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Indian Economic Law

If you want to do business in India, it is important to recognize some essential economic laws in India. These include laws framed as early as 1872 (which are still applicable) as well as those framed just a few years ago.

Broadly speaking, you need to be familiar with 20 essential economic laws, listed here in chronological order. They form the overall legal framework of the Indian business environment.

  • The Indian Contract Act (1872): Established the framework within which contracts can be executed and enforced.
  • Negotiable Instruments Act (1881): Set rules for promissory notes, bills of exchange, and checks.
  • Workmen's Compensation Act (1923): Set the compensation to be paid by employers to injured workers.
  • Sale of Goods Act (1930): A mercantile law that complemented the Contract Act (see above).
  • Payment of Wages Act (1936): Established a minimum monthly salary for industrial and factory workers.
  • Industrial Disputes Act (1947): Provided for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes.
  • Minimum Wages Act (1948): Fixed minimum pay rates for certain jobs.
  • Factories Act (1948): Regulated labor in factories.
  • Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act (1952): Established provident funds, family pensions, and other monetary benefits for factory employees.
  • Maternity Benefits Act (1961): Regulated post-childbirth time off for female employees.
  • Payment of Bonus Act (1965): Regulated bonus payments to be made to certain categories of employees on the basis of production, profit, or productivity.
  • Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (1969): Established rules to prevent unfair concentrations of economic power.
  • Indian Patents Act (1970): Set rules for patent protection in India.
  • Payment of Gratuity Act (1972): Provided for payment of gratuities to Indian employees in certain industries.
  • Copyright Act (1975): Helped establish copyright protection in India.
  • Arbitration and Conciliation Act (1996): Set up to govern arbitration issues.
  • Geographical Indications of Goods Act (1999): Provided legal protection for goods originated in a particular area or region within India (examples include Darjeeling tea and Basmati rice).
  • Trademarks Act (1999): Helped establish trademark protection in India.
  • Designs Act (2000): Helped establish protection of designs.
  • Competition Act (2002): Provided for the establishment of a commission that promotes competition, protects consumers, and ensures freedom of trade.

In addition to the above acts, you need to take note of Indian Company Law, which gives details of how to function as a corporate entity in India.

By and large, the economic legal system provides a fair, equitable, and transparent framework for both employers and employees. The Indian Contract Act and the Negotiable Instruments Act are both considered top of the legal charts. A fair understanding of at least these two laws is essential for doing business in India.

Find books that explain the details of the Indian Contract Act and the Negotiable Instruments Act. Treat them like twin Bibles while doing business in India. You can ask your Indian contacts to get copies for you, or you can just browse some online bookstores.

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