under two categories under the IT Act in separate provisions. One exemption is available to institutions involved in any ‘charitable work’ (i.e., relief to poor, education, medical relief, advancement of any other object of general public utility and the other exemption under Section 10 covers specific categories of educational institutions only – one such category being “any university or educational institution existing ‘solely’ for educational purposes and not for purposes of profit” (Specified Exemption).
In the present case the rejection of registration application for exemption made by an educational institution under Section 10(23C)(vi) by the income-tax authority on the ground that (a) all the institution’s objects mentioned in the charter documents were not exclusively for educational purposes, and (b) registration of the institution was not done under the state-specific laws regulating charitable institutions was challenged before the Hon’ble Andhra Pradesh High Court (HC), but the HC rejected the challenge. The institution then approached the Supreme Court.
The SC however clarified that this Judgment will apply prospectively to give time to potentially affected educational institutions to make suitable changes in their activities, charter documents etc.
National Credit framework has been issued by the Committee on National Credit Accumulation & Transfer Framework. The framework aims to provide all students with a quality education system by making education more holistic and effective and to emphasize the integration of general education and vocational education including experiential learning with relevant experience and professional levels acquired. The framework makes it imperative to establish and formalize a national credit accumulation and transfer system which will integrate both general & vocational education while ensuring mobility of candidates between the two systems.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has increased the limit of number of participants for a continuing education course to 200 from 100, previously by further amending the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Online Delivery of Educational Course and Continuing Professional Education by Insolvency Professional Agencies and Registered Valuers Organisations) Guidelines, 2020 by The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Online Delivery of Educational Course and Continuing Professional Education by Insolvency Professional Agencies and Registered Valuers Organisations) (Amendment) Guidelines, 2022.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued a circular stating that mental illness must be covered in all insurance products and all provisions under the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 must be complied without any deviation. All insurers are requested to ensure compliance before October 31, 2022.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued a circular which provides for insurance cover to be extended to newborns/infants under all health insurance policies. Master circular on Standardisation in Health insurance Business dated July 20, 2020 included a Clause under heading ‘exclusions not allowed under health insurance policies’, where internal congenital diseases, genetic diseases, or disorders are not allowed to be incorporated as exclusions in the terms and conditions of the policy contract. This provision intends to cover newborns with internal congenital birth defects from the inception of the policy. Authorities had noticed that many health insurance products were not providing cover to newborns/infants with internal congenital birth defects from the first day, which was violating the genuine intent of the provision. Therefore, it has been stated that all insurance products must cover newborns/unborns under the abovementioned provisions without any deviation and provide, coverage from Day 1 without any waiting periods/sub-limits or any other restrictive conditions being imposed.
Amendments to Notification number S.O. 2119(E), dated June 26, 2020, which specifies “Certain criteria for classifying an enterprise as micro, small and medium enterprises and various forms and procedures for filing the memorandum” were issued by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MoMSME).
The amendment states that for a period of three years from an increase in terms of investment in plant and machinery, or equipment or turnover or both, resulting in re-classification of an enterprise, said enterprise shall continue to avail all benefits of the MSME category (non-tax) as before the re-classification, for a period of three years from the date of such increase.
The Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), issued the procedure for submission of application for registration of producers by CPCB under Rule 4 of the Batteries Waste Management Rules, 2022. Every Producer and person or entity involved in the manufacturing of batteries is required to register with CPCB through the online centralised portal. Till such time as the online centralized portal of CPCB is under development, offline mode is adopted in order to receive applications for registration.
For submission of the application by the producer or manufacturer in offline mode, the producer or manufacturer has to apply for the grant of registration to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) by submitting duly filled Form 1 (A) from the company's email ID. Producer or manufacturer shall also submit a Self-attested copy of the GST Certificate, TIN number, CIN number, Aadhar Card of an authorized person, and Pan Card of the company along with the application form. Initial registration will be granted for 6 months which can be renewed through the online portal.
Credit Guarantee Scheme for Start-ups (CGSS) is issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) to provide guarantee to member institutions up to a specified limit against credit instruments extended by them to finance eligible start-ups. This scheme is aimed at providing essential collateral free debt funding to start-ups. The provisions of the scheme as announced include the eligibility criteria for borrowers which have reached a stable revenue stream, as per 12 month’s audit reports, not in default of any lending institution or classified as Non-performing Asset according to RBI guidelines and those who fall under the eligibility criteria certified by a member institution. For a lending/investing institution the eligibility criteria for falling under the scheme is that it should be a Scheduled Commercial Bank and Financial Institution, if NBFC, it should be registered with RBI having a rating of BBB and above as rated by external credit rating agencies accredited by RBI and having minimum net worth of Rs. 100 crores. If an NBFC later becomes ineligible, due to a fall in the credit rating below BBB, it will not be eligible for further guarantee cover till it is upgraded to the eligible category.
The Government of India (GOI) has issued notification regarding The National Logistics Policy which is aimed at bringing efficiency in logistics services, and human resources through streamlining processes, regulatory framework, skill development, mainstreaming logistics in higher education and adoption of suitable technologies. The Policy will be focusing on enabling adequate development of warehouses with optimal spatial planning, promotion of standards, digitization and automation across the logistics value chain and better track and trace mechanisms. The institutional frameworks under PM GatiShakti at the Centre and State level, which will also monitor implementation of the Policy, is fully operational.
The Department of Consumer Affairs made amendments to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, vide Notification No. GSR 779(E) dated November 02, 2021 to promote ease of doing business and protect consumer interests. Extension was sought by various industry representations of the implementation date due to operational issues. Subsequently extension is granted upto December 1, 2022 through notification dated September 30, 2022, to accommodate additional requests from industries and to enable them to use up the existing packaging material. Now, additional modifications to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 are being considered due to requests from industries for increased business efficiency and to lighten the compliance burden along with safeguarding consumer interests. All interested parties, including the following, are asked to provide public feedback on the draft.
Description of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) in accordance with RFC 2350 has been issued by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. As per the description the objectives of CERT-In are preventing cyber-attacks against the country's cyberspace, responding to cyber-attacks and minimizing damage and recovery time by reducing national vulnerability to cyber-attacks.
CERT-In was designated in the Information Technology Act 2000 to serve as the national agency to Collect, analyse, and disseminate information on cyber incidents, Forecast and Issue alerts of cyber security incidents and take emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents. CERT-In will work in collaboration with and seek assistance from certain stakeholders to perform its objectives.
Amendments have been made by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to the First Schedule of the Information Technology Act, 2000, specifying the documents or transactions which have been excluded from the scope of the act.
The schedule has made amendments with respect to entries relating to negotiable instruments, power of attorney and contracts for sale or conveyance of immoveable property as follows:
- In addition to cheques, demand promissory notes and bills of exchange issued in favour of or endorsed by an entity regulated by the Reserve Bank of India, National Housing Bank, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (collectively, the “Regulatory Authorities”) have been excluded from the entry relating to negotiable instruments.
- Powers-of-attorney empowering a regulated entity to act for, or on behalf of, and in the name of the person executing them, have been excluded from the entry relating to power of attorney.
- Contracts for sale or conveyance of immovable property or any interest in such property have also been omitted.
It is important to note that the deletion of contracts for sale or conveyance of immoveable property may enable real estate transactions to be executed electronically and further help in the digitization of documents and transactions that were earlier excluded from the application of the IT Act.
The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) has launched a scheme to fund research and development specifically in communication technology applications focused on academia, research institutes, industry and start-ups to develop and build a telecom system named the Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme. This scheme will fall under the department of telecommunications. The scheme is also aimed at promoting innovation and technological advances as well as creation of intellectual property
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 936.44 crore on Google, less than a week after imposing penalty of Rs. 1,338 Cr for its Play Store policies which are seen as an abuse of its dominant market position. A cease-and-desist order was also issued by CCI and google was directed to change its policies within a specific period, including permitting mobile app developers to use third-party payment services on its app store.
“Google has been given 30 days to provide the requisite financial details and supporting documents,” the CCI order said. CCI has noted that Play Store policies that require app developers to use only Google Play’s billing system (GPBS) for receiving payments for apps and other digital products and certain in-app purchases. App developers are also restricted from providing direct links to alternate payment methods in their app or otherwise encourage users to buy their products outside of google app. Without complying with GPBS, developers cannot list their apps on Play Store and consequently lose out on the wide base of potential android using customers.
“Making access to the Play Store dependent on mandatory usage of GPBS for paid apps and in-app purchases is one sided and arbitrary, and devoid of any legitimate business interest. The app developers are left bereft of the inherent choice to use payment processor of their liking from the open market,” the CCI said. CCI noted that Google has not applied this policy on its own apps like YouTube which is seen as an imposition of discriminatory conditions and pricing. An investigation was launched by CCI into Google’s Play Store policies in 2020 and exclusion of rival payment apps such as Paytm, BharatPe, etc. from play store after domestic app developers complained against it.
Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules have been notified by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) as further amendment to Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The notification includes important changes like imposing a legal obligation on the intermediaries to take reasonable efforts to prevent their users from uploading harmful/unlawful content. This puts a greater burden on the intermediary for preventing harmful/unlawful content on its platforms.
It has been mandated that rules and regulations of the intermediaries are communicated in regional Indian languages for effective communication. The words ‘defamatory’ and ‘libellous have been removed from the grounds in rule 3(1)(b)(ii) and left it to be decided through judicial review whether any content is defamatory or libellous. Other categories in rule 3 (1) (b) have also been rephrased to deal with misinformation and content which is likely to incite violence between religious communities/castes. Intermediaries are required to respect the users’ rights guaranteed under the constitution, like reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy and transparency.
The rules provide for the establishment of Grievance Appellate Committee(s) to allow users to appeal against the decisions taken by intermediaries on user complaints. However, users will retain the right to approach courts for any remedy.
RESERVE BANK OF INDIA (RBI)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) vide a notification regarding the expansion of activities by SPDs and allowed them to offer forex products to their Foreign Portfolio Investor (FPI) clients, as part of their non-core activities, from time to time as allowed
SPDs or Standalone Primary Dealers are the entities entrusted with the responsibility of purchasing and selling government securities registered with the RBI. Government securities are bought by these entities directly from the RBI and then offered to other buyers. In this way demand for government securities is created in other markets, including treasury bills and bonds.
As per the new developmental and regulatory policies dated August 05, 2022, SPDs have been allowed to offer all foreign exchange market-making facilities to their clients, subject to adherence to the prudential regulations and other guidelines which will be issued separately.
Additionally, all financial transactions involving the Rupee undertaken globally by related entities of the SPD shall be reported to CCIL’s trade repository before 12:00 noon of the business day following the date of transaction with effect from January 01, 2023,
Concept Note on Central Bank Digital Currency to create awareness about CBDCs in general and the planned features of the Digital Rupee (e₹), in particular have been released by the RBI explaining the objectives, choices, benefits, and risks of issuing a CBDC in India. The note aims at putting forth RBI’s approach towards CBDC.
The concept note details the technology and design choices, possible uses of the Digital Rupee, issuance mechanisms, etc. It also covers the implications of introducing the CBDC on the banking system, monetary policy, and financial stability, as well as its impact on privacy issues. Pilot launches of e₹ are being planned by the RBI for limited use as test cases. The first pilot in the Digital Rupee - Wholesale segment (e₹-W) shall commence on November 1, 2022.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes has issued an order under section 119 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 extending the due date for filing of form 26Q for the second quarter of FY 2022-23 to November 30, 2022 from October 31, 2022. Form 26Q is related to TDS filing. The due date has been extended as the format has been revised and requires updation for filing.
A clarification has been issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding the application for vegan logo endorsement with reference to FSS (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022 and came in force on June 10, 2022.FSSAI has received applications for vegan logo endorsement from a variety of food business operators according to the guidelines for submission of applications for endorsement of vegan logo and formats. However, it was observed that multiple variants of the same product as well as two or more different products were being applied for under a single application by FBOs.
Therefore, it has been clarified that whether an application is for same product with multiple variants and two or more different products, a separate application for each variant/different product needs to be submitted and a single application will not be considered for the same. Payment for each application also must be made separately.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACT
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued new rules for the BH series in Central Motor Vehicles Amendment Rules, 2022 vide a draft notification. These new rules have simplified the procedure to transfer vehicles with the BH series registration mark. It is specified that vehicles which currently possess normal registration can also be converted to BH series registration if the owners subsequently become eligible for it, by paying the necessary tax. It is also proposed to allow applicants to submit their application at either their home or place of employment. The working certificate required to be submitted by the employees of the private sector has been changed.
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has postponed the implementation of the mandate for installing a minimum 6 airbags in passenger Cars (M-1 Category) to October 01,2023. This has been done keeping in mind the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario. The mandate was to come into effect from October 01,2022 for vehicles of category M1 to have six airbags to improve passenger safety.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) emphasizing on National Education Policy-2020 and on equity and inclusion being the cornerstone of all educational decisions, issued draft guidelines to ensure that all students with special needs can thrive in the education system. With the flexibility in the selection of subjects and courses, an Inclusive Pedagogy characterized by the use of multiple modes of delivery, addressing various learning styles and learning needs of Divyangjans and students with specific learning disabilities (SLDS), needs to be promoted at all levels of education. Considering the significant recommendations of NEP 2020 towards the teaching of Divyangjans and SLDS, UGC has prepared/framed guidelines entitled, "Credit Based on Pedagogical Aspects for Teaching Divyangjans and Specific Learning Disabilities (SLDS)".
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued notification for Equivalence of degree obtained through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and Online mode with degree obtained through conventional mode. In its latest notice, the UGC has shed light on ‘Equivalence of degree obtained through ODL and Online mode with degree obtained through conventional mode.’ Degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level post-graduate diplomas awarded through Open and Distance training mode and/or online mode by Higher Educational Institutions, recognised by the Commission under the regulations, shall be treated as equivalent to the corresponding awards of the Degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level and post-graduate diplomas offered through conventional mode. Recently, UGC also introduced amendments in order to attract more foreign students which allowed them to apply for higher education in India with any recent national ID as opposed to their passports. The commission has also introduced joint-degree, dual degree and twinning programmes as a mode of collaboration between higher education institutions in India and those abroad.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) vide a notification titled transforming higher educational institutions (HEIs) into multidisciplinary institutions, on September 02, 2022, issued guidelines paving the way for diverse education. Higher education institutions will be recognised under three categories as per the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP). These categories are Teaching-intensive Universities, Research-intensive Universities and Degree-awarding Autonomous Universities.
As per the guidelines affiliated colleges will have to pass through different stages of autonomy to achieve the degree-awarding status. Alternatively, they can become a part of a cluster to become a large multi-disciplinary HEI. An HEI upon becoming a constituent college of the large university, may then collaborate with other constituent colleges of the university and may also open new departments to achieve the status of multidisciplinary HEI.
UGC has also proposed insititutes to collaborate with each other to curate programmes that enhance the nature of the degree and education. Respective institutions may determine their own course tuition fee charged for the courses.It has been made mandatory through the draft guidelines for institutions to approve the NEP-proposed dual degree programme. For cluster of Government colleges a board of Governors will be appointed headed by a Chairman appointed by the state government.
The MCA has issued Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Third Amendment Rules, 2022 whereby it has amended the Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Rules, 2014 and has substituted E-form Form No. DIR-3-KYC and web-form 3-KYC-WEB with a new format shared in the official notification.
In August, MCA notified the Companies (Incorporation) Third Amendment Rules, 2022 to amend the Companies (Incorporation) Rules, 2014 wherein a rule relating to physical verification of the registered office of the company was inserted. The rule provides the registrar to visit at the address of the registered office of the company and physically verify the said registered office in presence of two independent witnesses of the locality in which the said registered office is situated. The notification provided conducting such verification on the basis of documents submitted by the company. Further, where the registered office of the company is found to be not capable of receiving and acknowledging all communications and notices, the registrar is required send a notice to the company and all the directors of the company, of his/her intention to remove the name of the company from the register of companies and requesting them to send their representations along with copies of relevant documents, if any, within a period of thirty days from the date of the notice before taking further actions in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act.
In furtherance to the same, the MCA has issued Companies (Removal of Names of Companies from the Register of Companies) Second Amendment Rules, 2022, to amend the Companies (Removal of Names of Companies from the Register of Companies) Rules, 2016, in which substitutions have been made in the Form STK-1 to remove the name of the company in case is not carrying on any business operations as ascertained through physical verification.
In its attempt to ensure that various documents and records are readily available for the authorities to check any time, the MCA has notified Companies (Accounts) Fourth Amendment Rules, 2022 in order to amend the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014.
The rules mandate maintaining of books of account and other relevant books and papers in electronic mode to remain accessible in India “at all times". The companies are required to back up the books of account and other documents kept in electronic mode, including at any place outside India have to be kept in servers physically located in India “on a daily basis". Additionally, businesses are required to report more details about the service provider who manages their electronic books of accounts and other records. According to the amendment, the name and address of the person in charge of the books of account and other books and papers in India must be reported when the service provider is based outside of India on an annual basis.
MCA has amended the rules for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) regulations in India. Expenditure on CSR activities was made mandatory in 2014, now MCA has made the following changes by Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules, 2022 introduced on September 20, 2022:
CSR committee for unspent CSR amount
A CSR committee is to be established by all Companies for monitoring their CSR commitments and any funds in their “Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Account”. Companies may keep unused funds set aside for CSR in this account to use them within three financial years. The earlier relaxation given to companies to not form a CSR committee if they no longer satisfy the required criteria has also been done away with by these Amendment rules.
Expenditure for Impact Assessment Changed
The Amendment Rules provide that the cost of social impact assessments, which can be considered as CSR spending, cannot be greater than 2% of all CSR expenditures for the applicable financial year or Rupees 50 lakh, whichever is higher. Greater impact assessment spending is permitted in the event of substantial CSR projects
Format for annual report on CSR activities Revised
All companies are required to provide the following information in the annual report as per the new rules:
- Explanation of its CSR policy in brief;
- Name, designation and number of meetings held and attended by the Director as well as information about the other members of the CSR committee
- Executive summary and web links for the impact assessments of CSR projects.
- Company’s website where the CSR Committee’s membership, CSR policy, and CSR projects approved by the board are listed; and
Many other disclosures are now required the annual report of the companies such as, unspent CSR amount for the preceding three financial years, information regarding the CSR amount allocated to ongoing projects and other than ongoing projects and particulars of excess amount for set-off, if applicable. The company must also specify if any capital assets were generated or bought under the company’s CSR spending during the financial year, and how many. The annual report should also provide reasons for the company’s failure to spend 2% of the average net profits of the three immediately preceding financial years, if any.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on September 15, 2022 has issued Companies (Specification of definition details) Amendment Rules, 2022 to further amend Companies (Specification of Definition Details) Rules, 2014. This has come into force on September 15, 2022.
Earlier, definition of “small companies” under the Companies Act, 2013 was revised by increasing their thresholds for paid up capital from “not exceeding Rs 50 lakh” to “not exceeding Rs 2 crore” and turnover from “not exceeding Rs 2 crore” to “not exceeding Rs 20 crore”. This definition has, now, been further revised by increasing such thresholds for paid up Capital from “not exceeding Rs. 2 crore” to “not exceeding Rs. 4 crore” and turnover from “not exceeding Rs. 20 crore” to “not exceeding Rs. 40 crore”.
Legal Metrology Act
Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India amended the Legal Metrology(General) Rules, 2011. The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 allows the companies to nominate any of its Directors as a person responsible for the business of the Company. Earlier in case of violations under the Legal Metrology Act, the prosecutions were initiated against the Directors of the companies even for violations by any establishment or branch or unit in any establishment or branch of the company. There was request from various industries to allow nominating the person who is actually having the authority and responsibility of the establishment or branch or unit in any establishment or branch and not the Director, so that the notices for the violation done by the establishments or branches or units should not be issued to the Directors who are not responsible for the violation of establishment or branch or unit in any establishment or branch. With this amendment, companies having different establishments or branches or different units in any establishment or branch can now nominate an officer who has the authority and responsibility for the operations and activities of the establishments or branches or different units. This will facilitate the companies to nominate a person who is actually responsible for the activities of an establishment or branch of the company in place of Director of the Company, who is not directly involved in day-to-day activity of that establishment or branch thereof.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the validity of FCRA registration certificates of certain categories of FCRA registered entities. “The following categories of FCRA registered entities have been included: • The validity of registration certificates of such entities whose validity was extended till 30.09.2022 in terms of the Public Notice dated 22.06.2022 and whose renewal application is pending will stand extended till 31.03.2023 or till the date of disposal of renewal application, whichever is earlier. • The validity of those FCRA entities whose 5 years’ validity period is expiring from 01.10.2022 to 31.03.2023 and who have applied/apply for renewal before the expiry of 5 years’ validity period will stand extended up to 31.03.2023 or till the date of disposal of renewal application, whichever is earlier. It is therefore advised to all FCRA registered associations to take note that in case of refusal of the application for renewal of the certificate of registration, the validity of the certificate shall be deemed to have expired on the date of the refusal of the application of renewal and the association shall not be eligible either to receive the foreign contribution or utilize the foreign contribution received.”
National Logistics Policy
The Government of India (GOI) has issued notification regarding The National Logistics Policy which is aimed at bringing efficiency in logistics services, and human resources through streamlining processes, regulatory framework, skill development, mainstreaming logistics in higher education and adoption of suitable technologies. The Policy will be focusing on enabling adequate development of warehouses with optimal spatial planning, promotion of standards, digitization and automation across the logistics value chain and better track and trace mechanisms. The institutional frameworks under PM GatiShakti at the Centre and State level, which will also monitor implementation of the Policy, is fully operational.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has released the draft Indian Telecommunications 2022 bill. As per the bill, going forward, the spectrum can be assigned through auction or administrative process, depending on the requirements. The bill has provisions to waive fees, charges, and penalties of any company if required to protect the interest of consumers or ensure fair competition. The draft bill has also enlarged the definition of telecommunication services, bringing over-the-top (OTT) communication services such as Whatsapp, Signal, and Telegram, satellite-based communication services, internet, and broadband services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, etc, under its ambit. The bill also states in case of insolvency, the spectrum assigned to the entity shall revert to government control. The government also has the right to waive in part or in full any fee or damages payable by a licensee. The government can also grant exceptions from the provisions of this Act or rules to a licensee. As per the draft bill, on the occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety, the Central or state governments or any officer specially authorized on this behalf can direct any message or class of messages, to or from any person or class of persons shall not be transmitted, or shall be intercepted or detained or disclosed to the officer mentioned in such order. In the event of war or national security issues, the government can take over the control and management of, or suspend the operation of, or entrust any authority of the Government to manage any or all of any telecommunication services. In case of breach of license conditions, the DoT can revoke such license, registration, authorization, or assignment and impose a penalty. The penalty regime has been changed, with varying amounts of penalties depending on the severity of the offense. Any suspension, curtailment, revocation, or variation may be reversed if the substantial violation is remedied to the satisfaction of the Central Government. An alternate dispute resolution may be established by the government.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a notification regarding the extension of the timeline for implementation of the New Regulatory Framework, 2020. It has been decided that all the broadcasters shall report to the Authority, any change in name, nature, language, MRP per month of channels, and composition and MRP of bouquets of channels as per the New Regulatory Framework 2020, by November 30, 2022 and all DPOs shall report to the Authority, DRP of pay channels and bouquets of pay channels, and composition of bouquets of pay and FTA channels, as per the New Regulatory Framework 2020 by December 31, 2022. The distributors of television channels must ensure that services to the subscribers are provided as per the bouquets or channels opted by them with effect from February 28, 2023.
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) provided instances wherein after leaving their employment due to resignation or retirement certain subscribers under the Corporate and Government sectors have not exercised Inter Sector Shifting (ISS). In NPS database those subscribers are still associated with their previous employers. In the interest of those subscribers, it has been decided to permit such subscribers under the Government/ Corporate sector to continue with their existing investment pattern and Pension Fund (PF) choice as an option, on their shifting to the all citizen sector. For such subscribers, their prospective and legacy contributions would continue to be invested as per the existing investment pattern/PF prevailing during their employment as they were previously reluctant to shift to the all citizen sector, due to fear of changes in existing PF/Investment.
Notification on Introduction of Systematic Lump Sum Withdrawal (SLW) issued by The Pension Fund Regulatory and development Authority (PFRDA) for the benefit of NPS Subscribers and to facilitate them with smart withdrawal facility. A subscriber is required to buy an annuity for at least 40% of the total corpus while the remaining amount can be withdrawn as a lump sum in a single tranche or on an annual basis Under National Pension System (NPS) rules. Annuity with 100% of the amount accumulated in his/her NPS account through years of investment can also be bought by the subscribers. The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is now inviting comments/suggestions on a new proposal that will allow monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annual withdrawal of the lump sum amount till the age of 75 years. According to current rules, the subscribers can defer availing annuity post 60 years/superannuation and withdraw the lump sum on any combination till 75 years. In the new proposal that lump sum amount can be withdrawn on annual basis or as a single tranche. For annual withdrawal the Subscriber has to initiate the withdrawal request each time and the request has to be authorized as the case may be.
Now in order to ease this process of lump sum withdrawal, a proposal has been made by PFRDA to pay lump sum systematically on a periodical basis viz monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually for a period till 75 years as per the choice of the Subscriber, and to automate the process based on one-time online/offline request.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
The RBI in consultation with the Government of India has released the Outward Investments Rules in line with the amendment in the Foreign Exchange Management Act 2015. Presently, overseas investment by a person resident in India is governed by the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Any Foreign Security) Regulations, 2004 and the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property Outside India) Regulations, 2015.
With a view to simplify the procedure and the evolvingneeds of businesses in India, the revised regulatory framework for overseas investment has been released and has been aligned with the current business and economic dynamics. Clarity on Overseas Direct Investment and Overseas Portfolio Investment has been brought in and various overseas investment related transactions that were earlier under approval route are now under automatic route, significantly enhancing "Ease of Doing Business".
The Reserve Bank of India issued a notification on Late Submission Fee for reporting delays under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) The Late Submission Fee (LSF) was introduced for reporting delays in Foreign Investment (FI), External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs), and Overseas Investment related transactions with effect from November 07, 2017, January 16, 2019, and August 22, 2022, respectively. These provisions seek to bring uniformity in the imposition of LSF across functions. A uniform fee is to be paid for various delays in reporting. The above provisions shall come into effect immediately for the delayed filings made on or after the date of this circular. All other provisions of reporting under FEMA remain unchanged.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has amended the Handbook of Procedures (HBP) 2015-20. This has come into force on September 29, 2022. As per the amendment, the existing Foreign Trade Policy 2015 -2020 which was valid till September 30, 2022 has now been extended up to March 31, 2022.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has issued amendment in para 5.15 of Handbook of procedures 2015-20, related to Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme. As per the amendment, the time limit to file returns for the year 2022-23 has been extended from September 30, 2022 to December 31, 2022.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has released notification regarding insertion of ‘Denomination of Export Contracts’ under the Foreign Trade Policy in sync with RBI A.P.(DIR Series). The notification allows invoicing, payment and settlement of exports and imports in INR. Further, it is provided that that trade transactions in INR may take place through the Special Rupee Vostro Accounts opened by AD banks in India in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has released guidelines on Capturing customer location on UPI Apps. The guidelines are intended for UPI members and set out certain directions to be followed by UPI members namely • UPI Apps are allowed to capture location/geographical details only with the consent of the customer/individual. • Provision to subsequently revoke the consent must be provided to the customer without denying the UPI services. • The app shall not disable/deny the UPI services if consent from the customer is not given. • These guidelines will be applicable where the customer (Payer) is a person/individual who is initiating transactions and will be applicable to domestic UPI transactions only. The guidelines are to be made applicable from December 1, 2022.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft notification for responses from experts and the public to the printing of Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) on food packets as part of a labelling exercise with healthy food items getting a higher rating. The move is aimed at letting consumers know the items with high salt, fat, and sugar and to allow them to make informed choices while purchasing them. Items are proposed to be assigned scores based on energy and content of saturated fat, sugar, sodium, fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, millets, dietary fibre, and protein per 100 gm servings of solid and liquid foods. As per the notification, it is essential for pre-packaged food items to carry health ratings, i.e., Indian Nutritional Ratings (INR). These ratings would be similar to the energy efficiency ratings on electronic goods. A time period of two months has been given to the stakeholders to submit their suggestions and feedback to the draft notification.
RBI / FEMA
The RBI has re-issued Master Direction on Acquisition or Transfer of Immovable Property under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999. The directions list out categories of persons that can hold Immovable property in India, the procedure in this regard, disposing off, transfer and acquisition of such property, etc. As per section 6(5) of FEMA, a person resident outside India can hold, own, transfer or invest in any immovable property situated in India if such property was acquired, held or owned by him/ her when he/ she was resident in India or inherited from a person resident in India. The Directions also permit long term VISA holders to acquire immovable property in India.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI issued a circular regarding the participation of SEBI registered Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) in Exchange Traded Commodity Derivatives in India. In order to promote institutional participation in Exchange Traded Commodity Derivatives (ETCDs), SEBI has permitted Category III Alternative Investment Funds, Mutual Funds, and Portfolio Management Services to participate in ETCDs.
SEBI has decided to allow foreign investors to participate in Indian ETCDs through the FPI route, and it has also laid down the conditions in order to be a participant. The following conditions have been stated:
- To begin with, FPIs will be allowed to participate in cash settled non-agricultural commodity derivative contracts and indices comprising such non-agricultural commodities.
- FPIs desirous of participating in ETCDs shall be subject to risk management measures applicable, from time to time.
- Position Limits: FPIs other than individuals, family offices and corporates may participate in eligible commodity derivatives products as ‘Clients’ and shall be subject to all rules, regulations and instructions, position limit norms as may be applicable to clients, issued by SEBI and stock exchanges, from time to time. FPIs belonging to categories viz. individuals, family offices and corporates will be allowed position limit of 20 per cent of the client level position limit in a particular commodity derivative contract.
- The participation of FPIs including individuals, family offices and corporates shall be subject to compliance with the provisions of SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations, 2019, SEBI (Custodian) Regulations, 1996 and other applicable SEBI circulars on ETCDs.
- Stock Exchanges/Clearing Corporations may specify additional safeguards/conditions, as deemed fit, to manage risk and ensure orderly trading in ETCDs. The provisions of this circular will come into immediate effect.