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Essential Defence Services Bill 2021

GS Paper 2


Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Essential Defence Services Bill 2021


The Bill was recently passed by the Lok Sabha.

  • The Bill aims to prevent the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike. 


Highlights of the Bill: 

  1. It is meant to “provide for the maintenance of essential defence services. 
  2. The Bill defines Essential Defence Services: It includes any service in any establishment or undertaking dealing with production of goods or equipment required for defence related purposes or any establishment of the armed forces or connected with them or defence.
  3. The Bill also empowers the government to declare services mentioned in it as essential defence services. 
  4. It prohibits strike and lockouts in “any industrial establishment or unit engaged in essential defence services”. 
  5. The Bill amends the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 to include essential defence services under public utility services. 
  6. Besides, the bill has also defined strikes and punishments for violations. 


Why was this bill necessary? 

In June the government announced the corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board

  • The government has claimed that the move is aimed at improving the efficiency and accountability of these factories. 
  • However, fearing job loss, many federations announced the launch of indefinite strikes. 
  • This was countered by the Essential Defence Services Ordinance which was promulgated on June 30. The Bill will replace this ordinance. 


Who will it affect? 

It has a direct bearing on around 70,000 employees of the 41 ordnance factories around the country, who are unhappy with the corporatisation of OFB, fearing that it will impact their service and retirement conditions.


Why does OFB and its production matter? 

The ordnance factories form an integrated base for indigenous production of defence hardware and equipment, with the primary objective of self reliance in equipping the armed forces with state of the art battlefield equipment. 

  • Therefore, there is a need to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as to secure the security of nation and the life and property of public at large and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 


Insta Curious: 

Did you know that the right to strike is a statutory right in India guaranteed under Section 22(1)(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1957? Also, it flows from a fundamental right in the Constitution? Which is that? Reference: read this.



Prelims Link: 

  1. What is OFB? 
  2. Highlights of the Bill. 
  3. Powers of Centre under the Bill. 

Mains Link: 

Discuss the concerns associated with the corporatisation of OFB. 

Sources: the Hindu.