The Anuradha Bhasin Judgment and the Conditional Status of the Right to the Internet

The preamble to the Indian Constitution provides for the liberty of thought and expression to each and every citizen of the country. This solemn resolve is envisaged in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which provides for freedom of speech and expression to its citizens. This freedom is restricted by Article 19(2) which provides for reasonable restrictions on eight grounds under which the State can encroach on a person’s freedom of speech and expression. Article 19(2) is generally understood as a provision enabling the State to make laws that impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression. In addition to this, Article 19(2) is also a restriction on the State itself as it cannot restrict a citizen’s free speech on any grounds other than those specifically mentioned. Furthermore, the restriction must be made through a law that needs to be checked against fundamental rights. Thus, restrictions cannot be imposed at the whims and fancies of the State. A recent case that reinforces this principle while also improvising the interpretation of the right to access the internet vis-a-vis the fundamental rights is Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India (more…)

“Respect” as Income Support? The Case of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi

The Kisan Long March of 2018 brought the grave situation of agrarian distress to the fore and built a consensus demanding policy intervention. Thus, the announcement of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme (PM- KISAN) came as a form of confirmation of the ongoing agrarian crisis. The sixth installment of the scheme was rolled out by the Government from 1st August 2020. This Central scheme was announced in 2018 to benefit 14 crore small and marginal farmers with direct cash transfers of more than 75,000 crore rupees. Under this scheme, small and marginal farmers holding not more than 2 hectares of land are entitled to receive Rs 6,000 a year in 3 installments. After 2 cycles of the scheme being complete, it is important to look into its success and what it has been able to achieve in real terms.  (more…)

Measures to address the impact of COVID on access to education in Government Primary Schools of Delhi

The UNDP report COVID and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery states that the pandemic has emerged as a “human development crisis” with indicators of certain dimensions expected to sink as low as mid-1980 levels. Education is one such dimension. With schools being closed and large proportions of the population without internet access, “effective out-of-school rate” suggests that 60% of the children across the globe do not have access to education. (more…)

Need for Modifications in the provisions of The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020

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The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 was introduced in the Parliament on 17th September 2020 by the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind on 27th September 2020. The Act is meant to provide a national framework for agreements concerned with farming and protect farmers in their agreements with companies, retailers, and wholesalers. The Act is also meant to help the farmers with the sale of their produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price in a fair and transparent manner. An important provision in the Act is the promotion and facilitation of direct and online trade of farmers’ produce. (more…)

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020: Widening the Purview of the Act

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance was promulgated on 4th November 2020 by the President of India to ensure that all the stakeholders get an unconditional stay on the enforcement of arbitral awards where the Court finds out that the underlying agreement or the making of the award is induced by fraud or corruption and thus, through this amendment the parties to the proceedings, who challenged the award can now be saved from the conditions that the Court may impose in the normal circumstances for the stay of award. Further, the Ordinance omits the Eighth Schedule relating to the qualification and experience of the Arbitrator, which had impliedly excluded the foreign nationals from acting as arbitrators in an Indian seated Arbitration and substitutes the Schedule with Section 43J of the Act so as to state that the accreditation for arbitrations shall now be done as per the qualifications, experience and the norms specified by the regulations. (more…)

Anti-Defection Law in India: A Long Road to Stability

To curb the menace of horse-trading or floor crossing or party defection by the legislators that gave rise to instability in the House and the government, the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution or the Anti-Defection Law was enacted in 1985. Under this law, a legislator can be disqualified from the house on grounds of defection. Defection is defined as voluntarily giving up the membership of a party. The Courts have later interpreted this definition to examine and explain what counts as “voluntarily giving up” the membership of a party. There are some exceptions to this law and the power to disqualify a legislator lies with the Speaker or Chairman of the House.  (more…)

Need for modifications in the provisions of the Code on Social Security, 2020

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The Code on Social Security, 2020, widens the ambit of social security policies by including employees and workers of both organised and unorganised sectors, which is a crucial step in the right direction for ensuring social security for all. The Code promises to pioneer the rights of employees in a sector agnostic manner by extending effective policies for guaranteeing social security. While it has paved the way for affecting the much needed change in India’s social security policies, there is scope for improving the language of the provisions of the Code for ensuring that it achieves the desired results. In the absence of such modifications in the specific provisions, it runs the risk of misinterpretation which can adversely impact the same rights that the Code otherwise sets out to reinforce. (more…)

Need for rehabilitation & alternate livelihood options for population displaced under the Yamuna Rejuvenation Project

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The Yamuna Rejuvenation Project was launched by the Union Government in collaboration with the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and the University of Virginia. It is a research based project aimed at rejuvenating the river in the NCR of Delhi by way of redevelopment of the drains, particularly the Najafgarh drains, which flow into the Yamuna river and account for the majority of pollution in the river. Through engaging government agencies, experts and environmental activists, in India and internationally, the YRP engages with the multidimensional challenges in the recovery of the river. Addressing concerns in areas like public health, urban design, architecture, governance etc., it has recommended working plans in planned urban development projects on the banks of the river, the replacement of drainage systems of the British era among others. However, these urban development projects have resulted in eviction drives and demolition of the dwellings on the floodplains and this has been severely affecting the rights of a large number of slum dwelling communities who reside in the floodplains. (more…)

Need for modifications in the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020

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The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 was promulgated on June 5th 2020 (as an ordinance), along with two other Bills together constituting the three agricultural laws passed by the government. This law amended the existing Act by removing and deregulating commodities like potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, cereals, pulses and oils from the list of essential commodities. As an outcome, their supply will now be regulated by the Central Government only under extraordinary circumstances and stock limits will be imposed only in case of 100% and 50% increase in rates of horticultural products and non-perishable agricultural products respectively. The subsequent Bill was cleared in the Rajya Sabha on 19the September, 2020 to become an Act.  (more…)

POSHAN Abhiyan: A Contemporary Approach to a Problem Long Ignored

On 8th March 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the POSHAN Abhiyaan to attack one of the most critical evils of India-malnutrition. Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition (POSHAN) Abhiyan brought about a significant shift in the country’s approach in dealing with malnutrition, transitioning into mission-mode envisaging multi-dimensional attacks on the causes of the problem and related issues. A planned launch on International Women’s Day was not an empty symbolism either, but a forebear of the mission’s focus on women through guided efforts to enhance nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. (more…)