Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has taken suo motu cognisance of the “grim” situation of the country hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and has asked the Central Government to report on,

  1. The existence or otherwise and requirement of setting up of a coordinating body that would consider allocation of COVID resources in a consultative manner (with the involvement of concerned States and Union 3 Territories).
  2. Considering declaration of essential medicines and medical equipment including the Drugs, oxygen and vaccination as essential commodities in relation to COVID.
  3. In respect of coordination of logistical support for inter-State and Intra-State transportation and distribution of the above resources.

Due to the sudden surge in the number of covid patients and mortality, the nation is witnessing a shortage of essential COVID resources such as Oxygen and drugs like Remdesivir.

While, drugs, oxygen and vaccination availability and distribution are being carried out by Governments including the Central government according to protocols established by the health authorities, the Court noticed that a certain amount of panic has been generated and people have invoked the jurisdiction of several High Courts in the country seeking various reliefs such as Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, M.P., Calcutta, Allahabad and Gujarat.

“The High Courts have passed certain orders which may have the effect of accelerating and prioritising the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups whether the groups are local, regional or otherwise.”

The Court was hence, of the prima facie view that the distribution of these essential services and supplies must be done in an even handed manner according to the advice of the health authorities which undoubtedly take into account relevant factors like severity, susceptibility, the number of people affected and the local availability of resources.

It, hence, asked the Central Government to place before it a national plan for dealing with the above services and supplies during Pandemic.

The Court, hence, issued notice to the Union Government, the State Governments/Union Territories and the parties, who appeared to have approached the High Courts to show cause why uniform orders be not passed in relation to

  1. a) Supply of oxygen;
  2. b) Supply of essential drugs;
  3. c) Method and manner of vaccination; and
  4. d) Declaration of lockdown.

The Court will hear the matter tomorrow i.e. on 23.04.2021.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, assisted by advocate Anuradha Dutta, has been appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the matter.

[IN RE : DISTRIBUTION OF ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES AND SERVICES DURING PANDEMIC, SUO MOTO WRIT PETITION (C) NO.3/2021, order dated 22.04.2021]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a major win for Private Schools in the State of Rajasthan, the bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has directed the School Managements to collect fees for the academic year 2019-2020 as well as 2020-2021 from the students, equivalent to fees amount notified for the academic year 2019- 2020, in six monthly installments commencing from 5th March, 2021 and ending on 5th August, 2021.

Noticing that the hearing in the matter is likely to take some more time, the Court passed ‘interim directions which will address the concerns of all parties in some measure’.

In the order that came as a big blow to the parents as most of the classes in the year 2020 have been conducted online due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the Court, in order to balance the interest of the Schools and the parents, further passed the following interim directions:

  1. The Management shall not debar any student from attending either online classes or physical classes on account of non-payment of fees, arrears/outstanding fees including the installments, referred to above, and shall not withhold the results of the examinations of any student on that account.
  2. Where the parents have difficulty in remitting the fee in terms of this interim order, it will be open to those parents to approach the school concerned by an individual representation and the management of the school will consider such representation on a case-to-case basis sympathetically.
  3. The above arrangement will not affect collection of fees for the academic year 2021-2022, which would be payable by the students as and when it becomes due and payable, and as notified by the management/school.
  4. In respect of the ensuing Board examinations for classes X and XII (to be conducted in 2021) the school management shall not withhold the name of any student/candidate on the ground of non-payment of the fee/arrears, if any, on obtaining undertaking of the concerned parent/student.

The Court, however, clarified that the above arrangements would be subject to the outcome of the matters pending before the Court including the final directions to be given to the parties and without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties in these proceedings.

The Court also directed the State of Rajasthan to ensure that all government outstanding dues towards unit cost payable to respective unaided schools are settled within one month from the today and, in any case, before 31st March, 2021.

The matter will now be taken up for hearing on February 15, 2021.

[Gandhi Sewa Sadan Rajsamand v. State of Rajasthan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 70, order dated 08.02.2021]

Law School NewsLive Blogging

Welcome to the 11th National E-Conference on Contemporary Legal Issues and Reflections Amidst the Pandemic organized by School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore.

The COVID-19 global pandemic is distinct from its predecessors due to its enormity both in terms of scale and effect. It has had its impacts on the socio-economic spectrum, has led to constitutional debates, and has created areas of discussion in environment-related issues. The 11th National E-Conference on Contemporary Legal Issues and Reflections Amidst the Pandemic aims at addressing some of the most crucial and imperative concerns that the world is battling with, and at achieving plausible solutions to these issues that we face as a global community in current times.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose” – Zora Neale Hurston

The conference deals with themes related to justice administration, constitutional debates and discussions, environmental law and policy frameworks, and contemporary legal predicaments. The objective is to deliberate upon contemporary legal issues arising out of the pandemic, to facilitate academic discussions and presentations amongst the legal fraternity, and to devise plausible proposals by collating suggestions and recommendations.

Everyone, mark your calendars from 22nd January to 23rd January 2021 and join us on our roller coaster journey. The Organising Committee and the National Conference Committee invite you to stay updated with all the events.

BRIEF  ITINERARY OF THE EVENT:

Day 1: (22nd January): Inaugural Ceremony {9:30-10:30 A.M.}, Paper Presentations {11 A.M.-1:30 P.M.)

Day 2: (23rd January): Paper Presentations {10 A.M.-12:30 P.M.}, Panel Discussion cum Valedictory Ceremony {3:00 P.M.-5:00 P.M.}

Inaugural Ceremony 

9:35 A.M.: The inaugural ceremony commences. The Chief Guest is Hon’ble Justice KSP Radhakrishnan, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. The Guest of Honor is Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India.  The inaugural song is being played.

9:45 A.M.: Dr. Jayadevan S. Nair, Dean of School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore is invited to deliver the welcome address and launch the abstract book for the conference. The dean lists out the achievements of the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honor.

9:50 A.M.: Dr. Fr. Joseph CC, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore is invited to deliver the presidential address. He acknowledges the guests and briefly touches upon the themes to be covered in the conference.

9:55 A.M.: The Guest of Honor Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India is invited to deliver his address for the conference. He examines the democratic structure of India and COVID-19’s impact on the same. He makes a comparative analysis of India’s democratic structure with those of Hungary and Serbia. He states that the judiciary should act as a check to the unauthorized power usage by the government in such critical times.

10:08 A.M.: The Cheif Guest Hon’ble Justice KSP Radhakrishnan, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India is invited to address the gathering. He begins by touching upon the impact of the Pandemic on the migrant laborers in India. He speaks about the need to test the validity of laws by both legislature and judiciary in times of Pandemic for ensuring fairness in the society. He states the need to shift to online platforms for case-hearing and dispute resolution processes which will be both time-saving and cost-efficient.  He concludes by touching upon the career prospects after the completion of law school and the importance to focus on developing knowledge about one’s areas of interest.

10:31 A.M.: Ms. Ann Clara Tomy, convenor of the National Conference Committee of School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore is invited to deliver the vote of thanks. The contributions of the guests and other dignitaries for the inaugural ceremony are acknowledged.

10:34 A.M.: The inaugural ceremony hereby ends. The participants are instructed to move to their respective session halls.

 

Day-1 Paper Presentations

 

 

Session Hall 1 {Presentations for Theme I: Challenges to Justice Administration vis-a-vis Human Rights}

11:05 A.M.: The paper presentation session commences. The moderators of the session are Dr. Aparna K and Dr. Shampa Dev. 

11:13 AM: Instructions are provided to the presenters and the participants.

11: 15 AM: The rounds begin with the first presentation by Dr. Pratyusha Das from Xavier Law School, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, on the topic Parole during COVID-19 19: A reflection on Prison Retrogression. She highlights CrPC especially section 167. The speaker provides the structure to the delay caused by investigation and the delay in filing of charge-sheet. She opines that strict implementation of Section 167 should be clear to the courts, and provision if an investigation cannot be completed then bail should be granted and trial should proceed immediately. 

11:33 A.M.: Moderator asks the presenter if the topic was much related to criminal justice rather than the pandemic. The presenter answered in affirmation.

11: 36 A.M.: The next presenter is Mr. Shantanu Pachahara, Assistant Professor, Manipal University Jaipur who begins his topic RECKONING TO INITIATE AND ADMINISTER ARBITRATION REMOTELY: A NEW NORMAL. The presenter begins with the introduction. The second part of the paper tells about the first response of Arbitral Institutes to the COVID-19 Pandemic, provided with examples of the actions taken by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre(HKIAC). The main challenges as stated by the presenter are how to initiate arbitrations remotely. The solutions so provided are services of RFA (Remote Request for Arbitration). The presenter concludes with the problems caused to the International Arbitration stating the importance of arbitration and how arbitration needs to evolve.

11:46 A.M.:  Moderator-Dr Aparna K, ask whether we can stick to the current online session and if so what will be the challenges? The presenter provides his views that arbitration will stick to these technologies as they are more efficient and even the documentation can be done easily in electronic form. 

11:51 A.M.: The next presenter is S. Sai Srivastav who is dealing with the challenges faced by the judicial system during COVID-19. The presenter provides the benefits and challenges caused by the pandemic. The presenter highlights the negative impacts of attorney-client privilege being violated and the denial of an attorney. The presenter also tells about a reduction in the population of prison inmates providing the recent example of Tihar Jail. The presenter also highlights the impact of COVID in other Countries like the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Iran. 

12:04 P.M.: Moderator Dr. Shampa Dev asked about a solution to negative impacts. The presenter answers by taking into consideration the rights of the attorney. He shows that if the case is of utmost importance then physical hearings should be provided on an otherwise online platform.

12:07 P.M.: The next presentation is to be done by Mr. Ankesh and Mr. Jay Gajbhiye from National Law University Orissa. The presenters begin by stating the extremity of increase in Domestic Violence. The presenter also shows the reason for the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic, where one of the reasons is less participation of women in politics. The presenters state an important fact where the National Women’s Commission has provided a helpline number in such pandemic. The presenters have also shown the lack of governmental approach towards the pandemic situation.

12:19 P.M.: Dr. Aparna K, asks for suggestions for women who are living in rural areas and are unable to reach NWC. The presenter replies that groundwork is required. The presenter also highlights the NGOs which have reached out to rural areas.

12:24 P.M.: The next presentation is given by Mr. Karan Vohra and Mr. Mehul Shokeen on the topic “Balancing between Parole and Prison during Covid-19″.

12:26 P.M.: The presenter Karan Vohra begins with the Prison Act and its various chapters. Afterwards, he states various Parole laws, thereby showing two types of Parole-Regular Parole and Custody Parole. The presenters also provide the Supreme Court decision consisting of the bench including the Chief Justice SA Bode, which took Suo moto cognisance of the matter of the spread of Covid-19 in prisons of India. 

12:35 P.M.: Dr. Aparna K asks about the laws in India are colonial laws to an extent. Considering this situation, suggest any structural or changes in India. The presenter answers that there has been a lot of changes in the laws in India, and even in COVID we have seen changes in the law. In this time a stricter covid test is required for prison. Our government has allowed the release of prisoners on parole is not a good idea. The prisoner should be kept inside and in a safe condition, in order to curb the situation. 

12:48 P.M.: The sixth presenter is Anu Mishra, Assistant Professor, from Kirit P Mehta School of Law, NMIMS University Mumbai. The presenter begins with the definition of DISENFRANCHISEMENT and its broader meaning. The presenter provides the background of the effects of pandemic and how the transgender committee has faced the most. The presenter also provides light on the parameters caused by the binary norms. She highlights the section 377 on how it has caused marginalisation to the transgender committee. 

12: 59 P.M.: Dr Aparna K, asks the presenter about police atrocities against the transgender committee and about the judgements provided by the presenter in her paper. 

01:02 P.M.: The last presentation for the day is to be given by Ms. Anmol Paniya on the topic COVID-19 AND PRISONS: THE QUESTION OF REFORM. The presenter provides the structure of her presentation. The presenter highlights the guidelines provided by the government, and questions whether they can be implemented on the prisoners or not. The presenter provides statistical data on the number of prisoners in prison before the COVID-19. The presenter also shows data of medical officers in prison. The presenter also highlights how not only the prisoner but the medical staff as well are affected by it. The Presenter concludes by stating the requirement of a balanced approach. This can be done by providing open prisons. 

1:16 P.M.: Dr. Shampa Dev, asks the presenter about other possible suggestion. 

1:19 P.M.: The session concludes with a vote of thanks.

 

 

 

 

Session Hall 2 {Presentations for Theme II: Impending Constitutional Debates and Discussions}

11 A.M.: The paper presentations start for Theme II. The moderators of the session are Dr. Kishan Morey and Dr. Avishek Chakraborty.

11:08 A.M.: All participants have entered. Moderators are being introduced. 

11:38 A.M.: The first presenter, Pallabi Paul, starts presenting her paper on “A Critical Analysis Of PM Cares Fund: Transparency And Accountability”. She starts talking about the plight of migrant workers. She explains the objectives of the fund and the composition of public trusts. She discusses the debate about whether PM Cares Fund comes under the RTI Act. She talks about the audit process under the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

11:48 A.M.: Dr. Avishek Chakraborty appreciated the topic, but stated that he expected more comparative analysis of the PMRNF and PM Cares Fund, as it was also mentioned in the abstract of the paper. He appreciated the pertinent section mentioned- Section 7(9). He commented upon the judicial interpretation of the denial request for disclosure. He expected more authoritative sources to be cited, instead of solely websites.

11:53 A.M.: The second presenters, Sneha Mohanty and Akanksha A. Reddy, start presenting their paper on “Contact Tracing Applications And Privacy: Current Challenges And Conundrums”. Akanksha starts explaining the new Google model. She moves on to the lacunaes in the law which is the main focus of the paper. She talks about China’s data security which is also low like India. EU is much better in this regard with GDPR. Sneha analyses various laws such as the IT Act, 2000, Right to Privacy in India, IT Rules, 2011 and apps like Aarogya Setu. She critically analyses judgements such as the Aadhar judgement. She gives various suggestions to plug cybersecurity threats like creating a globally comprehensive data security network as well as emergency guidelines for the data breach.

12:06 P.M.: Dr. Morey asks if there are any provisions in the Constitution for data security and if no, what amendment would they make. Sneha answers with reference to Article 21 and Shreya Singhal case. She doesn’t recommend an amendment. but instead requests a specific clarification from the Supreme Court and specific enactment of legislation on data protection.

12:13 P.M.: The third presenter, Tanya Sharma, a 4th-year student at School of Law, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Uttarakhand starts presenting her paper on “PM Cares Fund: Need for Transparency and Accountability. She starts by introducing the need of the PM Cares Fund in light of the pandemic. Objections, functions and responsibilities of the RTI Act in the midst of the controversy caused by PM to not disclose information about the fund to the public were discussed. She analyses the various RTI applications filed and the income tax exemptions. She explains the difference between PMRNF and PM Cares Fund and appreciated the intention behind the creation of the fund, but feels that CAG should audit it rather than some other auditors.

12:23 P.M.: Dr. Chakraborty appreciated the discussion of the PIL filed. He recommended that she should include the reason behind she feels decision by the Supreme Court is justified or not justified.

12:26 P.M.: The fourth presenter, Mr. Mani Pratap Singh, PhD scholar, Manipal University, Jaipur starts presenting his paper on “Centralised Control Of COVID-19 And Federalism”. He defines federalism and explains its characteristics.  He explains how the national lockdown was criticised by few as encroachment of State List. The presenter also cites Doctrine of Importance and the action taken by Centre under Article 249 of the Constitution which permits Central Government to legislate on matters relating to State List on matters of Mr. Singh appreciates the strength of the centre-state relationship in India compared to other federal countries.

12:38 P.M.: Dr. Morey asks how we can differentiate between de-facto and de-jure emergency. Mr. Singh answers that we don’t have a medical emergency as a specific kind of emergency and that “de-facto” in this paper refers to undeclared/implied emergency and de-jure is related to actual emergency being declared, which is more constitutional in nature.

12:48 P.M.: The fifth presentation is by Mr. Shaurya Shukla and Mr. Jumanah Kader on “Blockchain Technology As A Potential Roadmap For Contact Tracing Apps? – A Privacy Outlook.” Mr. Shaurya explains elements of blockchain technology like nodes, HASH, etc. He then starts explaining the Indian and international scenario vis-à-vis the scope of blockchain technology. He starts discussing the problems in blockchain technology e.g. if nodes are not of proper quality, the entire technology becomes incompetent, enormous data storage so not cost-efficient. He starts explaining the reasonable exceptions to data privacy and the significance of the Puttaswamy judgement.

1:00 P.M.: Dr. Morey appreciates the priority of life over privacy and asks him to justify more on the same as both are covered under Article 21. He answered by explaining how many lives have been lost during the pandemic and felt that the cost of data privacy investment is nothing compared to that. Dr. Chakraborty states that blockchain is not permitted by the Indian government. He asks what is the solution for the same. Shaurya answers by explaining the potential and scope for easy implementation of Blockchain.

1:06 P.M.: Dr. Chakraborty thanks all participants and starts summarising all the papers under the theme. The vote of thanks is delivered by Court Clerk. The paper presentation session for theme II has ended for the first day.

 

 

Session Hall 3 {Presentations for Theme III: Environmental Law and Policy Framework}

11:15 A.M.:  The moderators of the session are Dr. Mini and Dr. Aradhana Satish Nair. The session hall officer welcomes them and mentions their achievements and specializations.

11:18 A.M.: The presenters are being made aware of the rules and time frame available for presentations.

11:21 A.M.: The first presentation for this session is made by Ms. Medhiyaa Ramesh & Ms. Aparajita Dev whose paper is titled ‘Fight for Fauna’. They mention that they will be dealing with animal cruelty and analysis of relevant Indian legislation. Ms. Aparajita touches upon different forms of animal cruelty, relevant precedents, and organizations dealing with resolving the issue of animal cruelty. Ms. Medhiyaa Ramesh analyzes the legislation dealing with animal cruelty in India. They conclude the presentation by stating that animal cruelty cannot be eradicated overnight.

11:35 A.M.: The moderators collectively mention that the presentation lacked strong suggestions to resolve the issue at hand and also the lacunae in the laws weren’t addressed properly but the overall presentation was praiseworthy and there is scope for improvement.

11:38 A.M.: The next presentation is made by Ms. Jharna Sahijwani. She starts off by discussing the timeline of the COVID-19’s origin. She states that she’ll assess the liability of China in the outbreak of COVID-19 and whether or not China could have avoided the mass outbreak. She examines the surveillance and public health measures taken by China to prevent the outbreak. She has analyzed the rules of the International Court of Justice for dispute resolution and the Draft Article dealing with the No-Harm Principle wherein the states have to ensure that any negative developments within their borders shouldn’t harm the international arena.  She concludes that critical assessment is required regarding China’s position keeping in view the ICJ’s rules and international norms.

11:51 A.M.: Dr. Mini discussed briefly the need for evidence for proving the liability of China. Dr. Aradhana mentions that the criminal liability part of the paper should have been given a bit more focus. The overall paper was deemed as well-written by the moderators.

11:53 A.M.: Dr. Trupthi Jadhav is the next presenter who states that she will deal with the inter-continental genome editing regulations. She deals extensively with the genome editing regulations of the USA, Russia, India, Japan, France, and Australia. She concludes that genome editing should be controlled in a way that conforms with the common liberties.

12:03 P.M.: Dr. Mini asks the presenter’s stand on genome editing. The presenter answered that ethical standards must be upheld while making rules and regulations.

12:05 P.M.: The next presenter is Mr. Ojaswi Bhagat who is to deal with the topic of genetic engineering and bioterrorism. He starts off by stating that biotechnology is developing at a very fast pace and there is an inherent risk of bioterrorism. He examines the history of biotechnology and lists out the advantages and disadvantages of synthetic biotechnology. He examines the ethical concerns of biotechnology and the idea behind bioterrorism. He has focused on Hague Convention, Geneva Protocol, The Biological Weapons Convention, and UNSC Resolutions for his paper. He suggests that an absolute liability list should be made and constantly updated and enforcement mechanisms should be strengthened for preventing the misuse of biotechnology. He concludes that biotechnology is important in contemporary times and governance of the same is essential.

12:18 P.M.: Dr. Mini appreciates the presenter’s presentation and research skills. Dr. Aradhana corrects the presenter’s arrangement of heading in the paper but states that the presenter’s presentation was exemplary.

12:21 P.M.: The next presenter is Ms. Akanksha Garg who is dealing with Bio-Medical Waster Management in India during COVID-19. She begins by giving the background of Bio-Medial Waste Management and Regulation in India and the latest data for the generation of bio-medical waste in India during COVID-19. She mentions the present concerns related to bio-medical waste disposal and usage and the training of relevant personnel to deal with the same. She lists the salient features of Bio-Medical Waste Rules 2016 and compares it with the 1998 rules. She concludes that prompt actions and proper personnel training are required for regulating bio-medical waste effectively.

12:40 P.M.: Dr. Mini acknowledges the importance of the topic. Dr. Aradhana mentions that the paper is well researched.

12:42 P.M.: Next presentation is made by Ms. Neha Bothra who is dealing with Bio-Medical Waste Management in the hospitals of Bhilwara. She mentions the Bhilwara model of dealing with COVID-19 and the management of bio-medical waste. She lists out the responses to the questionnaire which she had prepared for her paper. She suggests that more personnel should be recruited in hospitals and there should be a Quality Assurance Team for the regulation of the quality of the bio-wastes.

12:55 P.M.: Dr. Mini compliments the empirical research done by the presenter. Dr. Aradhana asks whether the presenter had attempted to make a comparative study between the Bhilwara model and other states. The presenter answers in negation.

12:58 P.M.: The moderators thank the court officers, acknowledge each other, congratulate the participants. The paper presentation session for Theme III ends for the first day.

 

 

Session Hall 4 {Presentations for Theme IV: Contemporary Legal Predicaments and Developments}

11 A.M.: The paper presentations for Theme IV begin. The moderators of the session are Dr. Sangeetha Sriraam and Dr. Achyutananda Mishra. 

11.06 A.M.: Dr. Sangeetha Sriraam welcomes the participants and sheds some light on the theme for the current session. She highlights the importance of legal change and its implications in the present world. 

11:13 A.M.: Instructions are being given to the participants. The scoring criteria have been made clear to the participants.

11:16 A.M.: The first presentation for the day has begun. The presenter, Ms. Vishwa Mukhtyar a 4th Year BBA LLB Student, starts her presentation on her paper titled “Regulation of the Gig Economy in the realm of The Code on Social Security 2020”. She explains what a gig-economy is and categorizes the gig-worker, in light of the social security code 2020, and discusses the Uber Case that took place in the United Kingdom. The presenter simultaneously highlights the respective Tests and Issues related to the Gig Economy and the Gig Worker. Also discusses the Indian Legislations in regard to the same. More cases in relation to the topic are being discussed, and the presenter simultaneously highlights the respective Tests and Issues related to the Gig Economy and the Gig Worker.

11:37 A.M.: The question and answer session is done.

11.41 A.M.: The second presenter, Ms. Ruchi Chaudhary, has been called to present on the topic “COVID-19, Leases, and Rent: The Legal Viability of Frustration by Force Majeure”. She aims to discuss how force majeure does not have any applicability in a rent/lease deed. She discusses section 108 in the Transfer of Property Act and gives some information about the case of Raja Dhruv Dev Chand v. Raja Harmohinder Singh and other landmark cases with regard to the same.

12:05 P.M.: The question and answer session starts. Dr. Sangeetha shines some light on the presenter’s topic. She states that doctrines such as the doctrine of frustration, estoppel, force majeure, etc., do not have a lot of relevance in this case, where a country such as India has been hit by such a destructive pandemic. 

12:10 P.M.: Ms. Sanjana Sahay, a law student from Bennett University starts a presentation on “Fake News, Media, and Law”. She explains what is fake news and how it is a threat to our democracy. She analyzes the various legal statutes, legislations, and statutory bodies that help regulate fake media. 

12:20 P.M.: Dr. Sangeetha tells the presenter that the topic entered into was very diverse and hence it cannot be explained in detail within one single paper. The other moderator asks the presenter for other solutions that can help address the situation. The presenter answers that making the Fake News Prohibition Bill into an Act could be a permanent solution.

12:25 P.M.: Ms. Sujatha V. Durgekar and Dr. N. Dasharath, began their paper presentation on the topic “Exploitation of Labour During COVID Through Ordinance Route by Enhancing Working Hours”. Ms. Sujatha discusses the ordinance making power which falls under Article 213 of the Constitution. She also explains the amendment and states that it brings in various changes such as allowing women to work in the night from 7 pm to 6 am which was not permitted earlier. She goes on to talk about the various labor law ordinances in 2020 during the pandemic.

12:40 P.M.: Moderator questions the presenter as to whether or not she has gone into the nature of exploitation to which the presenter answers that apple labors were exploited by increasing working hours and not even paid them extra wages for the same. The presenter is also asked alternative approaches/solutions for the same to which she answers that smaller industries should be brought into the ambit of the code without which there is no job security and the fundamental rights of the workers have been violated.

12.45 P.M.: Next presentation starts. The paper titled “An Outlook on the Constitutionality of Labour Rights During the Pandemic” has begun which is being presented by Ms Srinidhi Boora and Mr Gourish Goyal. The presenters briefly analyze the position of the labour during the pandemic. They further explain the legalities of the labour laws and highlight a couple of cases that were filed as PILs. They state that labour laws are implemented to protect the rights of workers, however, these laws were diluted during the pandemic.

1.00 P.M.: Moderators suggest that the author should have gone more in-depth, and say that authors must choose apt titles for the paper written. Moderators state that accusations must not be made against the State unless the author is 100 per cent sure of the same.

1:05 P.M.: Ms. Anjali Saran begins the next presentation on her paper titled “Labour Laws in Contemporary India”. She starts out with the history of labour laws and shows some pictures, in reality, to prove that such laws are not being applied and implemented properly. She goes on to explain contemporary issues faced by labours in India. She explains the various statutes in India which regulate the labour laws. 

1:12 P.M.: The Moderator asks how LPG 1991 is connected to labour rights to which she answers that 7 major laws were implemented out of 44 labour laws. Hence she says that the Indian Govt. was more attracted in achieving foreign investments rather than protecting the welfare of the workers after the LPG Era.

1.15 PM: The next paper presentation is by Ms. Asha J on her paper titled “New Labour Laws- Tilting Balance in Between Workers and Employers to Face the Pandemic”.  She talks about various issues with regard to labour laws. She explained the OHS Code, Industrial Relation Code, etc. Also highlighted the major criticisms with regard to the same.  She concludes the presentation by saying that India should balance the interests of the labourers as well as the employers while making the new labour code.

1.30 PM: The next paper is titled “Is National Security Eclipsing Dissent in India? ” co-authored by Sarah Wilson and Ashwin Satheesh. Ms. Sarah begins by talking about the anti-terrorism laws in India. Mr. Ashwin takes over by explaining what ‘dissent’ means. He states that India is not a stranger to misuse of anti-terrorism laws such as misuse of MISA, POTA, etc. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, The Amendments to the UAPA,  The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, and the Abrogation of Article 370 at the cost of freedom of speech were some of the topics that are explained in great detail by the presenters. The presentation concludes with the statement of the issues in these laws under the name of National Security.

1:40 P.M.: The question and answer session starts. Moderator states that the scope of the paper was very broad where the authors tried to connect anti-terror laws to abrogation of Article 370. Moderator states that it’s not justified to do the same. Moderator states there should be depth and clarity in arguments when there are sensitive issues at hand such as the issue of Kashmir. 

1.45 PM: The final presentation for the day begins. Paper presentation on paper titled “An Analysis of Farms Act, 2020: A Step towards Agrarian Crisis in India” which is co-authored by Darshitha P & Sandeepani A Neglur has begun. Mr. Sandeepani started off the presentation by explaining the agricultural set up in India and how it is the backbone of Indian economy. He further explains various reforms that have been in place for the farmers, ever since Independence. Ms. Darshitha takes over. The presentation is continued wherein the presenter summarizes the 3 farm acts namely, the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Felicitation) Act, 2020, the Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. 

2.00 PM: Presentation is concluded by connecting socialism to farm laws. The moderator gives a few suggestions such as including the recent trends with regard to the farm laws. 

2.05 PM: The session is concluded and the vote of thanks has been given. Faculty member, Dr. Gopi Ranganath from CHRIST (DEEMED TO BE UNIVERSITY) delivers and exchanges pleasantries with the moderators. 

 

                                                                                                  Day 2- Paper Presentation

Session Hall 1 {Presentations for Theme I: Challenges to Justice Administration vis-a-vis Human Rights}:

9:57 AM – Moderators have arrived in the room, Dr.Sivananda Kumar and Dr. Nandini C.P. The Moderators are warmly welcomed by the court clerk and instructions for today’s session were briefed.

10:09 AM  – The first presenter is Awekta Verma, Faculty of Law from University of Delhi on the topic Covid 19 Pandemic and Indian Legal Framework. She focused on 4 major acts i.e, Epidemic Disease Act 1897, Disaster Management Act 2005, Indian Penal Code 1860 and Criminal Procedure Code 1973. The presenter focused on the Issues India faced during the pandemic with special emphasis on Migration of Labourers, Education of children, usage of technology, neglected health care, poor governance  and the sheer ignorance of citizens. 

10:21 AM – Awekta Verma made very effective suggestions on the legislative framework on how to deal with the pandemic and look forward to any future precautions.

10:25 AM – Dr. Nandini C P asked the presenter in the Question Answer session about the Epidemic Disaster Act 1897 and if that is the only referential legislative framework. The presenter, Awekta Verma mentioned about the Bio Disaster Plans and Disaster Management Act to which Dr. Nandini CP added on by mentioning the Public Health Prevention and Control Bill and the need for it to be passed due to the post pandemic effect.

10:34 AM – The second presentation for the day has begun by Damini Sharma and Vijayant Goel on the topic Impact of Covid 19 on the Criminal Procedure Code.

10:40 AM – The presenters focused on the fact that there is no provision for a criminal trial on a virtual platform and the need for it. The challenges to a virtual trial were discussed in detail and the challenges mentioned were ; question of accessibility, bonded hearing and detention, impact on plea bargaining, demeanour of witnesses and false evidence and under trial prisoners and prisoners right. 

10:51 AM – Dr. Nandini C P asked the presenters about their reference of the case, Naresh vs State of Maharashtra and she further added on with Praful Kumar Desai vs State. She questions them if they were emphasising on amending the act or adding a new provision to it? The presenters suggested insertion of a new chapter as an exception to the pandemic which was further questioned on by Dr. Nandini C P and she added on with the Criminal Rule of Practice. She suggested that the rules can be used as reference not the Criminal Procedure Code. 

11:00 AM – The third presentation for the day has begun by Anshika Gubrele, a 3rd year BA LLB student from Bharatiya Vidyala New Law College, Pune. The presenter is giving  an overview of her paper which deals with the crisis women faced due to covid 19 and the issues women faced in the pandemic. She also discusses children and the educational crisis. She gave special emphasis to the infringement of Article 21 and Domestic Violence Act 2005 an also discusses measures taken by the government such as NCW launching whats app helplines. 

11:15 AM – The question answer session revolved around the statistical data of women and violence they faced and also the ratio analysis of both were added and suggested by Dr. Nandini C P. Dr. Sivananda Kumar suggested the inclusion of Indian Statistics and cases per state for more clear interpretation . 

11:24 AM – The next presentation is by Dr. M.S. Sharmila on the topic “E- Commerce and automated dispute resolution – a study on consumer justice”. The presenter starts off with the benefits of e-commerce being increased sales, decreased costs, increasing consumer awareness, access to new markets, better customer service and efficient communication. The presenter also suggests on ODR as a mechanism for the progress of e-commerce in India and the need for emerging legal technologies for delivery of justice. Some examples she mentioned are; Blind binding by ebay, drafting collaboration by Micropact, automated negotiation by Modria Smart settle are a few to name.

11:39 AM – The question answer session has started and Dr.Sivananda Kumar suggested the presenter to refer to the Consumer Protection Act 2019 which gives special provision for ADR for a speedy trial. 

11:41 AM –  The next presentation for the day is by Palak Gupta and Aditya Narayan Sinha, 2nd year law students from Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur. The presenter Palak Gupta discusses the detailed history and emergence of arbitration. She further added on with a detailed description of ADR mechanism and their types. Aditya Narayan, the presenter of the same team discusses the significance of ODR with reference to ebay as an example. He also speaks about the impact of online dispute resolution on commercial disputes  

11:53 AM – The presenters feel the need for spreading awareness about ADR and ODR as it will not replace litigation but will help in the speedy resolution of disputes.

11:54 AM – Dr. Nandini C P questions the authors as to how the ODR is functioning considering the example of cyber settlement mentioned by the presenters. Dr. Nandini C P also asks about foreign arbitration awards and its enforceability.

12:02 PM –   The next presentation is by Ashwina Yadav, a 2nd year BA LLB student from University of Rajasthan on her paper titled “Domestic Violence in the Pandemic”. She takes her primary reference as Prevention of Domestic Violence Act 2005.  She discusses the patriarchal system in India and women being helpless during the pandemic. She discusses the societal mindset and preconceived notions about men and alcoholism. Women being subjected to sexual abuse by the husband, in laws and society is common and dominant in the Indian Society. 

12:09 PM – Dr. Nandini C P questioned the presenter about the Acts used in the presentation which were IPC and CrPC. She furthermore questioned the remedies provided for Domestic Violence. Dr.Sivananda Kumar questions about Section 125 of CrpC with reference to the Domestic Violence Act. He furthermore takes reference of Justice Indu Malhotra on Domestic Violence.

12:18 PM – The presentations for the day have concluded and the vote of thanks is being delivered.  

Session Hall 2 {Presentations for Theme II: Impending Constitutional Debates and Discussions}:

9:56 AM Moderators namely Dr.Sheems S Dhar and Dr. Sunita Jain has joined the session. 

10:06 AM– The session has started and the moderators are welcomed by the court clerk explaining the excellence of the moderators. Instructions are being given to the participants. 

10:13AM – The first presenters, Kshitij Gautam and Sarika have started their presentation on the topic “ Precariousness on federalism during COVID 19”.She is explaining about the circumstances of constitutional situations.  Introduction to covid 19 and presidential powers to solve the problems occurred during the pandemic. 

10:20 AM – She focuses on the 2020 monsoon session consisting of financial bills and ordinances on farm laws and how parliament question hour was banned. She is talking about the states and how they overcome the virus involving kerala to be the first state to outperform it. Apart from India, other countries like Germany and Canada destroy the virus within a short period of time with respect to federalism. Conclusion on regional autonomy and federal powers is being given by Sarika.

10:28 AM – Question and answers session have started and moderators are asking about the reason for weakening of federal powers amidst the pandemic. The presenter answered that the central government invoked the disaster management act and stated that they can use whatever measures to prevent pandemic, instead they should have given autonomy to the states to do the same.

10:33AM – The second presenter Kavya from SDM Law college started her presentation on the topic “ privacy v contact tracing apps: A needle in haystack?” She is focusing on privacy during the pandemic involving the crisis of health and right to privacy and surveillance is affecting privacy. She is explaining how privacy is being denied while taking consideration of the health issues and citing a case law “KS PUTTASWAMY V UNION OF INDIA”. She is mentioning contact tracing apps in a global perspective and concluding her presentation on improving privacy policies and how to change the GPS revision system.

10:41 AM –  The moderator asks the presenter “what are the solutions you propose to balance right to privacy v right to health?” to which she answered that during the process of undertaking matters, the implementation must be different. an application that is designed by the State to ensure protection should ensure that the fundamental rights of the people must be ensured and considering there are not many privacy legislations in India, we should have an alternative approach that does not encroach on the rights of the people. 

10:47 AM – Third presenters Adrija Bhattacharya and Megha Maiti begins their presentation on the topic “ Centralised control of covid and indian federalism, A harmonious journey” . The presenter has started by explaining governmental control in a global view where she mentions federalism in the USA , over centralisation in the UK and control in Russia and France. Federalism in India is being explained and mentioning about the formation of union rather than federation as per article 1 and the historical perspective on federal constitution

10:54 AM –  She explains the epidemic disease act 1897 and disaster management act 2005 for fighting against covid and the necessary provisions undertaken by Indian government to solve this problem. She concludes on the importance of health as a subject matter of indian constitution and relevant emergency provisions in case of this pandemic

10:57 AM – The question on space on health emergencies and how it is done is being asked by the moderators, and for that she is answering about schedule 7 and types of emergencies where health is a part of it. 

10:59 AM – Fourth presenter Monika Punia on the topic “clinical trials and pandemic crisis in india” is presenting now. She briefly analyzes the covid-19 pandemic and talks about the shifts in the pandemic. 

11:05 AM – Moving on she came to the crox of the matter of her paper, i.e., clinical trials. Different methods of clinical trials were explained in detail. Different phases of clinical trials have also been mentioned. Intricacies of the clinical trial in each of those 5 phases are being analysed in detail by the presenter while at the same time she explains the efficacy of the drug at each stage. She tells us that while testing drugs, the safety of the drug including side effects is also measured and observed by the doctors. Presenter goes on to conclude by talking about the two vaccines that are being given in our country. She also says none of us know the long term effects of any of these vaccines, hence, the question remains, the proper clinical trials that were not conducted which are essentially playing with the lives of the people.  

11:20 AM – Moderator asks the presenter where exactly is the issue considering the person undergoing the trial gives informed consent. The presenter states that most participants in such trials are illiterates and not economically well-off. So they are not aware of the actual happenings. 

11:24 AM – Fifth presenter is Dr. Shampa Dev from School of Law, Christ university on the topic, “Why a Privacy argument will not stand in the face of a pandemic: An Inquiry Into the Law Relating to the Concept of Privacy, State Surveillance and Safeguarding Public Health vis-à-vis the Aarogya Setu App”

11:29AM – She explains the carpenter case  that consists of collecting location data involving the infringement of privacy . The legality requirement of privacy data is being explained and public health concern is a necessary need for people and proportionality of arogya sethu app should be limited and should be mentioned in the protocol. Also mentions the case K.S Puttaswamy case.

11:32 AM – Question on breach of privacy and also on security on arogya setu app is being asked by the moderators. She answered that the protocol on data violations and encryptions ultimately leads to the decline of privacy information including location data. It had adequate measures for all these violations .

11:37AM –   Vote of thanks is being given and the session is concluded.

 

Session Hall 3 {Presentations for Theme III: Environmental Law and Policy Framework}:

10:19 AM: Moderators, Dr. Athira Roy and Dr. Rohit Roy were introduced and instruction has been given to the participants. 

10:26 AM: The first presenter, Parvathi S Shaji, started her presentation on the topic ‘COVID-19 Pandemic Outbreak And The Shattered System Of Bio-medical Waste Management : A Call For A Risk Analysis In India’. The presenters discussed the legal work for the safe disposal of biomedical wastes. She also discussed various practices those can adopt in safe disposal of biomedical wastes.

10:35 AM: The moderators asked her questions about the accountability of the hospital management in disposing covid-19 biomedical waste disposal and she answered all the questions put forward by the moderators.

10:47 AM: The second presenter, Dipti Gabriel from School of Law, Christ University, started her presentation on ‘Pollute And Pay Principle – EIA Draft Notification 2020’. The paper focuses on the draft notification passed by the Government of India in 2020. She explained the legal perspective of the EIA Draft 2020 by stating various precedents like Vikrant Tongad v. Union of India and Common Cause v. Union of India.

10:56 AM: Question Answer session has started and Dr. Athira Roy asks about the public participation regarding the EIA Draft 2020. The presenter answered how public participation can be increased from the grassroot level by giving awareness and petitions regarding the same.

11:07 AM: The third presenter, Zorah Susan Abraham, started her presentation on the topic ‘Adopting A Green Fiscal Policy For A Developing Country Like India’. She is emphasizing the importance of Green Fiscal Policy especially during the time of Covid-19. 

11:16 AM: Dr. Athira Roy gave her views on the presentation given by the presenter. The question answer session has begun right after that. Dr. Rohit Roy provides his comments and suggestions on the green fiscal policy and market tools which needed to be considered.

11:23 AM: Next presenter, is Manjula RS who wrote on the topic ‘Learnings On Environmental Sustainability From CoronaVirus Pandemic: The Need For A Conscious And Regulated Lock-down For Regeneration Of Environment ‘ along with Dr. Sini John started their presentation. The aim of the paper is to find out the sustainability of the environment and the need for lockdown during that time. The presenter is explaining the positive and negative outcomes of Covid-19 Lockdown on the environment. Positive outcomes of the lockdown include increasing air quality, reduction in air and water pollution while the negative outcomes include biomedical waste generation and unchecked spraying of disinfectants.

11:38 AM: The question answer presentation of the presentation has begun and the presenter is answering questions put forward to her. She is suggesting conscious lockdown annually for the environmental rejuvenation. 

11:46 AM: The final presenters of this session Maria Binny Palamattom & Neha Susan Thomas are presententing their work ‘A Legal Study On Bio-medical Waste And Its Management In India ’. The paper focuses on the increase in biomedical wastes during this pandemic time and the health hazards they are causing in the society. Maria Binny Palamattom explains about the legislative approach in terms of biomedical waste which includes The Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016, The Environment( Protection) Act, 1986, and so on.

12:00 PM: The question answer session has begun and Dr. Athira Roy gives her remarks on the presentation. Dr. Athria Roy asked them to explain the situation of Biomedical wastes in the country and they are answering questions while giving out their suggestions in tackling this issue.

12:09 PM: The moderators thank the court officers, acknowledge each other, congratulate the participants. The paper presentation session for Theme III is concluded.

 

Session Hall 4 {Presentations for Theme IV: Contemporary Legal Predicaments and Developments}:

10:06 AM: Moderators are being introduced, Dr. Anita A. Patil and Dr. Aradhana Satish Nair. Instructions are being given to the participants. Scoring criteria is being explained. Dr. Patil sheds some light on the topic. She comments on the plight of the migrant workers and appreciates the vast variety of laws being discussed like labour laws, etc.  

10:15 AM: The first presenter, Saikishan B Rathore, a 3rd year student from GNLU, starts presenting his paper on “Right To Protest: Moving From Restriction To Prohibition?” He comments that the right to protest is slowly being diluted. He explains the rise of anti-government protests like outrage against the Citizenship Amendment Act and its proportional suppression of dissent. He gives an overview of the legal framework, and criticises the “reasonable test” on restriction. He makes an interesting observation: more than being restricted due to public order, the government is restricting on the basis of what they think is moral. He analyses the Shaheen Bagh protest. He explains how the Supreme Court judgement Amit Sahni v. Commissioner of Police & Ors. was illogical and vague. He concludes with the steps to protect this right. Farmers protests wouldn’t have happened if we had a pre-legislative consultation policy.

10:26 AM: Dr. Nair appreciated the presentation, but asked him to include these suggestions in the paper also. Dr. Patel asked for a concrete solution to regulate the right to protest. She explained a similar form of strike: picketing, and asked whether this comes under the ambit of Article 19 of the Constitution. He explained how there are no publicly designated places to protest. He explains why we need more than arbitrary police to regulate protests. Right to strike is not a fundamental right under Article 19, even for workers. Peaceful protest without arms is only allowed, which involves raising of voice against government policies. He elaborated on his suggestions in the article and explained the history of the ministry in pre-consultation policies. USA has a mandate to adopt pre-legislative consultation policies, so he suggested we can adopt that to prevent protests. 

10:33 AM: Punya Datar & Shipra Agrawal, 3rd year students from SLS Pune, are the next presenters. Their paper is titled “The Fine Line Between Sedition And Right To Dissent: Analysis Of The Balance Between Right To Dissent And National Security “. Punya starts by explaining the history of the right to dissent from colonial rule. Right to dissent is an implied right under Article 19 of the Constitution. The participants conducted a survey on the right to dissent. When people were asked whether there should be a right to dissent, people confused it with sedition under the Indian Penal Code. Only 8% stated that there should be a right to dissent in all circumstances like contempt of court, etc.

10:40 AM: Shipra then explained their secondary analysis and analysed the timeline of sedition cases that have been filed from Jogendra Chandra Bose to Tablighi Jamaat. In 2014, NCB introduced a separate report on sedition. She explains how there has been a rising trend of categorising protests as sedition instead of dissent, eg. protest by labourers.

10:43 AM: Dr. Nair appreciated their empirical study during pandemic and wanted to know the type of people who were surveyed. Punya answered that they distributed questionnaires through google forms to local people who were unaware of law, law students as well as experts in the field. She suggested that the suggestions in the presentations were not put as part of the conclusion, but as a separate heading.

10:48 AM: Dr. Patil appreciated the statistics also, but felt that the sample size was too small, i.e. 62 people. She also felt that there was no use surveying people who are already aware of it, as the survey can also teach people about their rights. She suggested that since this was a time-consuming process, they could have taken interviews from experts so their opinions can become concrete suggestions. She wanted them to rework on this so their paper will be perfect for publication.

10:52 AM: Subhadeepa Sen & Rahul Purkayastha, 2nd year students from School of Law, Christ University are the next presenters. They wrote their paper on the topic “A Contemporary Perspective On The Role Of Right To Dissent And Press Freedom”. Subhadeepa starts off the presentation with a quote by Amartya Sen. Britishers didn’t want to give press freedom because of the fear of nationalism. History of the press dates back to the 17th century in India. With Ramesh Thapar v. State of Madras, demands for right to freedom of expression in the media grew.

10:55 AM: Prevention of Sedition Act, 1906 curbed freedom of press during British rule. Rahul starts explaining the right to dissent from an Indian constitutional perspective and differentiates the right from how it is defined in the USA. He also explains how dissent and defiance is not the same. He explains how the Indian Constitution does not have a separate constitutional right for the right to press freedom unlike the USA. He cited the Sakal Newspaper Ltd. case and Jay Shah v. Wire News Portal case. He suggested that there should be less regulation on the press, but at the same time, fake news should be avoided.

11:05 AM: Dr. Nair appreciated the research. Dr. Patil appreciated the judicial interpretation. She asked that apart from the Press Council Act, how can suggestions be implemented. Rahul answered that a committee has been formed for the same by the government. He referred to what happened in Finland. Alt News was a network which spewed anti-immigration rhetoric. The court held that there is freedom of speech, but hate speech and fake news should not be excused. So, he feels that there should be an impartial panel consisting of senior experts. She appreciated the concrete suggestion.

11:11 AM: The next presenter is Mr. Abhijit Rohi, who wrote his paper on the topic, “Creating A Success Story: The (Proposed) Data Protection Authority of India”. He explains how he analysed the role, function and authority of the DPA Act. He also analysed the Whatsapp data privacy issue, which came into discussion recently, after the submission of his paper. 

11:16 AM: He analyses the degree of accountability of the data protection officials. He talks about various assessments. There should be an environment created to comply with these requirements under the law. He has challenged the validity of exemptions as it sacrifices privacy of the people. He analyses the nature of enforcement authorities and their powers. Law, Information Management and Technology are the 3 main domains we should focus on for data protection legislation. Dr. Nair felt that the paper was very well-researched. 

11:25 AM: Dr. Patil appreciated the comparative study of the technical aspects of the paper and the discussion of the recent issue on Facebook-Whatsapp privacy policy. She asks if the suggestions could be implemented in light of this issue. Mr. Rohi highlighted the 6 rights under the DPA Act. He also analysed the severity of the Whatsapp privacy concerns. He talked about how the Competition Commission of India has been involved in many controversies and elaborated on the application of his suggestions. Dr. Patil was very impressed by his answer.

11:28 AM: The fifth presenter is Milind Bhaskar Gawai, who wrote his paper on the topic “Mergers Of Political Parties and Anti-Defection Law In India: An Interpretational Conundrum”. He made an interesting observation: one area which was unaffected by pandemic was the defection of parties, eg. the Madhya Pradesh incident, when Congress member joined the BJP party. He gave an overview of defection before the 52nd Constitutional Amendment. Many state governments in the 1970s collapsed due to defection. He also analysed the provisions of the 10th Schedule in the Constitution, and placed special focus on the 2nd and 4th paragraph of the schedule.

11:35 AM: He analysed the scope of assent of mergers between the parties. He analysed various judicial interpretations of requirements of the merger. He gave examples of Telangana, Rajasthan, Goa for the same. He analysed the interpretations by citing landmark cases like W.P. Singh v. Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly and Rajendra Rana v. Swami Prasad Maurya.  

11:45 AM: Dr. Nair appreciated the analysis of the 10th schedule, but wanted more analysis of the suggestions in the paper. Dr. Patil also wanted more concrete suggestions to enhance the paper.

11:46 AM: Bhawna Sharma & Venkat Reddy, students from Amity University, Noida were the next presenters who spoke about the topic “Critical Analysis On Uttar Pradesh Ordinance 2020 On Love Jihad And Its Future Impact On Society”. Bhawna highlighted the religious nature of marriage in India, with rituals etc. She explained the perspective of the government in deciding the need for ordinance for love jihad. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma felt that there was no proper data on love jihad cases.

11:50 AM: The purpose of the ordinance was to prevent unlawful conversion for marriage. Section 4, 6, 7, 8 of the ordinance were analysed. The drawbacks to this law are the violation of fundamental rights like right to life and liberty and right to choose one’s partner, burden of proof is on the accused person which can lead to misuse of law by the complainant. Eg. a 21 year-old boy booked falsely under this Act. 

11:55 AM: She comparatively analysed how BJP-led states like Karnataka, Assam, Madhya Pradesh etc. also have followed suit with anti-conversion laws with a table. The basis of comparison was notice, burden of proof, who can investigate, maintenance and inheritance, punishments with fine. 

11:59 AM: She concluded with her suggestions like shifting the onus of proof as innocent people are also harassed. There should be an amendment regarding punishment for false allegations. Dr. Nair suggested to include the types of jihad as an introduction. She felt there was lack of research and the appropriate footnotes are missing. Dr. Patil felt that the topic was interesting, but felt that the research was lacking. She suggested that originality in the paper is lacking because we can get the same information in the news also. 

12:03 PM: Dr. Patil asked how the ordinance is related to property law and inheritance. Bhawna answered with the situation with Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Dr. Patil felt that the paper needs to be reworked with incorporation of specific arguments for or against the ordinance.

12:06 PM: A paper on the topic “Drawing a Line Between Freedom of Speech and Hate Speech in India” is being presented by Mr. Suvidutt M.S. & Dr. Aditya Tomer. Mr. Suvidutt explains how laws for hate speech are very indirectly mentioned in India. He analyses Section 133 (3) of the People’s Representation Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code detailing various incitement offences, like inciting hate with malicious intent. 

12:14 PM: Section 166 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was also struck down in the Shreya Singhal case. Any political parties who engage in hate speech rarely get convicted and even get more votes from the people. Hate speech has not been defined by parliamentarians, but it should be (suggestion by Mr. Suvidutt). Dr. Nair recommended that the criticism of the laws made by the presenter should lead to concrete suggestions. Dr. Patil also agreed with the same.

12:17 PM: The penultimate presentation of the day was given by Kirti Malik & Indrasish Majumder, who spoke on the topic: “Right To Dissent in Light of The Platonic and Mill’s Conception of Law: An Inter- Jurisprudential Analysis”. Indrasish starts by highlighting the philosophical relevance of dissent. Plato felt that excess liberty is like slavery.  He also analysed the draconian UAPA Act. He noted that even with Plato’s strict standards as to what constituted reasonable expression, he would have criticised the UAPA Act. 

12:26 PM: Kirti explained the contemporary relevance of J.S. Mill’s “Tyranny of the Majority” theory in today’s definition of liberty. The biggest threat to tyranny is the public, from a democracy to a mobocracy. Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India was cited to analyse hate speech. Despite their differences of opinions on dissent, Plato and Mill were true proponents of freedom because they used guiding principles and reason to put forward their points.

12:30 PM: Dr. Nair noted that the research was good, but suggestions need to be more defined. Indrashish felt that these philosophers’ theories are relevant today. Kirti observed that opinions are polarised in today’s society. Similarly, the same is with Plato and Mill. Reason is the solution to maintain the balance. 

12:34 PM: Ms. Aditi Singh Kavia and Mr. Karan Singh Chouhan were the last presenters for the day on the topic “Patent Rights & Pandemics: A Case of Public Interest vis-a-vis Monopoly Rights.” Ms. Aditi aims to address the role of public interest under the current patent regime. She analyses the philosophical underpinnings of patent rights: whether monopoly rights are solely for commercial exploitation. She analyses the provisions of TRIPS agreement regarding patent rights like Articles 7, 8 (1), 27, 31 etc. TRIPS indirectly explains compulsory licenses under Article 31.  She analyses the use of compulsory license in the DOHA declaration and the Indian Patent Regime. Compulsory license has only been used once in the landmark case of Bayer Corporation v. NALCO Pharma Ltd. She highlights the importance of compulsory license which has been followed by Israel, Chile, Germany, Canada. Voluntary licensing is not very useful as it requires a lot of negotiation. Public-private partnership and patent fooling funds are other viable solutions.

12:49 PM: Dr. Nair appreciated the research and structure. Dr. Patil appreciated the jurisprudence, international conventions and suggestions included. She asked for the impact of patent rights in light of the vaccines being created by Oxford, Pfizer etc. Ms. Aditi answered that voluntary licenses are delaying the affordability of vaccines.

12:52 PM: Vote of thanks has been delivered and the session has concluded for Theme 4. Post lunch break, the panel discussion will begin. The break will be for scoring and tabulation. 

 

                                                                                   Panel Discussion cum Valedictory Ceremony

 

3:04 PM– The panel discussion starts on the theme “A Discourse on Critical Constitutional Challenges” Guests are introduced. Panelists are- Sr. Adv. Salman Khurshid, Former Minister of External Affairs, Sr. Adv. Aishwarya Bhati, Additional Solicitor General of India and Adv. Traiq Khan, Principal Associate, Advani and Co., Delhi.

3:06 PM: Welcome address by student convenor, National Conference Committee, Ms. Ann Clara Tomy. Pleasantries and achievements are told. 

3:10 PM: Moderator for the day is Mr. Achyutananda Mishra. Convenor, Ms. Tomy welcomes the moderator for the panel discussion. Also welcomes the Director, Dean, HOD and Faculty Coordinator  of School of Law, along with the participants and audiences.

3:12 PM: The moderator is called to deliver his speech. Sir briefly talks about the concept note and why the conference was titled so. He states that the current COVID-19 Pandemic has challenged the very justice administration system, so for this reason, the conference had related themes to the Pandemic. 

3:15 PM: The moderator also states that the effect and impact of the pandemic has caused extensive debates across the legal fraternity. The pandemic, he says, has witnessed dilution of labour laws, farmer’s protests, suppression of the people, etc. and it is extremely imperative for this reason that we have the present panel discussion for the day. He briefly highlights few of the issues that are going to be discussed during the course of the panel discussion. 

3:20 PM: Moderator concludes his speech and explains his eagerness to listen to the views and opinions of the esteemed panelists for the day. Moderator welcomes Sr. Adv. Salman Khurshid for his discussion.  Mr. Khurshid starts off with talking about dissent in a democracy. He says dissent and freedom of speech have been looked at in several recent judgements. He says dissents have to be distinguished from disagreements. Dissent, freedom of speech and expression are all part of the overarching right to dignity of a person, he says, and dissent is a remarkable amplification of Article 21, ever since the Maneka Gandhi Case.

3.25 PM: Sir discusses the 4G Judgement, where the SC found a midway to concerns of security along with the right to use the internet as a freedom of expression. The SC, he says, assumed that rights are not absolute in nature. They have some reasonable restrictions which article 19 provides for. He claims that a distinction is made between the American and Indian Jurisprudence, and says that the former provides for absolute rights whereas the latter puts reasonable restrictions on the fundamental rights. In American jurisprudence, the absolute rights are as qualified for as the reasonable restrictions in India. He briefly mentions the Minerva Case with relation to fundamental rights.

3:30 PM: Sir then goes on to Justice Chandrachud decision in ADM Jabalpur Case which was overruled by his own son. He puts a proposition, one that Prof. Dworkin made it before he passed away, wherein he speaks about rights and says. If we can get hold of a person Accused of a terrorist attack and can torture that person to get more information about future attacks, is that justified? To which Dworkin says it is wrong, because even if the information is truthful and correct, it cannot be an adequate reason to take away the rights of a person and torture him.

3:35 PM: He concludes by saying that recent events in the country have shown that freedom of speech has been maligned with concepts of sedition, which is similar to the ongoing American scenario, where President Trump was accused of inciting an insurrection. He says that as a society, we need to reflect on these issues and reassess the importance of rights and  decide if it’s legitimately strong or if it will collapse in the name of national security which cannot be challenged. He states that there comes another dimension, i.e., “dissent on national security”.

3:40 PM: The moderator gives his views on the opinions of Mr. Khurshid. He then invites the next panelist, Sr. Adv. Aishwarya Bhati to talk about contempt of court. Ms. Bhati takes over. She begins with explaining how the pandemic is not a constitutional issue but is a medical issue, which has gripped the entire world. She urges everyone to see that a medical world pandemic should not be treated as merely a constitutional issue. She states that contempt of court is a right/offence/civil wrong, which stems from the constitution. She says there are two broad buckets to it, i.e., civil and criminal contempt.

3:45 PM: She says, if there are no monitoring systems to check the validity of judgements, then there is no rule of law, hence there is no talk about civil contempt. But the issue, she says, is on the criminal contempt which is essentially scandalising or interfering with the procedures of the court. This was challenged in 1971, where the SC held it is not unconstitutional and is actually in support of rule of law. She runs us through what amounts to contempt of the court and what does not amount to contempt. 

3:50 PM: She states that we should not only focus on the broad discourse, but also examine in what cases the power of contempt has been exercised and has not been exercised. She talks about the Spycatcher judgement. She moves on to explain why the Judiciary requires this power. She says it is their responsibility to solve disputes between two warring parties, and it is the faith of the common man in the justice delivery system that makes it so imperative. She gives personal anecdotes about how if you shake the confidence of the common man by interfering with the justice system, they will never go back to courts, and hence, we need some sort of a check on it to ensure that the majesty of the justice delivery mechanism has not been lowered. 

3:55 PM: She concludes by posing a question- “whether we as citizens are capable of doing away with the criminal contempt of court”. The moderator thanks Ms. Bhati and sheds some light on the topic. He then welcomes Adv. Tariq Khan to talk about freedom of speech and social media. Mr. Khan takes the platform. He begins with how the social media platforms have been used recently. He says that freedom of speech and expression is treated differently in different circumstances because we do not know where to draw the line. He says that instead of connecting people, social media plays the opposite role. 

4:00 PM: Mr. Khan goes on to explain different types of cyber offences, which he says, 70 percent of which were against women. According to him, it is imperative we discuss and ensure this is stopped. He talks about the various legislations with regards to the social media platforms such as the IT Act. Then, he highlights the role of intermediaries in all of these issues and how they do not know where to draw the line or recognise what is credible or not, and hence the intermediaries claim, it is the role of the people to decide whether or not that particular news or post is credible or not. 

4:05 PM: Mr. Khan recounts a personal anecdote of how the social media platforms also take a long time in responding to a user’s concern. He states that the challenges of 2008, when the IT Act was amended, are not the same as the challenges faced by 2021. He concludes by saying that we need to change this and ensure that we have to strike a balance between the freedom of speech and expression on social media and the way these platforms are minting money off of people. Moderator thanks the final panelist and extends his opinions on the same.

4:10 PM:  The question and answers session has begun. The student convenor of the committee, Mr. Rajveer Gurdatta,  begins asking the questions of the audience. The first question is to Mr. Khurshid with regard to blockchain technology to which sir states that he is not an expert in this field but explains his views on the same. The next question is directed to Ms. Bhat Mam about the Andhra Pradesh contempt cases to which she says that when we talk about 3 pillars, it is important that all 3 pillars respect and not undermine each other. She says it is not a pretty scene when there is no system of checks and balances. If the 3 pillars transgress on each other, the impact will be colossal and for a long time.

4:15 PM: The question and answer session has ended. The moderator, Mr. Mishra delivers the vote of thanks. Short interval before the valedictory ceremony commences.

 

4:28 PM: The valedictory function commences. The Chief Guest for the Programme, Hon’ble Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, is welcomed. The Guest of Honour, Hon’ble Justice Anu Sivaraman, Judge, High Court of Kerala is also welcomed. 

4:30 PM: Lighting of the lamp is being done and an auspicious song is sung by the members of the Cultural Committee, School of Law, CHRIST. 

4:31 PM: HOD, Sapna S, is called to deliver the welcome address. The Chief Guest and Guest of Honour are welcomed. Their achievements and laurels are being praised. The Registrar, Director, Dean, Faculty Coordinators, and Colleagues of School of Law are welcomed, along with welcoming the audiences and participants. 

4:36 PM: The Registrar Mr. Anil Pinto is called to deliver the Presidential Address. He welcomes everyone. Mr. Pinto says that the legal profession is the only field in the country where you get to meet the most highest change-makers. He says that this is indeed a very unique thing. A crisis is the time we should reflect and rethink, he says, and continues with stating the commonalities that the Judiciary and the historical watershed moments have in common. 

4:40 PM: He highlights the last pandemic about a century ago, i.e., the Spanish Flu. He reiterates that a crisis is the time we reflect. He then moves on to the shift in legal education from the physical mode to the online platform, and he says that the online medium has in fact been successful. And he urges that we should not forget the successful online achievements when the physical classes resume. 

4:45 PM: He talks about how during the pandemic, we went back to old activities such as gardening, spending time with our loved ones wherein we reflected what is life, family and friendships. Keeping in mind the same, he believes that in a similar fashion, we need to learn how to introspect within the judiciary, administration of justice and the legal studies. He concludes by congratulating School of Law for hosting a successful conference.

4:50 PM: The Guest of Honour is requested to address the gathering. Her ladyship takes over. She begins with recounting old personal tales. She thanks the organisers of the conference for the opportunity. She then moves on to explain the important role of young lawyers in the legal fraternity. Her Ladyship goes on to share her thoughts on being a judge during the pandemic. She calls this pandemic ‘unprecedented’ because of the impact it has had on the society at large.

4:55 PM: She says, what was most noticeable when the pandemic broke was the adaptability of the citizens of India. She says, the High Court of Kerala never stopped functioning despite the lockdown. She states that the High Court of Kerala took preventive measures even before the lockdown began, to ensure no one came to court unless absolutely necessary. Post the lockdown, she contemplates that the shift to the online mode was very successful. She recounts that there used to be periodic reviews when the shift happened with regards to the various issues. She concludes with telling us that no pandemic can bring us down, so long as we have the will to tackle it. She congratulates the School of Law for hosting the Conference as well as the students who were a part of it.

5:05 PM: The Chief Guest is called to address the gathering. His Lordship begins with yet another personal anecdote about his time at the Kerala High Court. He moves on to the pandemic and how it has gripped all of our lives along with saying it gave a terrible blow to the justice dispensing mechanism.

5:10 PM: He goes on to explain how the Courts face difficulties in hearing cases such as not being able to call witnesses, examine them,etc. He urges that we all need to work hard in order to face this pandemic. He concludes by saying that the Indian courts will definitely go back to the old ways, even if it takes time, especially criminal courts, considering how it is hard to decide cases without crucial matters such as witnesses, evidence, forensic reports, etc, which cannot be adjudicated upon online. 

5:15 PM: His Lordship urges young law students to join the judicial services as there are a large number of cases piling up and we need all the judges we can get on board to dispose of these large numbers of cases.

5:20 PM: The Chief Guest’s address has concluded.

5:25 PM: The prize distribution begins. The winners are provided with certificates, internship opportunities, cash prizes and a paper publication. Dean, School of Law, is called to announce the winners from each theme. The thematic winners are as follows:

Theme 1: Mr. Shantanu Pachahara Assistant Professor Manipal University Jaipur 

Paper titled – RECKONING TO INITIATE AND ADMINISTER ARBITRATION REMOTELY: A NEW NORMAL

Theme 2 – Adrija Bhattacharya and Megha Maiti, Students of KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneshwar.

Paper titled – CENTRALIZED CONTROL OF COVID AND INDIAN FEDERALISM: A HARMONIOUS JOURNEY

Theme 3 – Dipti Gabriel, Student of School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be University) Bangalore

Paper titled – Pollute and Pay Principle – EIA Draft Notification 2020

Theme 4 – Abhijit Rohi, Research Scholar, NLSIU Bangalore.

Paper titled – Creating a Success Story: The (Proposed) Data Protection Authority of India

5:27 PM– The Committee Report for the year 2020-21 is being announced by core committee member, Sahil Ujjawane. 

5:32 PM-  The Committee Report has ended. Mr. Rajveer Gurdatta, Convenor, National Conference Committee, extends the vote of thanks for the 11th National E-Conference. 

5:35 PM– Vote of thanks has ended. The OC Head of the PR and Media Team has been called to play the after-movie. 

5:40 PM– The after-movie has ended. The valedictory session has concluded. 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ has made a slight modification in the guidelines issued by it on April 06, 2020 on functioning of courts through video conferencing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Court has ordered that the directions issued earlier need not be altered except sub-para (vii) of Paragraph 6 which shall be substituted with the following:

“The Video Conferencing in every High Court and within the jurisdiction of every High Court shall be conducted according to the Rules for that purpose framed by that High Court. The Rules will govern Video Conferencing in the High Court and in the district courts and shall cover appellate proceedings as well as trials.”

Earlier sub-para (vii) of Paragraph 6 of the order dated April 06, 2020 read as:

“Until appropriate rules are framed by the High Courts, video conferencing shall be mainly employed for hearing arguments whether at the trial stage or at the appellate stage. In no case shall evidence be recorded without the mutual consent of both the parties by video conferencing. If it is necessary to record evidence in a Court room the presiding officer shall ensure that appropriate distance is maintained between any two individuals in the Court.”

Noticing that several High Courts have framed their rules already, the Court directed that those High Courts that have not framed such Rules shall do so having regard to the circumstances prevailing in the State and

“Till such Rules are framed, the High Courts may adopt the model Video Conferencing Rules provided by the E-Committee, Supreme Court of India to all the Chief Justices of the High Court.”

Impressed with the functioning of virtual courts across the country amidst COVID-19 pandemic, the Court said,

“We must say the system of Video Conferencing has been extremely successful in providing access to justice.”

[IN RE GUIDELINES FOR COURT FUNCTIONING THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING DURING COVID 19 PANDEMIC, SMW (C) No(s). 5/2020, order dated 26.10.2020]


Read the guidelines dated April 06, 2020 on functioning of courts through video conferencing here

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesStatutes/Bills/Ordinances

Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Which Act will the said Bill amend?

A Bill further to amend the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954.

Which Section will be amended with the passing of this Bill?

Amendment of Section 3

In the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, in section 3, after sub-section (1), the following sub-section shall be inserted, namely:—

“(1A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the salary payable to Members of Parliament under sub-section (1) shall be reduced by thirty per cent for a period of one year commencing from the 1st April, 2020, to meet the exigencies arising out of Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hence the said bill reduces the salary by 30% for a year.

Read the Bill here: BILL

As per news reports, the said bill has been passed by the Loksabha.


Lok Sabha

Interviews

Mr. Bharat Chugh, who is currently working as a Partner at L&L Partner. In 2013, Mr. Chugh secured first rank in Delhi Judicial Services Examination and became the youngest Civil Judge in his batch. He has also trained both at the Delhi and National Judicial Academy and served in various civil/criminal assignment in three and half years of judgeship. He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Ambassador Vijaya Singh Gautam who is currently pursuing law from RGNUL. 
Refer to the Link below for the Podcast of the interview

PART 1: Click HERE for Conversation with Bharat Chugh on his definition of “Good Resume” and much more

PART 2: Click HERE for Conversation with Bharat Chugh on Art of Legal Writing, implications of pandemic on Legal Proceedings and much more

  1. How do you define good legal education if one is aspiring to practice litigation or serve judiciary?

It is a common notion that it is very difficult to get into certain law schools and if you manage to get into those by cracking the very difficult entrance examination then there is a presumption of merit. This is not always unfounded and there is a certain amount of merit to this thinking. But this is not all.

No law school is better than the other, it always boils down to the individual merit of the candidate to what the candidate has done in terms of law schools- internships, publications, moot courts etc.

Individuals make the institutions. The important thing to notice is sometimes it takes only a certain number of students to put your law school on map. Personally, I have helped recruit many worthy candidates at the law firm without going by the traditional notion and looking at the candidate rather than the institution.

  1. What do you expect from a good resume in order in case of attaining internship or employment?

In the initial years, everyone should endeavor  to experience everything and on the basis of the experience accumulated, must decide the path that suits him/her. We live in an era of specialization and therefore, one must focus on the areas in which recruiter will have interest. The idea is to be able to fill a vacuum in the market; fulfill a need; that’s the only way to stay relevant. But before one specializes, one should experience everything. Therefore, initially, broad based internships and work(which translates into a broad understanding of first principles of law and broader lay of the land) which slowly gravitates to the subject area work really well for me personally. As one masters in any field, he/ she becomes the knowledge base of the firm or the ‘go to person’ on that subject and people approach him/her for any consultation on the subject matter. It develops your credibility and reputation as a lawyer not only in the firm but generically also in terms of clients & all who start trusting you.

I personally have a bias for publications as it reflects prowess at language; skills such as how you speak, draft and also language which is reflected a lot in your communication. It also helps a lot in network building which is very important in this era. Words, as I always say, are the only stock in trade of a lawyer and the importance of the ability to communicate cannot be emphasized enough.

Also, simplicity is very crucial so the idea is to write something easily comprehendible, witty and interesting. I believe, if you can’t state it simply enough, you haven’t understood it well enough. And, if you can’t say out aloud what you’ve written, don’t write it either. It has paid great dividends to me as well.

Law cannot be studied in a vacuum so if the candidate is well read on economics, sociology etc gives him/ her upper edge.

To have better dialogue and conversation with judges or clients, policy makers, business leaders, you need to have a world view and being well-read definitely helps.

Someone said the difference who reads and who doesn’t read is of a mason and an architect.

For example, if you are given to work on economic policies, you cannot limit yourself to bare acts but need to have an overview of other relevant factors also and their impacts. Law is inter-vowen with so many other disciplines and having an interdisciplinary knowledge not only ensures a more well-rounded personality but also an ability to strategize better. Hence,one must have an inter-disciplinary approach. One must read extensively – sociology, history, philosophy, critical thinking, anthropology; all go on to make one a better lawyer/judge.

Also, sometimes the resume is not final word or correct determinant. One should not judge a book by its cover. So, we try selecting resumes on the basis of personalized well written cover letter. Because, even if an interview is an equalizer or a leveller, getting that opportunity is sometimes not easy because of the sheer number of resumes that recruiters get, and in order to get that opportunity – the resume/cover letter should catch the attention of the recruiter. It should have things that make the candidate stand out; convince the recruiter that this candidate will add value and is at very cutting edge of his/her specialization or area of interest.

  1. Where do you get this sort of clarity while working hard for the judiciary to crack it and then leave it for another unplanned opportunity? Do you ever think about the road not taken?

Through my personal life experiences and some of them are already in public domain. I started working in an early age and that gave me a great exposure to law. It definitely helped me realize a lot about life, especially the injustices meted out on people on daily basis; the plight of people who are marginalized, who don’t have access to resources, how they are possible given a rough deal by the system; how difficult it is for a common man to get justice and how important is sensitivity in judicial decision making.

My father ended up losing his own house as a matter of fact when he came as a refugee to India due to the lawyer not showing up in the court.That’s when – my dad took the pledge of fighting for the disfranchised. Slowly and gradually, my father rose from selling tea to a typist at Tis Hazari Court, who would go back in the evening to study law, after a hard day at work typing out documents. He finally completed his law and started his legal practice at Tis Hazari and did a lot of pro bono work. He wanted me to start from the very court, but as a judge. He wanted me to be a judge because as a judge, you have the power to do a lot for the people and to do justice on a day to day basis. I ended up preparing for judiciary in my final year of Law College. I was always passionate about law and really enjoyed the time of preparation. I was fortunate to have made it in my first attempt and really enjoyed my stint as a judge. Ended up getting to do a lot of good. But somewhere along the line, I realized that I really missed the feel of being a lawyer. My dad was lawyer; I’ve personally always connected-to the idea of being a lawyer more than anything else. That’s who I really am. That’s what I associate more with. I’ve always loved arguing & persuasion, and on a balance , I thought – I am more suited to being a lawyer than a judge, atleast in my initial few years where the experience at bar is crucial and goes a long way in shaping one’s self. Also, I thought a litigation would give me a wider canvas to work with, at least in my initial few years. I also love to write and grappling with legal issues that one doesn’t have exposure to, at least, in the initial few years of judgeship. This was the thought behind leaving judgeship and there’s never been a moment of regret, ever. I have had the great fortune of working on some of India’s most complicated and biggest cases in the last three and a half years and there’s never been a dull day or a day of regret. Being a Lawyer is challenging, fulfilling and extremely rewarding.

  1. In India even after several Pay Commissions, Judges are not paid considering the amount of work load they have in courts? Do you think it was one of the major reasons for you to leave judiciary?

No. As I said, I am passionate about the practice of law and that was what weighed with me when I took up lawyering. Judgeship is something that can never be measured in terms of compensation. Plus, I am a man of very limited needs. My biggest expense a decade back and even now is on Books and judges are paid well enough to buy them. Therefore, money was never a consideration though the practice of law, if you’re good at it, is extremely rewarding. On a broader point, I agree compensation of judges in India is not at par with the work-load and India is amongst one of the nations where post-independence, the salary of judges have actually gone down relative to the rest of the world. Indian judges are one of the most poorly paid judges in the world. Despite that we tend to attract good talent from the bar. To attract and continue to attract the best minds, we need to pay them better.

  1. Consultancy Services being barred by Bar Council to provide Legal Services? What is your view on it?

It is the need of the hour to have some regulation in order to regulate Consultancy Services in India but in the wider picture, opening market for the big law firms or foreign law firms can increase healthy competition and can create more employment opportunities. Competing with the best brains (and brains from diverse fields) can benefit the legal fraternity at large. The legal sector as whole and the client both benefit with this cross fertilization. I have never been in favour of closing down the market but talking about protecting the interest of the lawyers, it should be done in a regulated fashion,and we can balance the pros and cons for betterment and growth.

  1. Quoting a phrase from your profile ‘you have had the experience of facing 12 criminal appeals in a day’ and you have excelled the art of cross examination. You are also very well known for your talks and writings on the art of judgment writing. How do you cope with the humongous work pressure? Also, how can one maintain mental health and well-being while pursuing a career as competitive as law?

I consider myself blessed to have a big team of bright young lawyers to work with and it will be unfair to take the entire credit. Arguing 12 criminal appeals in a day and balancing the work is intellectually stimulating and I strongly believe time management was the key to this as it is the key to pretty much everything in life.  One should be very jealous of their time and should not waste time at any cost. Distractions are faced by each one of us and therefore, it is important to master the art of self-control.

The Stanford Marshmallow Test concluded  that people who are good at self control have better chances of being successful than people who are not as they can let go of the instant gratification.

The emotional toll that long working hours take on you can be mitigated with a sound support system which can exist in the form of your family, friends & peers, or even something that you totally enjoy doing for instance, reading, painting or playing the piano. Also, it is always advisable for one not to get too emotionally attached to one’s case because not only does that  limit your objectivity but even the judges lose the confidence in you if you are too emotional about your brief. Your and the judge’s compass should be aligned. The Judge should trust you as an officer in the court and that trust is earned by being objective about one’s case and making fair concessions whenever appropriate. That way – courts start trusting you as an officer of the court. Even otherwise, it is a good idea to be emotionally balanced. In fact, speaking from a personal experience, cultivating hobbies help in overall development and  helps one get through tough times.

  1. We would like to know some of your interesting cross examinations instances.

I have shared multiple criminal cross examination instances and talked about. Let me talk about a civil case where I was trying to get an email admitted  in a case of misrepresentation. I was representing a foreign client where a startup company, through a series of misrepresentations, had convinced my client into buying it. Since it was nothing but a sham, my client wanted a reconsideration of the sale deal and return of the consideration. It was important for me to prove certain emails that were denied by the opposite party:

When I was cross examining the party had already denied the email throughout the course of the case. It was an old mail and we couldn’t call the service provider as we were in an advance stage of the case. There was no way really to prove the email if this witness denied it even during cross examination. I had to get that admission out of him someway or the other. I was careful not to ask an open ended question but keep the witness on a tight lease by asking close/leading questions. So, the question I ended up asking the witness was somewhat on the lines of : “why you didn’t escalate the email to your Board of Directors” not “did you receive the email or not?”

My question was somewhat loaded (which may not always be permissible) and presumed that the witness had received the mail; I deflected attention to the reason of not forwarding it to the board of directors. I took it as a given that he received it and the guy took the bait and starting explaining the reasons for not forwarding. The witness was well into his justification before he realized that he had ended up conceding the fact that he got the email.

In the same case, the witness claimed selective amnesia/forgetfulness of certain facts; in order to overcome that, I starting by asking the witness self serving details from his distant past, all of which he could recollect with ease. To establish that he had a robust memory. This laid a great foundation for my case as – as I gradually moved to more damaging aspects of the case, he could not claim forgetfulness as a defence as the same would not be trustworthy.

  1. In light of the current pandemic, what as per you will the ramifications be on the legal proceedings, on students graduating this year and the corporate culture?

Currently, each one of us is grappling with pandemic. There is also a silver lining to things depending on whether you see the glass half full or empty. Personally, I see it as half full as it has made us capable of working remotely, building technological infrastructures and we are becoming more efficient in doing things. It all depends on our approach to this – how we are taking and how willing we are to grow.

In hindsight, Bill Gates sometimes in 2015 warned us about this and we have failed in our duty of preparing better.

But sometimes, we learn the hard way. It is important for us to learn lesson and adapt once over. For young graduates, anxiety due to employment prospects is growing. Most lawyers and law firms have kept up their commitment of hiring and providing virtual internships. Many lawyers and partners have decided against taking their equity in order to pay the dues and to provide their employees with pay. Fortunately, people continue to show empathy and concern towards each other in these difficult times.

Few years ago, people thought that the M & A sector wasn’t doing too well, people thought economy has taken a down turn. People were not investing and businesses were failing. NPAs were rising. Even in that state of financial doldrums, there was IBC which came up as a big practice area; financial fraud/white collar crime also saw a huge rise and flourished as a practice area.

Litigation/legal work will continue till human species exist. The work form and nature may change but opportunities will always be there and we lawyers are a resilient species and are great at adapting and evolving.

  1. Do you think ADR mechanism in these times will emerge as a savior in tackling the backlogs of cases?

Yes, I absolutely believe it will emerge as a savior. It is a more efficient method of resolving dispute which is why people are slowly turning away from the traditional civil processes/suits. I do think COVID-19 will help accelerate this process of motivating people to go for not only arbitration but also pre-mediation and other ADR mechanisms as well.

  1. How can we overcome the gaps created by virtual hearings on cross-examination or how is it different from the traditional hearing set up? Also,how will it impact on the evaluation of factors such as body language and emotional sense of the witness/ accused who are being cross-examined virtually?

Personally, I am not a huge fan of cross examining someone virtually. Demeanor is a very important element in appreciation of evidence and virtual hearing makes it very difficult to calculate factors such as sweaty palm, tapping of feet etc. Another problem with the virtual  cross-examination is the possibility of the witness sitting in a jurisdiction where he may not be subject to the laws of perjury.

Ultimately, it poses a greater challenge; when  video conferencing was introduced in India, the courts, as a matter of prudence expounded  that the witness must be present in a country with which India has an extradition treaty and under whose laws of perjury are punishable. Even beyond benefits such as: observation of demeanour of witness and prevention of perjury, traditional hearings have other advantages too; very often, just by being in each other’s presence, the parties approach each other during coffee and lunch breaks and the matter gets resolved amicably without resorting to further litigation.

In my opinion, if the current situation demands virtual hearings, then it is incumbent upon us to evolve more effective methods and make use of better technology such as well defined cameras, better view, more oversight etc.

  1. Please throw some light on how can one improve upon judgment writing or any legal writing for that matter?

What’s true for any legal writing, is true for judgment writing as well. I’ve written extensively on this and those interested may visit my earlier pieces on this. In short, one must go by the Rule of CRAM when writing facts. Facts have to be written Chronologically and must focus on Relevancy, Admissibility and Materiality. I have also often recommended young aspiring judges to firstly follow the Rule of ‘WDWDW’ (WHO DID WHAT TO WHOM) while writing judgment. If your judgment does not say this, in the first few paras, then it does not catch the reader. One may follow this formulation in order to give all necessary information that the reader needs. Secondly, in our writings and our briefing notes/preparation,we should always seek to address the necessary questions such as: Who? When, Where and How, What and Why? All of this helps the senior/reader/judge to understand what happened, what was the dispute about, how did the dispute come to this situation; also ‘What’ part articulates what the party seeks from the Court; and finally ‘Why’addresses the question as to why should the court decide in that particular way The last part is very important from the perspective of pleadings as it tells the court the reasons why should the court should decide in a particular way. But the golden rule in the judgment writing is that

“If you can’t say it aloud – don’t write it.”

Many times, judgment writing is not an exercise of coming to a point or deciding a law but rather a show of the literary genius of the writer. I believe, the factual part of the case must be clear and the losing party must be provided with adequate reasoning so that if need be, an appeal could be filed. As it is said, justice shall not only be done but seen to be done. The litigant must understand what is written and done.

We have judgments with 180 paragraph with 140 paragraphs just being a narration of history. Quoting Rig-Veda in a judgment is unnecessary. Nobody needs to be told in a gender justice judgment that we ought to respect women because a historical document says so. Our constitution is good enough framework. This would help with managing the bulk of a judgment which puts many students-off reading them while not taking away anything from its legal reasoning. Use of visual aids, maps, clear conclusions, key take away should be adopted more to make judgments more understandable. Ultimately, we need to remember that judgments constitute law – and ignorance of law is no excuse; in this background, it seems a bit odd and unfair that many judgments are simply not readable and the citizen can’t understand them.

It has always been my advice to young aspirants to write less as it is not the quantity but the quality which sets well-written judgments apart.  Finally – whenever writing any legal brief, remember:

The shortest distance between two points is the straight line. Be straight in your writing.

Also, “less is more” and in order to practice the ability to pack a lot of punch  for our briefings we often try and prepare our cases as Elevator Pitches, and the practice allows us to be able to summarise our cases or atleast the key points in the time that it takes for a person to go from the ground floor to the 9th floor; this helps us cultivate the skills of ‘separating the chaff from the grain’ and also focus on the most important ideas/arguments of our case and distill our thoughts.

  1. We have Colonial Laws due to which at times, judge faces moral dilemma? Do the judges have the power to subside law and follow the moral principles?

Yes, some of these dilemmas are faced by the young judges all the time. I had faced one by myself.

To answer this question, I want everyone to remember that a judge does not only do justice but he does the same in accordance with law and not on the basis of his conception/idea of justice which may be very subjective. There are different ways of looking at any given situation and the idea of justice usually varies from person to person. However, as a judge, justice has to done solely on the basis of law. This ensures rule of law and sanctity of justice and not rule of individual men. Principled judicial decision making is important.

However, where the judge is of the opinion that a given law is colonial and may not be constitutional, a civil judge or a magistrate cannot declare the law as unconstitutional but there are enough provisions allowing the judge to make a reference; formulating the question on constitutionality and referring it to higher bench competent to deal with constitutional challenge matters. CPC and CrPC allow judge to make such references.

There is a huge perception that these references are not appreciated by the Higher Courts. I don’t agree with that perception at all and strongly believe that if there is question in which the need to check its constitutionality is felt, it must be referred to the Higher Courts as the law allows you to do so. The Law grants the judge the power to do so.

Another approach would be to find out a creative way to interpret law. For example, I had the opportunity of ruling on a provision in Railways Act which prohibits anyone from selling anything in the train any without the permission of the Railway Authorities and doing so is a  punishable offence. When I started as a Judge, this was one of the first issue which came to me.

I glanced at these people, who sold tea, water bottles and trinkets  and they stood in front of me as if they have committed some heinous crimes. They had been projected as a threat to national security where in reality they have been struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families.. We have to also consider that this is not the choice that they have made, rather they are force to work like this due to lack of opportunities.  So, if State cannot create enough employment opportunities, then we don’t have any moral right to punish  them.

That was my instinctive response to the issue came in hand. And with my research, I came to the conclusion that “basic necessity knows no law”.  I was really inspired by some of the foreign decisions which said that in a particular circumstances, , stealing bread is not a crime. Of course, it does not legitimize stealing; otherwise it would have been anarchy.

I was also inspired by  Delhi High Court judgment which talks about the Decriminalization of Begging where the court went on with a similar logic that we need to get rid of the poverty but not the poor and gave defence of necessity to beggars who begged out of circumstantial necessity.

 

  1. The social media platform is currently buzzing with opinions on bois locker room which is an Instagram chat room sharing objectionable views on girls and their morphed pictures. How do you see this act as abuse of freedom of speech and expression on social media platform? What are the legal actions that can be taken to prohibit such activities from happening again in the future?

We have enough laws in terms of IPC and cyber acts to handle the situation. Freedom of Speech is not an absolute right and as we call know:

Freedom of speech is not the right to say fire in an open theatre or freedom to say something which incites violence, cause public disorder etc. which is sufficiently entrenched in the system.

Certainty of application of the existing laws is a better response than enacting more laws. There cannot be a pre-censorship and we cannot go that way. I strongly believe better application of existing laws and good investigation can bring the offenders to the book and will act as deterrent to others.

  1. How important is legal research and how can one ace the art of legal drafting?

It is a very important question to address as legal researching holds paramount importance in winning the trust of the client and as that of a judge. The entire profession is based on knowledge assyemtry; knowing or understanding something that the opposite side doesn’t and thriving on that. We don’t sell anything except what we know and how we think, right?

A client comes  to you because you know something which he does not.You win a case by knowing something that your opposite side does not and by convincing the judge and persuading him.

It is not only important to know how to do research conventionally; we need to go a step beyond to be outstanding. It is very important that young lawyers do not start their research on  Google directly.Rather go with bare act – understand the language of the bare act and illustrations, the standard commentaries based on the subject. One should know the legislative history, evolution of law, the Parliament debates, Constituent Assembly debates and other primary materials to help you understand the law the law in depth.  It is also important refer portals like SCC, Journals and other sources to look for precedents. When you build up a case, go with the research ina particular order and use the credible sources only. It should be primary sources more than hearsay or what somebody’s personal opinion is.

…it is on us to help the judges to make a better decision. With the help of a good research, you help them and yourself by convincing them for making a decision in your favor.

  1. What inspired you to not stop and kept you moving forward in life? 

You learn from everyone and everything. Ones failure also gives the biggest lesson and we learn from our mistakes and failures as well.. I looked up to a lot of judges as my role model such as Justice Krishna Iyer, Justice Bhagwati, Justice Kuldeep Singh, Lord Denning, Lord Atkin as they have redefined judicial system and  done justice in a way which improved the life of the people at the ground level. . On the practice side, there are other great inspirational figures such as Mr. Nariman, Dr. Ambedkar. Looking up for the few people and learning and emulating from those giants and standing up is very important. When you read, you get inspiration, not only in the field of law but also in the other field and people like Leonardo da vinci, Steve Jobs can be quoted as a great inspiration for the fact that they stood for making a dent in the world and were so passionate about what they did. They almost always let the perfect be the enemy of the good (not always recommended) and stood out for their fantastic contributions to the world.

In India, one cannot advertise legal services. In such a case, the most effective way to solicit client as a young lawyer is to –

Focus on the case in hand, put your heart and soul and do it really well. Your efforts will manifest into clients over a period of time.There have been so many times when we have got cases from the court after successful arguments in a case; That’s how you build a reputation.

  1. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years or what is your next 10 year plan?

I know broadly in terms of what I am going to do but it is not specific. Firstly, I feel guilty about leaving judgeship for personal ambition when I did. Not guilty in the sense that I have any regrets but guilty in the sense that I do not continue to give back the way I possibly used to do or the way which I used to do.

We do pro-bono cases but, I feel that I’m still not giving back enough. So, I provide training to young judges and IPS officers at various academies; I also try to work with judicial service  aspirants, try to guide and help them traverse their journey from studying to judging – and from judging to justicing.

As I love to say I get to live vicariously through judges who I’ve had the opportunity to working-with and teaching, at some point or the other. That gives me a lot of satisfaction. Having contributed to nation building by helping make good judges.

Currently, I am working on a book related to “What and how is it to be a young  judge, and what is judge’s life”, the idea is to put young students into the judges driving seat and share everything that I can on preparation, exam process, the expectations from a young judge, the kind of work and how to deal with it, both pre-preparation and post selection. This will not only help the young lawyers to decide being a judge or not but also help them along the way..

I am always keen to work on my cases; it is an exciting times to be a lawyer; my practice of law straddles practice areas as diverse as : White collar crime, International Commercial Arbitration and Tech law, with a bit of advisory thrown in. It makes for a interesting blend and though it always keep us on our toes, it is also extremely rewarding individually to be able to work at such a wide canvas and contribute. Also, super excited about my involvements with legislative discussions, law reform, law enforcement training’s, etc.

  1. We are acquainted with your love for poetry! It would be nice if you could share with us, the one, which is closest to your heart. 

I like to call myself a ‘closet poet.’ And once you hear me – you’d agree that’s where I should be – because it’s not good at all.

But since you insist, here’s something I wrote on the Juvenile Justice System.I strongly felt on the issue of Juvenile Justice and lack of enough measures  for the children which are in conflict with law. I strongly opposed the amendments which came in the Juvenile Justice Act a couple of years back which treated children of age between 16 to 18 years as adult in some cases.

I wrote some lines on the issue –

Nobody taught me to speak-therefore, I can’t mince words,

I also have to tell, rather quickly my tale, for time doesn’t stop and the guillotine doesn’t fail;

I can hear the shouts of the crowd, people who’ve gathered about, The civilised society is baying for my blood; my young scarlet blood;  upper-middle class children would be made to drink from it, I am told-it lulls the demons inside.

That’s what the priests say: “it kills juvenility”; really, that’s what they say, but let me not get ahead of myself, and begin where it all began:

The setting is a one room house-in a slum in north Delhi,

where I was conceived, in Dickensian poverty

I was at peace with not-living, I was free,

before a young couple decided to have me;

people call them my mother and father; none, of course, took my consent,

and thus, I began the journey of life, unwilling, reluctant and angry;

No wonder – I caused my mother much pain, first, because of my desire not to be born,

second- since there was never any food inside of her,

I kicked & gnawed at her insides, she wailed in vain, just for her not to have me, but she didn’t budge.

I caused her to nearly die, while she gave birth to me,

You see, that was an act of protest, against introduction into this world,

this inhospitable sphere of exploitation and injustice;

I was raised on my impoverished mother’s thin milk- the toxic gruel of poverty, exploitation, desperation & disease.

For my parents- My introduction into this world –

was an act of triumph of unmitigated hope, or callous thoughtlessness to the

consequences of their action; This lack of control of impulse,

would go on to be the defining feature of my life, legal battles, television debates would be fought and lost over it, my dear friends – it would have a bearing –

on the course my life would take –

and the choices I would make.

I was raised on staple diet of violence, abuse and hunger-  no wonder, I never knew control,

I’d flung myself to the first sight of bread crumbs, leftover rice, or on a good day, sour curd;  the lack of control would come back to haunt me, as we would see later.

I was abused by countless men, multiple times, don’t ask when and how; to the point, that I started valorising my own violators.

I stopped fighting back, in this resignation was a realisation that I deserve it, and all those, who are weaker, those who’ve lost the ovarian lottery, and have had poor mothers for fate.

I never knew mercy, compassion-

a hungry child is incapable of empathy; incapacitated for emotional telepathy,

the exercise of placing one in someone else’s shoes? you must be kidding; he never knew any shoes,

and can hardly see the world for himself, for what runs in his system is not blood, he is nourished with envy running through the course of his being,at the injustice of this world,

at its monstrous inequities.

No wonder I never knew, the finer aspects of living, of civilisation;

of the rules set by men, who had either abused, or watch me being abused, while they fed, clothed their children with a nourishing touch, a benign sort of love.

No wonder when I found somebody even weaker, I couldn’t resist,being on the winning side of the power equation, for the first time – the abused turned an abuser.

Now, they are gunning for my head, they’d like me to die a judicial death; but they don’t know – children like me exist on the penumbra of life as you know it, banished from civilisation.

They don’t care much. Rules matter to those who have a chance to win. They don’t know – I never wanted to be born and I am quite indifferent to living. And I have one thing to say to them:-

Since I never had a childhood – don’t treat me as a child – Punish me, make me free !!

 

 

*Editorial Credits: Saranya Mishra, Nisha Gupta, Nritika Sangwan and Ankit Mishra.