Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill:

The Central Information Commissioner's (CIC) office had passed an order saying political parties should come under the Act as they were public authorities. A Bill seeking to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, to shield political parties from providing information under the transparency law is pending in the Parliament. The Union Cabinet had last month cleared a proposal to amend the RTI Act and negate a CIC order to this effect. The CIC had, in its order on June 3, held that the six national parties- the  Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, the NCP, CPI-M, CPI and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party - have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint public information officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.

In Section 2 of the RTI Act
, which defines public authority, to shield the political parties? In clause (h), the following Explanation shall be inserted, namely:–– ‘Explanation.––The expression “authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted” by any law made by Parliament shall not include any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People Act, (RPA) 1951.The government argued that political parties are not government or Constitutional bodies and do not take government funds hence should be kept out. Most major political parties are in agreement with the amendment except few.

It has also been observed that there are already provisions in the RPA as well as in the Income-tax Act, 1961 which deals with the transparency in the financial aspects of political parties and their candidates.

Declaring a political party as public authority under the RTI Act would hamper its smooth internal working, which is not the objective of the said Act and was not envisaged by Parliament under the RTI Act. Further, the political rivals may misuse the provisions of RTI Act, thereby adversely affecting the functioning of the political parties. But the analysis indicates that the amendment suggested in the Bill has the potential to violate the fundamental right of right to equality and equal treatment to all persons guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 14. It seeks to treat political parties as a separate category from other substantially-financed non-governmental organizations (NGOs).


The Bill has been referred to Parliament's standing committee for further discussion.  The said amendment once notified will have retrospective effect from the date of the said decision of CIC, that is, 3rd day of June, 2013.

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2011, is passed in the Lok Sabha on 4th Sept, 2013. The Bill proposes a statutory authority (PFRDA) to regulate the National Pension System (NPS) which will be extended to all general citizens. NPS is a defined contribution scheme and is based on the principle that 'you save while you earn' especially for retirement. The main objective of the Bill is to help extend pension cover to more citizens of the country. However, it is optional for those in the unorganised sector. NPS is a defined contribution scheme for all central government employees, other than the armed forces, who joined after January 2004. It is implemented through a combination of retailers, pension fund managers, and a record-keeper. Under the new NPS, every subscriber will have an individual pension account, which will be constant across job changes. The subscribers will get a right to manage their funds and have an option of switching schemes and fund manager but have to borne the investment risk without explicit or implicit guarantee on the pension wealth, except in cases where the subscriber purchases market-based guarantees.

The Pension Bill will allow foreign direct investment in the country's pension sector and the overseas investors can own stakes of up to 26% stake in domestic pension funds. However, at least one of the pension fund managers shall be from the public sector. The provisions of the Pension Bill will not apply to Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) subscribers. EPFO funds will be continued to be managed by the government. NPS was opened up for all citizens of the country including unorgnised sector workers, on voluntary basis, with effect from 1 May 2009. The passage of the pension Bill will be a booster for financing the requirements for infrastructure sector. The total investment in infrastructure sectors in the Twelfth Plan (2013-17) is estimated to be Rs. 55.7 lakh crore, and pension funds are supposed to contribute at least Rs. 1.5 lakh crore, according to estimates.

The Bill is currently pending in Rajya Sabha. It will provide a structure (NPS) to plan for old-age income security and will help to bring in new pension products in the market, thereby giving a choice to customers. Competition could also improve quality of service and returns. If these measures are successful, these could help to mobilise substantial long-term funds, which can be used to build infrastructure.

The National Food Security Bill:

The prime objective of the Bill is to provide food and nutritional security to citizens by making sure that the poor have access to food at affordable prices. The requirement of the food security was felt after the National Family Health Survey 2005-06 which revealed that 22 percent population of India is malnourished. The new Bill will duty bound public servants to ensure the availability of subsidized foods failing which they will have penal liability.  The said Bill provides that the 75 percent of rural and 50 percent of the urban population entitled to five kg food grains per month at Rs 3, Rs 2, Re 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains, respectively.  Pregnant women and lactating mothers entitled to nutritious meals and maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000 for six months. In case if there is non-supply of food grains the concerned state government is required to provide food security allowance to the beneficiaries. 

The eldest woman in the household, 18 years or above will be the head of the household for the issue of the ration card.  The work of identification of eligible households has been left to the states. The central government will ensure food grains to states or provide funds to states in case of short supply of food grain.

But there are also outlandish claims of leakages of food through the PDS (Public Distribution System). This may be true of a few states, but not all. Because under the pressure of the Supreme Court, including Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, have shown a remarkable improvement in both the coverage as well as reduction in leakages. To make the Gandhian thought of entitlement revolution a success Govt. should take serious measures to check leakages. Those who are against the PDS and right to food to the poor and worried about food grain inflation should not forget that Bharat is also part of India and any sustainable progress requires them to be included as stakeholders.


The Bill is passed by the parliament and awaiting the president’s assent and notification in the official guzzet. Implementation will give right to subsidised food grain to 67 percent of India's 1.2 billion people.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013

The main objective behind the proposed law on land acquisition is to provide a fairer, transparent process and proper measures for rehabilitation of the people who suffered loss due to compulsory land acquisition. In most of the cases the affected persons are disadvantaged groups and weaker sections of the society for whom the land is the only source of livelihood. The most important drawback of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 is the absence of a remedy against compulsory land acquisition will be addressed in the proposed law. The law will be implemented with retrospective effect and entertain cases where no land acquisition award has been made.

The new Bill discourages acquisition of multi crop irrigated lands but in extreme circumstance it may be acquired to a limited extent as per specific state laws and a long-term sustenance plan for the affected families with a necessary consent requirement before acquisition and deciding compensation in governmental and PPP acquisitions 70 and 80 % respectively is mandatory to ensure food security. The time bound Social Impact Assessment involving experts, the local panchayat, municipality or municipal corporation, as the case may be is also mandated before acquisition. The Bill guarantees, a tax free minimum compensation of up to 4 times the market value of the land acquired in rural areas and up to 2 times the market value of land acquired in urban areas including a sum of 100 per cent amount as solatium. There are also other checks and balances that have been inbuilt into the Bill include appreciation sharing in case of land being sold off without implementation of the intended project.


The Bill is already passed by Rajya Sabha on 4th Sept, 2013 and awaiting president’s assent. This law will prevent forced acquisition and exploitation of the poor, tribals, farmers and labour forces. Who have suffered a lot due to the current draconian law of the Land Acquisition Act; 1894.The Bill proposes a fair deal to the disadvantaged groups in terms of the prescribed compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement measures. More importantly, it provides them a say in the process which was lacking. It is also expected that the Bill may eliminate Maoist influence in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa in next five to six year. But only the time will tell us whether the Bill really offers what it promises, a fair and transparent legal framework for land acquisition resulting in fast tracking of the laggardly public infrastructure development.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Power Laws in India


The energy sector in India is governed by various statutes, including the Electricity Act, 2003 and the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.  
In India, the first Electricity Act was enacted in 1903. Meant as a tentative measure, it was speedily replaced by the Indian Electricity Act, 1910. This 1910 Act regulated the issue of granting licenses to the  licensees, the according to sanction to persons for the generation, distribution and supply of electrical energy, the  powers  and obligations  of such  persons  and the takeover  of their  undertakings  by the  central government, the state government and the local authority. Later, in 1948, the Electricity (Supply) Act was enacted.  It  provided  a  basis for takeover  of most  undertakings  by  State  Electricity  Boards  constituted under it. The Act mainly deals with constitution, powers and functions of various bodies including   the  Central  Electricity  Authority  (CEA),  state  electricity  boards,  generating  companies,  consultative councils and local advisory committees. The National Electricity Policy and the tariff policy are prepared by the Central Government in consultation with the CEA and the state governments. These  policies  are meant to  ensure the  optimal  utilization  of resources such  as  coal,  natural  gas,  nuclear  substances  or  materials,  hydro  and renewable sources  of  energy.  The  CEA  is  also responsible  for  specifying technical standards and safety requirements for  construction and operation of plants and  transmission lines, advising the government and commissions on technical matters and other activities.  The Electricity (Supply) Act was followed by the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act in 1998, which  mandated the creation of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), to which was delegated  the task of setting the tariff of centrally owned or controlled generation companies. The Commission aims to promote competition, efficiency and economy in bulk power markets, improve the quality of supply, promote investments and advise government on the removal of institutional barriers to bridge the demand supply gap and thus foster the interests of consumers. The Act also mandated the creation of state electricity regulatory commissions (SERC), which were also granted powers to set tariffs. The  CERC is mainly a regulatory body, in contrast to CEA which is mainly an advisory body. However, both  CERC and SERC have certain advisory functions to foster competition, efficiency and investment. Besides the setting up of a regulatory mechanism, the function of CERC also includes adjudication of disputes among generating companies or transmission licensees. An appeal from CERC or SERC will lie with the 
Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL). APTEL has been in operation from July 21, 2005. 
The Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act was followed by the Energy Conservation Act in 2001. This 
Act mainly provided for the establishment of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).  BEE was constituted to reduce the ‘energy intensity’ of the Indian economy. One of the key functions of BEE is to provide policy framework and direction to national energy efficiency and conservation efforts and programs. 
In  2003, the  Electricity Act was  enacted, which regulates  generation,  distribution, transmission  and  trading in power. It replaced the legislations that are mentioned above, such as the Indian Electricity  Act, 1910, the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, and the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998. CERC has been granted its quasijudicial status under section 76 of the Electricity Act. From a regulatory point of view, CERC is a key player in the Electricity sector. CERC press releases and orders are the key to understand regulations in the Indian power sector. CERC and SERC formulate terms and conditions for the determination of tariff.


Provisions pertaining to renewable energy in The Electricity Act 2003


The Electricity Act contains the following provisions pertaining to non-conventional
energy sources.
Sections 3(1) and 3(2)
Under Sections 3(1) and 3(2), it has been stated that the Central Government shall, from time to time, prepare and publish the National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy, in consultation with the state governments and authority for development of the power system based on optimal utilization of resources such as coal, natural gas, nuclear substances or material, hydro and renewable sources of energy.
Section 4
Section 4 states that the Central Government shall, after consultation with the state governments, prepare and notify a national policy, permitting stand-alone systems (including those based on renewable sources of energy and other non-conventional sources of energy) for rural areas.
Section 61
Section 61, 61(h) and 61(i) state that the appropriate commission shall, subject to the provision of this Act, specify the terms and conditions for the determination of tariff, and in doing so, shall be guided by the following, namely, the promotion of cogeneration and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy; and the National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy.
Section 86(1)
Section 86(1) and 86(1)(e) state that the state commissions shall discharge the following functions, namely, promote cogeneration and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy by providing, suitable measures for connectivity with the grid and sale of electricity to any person, and also specify, for purchase of electricity from such sources, a percentage of the total consumption of electricity in the area of a distribution license.
Source : http://mnre.gov.in/

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Important Energy Laws in India

An Act to provide for the development, control and use of atomic energy for the welfare of the people of India and for other peaceful purposes and for matters connected therewith;

An Act to establish in the economic interest of India greater public control over the coal mining industry and its development by providing for the acquisition by the State of unworked land containing or likely to contain coal deposits or of rights in or over such land;

An Act further to amend the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957, and to validate certain acquisitions of land or rights in or over land under the said Act.

 AN ACT TO REPEAL THE COAL GRADING BOARD ACT, 1925, AND TO PROVIDE FOR CERTAIN [9th May, 1959.] 1.Short title and commencement;

An Act to empower the Central Government to direct the transfer of the land, or of the rights in or over land or of the right;

An Act to provide for the conservation of coal and development of coal mines and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto;

An Act to provide for the acquisition and transfer of the right, title and interest of the owners in respect of the coal mines specified in the Schedule;

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-seventh Year of the Republic of India as follows:- An Act further to amend the Coal Mines Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1948;

An Act to provide for efficient use of energy and its conservation and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

An Act to provide for the transfer and vesting of the underta- king of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission to and in the Oil and Natu- ral Gas Corporation Limited;

CHAPTER IVRECOGNITION OF TEACHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS 14.Recognition of institutions offering course or training in teacher education;

An Act to provide for the establishment of a Commission for the development of petroleum resources and the production and sale of petroleum and petroleum products produced by it and for matters connected therewith.

An Act to provide for the establishment of a Board for the development of oil industry and for that purpose to levy a duty of excise on crude oil and natural gas and for matters connected therewith.

An Act to provide for the regulation of 1*** oilfields and for the development of 2[mineral oil resources].

  An Act to empower the Oriental Gas Company Limited, to extend their operations to certain places in [the Provinces of India].
 
An Act to extend the Petroleum Act, 1934, to Berar. WHEREAS in Berar the importation, possession and transport of petroleum and other substances are regulated by the Indian Petroleum Act;

An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the import, transport, storage, production, refining and blending of petroleum;

An Act to provide for the acquisition of right of user in land 1*[for laying pipelines for the transport of petroleum and minerals] and for matters connected therewith;

CHAPTER IVCPOWER TO EXEMPT FROM THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTERS IVA AND IVB   11N.Power to exempt.

CHAPTER X  DRAWBACK   74.Drawback allowable on re-export of duty-paid goods. (1) When any goods capable of being easily identified which have been imported into India and upon which 2[any duty has been paid on importation;

An Act to provide for the establishment of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to regulate the refining, processing, storage, transportation;

CHAPTER VI APPEALS TO APPELLATE TRIBUNAL 30. Appellate Tribunal.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Appellate Tribunal established under section 110 of the Electricity Act, 2003 (36 of 2003) ;




THE PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS REGULATORY BOARD ACT, 2006[PART II]

CHAPTER VI
APPEALS TO APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
30. Appellate Tribunal.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act,
the Appellate Tribunal established under section 110 of the
Electricity Act, 2003 (36 of 2003) shall be the Appellate Tribunal
for the purposes of this Act and the said Appellate Tribunal shall
exercise the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on it by or
under this Act:
Provided that the Technical Member of the Appellate Tribunal for the
purposes of this Act shall be called the Technical Member (Petroleum
and Natural Gas) and shall have the qualifications specified in subsection
(2) of section 31.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Electricity Act, 2003
(36 of 2003), the Central Government may, for the purposes of this
Act, appoint one or more Technical Members (Petroleum and Natural
Gas) on the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity or designate a
Technical Member of the said Tribunal having the qualifications
specified in sub-section (2) of section 31 and when a Technical
Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas) is appointed, he shall be in
addition to the three other members appointed under the said Act.
31.
Technical Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas).
31. Technical Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas).-(1) The Technical
Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas) shall be appointed from the panel
prepared by the Search Committee constituted under sub-section (2) of
section 4.
(2) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Technical
Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas) of the Appellate Tribunal unless
he-
(i) is, or has been, a Secretary for at least one year in the
Ministry or Department of the Central Government having adequate
experience in energy sector, especially in matters relating to
Petroleum and Natural Gas sector; or
(ii) is, or has been, a person of ability and standing, having
adequate knowledge or experience in dealing with matters relating to
exploration, production, transmission pipelines, marketing or
regulation of petroleum, petroleum products or natural gas,
economics, commerce, law or management.
32.
Terms and conditions of service of Technical Member (Petroleum and
Natural Gas).
32. Terms and conditions of service of Technical Member (Petroleum
and Natural Gas).-The term of office, the salaries and allowances
payable to and the other terms and conditions of service of the
Technical Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas) shall be the same as
applicable to the other members of the Appellate Tribunal.
33.
Appeals to Appellate Tribunal.
33. Appeals to Appellate Tribunal.-(1) Any person aggrieved by an
order or decision made by the Board under this Act may prefer an
appeal to the Appellate Tribunal:
Provided that any person preferring an appeal against an order or
decision of the Board levying any penalty shall, while filing the
appeal, deposit the amount of such penalty:
Provided further that where in any particular case, the Appellate
Tribunal is of the opinion that deposit of such penalty would cause
undue hardship to such person, it may dispense with such deposit
subject to such conditions as it may deem fit to impose so as to
safeguard the realisation of penalty.
(2) Every appeal under sub-section (1) shall be filed within a period
of thirty days from the date on which a copy of the direction or
order of decision made by the Board is received by the aggrieved
person and it shall be in such form, verified in such manner and be
accompanied by such fee as may be prescribed:
Provided that the Appellate Tribunal may entertain an appeal after
the expiry of the said period of thirty days if it is satisfied that
there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period.
(3) On receipt of an appeal under sub-section (1), the Appellate
Tribunal may, after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard,
pass such orders thereon as it thinks fit.
(4) The Appellate Tribunal shall send a copy of every order made by
it to the parties to the appeal and to the Board.
(5) The appeal filed under sub-section (1) shall be dealt with by the
Appellate Tribunal as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall
be made by it to dispose of the appeal finally within ninety days
from the date of receipt of appeal:
Provided that where any such appeal could not be disposed of within
the said period of ninety days, the Appellate Tribunal shall record
its reasons in writing for not disposing of the appeal within the
said period.
(6) The Appellate Tribunal may, for the purpose of examining the
legality or propriety or correctness of any order or decision of the
Board referred to in the appeal filed under sub-section (1), either
on its own motion or otherwise, call for the records relevant to
disposing of such appeal and make such orders as it thinks fit.
34.
Procedure and powers of the Appellate Tribunal.
34. Procedure and powers of the Appellate Tribunal.-The provisions of
sections 120 to 124 (both inclusive) of the Electricity Act, 2003 (36
of 2003) shall mutatis mutandis apply to the Appellate Tribunal in
the discharge of its functions under this Act as they apply to it in
the discharge of its functions under the Electricity Act, 2003.
35.
Power of Appellate Tribunal to make rules.
35. Power of Appellate Tribunal to make rules.-The Appellate Tribunal
may, by notification, make rules consistent with the provisions of
this Act as to the conduct and procedure in respect of all
proceedings before it under this Act.
36.
Orders passed by Appellate Tribunal to be executable as a decree.
36. Orders passed by Appellate Tribunal to be executable as a
decree.-(1) Every order made by the Appellate Tribunal under this Act
shall be executable by the Appellate Tribunal as a decree of a civil
court, and for this purpose, the Appellate Tribunal shall have all
the powers of a civil court.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the
Appellate Tribunal may transmit any order made by it to a civil court
having jurisdiction and such civil court shall execute the order as
if it were a decree made by that court.
37.
Appeal to Supreme Court.
37. Appeal to Supreme Court.-(1) Notwithstanding anything contained
in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) or in any other law,
an appeal shall lie against any order, not being an interlocutory
order, of the Appellate Tribunal to the Supreme Court on one or more
of the grounds specified in section 100 of that Code.
(2) No appeal shall lie against any decision or order made by the
Appellate Tribunal with the consent of the parties.
(3) Every appeal under this section shall be preferred within a
period of ninety days from the date of the decision or order appealed
against:
Provided that the Supreme Court may entertain the appeal after the
expiry of the said period of ninety days, if it is satisfied that the
appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the
appeal in time.
CHAPTER VII
FINANCE, ACCOUNTS AND AUDIT
38. Grants by Central Government.-The Central Government may, after
due appropriation made by Parliament by law in this behalf, make to
the Board grants of such sums of money as are required to pay
salaries and allowances payable to the Chairperson and the other
members and the administrative expenses including the salaries,
allowances and pensions payable to the officers and employees of the
Board.
39.
Fund.
39. Fund.-(1) There shall be constituted a Fund to be called the
Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Fund and there shall be
credited thereto-
(i) all grants, fees, penalties and charges received by the Board
under this Act; and
(ii) all sums received by the Board from such other sources as may be
approved by the Central Government.
(2) The Fund shall be applied for making payments towards-
(i) the salaries and allowances payable to the Chairperson and other
members and the administrative expenses including the salaries,
allowances and pensions payable to the officers and employees of the
Board;
(ii) the expenses incurred or to be incurred in carrying out the
provisions of this Act.
(3) The Central Government shall-
(i) constitute a committee consisting of such persons as it thinks
fit to recommend to that Government the budgetary requirements of the
Board for salaries, allowances and all other expenses; and
(ii) fix the budgetary ceiling of the Board on the basis of the
recommendations of the committee.
40.
Accounts and audit.
40. Accounts and audit.-(1) The Board shall maintain proper accounts
and other relevant records and prepare an annual statement of
accounts in such form as may be prescribed by the Central Government
in consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
(2) The accounts of the Board shall be audited by the Comptroller and
Auditor-General of India at such intervals as may be specified by him
and any expenditure incurred in connection with such audit shall be
payable by the Board to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
Explanation.-For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that
the decisions of the Board taken in the discharge of its functions
under this Act, being matters appealable to the Appellate Tribunal,
shall not be subject to audit under this section.
(3) The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India or any other person
appointed by him in connection with the audit of the accounts of the
Board shall have the same rights and privileges and authority in
connection with the audit of the Government accounts and, in
particular, shall have the right to demand the production of books,
accounts, connected vouchers and other documents and papers and
inspection of offices of the Board.
(4) The accounts of the Board as certified by the Comptroller and
Auditor-General of India or any other person appointed by him in this
behalf together with the audit report thereon shall be forwarded
annually to the Central Government and that Government shall cause
the same to be laid before each House of Parliament.
41.
Annual report and its laying before Parliament.
41. Annual report and its laying before Parliament.-(1) The Board
shall prepare once every year in such form and at such time as may be
prescribed, an annual report giving a summary of its activities
including information relating to the proceedings and policies during
the previous years and such report shall also contain statements of
annual accounts of the Board.
(2) A copy of the report shall be forwarded to the Central Government
and the Central Government shall cause such report to be laid, as
soon as may be after it is received, before each House of Parliament.
CHAPTER VIII
POWER OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
42. Power of Central Government to issue directions.-(1) The Central
Government may, from time to time, by writing issue to the Board such
directions as it may think necessary in the interest of the
sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State,
friendly relations with foreign States or public order.
(2) Without prejudice to the foregoing provision, the Central
Government may, if it finds necessary or expedient so to do in public
interest or for maintaining or increasing supplies of petroleum,
petroleum products or natural gas or all or any of them or for
securing their equitable distribution and ensuring adequate
availability, issue policy directives to the Board in writing and
such policy directives shall be binding upon the Board:
Provided that no such directive shall relate to any day-to-day
affairs of the Board:
Provided further that the Board shall, as far as practicable, be
given an opportunity of expressing its views before any directive is
issued under this sub-section.
(3) The decision of the Central Government whether a question is one
of policy or not shall be final.
43.
Taking over control and management of facilities and business
premises of any entity and retail outlets in public interest.
43. Taking over control and management of facilities and business
premises of any entity and retail outlets in public interest.-(1) In
the event of war or natural calamity or such other similar
circumstances leading to disruption of supply of petroleum, petroleum
products or natural gas, the Central Government may, for ensuring the
continuous supply of petroleum, petroleum products or natural gas, by
notification, either take over the control and management of any
storage site, facilities and business premises of any entity and
retail outlets or suspend its operations or entrust, to any agency of
the Central or State Government for such time and manage it in such
manner, as may be specified in that notification:
Provided that the affected entities shall be given an opportunity of
being heard before issuing orders to take over the control and
management of retail outlets and other business premises:
Provided further that in case of any urgency or in cases where the
circumstances do not permit serving of notice for want of sufficient
time or otherwise upon the entity against whom the order is directed,
the opportunity of hearing may be dispensed with in public interest
in order to maintain the uninterrupted supply of petroleum, petroleum
products or natural gas for a specified period.
(2) The collector of the revenue district in which the property
referred to in the notification issued under sub-section (1) is
situated shall determine the amount of compensation payable for
taking over of the property.
(3) The form and manner in which an application for claiming
compensation under this section shall be made, the procedure for
determining the compensation and the time within which such
compensation shall be payable, shall be such as may be prescribed.

CHAPTER IX
OFFENCES AND PUNISHMENT
44. Punishment for contravention of directions of the Board.-If a
person contravenes the directions of the Board, such person shall be
punishable with fine which may extend to twenty-five crore rupees and
in case of continuing contravention with additional fine which may
extend to ten lakh rupees for every day during which the
contravention continues.
45.
Penalty for willful failure to comply with orders of Appellate
Tribunal.
45. Penalty for willful failure to comply with orders of Appellate
Tribunal.-If any person wilfully fails to comply with the order of
the Appellate Tribunal, he shall be punishable with fine which may
extend to one crore rupees and in case of a second or subsequent
offence with fine which may extend to two crore rupees and in the
case of continuing contravention with additional fine which may
extend to twenty lakh rupees for every day during which such default
continues.
46.
Punishment for unauthorized activities.
46. Punishment for unauthorized activities.-If any person, being an
entity, markets any notified petroleum, petroleum products or natural
gas without a valid registration, or authorisation such person shall
be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years or
with fine which may extend to twenty-five crore rupees or with both,
and in case of continuing contravention with additional fine which
may extend to ten lakh rupees for every day during which the
contravention continues.
47.
Punishment for establishing or operating a liquefied natural gas
terminal without registration.
47. Punishment for establishing or operating a liquefied natural gas
terminal without registration.-If a person establishes or operates a
liquefied natural gas terminal without registration as required under
section 15, such person shall be liable for punishment with an
imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or penalty of
twenty-five crore rupees or with both, and in case of continuing
contravention with additional fine which may extend to ten lakh
rupees for every day during which the contravention continues.
48.
Punishment for laying, building, operating or expanding a common
carrier or contract carrier without authorisation.
48. Punishment for laying, building, operating or expanding a common
carrier or contract carrier without authorisation.-If a person lays,
builds, operates or expands a common carrier or contract carrier or a
city or local natural gas distribution network without obtaining
authorisation required under section 19, such person shall be liable
for punishment with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to
three years or penalty of twenty-five crore rupees or with both, and
in case of continuing contravention with additional fine which may
extend to ten lakh rupees for every day during which the
contravention continues.
49.
Punishment for willful damages to common carrier or contract carrier.
49. Punishment for willful damages to common carrier or contract
carrier.-Every person who wilfully removes, destroys or damages any
pipeline or city or local natural gas distribution network or other
work of the common carrier or contract carrier for supplying
petroleum, petroleum products or natural gas shall for each such
offence be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three
years or with fine which may extend to twenty-five crore rupees or
with both, and, in case of continuing contravention with additional
fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees for every day during which
such contravention continues.
50.
Offences by companies.
50. Offences by companies.-(1) Where an offence under this Act has
been committed by a company, every person who at the time the offence
was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company
for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the
company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be
liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any
such person liable to any punishment provided in this Act, if he
proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that
he has exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such
offence.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an
offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is
proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or
connivance of, or is attributable to, any neglect on the part of any
director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such
director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to
be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against
and punished accordingly.
Explanation.-For the purpose of this section,-
(a) “company” means any body corporate and includes a firm or other
association of individuals; and
(b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.
CHAPTER X
MISCELLANEOUS
51. Maintenance of data bank and information.-(1) The Board shall
maintain a data bank and information system relating to activities of
entities dealing with petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas
in such form and manner as may be provided by regulations.
(2) The Board shall have power to verify the data supplied by the
entities and appoint any person or persons for the purpose and take
such measures as it may consider necessary.
52.
Obligations of entities.
52. Obligations of entities.-(1) Every entity shall-
(a) maintain such documentary records as may be specified by the
Board by regulations;
(b) allow inspection of such facilities and documentary records, as
may be specified by the Board, by any person authorised by the
Board;
(c) commence operation of activities for which authorisation has been
granted within such period as may be specified by the Board in the
document of authorisation;
(d) register-
(i) agreements with the Board relating to use of pipelines for supply
of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas; or
(ii) any other document which the Board may determine by regulations;
(e) comply with marketing service obligations and retail service
obligations.
(2) The Board may call for any information from any entity including
information which is considered necessary for ensuring transparency
or ascertaining true ownership of the entity.
(3) The Board or any officer authorised by the Board shall have the
power to inspect and obtain information, wherever necessary, from the
entities.
(4) For the effective enforcement of the terms and conditions of
authorisation, the Board or any officer authorised by it for that
purpose, shall have all the powers of an inspecting officer as
provided under section 209A of the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956).
(5) It shall be the duty of every entity to carry out the directions
of the Board given under this section.
(6) The Board shall maintain confidentiality in respect of any
information and record received by it from the entities and shall not
disclose information contained therein to any person or authority
except on the grounds of public interest.
53.
Furnishing of returns, etc., to Central Government.
53. Furnishing of returns, etc., to Central Government.-The Board
shall furnish to the Central Government at such time and in such form
and manner as may be prescribed or as the Central Government may
direct, such returns and statements and such particulars in regard to
any matter in connection with proposed or existing activities under
this Act, as the Central Government may, from time to time, require.
54.
Chairperson, members, etc., to be public servants.
54. Chairperson, members, etc., to be public servants.-The
Chairperson, Members, Officers and other employees of the Board and
Technical Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas) of the Appellate
Tribunal shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in
pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act, to be public servants
within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of
1860).
55.
Protection of action taken in good faith.
55. Protection of action taken in good faith.-No suit, prosecution or
other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government,
Board, Technical Authority or Appellate Tribunal or any officer of
the Central Government or any Chairperson, Member, officer or other
employee of the Board or Technical Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas)
of the Appellate Tribunal for anything which is in good faith done or
intended to be done under this Act or the rules or regulations made
thereunder.
56.
Civil courts not to have jurisdiction.
56. Civil courts not to have jurisdiction.-No civil court shall have
jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of any
matter which the Board or the Appellate Tribunal is empowered by or
under this Act to determine, and no injunction shall be granted by
any court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be
taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act.
57.
Cognizance of certain offences.
57. Cognizance of certain offences.-(1) No court shall take
cognizance of any offence punishable under Chapter IX save on a
complaint made by the Board or by any investigating agency directed
by the Central Government.
(2) No court inferior to that of a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or
of a Chief Judicial Magistrate shall try any offence punishable under
Chapter IX.
(3) Every offence punishable under sections 44, 45, 46 and 47 shall
be cognizable.
58.
Delegation.
58. Delegation.-The Board may, by general or special order in
writing, delegate to any member or officer of the Board subject to
such conditions, if any, as may be specified in the order, such of
its powers and functions under this Act (except the power to settle a
dispute under Chapter VI and to make regulations under section 61),
as it may deem necessary.
59.
Power to remove difficulties.
59. Power to remove difficulties.-(1) If any difficulty arises in
giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government
may, by order, published in the Official Gazette, make such
provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act as it may
deem necessary for removing the difficulty:
Provided that no order shall be made under this section after the
expiry of two years from the date of commencement of this Act.
(2) Every order made under this section shall be laid, as soon as may
be after it is made, before each House of Parliament.
60.
Power of Central Government to make rules.
60. Power of Central Government to make rules.-(1) The Central
Government may, by notification, make rules for carrying out the
provisions of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the
foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the
following matters, namely:-
(a) the salaries and allowances payable to and the other conditions
of service of the Chairperson and the other members under subsection
(4) of section 5;
(b) the procedure for appointment of any person or constitution of
any authority and conducting inquiry under section 7;
(c) the salaries and allowances payable to and the other terms and
conditions of service of the Secretary, officers and other employees
of the Board, under sub-section (3) of section 10;
(d) any other matter in respect of which the Board may exercise the
powers of a civil court under clause (i) of sub-section (1) of
section 13;
(e) the eligibility conditions which an entity shall fulfil for
registration under sub-section (1) of section 15;
(f) the form of appeal and the manner of verifying such form, and the
fee which shall accompany such form, under sub-section (2) of section
33;
(g) the manner in which the accounts of the Board shall be maintained
under sub-section (1) of section 40;
(h) the time and manner in which the annual report of the Board
shall be prepared under sub-section (1) of section 41;
(i) the form and manner in which applications for claiming
compensation shall be made, the procedure for determining the
compensation and the time within which such compensation shall be
payable, under sub-section (3) of section 43;
(j) the time and manner in which returns and statements are to be
furnished by the Board to the Central Government under section 53;
(k) any other matter which is to be, or may be, prescribed, or in
respect of which provision is to be made, by rules.
61.
Power of Board to make regulations.
61. Power of Board to make regulations.-(1) The Board may, by
notification, make regulations consistent with this Act and the rules
made thereunder to carry out the provisions of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the
foregoing power, such regulations may provide for all or any of the
following matters, namely:-
(a) the time and places of meetings of the Board and the procedure
(including quorum necessary for the transaction of business) to be
followed at such meetings under sub-section (1) of section 8;
(b) the powers and duties of the Secretary under sub-section (1) of
section 10;
(c) the terms and conditions of the consultants appointed under subsection
(4) of section 10;
(d) the capacity of storage facilities for petroleum, petroleum
products or natural gas requiring registration under sub-clause (iii)
of clause (b) of section 11;
(e) regulating open access to and transportation rate for the common
carrier or contract carrier or city or local natural gas
distribution network and other matters referred to in clause (e) of
section 11;
(f) marketing service obligations for entities and retail service
obligations for retail outlets under sub-clause (v) of clause (f) of
section 11;
(g) levy of fees and other charges under clause (g) of section 11;
(h) the technical standards and specifications including safety
standards in activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and
natural gas under clause (i) of section 11;
(i) the procedure to be followed by the Board including the places at
which it shall conduct its business under sub-section (3) of section
13;
(j) the manner of maintaining the Petroleum and Natural Gas Register
under
sub-section (1) of section 14;
(k) the form and manner of making application for obtaining certified
copy of any entry in the register and the fee which shall accompany
such application, under sub-section (4) of section 14;
(l) the form and manner in which an application under sub-section (1)
of section 15 shall be made and the fee which shall accompany such
application under sub-section (2) of section 15;
(m) the manner by which a certificate of registration granted under
sub-section (3) of section 15 may be suspended or cancelled under
sub-section (4) of section 15;
(n) the form and manner in which an application under sub-section (1)
or sub-section (2) of section 17 shall be made and the fee which
shall accompany such application under sub-section (3) of section 17;
(o) the form and manner in which publicity of acceptance of
applications for registration shall be made under section 18;
(p) the manner of selection of an entity under sub-section (2) of
section 19;
(q) the principles for determining the number of years for which a
city or local natural gas distribution network shall be excluded from
the purview of a common carrier or contract carrier under sub-section
(4) of section 20;
(r) the guiding principles to be followed by the Board and the
objectives for declaring, or authorising to lay, build, operate or
expand a common carrier or contract carrier for declaring, or
authorising to lay, build, operate or expand a city or local natural
gas distribution network, under sub-section (5) of section 20;
(s) the affiliate code of conduct under which the entities are
required to comply with under the proviso to sub-section (1) of
section 21;
(t) the transportation tariffs for common carriers or contract
carriers or city or local natural gas distribution network and the
manner of determining such tariffs under sub-section (1) of section
22;
(u) the form in which a complaint may be made and the fee which shall
accompany such complaint, under sub-section (2) of section 25;
(v) the manner of holding an investigation by an Investigating
Officer under sub-section (1) of section 26;
(w) the qualifications and experience which any person for
appointment as an Investigating Officer shall possess, under subsection
(2) of section 26;
(x) the form and manner of maintaining data bank and information
system by the Board under sub-section (1) of section 51;
(y) maintenance of documentary records by an entity, under clause (a)
of sub-section (1) of section 52;
(z) any other type of documents which are to be registered with the
Board under sub-clause (ii) of clause (d) of sub-section (1) of
section 52;
(za) any other matter which is required to be, or may be, specified
by regulations or in respect of which provision is to be or may be
made by regulations.
62.
Rules and regulations to be laid before Parliament.
62. Rules and regulations to be laid before Parliament.-Every rule
made by the Central Government and every regulation made by the Board
under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made,
before each House of Parliament, while it is in session, for a total
period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two
or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session
immediately following the session or the successive sessions
aforesaid, both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule
or regulation or both Houses agree that the rule or regulation should
not be made, the rule or regulation shall thereafter have effect only
in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so,
however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without
prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule
or regulation.
63.
Transitional arrangements.
63. Transitional arrangements.-(1) Where, before the commencement of
this Act, an agreement or agreements have been entered into between
one oil company and another for the purpose of sharing of petroleum
products or sharing of infrastructure facilities among the oil
companies and such agreements have been approved by the Central
Government, the Board may monitor the implementation of such
agreements for the transition period.
(2) The Board shall monitor setting up of dealerships and
distributorships of motor spirit, high speed diesel, superior
kerosene oil, liquefied petroleum gas and CNG stations for natural
gas during transition period by the entities without encroaching on
the retail network of the existing entities.
Explanation I.-For the purposes of this section, the expression
“transition period” shall mean a period of three years from the date
of commencement of this Act.
Explanation II.-For the purposes of this section, “infrastructure
facilities” shall mean facilities at ports, refineries, terminals,
depots and aviation fuelling stations including hydrant lines and
shall include loading and unloading facilities.
Explanation III.-For the purposes of this section “encroaching”
includes taking over of retail outlet of one entity by another.
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