India Business Bulletin - MARCH 2024

Archer & Angel


Archer & Angel
The RBI has issued a directive to Card Issuers directing them to (i) have no exclusive agreement with the card networks; and (ii) the customers to be given a choice to choose their card network.
India Strategy
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General Updates

Directives issued by Reserve Bank of India ("RBI") on Card Network Arrangement

The RBI has issued a directive to Card Issuers directing them to (i) have no exclusive agreement with the card networks; and (ii) the customers to be given a choice to choose their card network. For the existing customers, this option is to be provided at the time of next card renewal.

Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices ("UCPMP") 2024 notified

The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has notified the UCPMP 2024 and key highlights of the same include prohibiting pharma[1]ceutical companies from offering gifts or travel facilities to healthcare professionals or their family including for attending any seminars or conferences; allowing research grants to healthcare pro[1]fessionals in a transparent manner; cessation of supplying free sam[1]ples to individuals who are not authorised to prescribe such prod[1]ucts; establishment of Ethics Committees for Pharmaceutical Mar[1]keting Practices (ECPMP), etc.

Free Trade Pact signed

The Government of India has signed a Free Trade Agreement with 4 (four) European countries i.e. Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. This agreement focuses on market access related to goods and services, rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade reme[1]dies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, investment promotion, intellectual property rights, trade and sustainable development along with other legal and horizontal pro[1]visions.

Lower Tax rates announced under India-Spain Double Taxa[1]tion Avoidance Agreement ("DTAA")

A lower tax rate of 10% (ten) on royalties and fees for technical ser[1]vices ("FTS") has been notified by the Government of India in its DTAA with Spain. The amendment will promote ease of doing business, foster economic relations, streamline tax regulations and more certainty to taxpayers operating in both jurisdictions.

Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products ("RoDTEP") Scheme extended

The Government of India has extended the RoDTEP Scheme to support additional export sectors such as Advance Authorisation holders, Export Oriented Units and Special Economic Zones Units. E-commerce website directed to rectify misclassification of Health and Energy drinks

It has been noted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India ("FSSAI") that Dairy Based Beverage Mix, Cereal Based Bev[1]erage Mix and Malt Based Beverage are being sold on e-commerce websites under the category of Health and Energy Drink. Accord[1]ingly, FSSAI has directed all e-commerce Food Business Operators to rectify this misclassification and ensure appropriate categoriza[1]tion of food products being sold on their websites.

Corporate Law Updates

Threshold limits for Mergers and Amalgamation increased

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has raised the threshold limit for Mergers and Amalgamation which requires prior approval of Com[1]petition Commission of India ("CCI"). As per the amendment, in case the acquisition target has asset value of less than INR 450 crore (US$ 54,023,000 approximately) or turnover of less than INR 1,250 crore (US$ 150,066,000 approximately), then such an agreement would be exempted from CCI approval. This exemption would be applicable upto March 07, 2026 i.e. two years from the date of pub[1]lication in the official gazette of India.

New version of Complaint Redressal System launched

The Securities Exchange Board of India ("SEBI") has launched SEBI Complaints Redress System ("SCORES") with the aim to strengthen investor complaint redressal mechanism in the securities market by introducing features such as standardizing timelines for resolution of complaints; auto-routing of complaints to relevant authorities; monitoring by the designated bodies; option for auto[1]escalation etc.

Labour Law Updates

Maharashtra Labour Welfare Fund (Amendment) Act, 2024 ("2024 Act") notified

The Government of Maharashtra by its 2024 Act has enhanced the contribution rates made by both (employer and employee) to the Labour Welfare Fund. The revised rates are:

  • INR 25 - In respect of an employee (whose name appears in the register of an establishment on the 30th of June and 31st of December);
  • Thrice the amount of contribution payable by an employ[1]ee – In respect to an employer.

Notification for women's safety in Factories in Haryana issued

The Haryana State Government has issued a notification, according to which, women are allowed to work in night shifts at factories sub[1]ject to fulfilment of various other conditions laid down in the notifi[1]cation (such as applicability of POSH Act; mechanism for addressing sexual harassment complaints; proper light and CCTV camera; women security guard; transportation facilities; declaration from women worker; medical facilities; conducting monthly meeting, etc).

Tax Exemption limit increased on Gratuity

The Ministry of Finance has increased the tax exemption limit on total gratuity amount to INR 25 Lakhs (US$ 30,200 approximately) from the earlier – INR 20 Lakhs (US$ 24,200 approximately).

Standard Operating Procedure ("SOP") issued by the Employees Provident Fund Organization ("EPFO")

As per the issued SOP, the documents acceptable for correcting details of an employee's profile include Aadhar Card, Pan Card, Class 10th or 12th mark sheet and driving licence.

Paid Holiday for employees working in Delhi during Election 2024

As per the recent Notice issued by the Government of Delhi, all employers of Industrial Establishments/Factories/Shops and Com[1]mercial Establishment in Delhi are directed to grant paid holiday to their employees on the day of polling of the concerned Parliament and Assembly constituencies of Uttar Pradesh to enable them to cast their vote.

Intellectual Property Updates

Trademark Time Warp: Navigating Rules, Retroactivity, and Legal Continuity

The Delhi High Court ("DHC") deliberates whether procedural changes in the Trademarks Rules, 2017 ("2017 Rules") will apply retrospectively or not. It examines whether failure to comply with old rules still subject the applicant to their provisions. Emphasizing on the relevant provisions of 2017 Rules, DHC asserted that actions under the old rules retain legal validity despite repeal. Legal prece[1]dents reinforce the preservation of liabilities and consequences under old laws. The court underscores that actions before repeal maintain their legal effects despite introduction of new rules.

Jurisdiction for filing Trade Mark Infringement suits determined

It has been ruled by the Bombay High Court that a trademark infringement claim can be filed by a company at a place where it regularly carries out business, and the same need not correspond with the registered office.

Haldiram declared to well-known mark

DHC has declared 'Haldiram' trademark as well-known in India. Further the court opined that "There is no doubt that the 'Haldiram's brand' with its origins deeply rooted in India's rich culinary tradi[1]tion, has not only established a presence within the national market but has also extended its influence globally, transcending geograph[1]ical, cultural, and national boundaries."

Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2024 ("2024 Rules") notified

The Government of India has recently notified the 2024 Rules and key changes in the procedure include Reduction in timeline for filing request for examination; Changes in the timeline for filing updated status of corresponding foreign patent applications; Certificate of inventorship; Discount of 10% (ten) on payment of annuity fees for at least 4 (four) years in advance; Simplifying the relevant form relat[1]ed to filing of working statement and changes in timeline for filing the same; Options of availing the grace period; Changes in the proce[1]dure of pre and post grant opposition proceedings, etc.

Case Laws

Applicability of Limitation Act, 1963 in appointment of arbitrator clarified by the Delhi High Court ("DHC")

The DHC has ruled that the limitation period for filing an application for appointment of an arbitrator commences only when a valid notice invoking arbitration has been issued by one of the parties to the other party and there has been either a failure or refusal on part of the other party to make an appointment as per the appointment procedure agreed upon between the parties. The limitation period will be 3 (three) years.

Customs duty not applicable on Rare Diseases Drugs

It has been opined by DHC that Customs authorities shall not levy duties and charges on medicines, drugs and therapies for the treatment of Rare Diseases. Further, it has been ordered that the customs author[1]ity will ensure that such medicines are cleared quickly without any impediments and are reached to the patients timely.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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