Maternity Benefits for Women in India

With every passing year more and more, women in India are getting employed and working hand in hand with male members of the family. But, one event that is integral to the life of most of the married women is pregnancy and delivery. It’s a phase of life that involves living at home with the infant and caretaking. Hence, the maternity leaves benefit. Many of us aren’t much aware that the Government of India has already passed a Maternity bill in 2016 and about its details.

As per the bill, a woman employee is eligible to get fully paid leave in order to take care of the child and herself. It also protects the employment during the time and is applicable to all business organizations with a workforce of over 10 employees. Here is a rundown the bill features:

maternity benefits for women in India

  • The maternity leave for working women bearing the first or second child is set to 26 weeks. Earlier it was 12 weeks only.
  • For the 3rd child or more, the leave is only 12 weeks.
  • Maternity benefit of 12 weeks is also applicable to a woman who adopts a child below three months and commissioning mothers as well. Commissioning mothers are those who use their egg to create an embryo that is planted in another woman.
  • The bill also mentions working from home facility if the nature of work is such that the employee can work from home, in case the employer and the woman both agree.
  • The bill states that an organization with more than 50 employees need to provide crèche facilities for working mothers and even the facility to visit the child in the crèche four times a day for feeding and resting as well.
  • The maternity benefits need to be intimated to the woman employee in writing at the time of appointment.

The maternity benefit bill is passed by the Parliament in the Lok Sabha for the purpose of regulation of employment of woman in all areas of the working like circus, mines, shops or establishments with 10 or more employees.

Multinational companies have already included these benefits and many corporate giants are still jumping the bandwagon offering not only maternity leaves but flexi-hour working with full pay as well. One such company in Bangalore has even offered one-year career break without salary for maternity. MNC’s are even providing additional benefits that are not mentioned under the maternity benefits bill. In order to woo women employee companies making lucrative offers that include benefits like parental counseling, insurance benefits, maternity tie-ups with hospitals, transport reimbursement to name a few. Another well- known banking sector firm has offered a package of 1.32 lacs only for child care to women in addition to salary.

Well, there are many more corporate who are willing to adopt the flexible maternity policies in India because they are well aware that maternity is one such milestone in the lives of women when they decide to quit their jobs.

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Lawyers in India – Advertising Restriction

As of now, as per the Indian Law, Lawyers are not allowed to advertise. But, the founder president of the Indian Lawyers Association (ILA), a California based NRI advocate has a different opinion. Navneet Chug is also the founder of South Asian Bar Association of South California (SABA) and is of the opinion that the restriction on advertising in India for lawyers needs to be lifted. Other than that he is the founder of SABA North America (SABANA) with 27 chapters that represent over 10,000 Indian lawyers residing in Canada and USA besides Indian Bar Association.

He harped upon the issue of BCI not able to regulate the ‘black sheep’ amongst the lawyers in India and not even providing any freedom to them. He also mentioned that in the United States of America, the State controlled Bars are responsible for regulating advocates in an effective way. Furthermore, BCI is putting obstacles like age bar for law degrees as well which is in a way hindrance to the field of law. In the USA the laws that restricted lawyers from advertising were lifted in the year 1971 and today there are umpteen lawyers filling up the yellow pages with ads about their services and utilizing many other traditional mediums as well for showcasing their services.

advertising for lawyers

Having said that, the Indian law firms are also trying to find a creative way out of this problem. They are promoting their work by organizing seminars and conferences as well as by getting into partnerships with NGOs, to name a few. As per the president of the Society of Law (SILF), such promotional activities are not listed under the prohibition of advertising rule 36 of the Bar Council and hence it is not considered a promotion or violation of the rule. As per Bhasin, the world is becoming a smaller place after globalization and there is a dire need to change the existing norms around advertising in Law. In 2008, the government did ease the rule by allowing lawyers to create a website with little information, but it did not address the problem as such.

Many law experts feel that BCI is still following the norms that had been created in the stone age even when we are living in the Tesla age and thinking of creating colonies on Mars. Present day, there are many law firms that are already opening offices overseas with information online on their websites in those countries. They want to do the same in India but aren’t able to do so due to the prohibition here.

Well, it seems the experts and lawyers in India are looking to broaden their horizons utilizing the advertising tool thus making it inevitable for the BCI to think about bringing a reformation in their rules and ethics thus allowing the Indian lawyers to offer their services across borders and flourish in their profession.

Misconduct of Lawyers in India – A Few Case Examples

Even though there is no definition as such for misconduct in the advocate’s act of 1966 but it does mean a breach in the discipline, to say the least. Furthermore, it’s not possible to decide on what all would be included under misconduct and there is every possibility of addition or omission of something or the other intentionally or unintentionally.

The court has held the conduct that makes anyone unfit for his profession, embarrasses or damages the administration of justice’s reputation may be deemed as misconduct. The conduct that makes any advocate unworthy of continuing as the member of the legal profession or is not deemed fit for undertaking the responsibilities that have to be performed, he or she is chargeable of misconduct and is punishable under the same.

Misconduct of Lawyers in India1

Some of the important cases that did bring the lawyers under the scanner and punished them if found guilty include the following-
1. Deliberate delay in filing a suit
In one such case, the court found the lawyer guilty of deliberately delaying the suit filing procedure when the complainant accused the advocate of doing it in the connivance with the other side. The lawyer’s license was suspended for two years by the deciding committee.

2. Forged Document Handover
In one such case, the advocate was found guilty for handing over forged stay order while in reality no stay order was passed by the court. The committee after looking into the facts held the lawyer guilty for misconduct of serious nature and ordered for the removal of his name from the Bar Council Register of Delhi.

3. Defrauding illiterate clients
One of the cases of misconduct involved taking the signatures on blank watermarked paper for defrauding a client. The committee found the advocate guilty of the act.

4. Intentional delay in appearing in the court
A complainant had alleged that her lawyer took the money and still did not appear in the court for the proceedings due to which she lost the case. The committee held the advocates conduct deliberate and suspended his practice for the period of two years.

5. Advocate engaged in carrying out business actively
An advocate was found guilty by the committee in actively engaging in working as a printer, editor and publisher for the weekly ‘Aaj ki Janata’ in spite of being an advocate. The Committee found him guilty as per rule 47 of BCI, which prohibits an advocate from engaging in personal business.

Well, the committee decides on the punishment pertaining to professional misconduct after thorough cross-examination and it comes under the advocates’ act 1966. As for contempt of court, the punishment is different and not the same as professional misconduct.

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Artificial intelligence in India – Laws and the Road Ahead

Artificial Intelligence is the need of the hour, but their working, unlike human commands, is automated to an extent, in the sense that over a period of time they develop their own decision making on the basis of mechanically analyzing user data over time. Obviously, the objective is to have machines produce at least results that are similar to humans if not better in term of outcomes. After the major blunders related to data protection namely involving the social media giant Facebook with respect to Cambridge Analytica, the concerns have grown by leaps and bounds.AI

Particularly in India, the data protection system is not yet up to the mark and catching up with the pace at which AI is growing, it’s definitely a cause of concern. Additionally, if the artificial intelligence based system undertakes any actions that do not involve direct application of the human mind and leads to any sort of loss, who is to blame? Is the Artificial Intelligence system to be blamed?

Answers to these questions remain unanswered even though the supreme- court has already passed the decision about ‘right to privacy’ as a duly enforceable fundamental right. Dealing with these challenges in absence of the legislation only points towards the right being restricted to paper without being implemented.

So, is there a way ahead and if yes, how to go about it. Well, as per law pundits, there needs to be a law system in place that deals with issues relevant to artificial intelligence discrepancy besides that the AI system are subject to all the laws that a human apparently is. Furthermore, the government also needs to put a law in place to protect the data and also around intimation/ permission policy before using the data of individual users.

Perhaps, as we climb the ladder of innovation in terms of artificial intelligence and its capabilities, it’s equally critical to be aware of the simultaneous requirements of upgrade of the law and the framework interpretation in the country.

Honor Killing and Protection of Marriages in India

Almost a decade back, special law proposed by the National Commission for Women (NCW) has already been put in place to deal with honor killings. As per the Supreme Court adults are free to marry a person of choice and therefore it is illegal to hurt or punish such couples by the clan members ‘Khap’ or any group of community members.

Even though, honor killings have taken over 250 lives already since 2015 and the numbers are only going up rather than going down as the reputation of a family is stake. An honor killing, is killing or homicide that is carried out by the family member of the family due to their belief that their family member who has married outside the caste has brought shame and dishonor to the family and also has violated their caste or religion principles. The other reasons for honor killing include being a rape victim, dressing in a way that is cited as inappropriate, having sex outside marriage or being in a relationship against the will of the family.

Honor Killing and Protection or Marriages in India

Most often the victims of honor killing are women and not men.
Even after killing, most often the killers do not face any social stigma from the community because their community approves of it.

Honor killings are most common in northern part of India, more in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Even though even South India, Gujarat and Maharashtra do report such incidences and it is prevalent in these regions too.

Here are few reasons that are known to lead to honor killings –
Casteism – Even though we have advanced so much, the caste system is still prevalent in India and there is no denying about that. It is still rigid and a reason behind such heinous crimes.

Governance Issues – Even today there is no formal governance in villages and panchayats and khaps are still rampant.

Mentality – Due to the prevalent caste system in India even today a marriage outside caste is a taboo of some kind and the mentality hasn’t yet changed even after centuries and progress in various fields in the society.

Khap Panchayat – These used to be panchayats like parallel government of sorts created by upper caste and affluent people and communities in order to consolidate position and power. These Khap’s are more or less dominated by males and they possess a lot of illegal authorities like demanding payments from couples, boycotting certain families or people, harass a couple, intimidate or murder them or boycott them.

Well, still the road to success looks like a distant dream because honor killing is prevalent and is not decreased significantly even after the Supreme court passed the special law. Hence, there is more to be done, particularly spreading awareness in the regions most affected about the validity of the Khap Panchayats.