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Rajya Sabha passes Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016



New Delhi, March 20: The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The bill that seeks to increase maternity leave to 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks was earlier passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 11, last year.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien observed that the measure was already passed by both the houses and there was only a “technical amendment” with which it was to be taken up once again.

The Bill was then passed with voice vote.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, also provides for leave up to 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mothers.

The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.

In surrogacy, the surrogate mother carries a child for another person after an agreement made before conception of the child. The person wishing to adopt and foster the child is called the commissioning person or couple.

The bill paves the way for the ratification of International Labour Organisation convention No.183 that provides for 14 weeks of maternity leave benefit to women.

It also facilitates “work from home” for nursing mothers once the leave period ends and has made creche facility mandatory in respect of establishments with 50 or more employees



Budget Session: Both the houses adjourned for the day after ruckus




New Delhi, March 20: Both the houses again marred by disruptions as the second half of Budget Session entered to its 12th day. 

Lok Sabha was first disrupted till noon minutes after it resumed for the day.

Later, it reconvened  loud slogans raised by the opposition as EAM Sushma Swaraj sought permission from the Speaker to deliver a statement on the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul, saying ‘It is something sad that I want to tell the house and it cannot be done in this ruckus.’

Protests started as soon as the House resumed, and several members trooped near the Speaker’s podium raising slogans and displaying placards.

In the din, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told MPs raising slogans when EAM wanted to deliver a statement on the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul.

After a continuous uproar,  she adjourned the house stating the country has never seen such a sorry state, this is not proper. You are insensitive for your own people.

“House is not in order and soo no-confidence motion cannot be moved”, Mahajan added.

Meanwhile, after External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj confirmed that 39 Indians, who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul have lost their lives, the Rajya witnessed stormy scenes.

Following the ruckus, the chairperson halted the proceedings for the day.

Earlier in a day, MPs of opposition parties held a meeting in Parliament premises and decided to meet RajyaSabha Chairperson to say that they want to run the House and government should reach out to the opposition for the same.

Prior to this, AIADMK staged a protest outside Parliament over Cauvery issue.

In the meantime, TRS MPs agitated carrying placards of ‘One nation, One law’, demanding an increase in the quota of reservation in Telangana.

While TDP MPs protest demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh. MP Naramalli Sivaprasad joined the protest dressed up as a schoolboy, wearing shorts and carrying a notebook.

As the second half of the Budget Session entered to its  12th day, again marred by disruptions.

The proceedings started on March 5 and will conclude on April 6.


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39 Indians missing in Iraq died: Sushma Swaraj in Rajya Sabha



New Delhi, March 20: External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday confirmed that 39 Indians, who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul have lost their lives. 

While speaking in Rajya Sabha, she stated deep penetration radar confirmed that all Indians were dead after all bodies were exhumed.

The mortal remains were sent to Baghdad. For verification of bodies DNA samples of relatives were sent there, four state governments including Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar were involved.

Swaraj informed the higher house that the external ministry received the information on Monday, adding the DNA samples of 38 people have matched and DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 percent.

General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed in Iraq. The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata.

Earlier, India sought help from Iraq in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from IS.

The 39 persons, most of whom belonged to Punjab, were working on projects near Mosul, when they were kidnapped during their evacuation in 2014.


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Rail-roko stir called off in Mumbai, central line services resume



Rail-roko protest

Mumbai, March 20: As many as 500 students, who squatted on railway tracks since Tuesday morning demanding permanent jobs, called off their protest after deciding to discuss the issue with the Railway Board. The ‘rail roko’ affected train movement on all the four lines between Matunga and CSMT sections.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said they will hold discussions with the students who are working as apprentices in different technical workshops of the Railways.

Train services on Central Railways Line, which were suspended this morning, resumed after the students moved out of the tracks.

Protesters on Tuesday blocked all the CR lines, so both the slow and fast local train services ahead of Matunga have been shut completely, forcing commuters to walk on tracks. “Due to some agitation between Matunga and Dadar, rail traffic has been affected between Matunga and CSMT,” said Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer, CR.


Attempting to restore normalcy, the local police resorted to a mild lathi-charge to disperse the protestors. Some retaliated by pelting stones at the police.

At least five persons and a couple of police personnel were injured in the fracas even as top police and railway officials rushed to the site to control the situation.

The protests were carried out by activists of the All India Act Apprentice Association (AAAAA). It demanded scrapping of the 20 per cent quota for direct recruitment and jobs for local candidates in all states who have cleared the All India Railway Act Apprentice Exams.

They claimed they had taken up their demands right upto the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who met them but there was no progress in the matter.A

Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai Rahul Shewale met top CR officials to resolve the situation and later said that the railways would hire over 12,400 candidates who have cleared their apprenticeship exams.

However, the agitators refused to call off their agitation unless they were given a written undertaking by the railway authorities.

A CR spokesperson said that there was no provision of giving job to apprentices as per the Apprentice Act who are only trained for a specific period to hone their skills and gain experience.

“However, the Ministry of Railways has taken a decision and reserved 20 per cent of the seats filled through direct recruitment. The notification is already issued with the last date of submitting application on March 31. Apprentices can apply against this notification and Special Examination will shortly be held for apprentices who have done training in Railway Workshops under the Apprentices Act,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the BEST has deployed extra buses to ferry commuters to and fro from various points like Dadar, Matunga, Kurla, Sion and other stations.

The protests threw out of gear the entire suburban and long distance railway schedules in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Pune with commuters stranded for hours.

The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have demanded a discussion on the issue in the Maharashtra Legislature on a priority basis.


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