Foreign LegislationLegislation Updates

On 16th August, 2022,  the Inflation Reduction Act, 2022 was signed by the President of USA. The Act includes law over climate, health and energy.

Key points:

  1. Under deficit reduction, the Act imposes 15% of corporate minimum tax based on the financial income statement  which will come in effect in the taxable year after December 31, 2022. The present Act also stated that 1% of excise tax will be imposed on the repurchase of stocks by the domestic corporation after 2022.
  2.  Health care costs will be reduced by $800 per year as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) will negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs(approximately 100 drugs) under Medicare starting in the year 2026.
  3. Maximum prices for brand-name drugs will be negotiated by CMS. It will provide free vaccines from 2023 and the cost of the insulin will be $35 per month. The expense over medicines will be reduced to $2,000 in 2025.
  4. According to the Act, from 2024 tax credits will be provided for producing electricity from renewable resources, especially from wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, trash and hydrokinetic resources. There will also be tax credits for production of clean hydrogen and domestic clean fuel production in 2025.
  5. The Act encourages the purchase and use of plug-in electric vehicles by creating and modifying the refundable tax credit.
  6. Under the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry variety of programs related to conservation and renewable energy will be funded to increase awareness against climate change. There will be funding to USDA (Department of Agriculture) to initiate the program to decrease the carbon emission by 40% by 2030 and for forest restoration, wildlife prevention.
  7.  Funding for affordable housing and projects which are designed to increase the energy and water supply for such houses.
  8. Electricity will be reduced to $500 to $1000 per year. Rebates will be provided to homeowners for saving overall energy.
  9. Loans will be provided to manufacture vehicles that emit either low or no amount of greenhouse gas.
  10. The Act provides funding to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) to install equipment and technology to reduce pollution at ports and to identify and reduce emissions from diesel engines. Funds to reduce methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems.
  11. $60 billion is invested to create clean manufacturing jobs to protect families and small businesses.

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: While deciding the question raised in the instant petition that, whether the classification made on the basis of educational qualification for promotion, offends Arts. 14 and 16 of the Constitution; the Bench of Sanjeev Kumar, J., went on to reiterate the core principles of the concerned constitutional provisions and held that there should be left no doubt in the mind of anybody that the classification on the basis of educational qualification for promotion is permissible in law and does not offend Arts.14 and 16 of the Constitution.

Facts of the case: The petitioners, serving in Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura, Srinagar (hereinafter ‘SKIMS') as Staff Nurses, claimed to have rendered their services for the last 27 years. The petitioners were Matriculates and possessed 3 years Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery. In 1998, SKIMS promulgated the Sher-i- Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Subordinate Services Recruitment Rules 1998 (hereinafter ‘1998 Rules') as per which no person was eligible for appointment or promotion to any post in any class, category or grade in the service unless he possessed the qualification as laid down in Schedule II of the Rules.

Later in 2014 via Government Order No.75-SKIMS of 2014, sanction was accorded to the modification of recruitment rules for various categories of staff working in the Institute. Regarding the post of Senior Staff Nurse, the afore-stated Government Order stated that post is to be filled up 100% by promotion from Staff Nurses possessing B.Sc. Nursing or M.Sc. Nursing degrees.

Aggrieved by the prescription of minimum qualification of B.Sc. Nursing provided for promotion to the post of Sr. Staff Nurse, the petitioners challenged the same on the ground that the classification made by the respondents between a Staff Nurse possessing three years Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery and a Staff Nurse possessing the qualification of B.Sc. Nursing, violates Arts. 14 and 16 of the Constitution and therefore the same is not permissible.

Contentions: The petitioners contended that for about 27 years, they entertained a legitimate expectation that they would be promoted to the post of Sr. Staff Nurse in due course but, because of the impugned Government Order, laying down a modified criteria for the post of Sr. Staff Nurse, the petitioners have been deprived of their right to promotion for all times to come.

Per contra, the respondents relied on State of J&K v. Triloki Nath Khosa, (1974) 1 SCC 19, wherein classification on the basis of higher qualification being permissible under law, was settled by the Supreme Court.

Observations: Perusing the issue raised by the petitioners, the Court observed that the issue is no longer res-integra as the same has been settled by the Supreme Court in plethora of cases. The Court, however, deemed it appropriate to reiterate the interpretation of Arts. 14 and 16 as laid down by the Supreme Court from time to time-

  • Arts. 14 and 16 do not permit the State to treat un-equals as equals, for that is not the spirit of the principle of equality envisaged under the Constitution.

  • Art. 14 prohibits class legislation and not reasonable classification. To pass the Art. 14 test, classification needs to meet only two requirements: intelligible differentia and rational/ reasonable nexus between the intelligible differentia and object of the classification sought to be achieved.

  • The Court referred to the landmark decision in E.P. Royappa v. State of T.N., (1974) 4 SCC 3, wherein Justice P.N. Bhagwati had delineated the concept of permissible classification under Art. 14 stating that, “Art. 14 is the genus while Art. 16 is a species, Art. 16 gives effect to the doctrine of equality in all matters relating to public employment. The basic principle which, therefore, informs both Arts. 14 and 16 is equality and inhibition against discrimination”.

  • The Court considered the arguments raised by the respondents and agreed with them that the issue of classification on the basis of educational qualification in the matter of promotion, was set at rest by the Supreme Court in the afore-stated Triloki Nath Khosa case.

Decision: With the afore-stated observations, the Court dismissed the petitions and held that prescription of higher qualification like the qualification of B.Sc. Nursing/M.Sc. Nursing for promotion to the post of Senior Staff Nurse, is essential for efficient discharge of duties of a higher post. Thus, the respondents can surely prescribe higher technical qualification for the purpose of promotion.

The Court also held that a Staff Nurse possessing qualification of three years Diploma in General Nursing and Staff Nurses possessing qualification of B.Sc. Nursing, cannot be on par and therefore, are unequal because of their qualification. Which means that it would not be obligatory for respondents to treat these two unequals as equals.

[Hanifa Deva v. SKIMS, 2022 SCC OnLine J&K 528, decided on 05-07-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Arif Sikandar, Advocate, for the Petitioners;

M. A. Chashoo, AAG, Advocate, for the Respondents.


*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this brief

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the issue relating to the use of a toxic pesticide called Endosulfan leading to a spread of mental and physical ailments among residents of Kasargod district in Kerala, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Surya Kant, JJ has held that the inordinate delay by the State Government in compensating the persons affected by the use of Endosulfan not only reflects its failure to comply with the Court’s order but also further compounds the violation of the fundamental rights of such persons.

“The failure to redress the infringement of their fundamental rights becomes more egregious with each passing day.”

Background

Supreme Court had, by its order dated 10 January 2017, directed the State Governments to compensate all the affected persons by distributing an amount of Rs 5 lakhs to each affected person within three months. It also directed the State Governments to consider the feasibility of providing medical facilities and treatment for life-long ailments arising from the effects of Endosulfan, considering the larger number of affected persons.

In the case at hand, a contempt petition was instituted by the residents of Kasargod district in Kerala as the State Government failed to compensate the affected residents. It was argued that the petitioners are yet to be compensated and the medical facilities have not been improved because of which the affected persons in Kasargod District are compelled to travel to Trivandrum, about 600 kms away for their treatment.

Out of the 3704 victims, 102 are bedridden, 326 are mentally disabled, 201 are physically disabled, 119 are afflicted with cancer while 2966 fall in the residual category.

The State Government has, on 15 January 2022, issued a GO to authorize the disbursal of an additional amount of Rs 200 crores for providing compensation to the victims of Endosulfan. However, as of date, an amount of Rs 5 lakhs has been disbursed only to eight persons who are the petitioners who have moved these contempt proceedings.

Observations

The Court observed that the Government of Kerala has done virtually nothing for five years. Besides the fact that the delay is appalling, the inaction is in breach of the orders of the court.

The Court also failed to understand the logic or the rationale of the State Government in disbursing compensation only to those who have the ability to move the Supreme Court.

Noticing that most of the victims are from the marginalized segments of society and many of the victims are in a serious condition to whom compensation on an urgent basis has to be provided, the Court said,

“The right to health is an integral part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Without health, the faculties of living have little meaning.”

Stating that it would be justified in taking recourse to the coercive arm of law, the Court confined itself to providing immediate relief and rehabilitation to the victims who are suffering and issued the following directions:

  • Since the payment of compensation has been made, though belatedly to eight petitioners who have moved these proceedings, costs quantified at Rs 50,000 each shall be paid over in addition to each of the eight persons within a period of three weeks from the date of the order;
  • The Chief Secretary shall hold monthly meetings to ensure that the judgment of this Court dated 10 January 2017 is diligently implemented by undertaking the process of (a) identifying the victims of Endosulfan and drawing up a list of beneficiaries; (b) ensuring the disbursement of compensation of Rs 5 lakhs to each of the victims; and (c) taking steps for ensuring due medical facilities within reasonable distance from their places of residence in terms of the earlier directions of this Court
  • An affidavit of compliance shall be filed before theCourt indicating the progress which has been made between the date of this order and the next date of listing

The Court will now hear the matter on July 18, 2022.

[Baiju KG v. Dr. VP Joy, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 624, decided on 13.05.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud


Counsels

For Petitioner(s): Sr. Adv, P.N. Ravindran and Advocates P.S. Sudheer, Rishi Maheshwari, Shruti Jose and Bharat Sood

For Respondent(s): Advocates Nishe Rajen Shonker, Anu K. Joy and Alim Anva

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ. and S. Talapatra, J., perused the latest affidavit filed by the State dated 16-05-2021 in which had several details particularly concerning the preparedness of the State-administration to deal with emerging Covid related situation.

The affidavit contained availability of Covid beds in different hospitals with continuous oxygen supply and other support systems. It was stated that in addition to the existing hospital beds with pipelined oxygen supply, 150 hospital beds which currently have oxygen cylinders as well as oxygen concentrators, shall be covered with oxygen supply through pipeline within a period of two weeks from today. State assured that this quantity was more than sufficient to cover not only the current requirement but any possible foreseeable future requirements. The affidavit further provided details of the vaccination progress in the State giving category-wise such as, coverage of first and second doses to healthcare workers, frontline workers, citizens over 60 years, those in the age group of 45 to 59 years etc.

The Court noted the details provided by the State administration and brought the attention of the administration towards two main aspects which required immediate action which were the high infection cases in State-run orphanages and jails. The Court requested the administration to ensure maximum possible testing of these children, further in the case of jail inmates the State which has restricted the movement of a citizen, of course by authority of law, has the onus to ensure that his health is not jeopardized on account of being kept confined. The Court further brought notice of the State-administration towards the requirement of round the clock helpline which is efficient, functional and provides all necessary information and support to the relatives of the patients who are in need.

The Court listed the matter on 24-05-2021 with a devised plan in relation to abovementioned concerns.

[Court on its own motion, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 275, decided on 17-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

For Respondent(s): Mr S S Dey, Advocate General, Mr Debalaya Bhattacharya, Govt. Advocate, Ms Ayantika Chakrabroty, Advocate.

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post-facto approval on the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between Department of Health & Family Welfare (DOHFW), Government of India and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on cooperation in the field of Health signed in November 2019 during the visit of Mr Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of BMGF to Delhi.

The Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) covers the following areas of cooperation:-

a) To reduce maternal, neonatal and child morbidity and mortality, improve key nutrition outcomes, by improving the reach, coverage and quality of essential primary health, immunization and nutrition services.

b) To increase the basket of choice and quality for family planning methods, specially for reversible methods, and increase access amongst younger women.

c) To reduce the burden of select infectious diseases [TB, Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), Lymphatic Filariasis(LF)].

d) To strengthen health systems, including aspects such as budget utilization, management and skills of human resources for health, digital health, strengthening supply chains and monitoring systems.

A Program Action Committee (PAC) will be set up to further elaborate the details of cooperation and to oversee the implementation of this Memorandum of Cooperation.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter relating to problems faced by the people of Delhi due to dengue and chikungunya, the Lt. Governor, after convening a meeting on 05.10.2016, will convene another meeting today at 5:30 and the following points will be discussed by the partcipants:

  • 15 areas of concern that learned amicus says he has culled out from the affidavits that have been filed and are on record.
  • If there are any additional areas of concern, the participants in the meeting will identify those areas and suggest ways and means to remove the problems including any problems that may arise in the 15 areas identified by learned amicus.
  • Steps to be taken for preventing recurrence of the problems faced by the people of Delhi this year due to vector-borne diseases as also preventive steps for any contingency that may arise in the near future.
  • Effective ways to have the garbage cleared so that standards of sanitation and hygiene are maintained in and around Delhi

Stating that the efforts by the participants should be consultative, collaborative and cooperative, the bench said that they should keep the interests of the people of Delhi in mind and look out at the entire exercise in a positive manner and think about the future rather than the past. The Court asked the participants to arrive at a time-frame within which all necessary steps will be taken and who will be responsible for their implementation.

The Chief Minister of Delhi, the Health Minister, Commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation, Commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Chairman of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, General Manager of the Northern Railway, Chief Secretary of Delhi, Union Health Secretary, the Vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and the Chief Executive Officer – Delhi Cantonment Board will be participating in the meeting. [In Re Outrage as Parents End Life after Child’s Dengue Death, SMW (C) No. 1/2015, decided on 06.10.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: With the intent to resolve issues relating to the better management of the problems faced by the people of Delhi due to dengue and chikungunya for the general interest of the people of Delhi, the Bench of Madan B. Lokur and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ said that it would be appropriate if a meeting is convened by the Lieutenant Governor on 05.10.2016 at 2.00 pm.

The Court asked the Chief Minister, the Health Minister, Commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation, Commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Chairman of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, General Manager of the Northern Railway, Chief Secretary of Delhi, Union Health Secretary, the Vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and the Chief Executive Officer – Delhi Cantonment Board, to attend the meeting. The Court, however, made it clear that no substitute will be sent in case anyone amongst these officers is not available for any reason. [In Re Outrage as Parents End Life after Child’s Dengue Death, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1093 , decided on 04.10.2016]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

  1. MoU between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Ministry of Finance, Government of India and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA)

The MoU aims at establishing framework for facilitating participation of Qatari institutional investors in Infrastructure projects in India under NIIF.

  1. Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters between the Government of Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar

This agreement promotes cooperation and mutual assistance between the two countries on matters pertaining to customs administration through exchange of information and intelligence.

  1. MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) and the Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU) concerning cooperation in the exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism-financing and related crimes

The MoU facilitates exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism-financing and related crimes and persons connected thereto.

  1. MoU between the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the Government of Republic of India and the National Qualifications Authority/Supreme Education Council, Government of the State of Qatar for Cooperation in Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications

This MoU aims to enhance cooperation between the two countries on skill development and mutual recognition of qualifications to facilitate mobility of skilled workers from India to Qatar.

  1. MoU on cooperation in Tourism between the Government of the Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar.

The MoU aims at bilateral cooperation in the field of planning and developing of tourism, through marketing and promotion as also to support cooperation between private sector stakeholders.

  1. MOU between India & Qatar for Cooperation in the field of Health the Government of the Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar.

This MoU provides cooperation in areas of health, including interalia in occupational and environmental health, pharmaceuticals, medical education, exchange of the best practices in the field of primary healthcare, research in the field of health care, technology, health care system and exchange of medical experts and scientists.

  1. The First Executive Programme for MoU in the field of Youth and Sports between the Government of Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar

As a follow up to the existing MoU in the field of Youth and Sports, the first Executive Programme provides for exchanges and cooperation in sports activities, training camps for sports teams and exchange visits of leaders and officials etc between the two countries.

Press Information Bureau

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While hearing a petition with respect to the hardship which the people living in Delhi undergo having regard to the high of pollution in the city, T.S Thakur, CJI. , A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi, JJ. directed various measures to be undertaken by the Government  and local bodies concerned.

Noted Counsel Harish Salve appearing as amicus argued on various issues including maintenance of high pollution levels inspite of imposition of Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) and diversion of commercial vehicles/trucks to alternates routes, moving of taxis like OLA and UBER to CNG, banning registration of SUVs and private cars of the capacity of 2000 cc, introduction of vacuum cleaners to prevent dust on the roads and proper disposal of solid wastes.

In lieu of consensus between the two parties on the aforementioned issues, the Court issued suitable directions and for other issues which were not heard, the Court has adjourned the matter to 5th January 2016. [M.C. Mehta V. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 1327, decided on December 16, 2015]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): While coming down heavily upon Director, General Health Services, Haryana for non-compliance of earlier orders of CIC, the Commission directed him to provide complete details about facilities and concessions given by the Government to Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon. Before the Commission, the appellant sought information in relation to medical lapses that allegedly resulted in the death of former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma. The appellant also sought complete file notings and correspondence including application for allotment of land to Medanta Hospital (where the former Chief Justice breathed his last) and prevailing market rate and circle rate of land in that area, at the time of allotment of land to Medanta Hospital. Earlier seeking the said information, the appellant had approached PIO, Directorate of Health Service, GNCTD, Delhi and the First Appellate Authority but was not satisfied with the response. Claiming non-furnishing of information sought, the appellant approached the Commission in Second Appeal. During the course of proceedings before CIC, the Commission directed Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of Haryana and HUDA, Gurgaon to furnish the required information to appellant. When the matter came up before the Commission for compliance, the Commission directed CPIO of HUDA to produce the file notings of allotment of land, application of Medanta, and the prevailing market rate and circle rate of land in that area, at the time of allotment to Medanta Hospital before the Commission. While reprimanding the Director, General Health Services, Government of Haryana for non-compliance of earlier orders of CIC, the Commission further noted, “The Commission also directs CPIO/Director General Health Services, Government of Haryana to show cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed against him for not complying with the direction of the Commission, the explanation should reach the Commission within 3 weeks of receipt of this Order. He is also directed to provide complete details about facilities and concessions given by them to Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon.” [Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. Directorate of Health Services, GNCTD, Delhi,  decided on October 21, 2015]