Daily Current Affairs: 17th December 2021

Topics covered

  1. Legal Implication of enforcing age of Marriage
  2. Labour codes
  3. Personal Data Protection Bill 2019
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Legal Implication of enforcing age of Marriage

Context : The Union Cabinet has cleared a proposal to raise the minimum marriage age for women from 18 to 21.

What is the minimum age of marriage?

  • Personal laws that govern marriage and other personal practices for communities prescribe certain criteria for marriage, including age of the bride and groom.
  • For example, Section 5(iii) of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, sets a minimum age of 18 for the bride and 21 for the groom. This is the same for Christians under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and the Special Marriage Act. For Muslims, the criteria is attaining puberty, which is assumed when the bride or groom turns 15.

Why is there a minimum age?

  • Essentially to outlaw child marriage. This is done through special legislation such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
  • Under the Child Marriage Prevention Act, any marriage below the prescribed age is illegal and the perpetrators of a forced child marriage can be punished.

What happens to such marriages once detected?

  • Child marriages are illegal but not void. It is voidable at the option of the minor party. This means the marriage can be declared void by a court only if the minor party petitions the court. This flexibility is kept to ensure that the rights of the minor, especially the girl, is not taken away in marital homes later on.
  • However, if a court finds a minor was coerced into marriage by parents or guardians, the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act come into effect to keep the custody of the minor until he or she attains majority and can make a decision on the marriage.

What laws will have to be changed to raise the minimum age of marriage?

  • First, the age limit in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act will have to be changed. The government had indicated this will be followed by necessary changes in personal law. The Hindu Marriage Act, the Indian Christian Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act will also have to be change consequently. However, changes in the Muslim law could raise significant legal issues.

What are these legal issues?

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act does not contain any provision that explicitly says the law would override any other laws on the issue. And there is an obvious discrepancy in the letter of the law between the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and Muslim law on the minimum age of marriage.
  • For example, although the marriage of a 16-year-old girl deemed to have attained puberty is not considered invalid in Muslim law, it would be a child marriage under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
  • Additionally, the Supreme Court, in a landmark 2017 verdict, has held that in case of a minor wife, the law recognises marital rape. Husbands of minor women, as opposed to husbands of adult women, cannot enjoy the blanket immunity that the Indian Penal Code provides in Exception 2 to Section 375 against charges of marital rape.

Can Muslim law be amended too?

  • Muslim law is a mere codification of Shariah law.
  • In Shayara Bano v Union of India, the case in which the Supreme Court declared the practice of instant triple talaq as unconstitutional, one of the key questions was whether the Supreme Court could quash a religious or divine law. The court said all personal laws will have to fall under the constitutional framework and will be subject to public order, morality and health.
  • Experts suggest the minimum age of marriage can be justified under public health. However, there are several differing verdicts from high courts on this issue.

What have courts said so far?

  • In February this year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted protection to a Muslim couple (a 17-year-old girl married to a 36-year-old man), holding that theirs was a legal marriage under personal law. The HC examined provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act but held that since the special law does not override personal laws, Muslim law will prevail.
  • In other cases, the Karnataka and Gujarat High Courts have held that the 2006 special law would override personal laws and have sent the minor girl to a care facility.

2 . Labour Codes

Context: Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the Centre and some of the States and Union Territories have pre-published rules under the four labour codes. 


  • Labour falls under the Concurrent List of the Constitution.  Therefore, both Parliament and state legislatures can make laws regulating labour.  
  • The central government has stated that there are over 100 state and 40 central laws regulating various aspects of labour such as resolution of industrial disputes, working conditions, social security and wages.
  • The Second National Commission on Labour (2002) (NCL) found existing legislation to be complex, with archaic provisions and inconsistent definitions.
  • To improve ease of compliance and ensure uniformity in labour laws, the NCL recommended the consolidation of central labour laws into broader groups such as (i) industrial relations, (ii) wages, (iii) social security, (iv) safety, and (v) welfare and working conditions. 
  • In 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced four Bills on labour codes to consolidate 29 central laws.  
  • These Codes regulate:
    • Wages
    • Industrial Relations
    • Social Security
    • Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions.
  • While the Code on Wages, 2019 has been passed by Parliament, Bills on the other three areas were referred to the Standing Committee on Labour.  
  • The Standing Committee submitted its reports on all three Bills.
  • The government has replaced these Bills with new ones in September 2020.
  • The government introduced the codes aiming to streamline and simplify the country’s existing and overlapping labour laws. Since the subject of labour comes under the Concurrent List of the Constitution, there were hundreds of state and central labour laws.

Four labour codes

Labour CodesActs being subsumed
Code on Wages, 2019Payment of Wages Act, 1936;
Minimum Wages Act, 1948; 
Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; 
Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019Factories Act, 1948; Mines Act, 1952; Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986; Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; Plantations Labour Act, 1951; Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979; Working Journalist and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1955; Working Journalist (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958; Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961; Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Service) Act, 1976; Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; and Cine-Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981
Industrial Relations Code, 2019Trade Unions Act, 1926; 
Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946,
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
Code on Social Security, 2019Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948; Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923; Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Cine-workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981; Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996; and Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008

Code on Social Security, 2020

  • The Code on Social Security, 2020 has for the very first time extended social security benefits like maternity leave, disability insurance, gratuity, health insurance and old age protection to workers in the country’s booming unorganized sector.
  • These include gig workers, platform workers, contract workers, freelancers and home-based workers.
  • It also stipulates the gratuity benefits to fixed-term employees without any conditions on minimum service.
  • The Code proposes the creation of a social security fund for extending these benefits to workers in the unorganized sector.
  • The scheme for the social security fund envisages that the platforms and aggregators make contributions to the fund which would be either 1-2 percent of the turnover or 5 percent of the worker’s wages.
  • Central and the state governments can also contribute to the social security fund.

Occupational Safety

  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code aims to regulate the safety, health and working conditions of workers employed in establishments.
  • The Code proposes to widen its applicability to different varieties of workers, namely inter-state migrants, sales promotion employees and audio-visual workers. Further, attempting to promote gender equality, it also proposes to let women workers work during the night time after gaining their consent.
  • It also proposes to let inter-state migrant workers avail the benefits of the Public Distribution System in either their home state or the state of employment. The Code integrates thirteen labour laws relating to safety, health and working conditions.

Code of Wages

  • The Code of Wages makes provisions for minimum and timely payment of wages to all the workers in India.
  • 1936, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. The Code introduces the concept of floor wages wherein the rates will be fixed by the central government by taking into account the minimum living standards of the workers.
  • Once the code is enacted, the minimum rates of wages fixed by the State Government cannot be less than floor wages as determined by the Central Government.
  • The central government will make wage-related decisions for employments such as railways, mines, and oil fields, among others.  State governments will make decisions for all other employments.
  • The Code applies to all the establishments irrespective of the number of employees working in the establishment. It also applies to all the employees employed in both the organized and the unorganized sector.
  • The Code prohibits gender discrimination in matters related to wages and recruitment of employees for the same work or work of similar nature.  Work of similar nature is defined as work for which the skill, effort, experience, and responsibility required are the same.  
  • The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards. One-third of the total members on both the central and state Boards will be women.  The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.
  • The Code specifies penalties for offences committed by an employer. Penalties vary depending on the nature of offence, with the maximum penalty being imprisonment for three months along with a fine of up to one lakh rupees. 

Code on Industrial Relations, 2020

  • The Industrial Relations Code aims to streamline the laws regulating industrial disputes and trade unions in India. The Code would replace three existing labour laws – Trade Union Act 1962; Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947.
  • The code stipulates that companies with up to 300 workers will not be required to take prior government approval for firing employees and shutting down the plant or factory. However, those with over 300 workers will still be required to seek government approval.
  • Further, the code also introduces conditions on the rights of the workers to go on strike. It proposes that employees working in an industrial establishment will be required to provide 60 days’ strike notice. Further, if the proceedings are pending before an Industrial tribunal or a labour tribunal, the workers cannot go on a strike for 60 days after the proceedings have been completed. Also, flash strikes have been made illegal.

3 . Personal Data Protection Bill

Context:The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, which was tabled in Parliament on Thursday, contains provisions related to the ‘right to be forgotten’.

Right to be forgotten

  • The Right to be Forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament.
  • In 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict.
  • The court said at the time that, “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.

What does the Personal Data Protection Bill say about this?

  • The Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019 and it aims to set out provisions meant for the protection of the personal data of individuals.
  • Clause 20 under Chapter V of this draft bill titled “Rights of Data Principal” mentions the “Right to be Forgotten.” It states that the “data principal (the person to whom the data is related) shall have the right to restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of his personal data by a data fiduciary”.
  • Therefore, broadly, under the Right to be forgotten, users can de-link, limit, delete or correct the disclosure of their personal information held by data fiduciaries.
  • A data fiduciary means any person, including the State, a company, any juristic entity or any individual who alone or in conjunction with others determines the purpose and means of processing of personal data.
  • Even so, the sensitivity of the personal data and information cannot be determined independently by the person concerned, but will be overseen by the Data Protection Authority (DPA).
  • This means that while the draft bill gives some provisions under which a data principal can seek that his data be removed, but his or her rights are subject to authorisation by the Adjudicating Officer who works for the DPA.
  • While assessing the data principal’s request, this officer will need to examine the sensitivity of the personal data, the scale of disclosure, degree of accessibility sought to be restricted, role of the data principal in public life and the nature of the disclosure among some other variables.

Background of the Data Protection Bill

  • The Bill seeks to provide for protection of personal data of individuals, and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same. 
  • The genesis of this Bill lies in the report prepared by a Committee of Experts headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna. The committee was constituted by the government in the course of hearings before the Supreme Court in the right to privacy case (Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India).
  • Bill is currently referred to the Standing Committee

Details of Bill

  • Applicability: The Bill governs the processing of personal data by: (i) government, (ii) companies incorporated in India, and (iii) foreign companies dealing with personal data of individuals in India. Personal data is data which pertains to characteristics, traits or attributes of identity, which can be used to identify an individual.  The Bill categorises certain personal data as sensitive personal data.  This includes financial data, biometric data, caste, religious or political beliefs, or any other category of data specified by the government, in consultation with the Authority and the concerned sectoral regulator. 
  • Obligations of data fiduciary: A data fiduciary is an entity or individual who decides the means and purpose of processing personal data. Such processing will be subject to certain purpose, collection and storage limitations.  For instance, personal data can be processed only for specific, clear and lawful purpose.  Additionally, all data fiduciaries must undertake certain transparency and accountability measures such as: (i) implementing security safeguards (such as data encryption and preventing misuse of data), and (ii) instituting grievance redressal mechanisms to address complaints of individuals.  They must also institute mechanisms for age verification and parental consent when processing sensitive personal data of children. 
  • Rights of the individual: The Bill sets out certain rights of the individual (or data principal). These include the right to: (i) obtain confirmation from the fiduciary on whether their personal data has been processed, (ii) seek correction of inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date personal data, (iii) have personal data transferred to any other data fiduciary in certain circumstances, and (iv) restrict continuing disclosure of their personal data by a fiduciary, if it is no longer necessary or consent is withdrawn. 
  • Grounds for processing personal data: The Bill allows processing of data by fiduciaries only if consent is provided by the individual. However, in certain circumstances, personal data can be processed without consent.  These include: (i) if required by the State for providing benefits to the individual, (ii) legal proceedings, (iii) to respond to a medical emergency. 
  • Social media intermediaries: The Bill defines these to include intermediaries which enable online interaction between users and allow for sharing of information. All such intermediaries which have users above a notified threshold, and whose actions can impact electoral democracy or public order, have certain obligations, which include providing a voluntary user verification mechanism for users in India. 
  • Data Protection Authority: The Bill sets up a Data Protection Authority which may: (i) take steps to protect interests of individuals, (ii) prevent misuse of personal data, and (iii) ensure compliance with the Bill. It will consist of a chairperson and six members, with at least 10 years’ expertise in the field of data protection and information technology.  Orders of the Authority can be appealed to an Appellate Tribunal.  Appeals from the Tribunal will go to the Supreme Court. 
  • Transfer of data outside India: Sensitive personal data may be transferred outside India for processing if explicitly consented to by the individual, and subject to certain additional conditions. However, such sensitive personal data should continue to be stored in India.  Certain personal data notified as critical personal data by the government can only be processed in India.  
  • Exemptions: The central government can exempt any of its agencies from the provisions of the Act: (i) in interest of security of state, public order, sovereignty and integrity of India and friendly relations with foreign states, and (ii) for preventing incitement to commission of any cognisable offence (i.e. arrest without warrant) relating to the above matters. Processing of personal data is also exempted from provisions of the Bill for certain other purposes such as: (i) prevention, investigation, or prosecution of any offence, or (ii) personal, domestic, or (iii) journalistic purposes.  However, such processing must be for a specific, clear and lawful purpose, with certain security safeguards. 
  • Offences: Offences under the Bill include: (i) processing or transferring personal data in violation of the Bill, punishable with a fine of Rs 15 crore or 4% of the annual turnover of the fiduciary, whichever is higher, and (ii) failure to conduct a data audit, punishable with a fine of five crore rupees or 2% of the annual turnover of the fiduciary, whichever is higher.  Re-identification and processing of de-identified personal data without consent is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years, or fine, or both. 
  • Sharing of non-personal data with government: The central government may direct data fiduciaries to provide it with any: (i) non-personal data and (ii) anonymised personal data (where it is not possible to identify data principal) for better targeting of services. 
  • Amendments to other laws: The Bill amends the Information Technology Act, 2000 to delete the provisions related to compensation payable by companies for failure to protect personal data.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Vijay Diwas

  • 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, which saw the creation of Bangladesh.
  • India declared victory over Pakistan on December 16, 1971, after the Pakistani armed forces surrendered.
  • Since then, this day has been commemorated as Vijay Diwas to remember the sacrifices of defence forces.
  • The 1971 war was a result of the Pakistan military’s ill-treatment of the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan.
  • Following the electoral triumph of the East Pakistan-based Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in the 1970 elections, the Pakistani military used force to try to sway the outcome.
  • This resulted in a mass outflow of people from Bangladesh, forcing India to intervene.

Super Typhoon Rai 

  • Super Typhoon Rai has created havoc in the Philippines where thousands of people were forced to flee their homes to safety.
  • A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone that develops between 180° and 100°E in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • This region is referred to as the Northwestern Pacific Basin, and is the most active tropical cyclone basin on Earth, accounting for almost one-third of the world’s annual tropical cyclones.
  • Within the northwestern Pacific, there are no official typhoon seasons as tropical cyclones form throughout the year.

MIS Portal

  • Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh launched MIS (Management Information System) portal for rankings of States/UTs in Land Acquisition Projects under RFCTLARR Act, 2013. (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013)
  • The Department of Land Resources developed this MIS portal to capture information on various parameters of land acquisition, required for ranking of the State/UTs, which is a software-driven program to submit information by respective State/UTs on land acquisition for developmental projects. The portal is developed in house by the NIC team of the department with zero cost.
  • In the first phase, land acquisition under RFCTLARR Act, 2013 undertaken from 01.01.2014 onwards will be covered for ranking purposes and this will be a continuous process. The suggestions/inputs received from the States/UTs have been considered and incorporated in the parameters for rankings. Each State/UT will get marks out of a total of 140 marks. There is also the provision of the negative marking for delaying implementation.

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