India has been fighting wars on several fronts at present. While our soldiers have been giving a befitting reply to both Pakistan and China at the same time, the recent constitutional amendment by Nepal regarding its territorial disputes with India is yet another critical point. Alongside this, the nation is struggling to contain the virus while trying to bring traction to economic growth.
Managing Partner of OP Khaitan & Co — Gautam Khaitan, while praising the swift actions of the governments both at Central and the states level to tackle the pandemic, suggests the authorities bring up special COVID-19 legislation to holistically deal with the unprecedented multiple challenging situations that are persisting at present. A temporary law should be passed for granting interim reliefs to parties whose contractual obligations are affected by COVID -19 related events, regulating certain conduct of corporate meetings, court proceedings using remote communication technology etc.
A temporary law should be passed for granting interim reliefs to parties whose contractual obligations are affected by COVID -19 related events, regulating certain conduct of corporate meetings, court proceedings using remote communication technology etc. - Says Gautam Khaitan – Managing Partner O.P. Khaitan & Co
War on multiple sides
“We are facing one of the most complex problems of our times. While we lost 20 soldiers at the LAC, the situation at LOC is also intense in the Kashmir sector. COVID-19 pandemic is spreading extensively. The state of the economy due to the spread of the virus is also not good. The companies are crippling and the employees are finding it difficult to sustain,” says Gautam Khaitan.
“It is appreciable that the governments at both the Central and the state level have been taking some strong actions to deal with these situations. However, decades-old statues have not been able to provide relief to the extreme situation in the much-globalized world,” he adds.
Outdated and Redundant Laws
It is no more a secret that several important legislations are decades old and have become redundant. Surprisingly, several crucial codes such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are Victorian Era laws, of which, several provisions fail to stand the test of time. Almost one and a half-decade old Disaster Management Act, 2005 is yet another example.
In light of the background, Gautam Khaitan suggests the government to introduce COVID-19 law that can serve as a one-stop solution to the multiple solutions that the country is facing.
“This will not only help the state to take swift actions on multiple fronts unlike the present situation where old and redundant legislations waste ample of the crucial time of the authorities,” he says.
Recently, the British Parliament passed the Coronavirus Act, 2020 to handle the pandemic. A time limit legislation, that will cease to exist post two years since the day when it came into force unless extended, will help the government to take prompt action whenever and wherever required. The new temporary law in India should likewise deal with issues so as to avoid courts getting clogged with litigation.
Singapore COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, 2020 which was passed recently states that the affected party must serve a notice for relief on the counterparty. If served with notice for relief, the counterparty is prohibited from taking several steps, for instance, (a) commencing or continuing any court or arbitral proceedings against the party or their guarantor or surety; (b) enforcing any security over any immovable property or over any movable property being used for the purpose of trade, business or profession.
Extraordinary situations need exceptional solutions
Gautam Khaitan also suggested forming multiple conflict resolution bodies for the corporates. Due to the imposition of lockdown and temporary shutting down of businesses, several conflicts have emerged leading to enhanced litigation filings in various courts which take ample time to dispose of the case. “Extraordinary situation needs exceptional solutions, setting up of a temporary quasi-judicial body in almost every state would serve the purpose,” he adds.
Gautam Khaitan specializes in corporate law and has vast experience of 30 years in Power, Oil, Telecommunication, Mining, and Infrastructure Sector.