Matters of Legislation: Dynamics between the Centre and the States

Did you ever raise an eyebrow over the fact that India with its strong federal structure is not a federation? For a sovereign nation to be called a federation, the legislative powers between the Centre and the States need to be divided in an independent manner such that they remain within their sphere. Unlike the American Federation, India was called a Union of States as its formation was not the result of an agreement by the States and no State can secede from it. According to BR Ambedkar and the Drafting Committee of 1947, the indestructibility of our federal nation made it a Union. (more…)

Proposed Regulation of OTT Platforms and Digital Content in India : Implications and the Way Ahead

India is predicted to become the 6th largest market for OTT (Over-the-top) platforms by 2024, with digital media reaching a valuation of $5.1 billion by 2021 alone. This growth can be credited to several factors including record low internet prices and the proliferation of mobile devices. This massive and undeniable change in the media landscape raises, perhaps inevitably, the issue of the integration of digital media into a broader policy landscape. The dialogue surrounding the regulation of digital media in all its forms has been steadily gaining momentum globally and in India. The question of content regulation in particular has proven to be a complex and nuanced issue with different stakeholders such as the government and media entities representing varied perspectives. (more…)

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…)

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…)

Solving India’s Infrastructure Problem: Is NIIF the Answer?

The National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) is an entity registered as a Category II Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). It was established by the Government of India in the financial year 2015-16 under the former Minister of Finance, Arun Jaitley, with a planned corpus of Rs. 40,000 crore to invest in commercially-viable long-term greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector collaboratively and sustainably. Its headquarters are in Mumbai, Maharashtra, with Mr. Sujoy Bose as its Chief Executive Officer. (more…)

Role of media in policy

Role of Media in Policymaking

Media as Quintessence of Democracy

Labeled as the “fourth estate” in democratic societies, the media possesses a distinctive capability to influence and shape government policies. Normatively ascribed the role of a “watchdog” with a capacity to contribute to institutional change, the media holds the political elite accountable, reflects the needs of the audience, and exposes transgressions of the power holders within the democratic system. Its role thus in influencing matters related to legislation and government policies is crucial and should not be overlooked. (more…)

Privacy: The Laid Jurisprudence and Contemporary Challenges

Living life with dignity, encapsulated in the rights such as privacy, which is for all to enjoy, is the victory of democracy. The article highlights some of the salient features of privacy rights and takes a step back to analyse the status of privacy rights in its current form. On 24 August 2017, a nine judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in Justice K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India passed a landmark judgement declaring the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right protected under the Indian Constitution. It is a natural right subsisting as an integral part to the fundamental right to life and liberty, inherent in Articles 14, 19 and 21. (more…)

Parliamentary Privileges: Essential for an Empowered Legislature or Abuse of Power?

The term privilege can be defined as an exemption, special right, advantage or immunity to a particular person or group of persons in a layperson’s terms. In law, privilege is an advantage enjoyed by a person or an association where people are exempted from some duty, burden, attendance or liability. Parliamentary Privileges are certain rights and immunity enjoyed by the members of the parliament and legislative assemblies individually and collectively, till the time they retain their position as a member of the legislature. These privileges are defined under Article 105 of the Indian Constitution and due to these privileges, members are exempted from any civil or criminal liability for any statement made or act performed by them in their course of tenure. These privileges are called off as soon as the members complete their tenure in the legislative body (Houses of Parliament at the Centre & Legislative Assemblies in the States). (more…)

The Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Act, 2020: Is Tax Recovery an Alternative for Tax Policy Reforms?

On 5th February 2020 the Finance Minister introduced “The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020” in the Lok Sabha. The primary objective of this Bill was to provide a solution for income tax disputes which are pending. Thereafter, some official amendments were proposed by the key stakeholders. After the amended Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, it finally received the President’s assent on 17th March 2020 and thus the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020 came into being. (more…)