Polity in India

The DIPP and Indian FDI policy – The long road to clarity

This post was first published by Bar and Bench on July 23, 2013. The original article can be accessed here.   Recently, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) prescribed a comprehensive format allowing investors and businesses to seek formal clarifications in connection with the Indian FDI policy regime. For the vast Indian legal community having... Continue Reading →

Is the Food Security Ordinance a game-changer for India’s poor?

Citing the disruptions in Parliament, the UPA government decided to promulgate the National Food Security Ordinance on July 5. Under Article 123 of the Constitution, the President can promulgate an Ordinance when Parliament is not in session and there is need for ‘immediate action’. It is possible that the government has crossed a line of... Continue Reading →

Electoral Reforms, Vol. I: Recent developments and issues

Crime and Punishment Parliament This post is the first installment in a series on electoral reforms. Last week was a blockbuster one for election law, bringing us not one, but two Supreme Court decisions with implications for convicted criminals, political candidates, legislators, and combinations thereof. On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals lodged in... Continue Reading →

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 →

US v. Windsor: A Case for Same-Sex Marriages?

The US Supreme Court recently gave a landmark decision in US v. Windsor holding Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1996 (DOMA), which defines “marriage” as excluding same-sex unions, unconstitutional. Here’s a quick summary of the judgment. The full 77-page judgment is available here. The decision also contains some lessons for the treatment... Continue Reading →

The Asylum Debate

This article written by Roshni Shanker and Vasudha Reddy originally appeared in Outlook Online, and can be accessed here.  Earlier this week, India joined the list of countries that have denied asylum to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency consultant, stating that it sees no reason to accede to the request. The decision comes only... Continue Reading →

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 →

Proposed CBI Reforms: Will the Central Bureau of Investigation remain a “caged parrot”?

The Central government recently set up a Group of Ministers to propose reforms and ensure the functional independence of the CBI. This came in the wake of the Supreme Court criticizing the government for its interference in the Coal blocks allocation scam. The Court had asked the government to "come out with a law to... Continue Reading →

How safe is your personal data with your service provider?

Even as the world grapples with the idea of State surveillance, Financial Times recently carried an alarming article revealing the extent of private surveillance that we may unknowingly be subjected to. The article discloses that in the multi-million dollar consumer surveillance industry, your basic personal data such as gender, age and location is sold for... Continue Reading →

Time-bound delivery of Public Services now a reality?!

Tired of paying repeated bribes for common public services?  Tired of running around in circles to collect government documents? Tired of waiting forever for your file to move? The Right to Public Services Legislation could be the one stop solution for all your woes! My experiences with government services haven’t been the most pleasant ones.... Continue Reading →

Recent news reports provide a sneak peek into the blueprint for the National Cyber Coordination Centre in India.  According to a 2012 Report of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, India’s intelligence agencies and their policy development wings are extremely fragmented.  Thus, the decision to prefer a central authority that would coordinate between different... Continue Reading →

Should cheque-bouncing be a crime? Issues and consequences

It has been estimated that about 30% of criminal cases in Indian courts are either cheque bouncing or traffic offences. The government has now proposed to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act (N.I. Act) to decriminalise the offence of bouncing cheques (called `138 N.I.' in legal circles) (See here). This move is aimed a decongesting the... Continue Reading →

What ails India’s public health delivery system

Recently, the Cabinet approved the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s new programme, the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), which seeks to focus on the public health needs of the urban poor. NUHM is the new scheme under the government’s overarching National Health Mission (NHM) programme. The existing National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is the... Continue Reading →

Welcome to the surveillance state

Last week brought us explosive revelations from the The Guardian that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is conducting extensive surveillance on internet traffic patterns, email, and telecommunications. While perhaps not surprising, the news was shocking on at least three levels – (1) the program’s extensive reach, (2) its corporate participation from the likes of... Continue Reading →

In the upcoming issue of the Economic and Political Weekly, I critically analyse the draft Disclosure of Lobbying Activities Bill, 2013 recently introduced in the Parliament. The article recognizes that the Bill is perhaps the first official recognition of the fact that lobbying practices are omnipresent. However, it questions the seriousness of political leaders in... Continue Reading →

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 →

Anti-corruption clauses in international trade agreements: Should the Indo-EU Agreement have one?

  India and the European Union are closer, now more than ever before, to finalizing the Trade and Investment Agreement (Indo-EU TIA/ Agreement), which they have been negotiating since 2007.[1] This is perhaps the perfect time for India to press for ‘anti-corruption’ provisions to be included in the still-being negotiated Agreement. Taking cue from its... Continue Reading →

Are we water-secure or water-starved? – National Water Policy

By Esha Singh Alagh Recent news reports suggest that Cherrapunji, once the wettest place on earth is now water starved in the summer season. While the population of India constitutes around 17% of the entire world’s population, its water resources comprise of only 4% of world’s renewable water resources.Accepting the importance of protecting our water resources... Continue Reading →

Can’t bank on it

This article was co-authored by me, and appeared in the Indian Express on June 4, 2013. The original may be found here. According to a recent press release by the Reserve Bank of India, its board met in early May. This was the first board meeting after the Cobrapost exposé, revealing widespread failure by banks... Continue Reading →

How good is the data for monitoring government schemes?

Recently, a news item brought to attention a crucial but not often discussed matter on the quality of data collected at various levels of the government. It quoted a report from the Planning Commission’s think tank, Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR) which found that the data on the government’s many flagship schemes was either... Continue Reading →

Defamation: who should you fear more- Big Govt. or Big Corporate

Unlike many other countries, India has both civil defamation (if you defame someone, you have to pay compensation), and criminal defamation (you defame someone, you go to jail). Most other countries have removed criminal defamation as a crime from their law books. The result is that in India, not only does a publisher face the... Continue Reading →

Tumblr for our blog

Dear all, please note we have also created a tumblr page for our blog, and will be sharing posts there simultaneously as well. The tumblr page can be accessed at: polityinindia.tumblr.com. W.e.f this week, this blog has become a collaborative effort between 8-9 young professionals working broadly in the law and public policy sector. The names... Continue Reading →

Law to regulate lobbying in India

Recent news reports suggest that the committee investigating the case of Walmart lobbying the Indian government to allow FDI in the retail sector is going to submit its report shortly.  It is reported that the committee could not find evidence of Walmart bribing any government official or indulging in any unlawful activity.  However, the committee may... Continue Reading →

Why have pre-legislative scrutiny for Acts of Parliament?

This post is part-comment, part-response to Nick Robinson's post on the Law and Other Things Blog (please do check the blog out!) regarding the NAC's proposal for having pre-legislative scrutiny of Bills to be passed by Parliament. The National Advisory Council came out with "Draft Recommendations on Pre Legislative Process" for both draft rules, and draft... Continue Reading →

My article in Seminar Magazine on Parliamentary obstruction

Following is the article I wrote for Seminar Magazine (May 2013 issue) as a response to a piece on obstructions in Parliament: Communication AN article in the February 2013 issue of Seminar titled ‘The Real Price of Parliamentary Obstruction’ by Tarunabh Khaitan highlights the issue of recent obstructionism in Parliament and elaborates on its attendant consequences. The piece highlights... Continue Reading →

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 →

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