My paper proposing a framework for Parliamentary Oversight in India has been published in the NUJS Law Review (link). A brief description of the paper: "The need for a strong monitoring mechanism of the Executive in India has been made clearer by recent allegations of corruption against high-ranking officials of the central government. The Indian Parliament … Continue reading My paper on parliamentary oversight in India
Putting Carts Before Horses. And How?
This post was first published by Humorlessindianlawyer.blogspot.in on April 8, 2014. Imagine, living in India with a Parliament that makes laws, an executive that implements these laws and a court system that interprets these laws. Now, imagine Parliament making the following law: Right to regulate all Economic Activities Completely Act, 2014 Section 1. This Act … Continue reading Putting Carts Before Horses. And How?
Constituency-wise Manifestoes, their regulation and consequences
1 Introduction Today's Mint carries an article on how political parties have increasingly moved to a system of "localised" manifestoes for the 2014 general election. This is a significant trend that began with Aam Aadmi Party's Delhi election campaign where it released local manifestoes for each assembly constituency (link). The BJP followed suit in Delhi, and according to … Continue reading Constituency-wise Manifestoes, their regulation and consequences
AAP Governance:The dangerous and regressive fight over Electricity pricing
1 Introduction The Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi Government has (link) slashed power tariffs in Delhi, and is in the midst of an ongoing tussle (link) with Reliance owned discom BSES over the supply of electricity in certain parts of Delhi. The AAP, even before taking the reins of the Delhi Government had long accused the Delhi discoms of overcharging … Continue reading AAP Governance:The dangerous and regressive fight over Electricity pricing
Fatal attraction: The State’s “public purpose” in Land Acquisition
This post was first published in The Broad Mind, on September 12, 2013. Both houses of Parliament recently passed The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (“2013 Act”), repealing the century-old Land Acquisition Act, 1894. For years, the new law was touted as the panacea to the … Continue reading Fatal attraction: The State’s “public purpose” in Land Acquisition
State Building in India II: Indian Constitution and new states
I had written this post in 2009 when Telengana first became a major political issue. I am re-posting it since major decisions about the creation of Telengana are underway. Minor edits and updates have been made and are provided in italics. In my earlier post on the issue of Telengana's statehood, I tried to provide … Continue reading State Building in India II: Indian Constitution and new states
Transparency and Political Parties – Finding the Right Instrument
In a recent post, I had written on why I think bringing political parties under the Right to Information Act is a bad idea. Economic and Political Weekly recently published my article on the same topic, where I critique the judgement of the Central Information Commission in detail, and argue that transparency in incomes and … Continue reading Transparency and Political Parties – Finding the Right Instrument
The narrative of judicial appointments
This post first appeared as an article on Bar and Bench on July 2, 2013, and can be accessed at their website here. News reports have indicated the government’s plan to establish a judicial appointments commission (“JAC”) for the appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges. If established, the body would not only mark a sharp change … Continue reading The narrative of judicial appointments
Death at Kedarnath: Mule owners and their right to strike
Little noticed news reports in a couple of papers (here and here) indicate that the death of many pilgrims in Kedarnath may have been exacerbated by the actions of local mule owners and contractors for car parking lots in the days leading up to the heavy rains and clash floods. The local mule owners and … Continue reading Death at Kedarnath: Mule owners and their right to strike
Should political parties be subject to the Right to Information Act?
The Central Information Commission (CIC), on June 3, 2013, stated that political parties are "public authorities" under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). Public authorities under the RTI Act are required to make pro active disclosures regarding their organization and its functioning. In addition, they have to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs). Members … Continue reading Should political parties be subject to the Right to Information Act?
New uses of UID/Aadhaar operationalised
According to a NY Times blog post today, 3 different uses of UID numbers, or Aadhaar were operationalised recently: "Those in the Aadhaar system will now be able to identify themselves by using an eye scanner, which checks the unique patterns in their irises, and providing their ID number. Those with mobile phones can also … Continue reading New uses of UID/Aadhaar operationalised
Consumer protection or curb on right to speech and expression?
-writing from Harvard Law School There have been recent news reports (though surprisingly few - here and here) on new government regulations that ostensibly seek to protect cell phone users from unwanted marketing calls, but may actually amount to restrictions on individual rights to free speech and expression. The telecom regulator TRAI introduced regulations … Continue reading Consumer protection or curb on right to speech and expression?
How lack of transparency kills the credibility of the government
Lack of routine information available in the public domain plays a huge role in reducing the credibility of the state, and making citizens more suspicious of it than we need to. A prime example of this would be related to the appointment of Mr. Thomas as CVC chief, and the apparent changing of rules … Continue reading How lack of transparency kills the credibility of the government
Kashmir II: The last Month
In my last blog post, I had summarised the main events in Jammu and Kashmir's past history to try and give a context to the post I am writing today. I encapsulate the main events which have taken place within Jammu and Kashmir within the last month or so. In doing this, I have also … Continue reading Kashmir II: The last Month
Kashmir as it stands today – I
The recent violence in Kashmir has dealt a great deal of damage to the gains made there in recent years. In this and the next blog post (will be up soon), I encapsulate a summary of the main events concerning Kashmir, and also an attempt at making a timeline of recent events there. Main events … Continue reading Kashmir as it stands today – I
Who holds intelligence agencies accountable?
I have put up a blog post on my organisation's blog on the issue of Parliament's oversight of intelligence agencies such as RAW and IB. In India, there is absolutely no scrutiny by our popularly elected Parliament of the intelligence agencies in the country. The blog post "Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence Agencies" cites examples from … Continue reading Who holds intelligence agencies accountable?
India’s Constitution that Gandhi (never) wrote
India has developed a rich tradition of Parliamentary democracy over the past sixty years or so. However, time and again we face major disruptions and challenges to the form of government that our founding fathers established. It might therefore be worthwhile to examine whether there was any alternative form of democracy we could have adopted … Continue reading India’s Constitution that Gandhi (never) wrote
Khap Panchayats: Krap or dangerously reasonable
Khap Panchayats have been in the news recently. Following the conviction of some members for killing a couple who married against the wishes of the Panchayat, leaders of various Khap Panchayats have sounded a defiant note and want changes in marriage laws. This post tries to look at the validity of their claim. First, a … Continue reading Khap Panchayats: Krap or dangerously reasonable
Local Government IV: India’s municipal bodies
Municipal Corporations Municipal corporations are formed in large urban areas, and usually have one head appointed by the government who is the ‘Commissioner’. The other head of the municipal corporation is the Mayor, who is elected either directly by the people, or indirectly from among the elected members of the municipal corporation.[i] Though the Mayor … Continue reading Local Government IV: India’s municipal bodies
Local Government III: States – Culprits or bystanders?
The Constitution gives the state governments the power to make laws on all matters relating to the local government, the composition and powers of municipal bodies, and other local bodies for the purpose of self-government.[i] All states therefore have legislations setting out in detail the powers and functions of municipal bodies, and other local bodies. … Continue reading Local Government III: States – Culprits or bystanders?
Local Government II: Central government and local bodies
The central government does not have a direct role to play in the functioning of municipal bodies. It however releases funds to state governments annually for urban development. These funds are released based on the recommendations of the Central Finance Commission’s report. The central government also has a role in municipal administration by promoting urban … Continue reading Local Government II: Central government and local bodies
How bodies such as the MCD, BMC, KMC function
India likes to tout the fact that its experiments with local self-government and decentralisation have worked wonders over the years. Starting today, I will be putting out a series of posts on how precisely these Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) function. Part I: Background Since independence, the urban population of India has grown nearly five times. … Continue reading How bodies such as the MCD, BMC, KMC function
Selective transparency: CAG Reports on Defence
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India audits the accounts and performance of government ministries, departments, and various schemes that are being run in the country. It is a body set up under the Constitution of India (Article 148), and its reports have to be tabled in Parliament (Article 151). A report or document tabled … Continue reading Selective transparency: CAG Reports on Defence
How Rajya Sabha succeeded: Women’s Reservation
I do not wish to enter the debate on the efficacy of reservation of women in Parliament. I do not wish to do so for the simple reason that I think it is a good idea. In this post I wish to focus on the story of how the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill. This … Continue reading How Rajya Sabha succeeded: Women’s Reservation
Secret uncovered: How our cabinet works
Today, I am summarising some key rules regarding how the business of the Government of India is conducted. At the top of the Executive wing f the government in India is the Union Cabinet consisting of the Prime Minister, various departments directly under his control, and his Council of Ministers. One of the key Rules … Continue reading Secret uncovered: How our cabinet works
How much does a Supreme Court judgement cost?
"What kind of impact do some judgements have on the finances of the government?" In this post, I propose to look at this question using a judgement delivered in April 2009. In the course of this post, I also argue that judges should refrain from delivering judgements which have huge financial and policy implications, as … Continue reading How much does a Supreme Court judgement cost?
Govt. Preparing to influence media perception??
While doing some work-related research, I found an interesting sub-heading under the Ministry of Home Affairs' Action Plan document for October, 09 - March, 10. Page 44 of this document (Under the sub-heading Naxal Management Division) mentions a heading called the "Media / Perception Management Plan". The activities planned under it pertain mainly to inane … Continue reading Govt. Preparing to influence media perception??
Amount of freedom in the world
This is from a link a colleague forwarded. A group called Freedom House has just completed a 'Freedom in the World 2010' survey. Here are a couple of graphs from their work: The graphs show, (1) the number of democracies in the world today are the least since 1996, and (2) the percentage of electoral … Continue reading Amount of freedom in the world
Update on reservation for Minorities: Ranganath Mishra Committee Report
The government has asked ministries for feedback on the implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission Reforms (Govt eliciting views of ministries on Ranganath Misra report). The ministries have been asked to report whether there are 'insurmountable difficulties' in giving identified minorities adequate reservation. I had posted a piece on the subject some time earlier. Please read … Continue reading Update on reservation for Minorities: Ranganath Mishra Committee Report
Bestseller II: How scholarly are our courts?
Yesterday I posted a piece on a judgement of the Bombay High Court banning a book. I had mentioned the facts of the book and the main points raised by the author of the book. Today, I am quoting the main points of the court's judgement. After that I argue that banning books on sensitive … Continue reading Bestseller II: How scholarly are our courts?