The Burmah Shell (Acquisition of Undertakings in India) Act, 1976

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The Burmah Shell (Acquisition of Undertakings in India) Act, 1976 (Act no. 2 of 1976) being Act of Central Government was enacted with the view to make provisions as to acquisition and transfer of the rights, title, etc. of the Company namely, ‘Burmah Shell Oil Storage and Distributing Company of India Limited’ relating to its undertakings in India to ensure co-ordinated distribution and utilisation of petroleum products being distributed, marketed by that Company in the Country. The Act was assented by the honourable president of India on 24th day of January, 1976.

The provisions of the Act were divided under certain chapters of the Act wherein, the preliminary provisions of the Act are contained in the first chapter. Whereas, the relevant provisions as to purpose of the Act are contained under second chapter thereof. It is given that the Undertakings and rights, title, etc. in relation thereof of that concerned company is to be treated transferred and vested with the Central Government and also its assets, powers, authority, privileges and also properties free from all obligations and encumbrance to be also treated as transferred by such transfer and vesting of Undertakings. And all profits relating to these Undertakings in India of that company are also required to be paid to the Central Government from the January 1st, 1975. However, the trade mark, rights as to use thereof, Indian registered patents, designs, etc. of that Company is protected against such transfer and vesting. Further, the Central Government is vested with the power, where it can direct that any Government Company to be vested with such Undertakings if that company is desirous to comply with the conditions which that Government will impose in relation thereto.

Moreover, in the chapter III of the Act, the provisions regarding employees, earlier employed in relation to that Undertakings of that company in India, shows that such employees and their services will also be transferred under the Central Government or that Government Company with all their similar conditions, rights, etc. as to their services. Similarly, any fund for superannuation, welfare, provident, etc. constituted in relation to employees of those undertakings by that earlier company should here be transferred to the Central Government or that Government company to which those undertakings if have transferred.

The chapter containing miscellaneous provisions is fourth one where it is specified that the present Act’s provisions are to have effect irrespective of whatever provided contrary in any other law or any instrument effected under those laws. Any property connected with the earlier company relating to the Undertaking in India is transferred by virtue of such transfer and vesting of the Undertaking thereof, then the persons having possession, custody, etc. over such property are to mandatorily transfer and deliver such properties to the Central Government or to the concerned Government company under this Act, on their demand. Similar provisions also provided in respect of the books and other relevant documents thereof. Further, any contract entered into by that earlier company, as to services, sale, supply, etc. which were having force prior to such transfer of undertakings thereof, should be continue to have their effect under the Central Government till within one year’s period the same are terminated.

Under the said last chapter, the Act sought to provide certain Penal provisions also. Wrongfully withholding any related properties while being in possession, custody, etc., wrongfully obtaining possession of such properties, willingly withholding and failing to furnish the books and other documents to the Central Government or even to the Government company, etc. and also doing all provided acts being offensive under this Act, are punishable with the imprisonment extending to 2 years or fine extending to 10,000 rupees or with both. Moreover, the offences by the Companies under this Act, are also provided and also specified the persons who should be treated responsible thereto. However, the actions of the Central Government or Government Company concerned or even their authorised officers, are protected against legal sanctions, if the same are done in good faith or in pursuance with the provisions of this Act. For taking cognizance of offences under this Act, the Court is required to consider first that there is a written complaint by the Central Government or any Authorised Officer is made.

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For removing the difficulties arising while the provisions of this Act are giving effect, the Central Government is empowered to make order thereof and such order can only be made within the period of 2 years from the date on which the present Act was brought into effect.

The Act further empowers the Central Government as to making of rules under the last provision where it is specifically given that such rules to be framed by that Government for carrying out the provisions of this Act and also such rules are also required to be tabled to the House of the Parliament while in session for given period.

The Central Government besides acquiring the aforesaid Company, has also acquired the Burmah Shell Refineries Limited company at the same time, and vested all assets of aforesaid Company in this company, which was later, in the year 1977 was renamed as ‘Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited’.

Recently, in the year 2014 by the fourth interim report being ‘ Obsolete Laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal’, the law commission of India while studying the topic ‘Legal Enactments: Simplifications and Streamlining’, has recommended the repealing of present Act, as in its opinion, the purpose thereof has been served and also the provisions regarding the management of the acquired and nationalized entity are not provided under this Act.

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Read the Bare Act :  The Burmah Shell (Acquisition of Undertakings in India) Act, 1976

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