ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lawless Lawmaking in a COVID-19 World

India’s management of the COVID-19 global pandemic has been marked by excessive centralisation, lawless lawmaking and non-consultative decision-making processes at the union government level. This has created an atmosphere of confusion in the management of the disease, leading to India becoming one of the global hotspots and cases fast spiralling out of the control of local authorities.

A Regressive World View on Scheduled Tribe Reservations

The Supreme Court’s setting aside of the Andhra Pradesh government’s preference scheme for Scheduled Tribes in schools in Scheduled Areas shows up a world view which believes that Adivasis need to be pushed into the “mainstream” and compelled to abandon their “backward” culture. However, this goes against the constitutional vision, as made clear in the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s majority judgment in the same case, which articulates a more nuanced and sensitive position on the rights of India’s Adivasis.

Mapping the Appointments and Tenures of Supreme Court Judges

The debate about the tenure of judges of the Supreme Court of India is fixated somewhat unnecessarily on the retirement age than the actual time spent in the Court. Examining the length of the tenure gives some hints as to the unwritten criteria of appointment and may potentially offer a deeper understanding of the systemic problems faced by the courts.

Questioning Citizenship-based Taxation in Budget 2020

The proposal in the Finance Bill, 2020 to introduce taxation on the basis of citizenship for those non-resident Indians who do not pay tax in their countries of residence has proven to be controversial. It creates an altogether new basis for taxation of income under Indian laws. While criticisms related to its (unintended) impact are justified, there is also a need to examine the constitutional validity of this move given the extraterritorial nature and impact of the tax.

A Decade of Decay

Between 2010 and 2019, the Supreme Court of India has suffered a credibility crisis not seen since the 1970s, with its reputation for independence and institutional strength lying in tatters. Deep systemic failings have come to the fore as the Court enters a new decade in the midst of an existential battle for relevance.

A Shoddy Judgment

In holding that state governments could not pass laws to allow for direct appeals to the Supreme Court, the constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Rajendra Diwan v Pradeep Kumar Ranibala in 2019 was concerned less about upholding constitutional provisions and more by a disagreement over policy. In as much as states allowing for appeals directly to the Supreme Court is bad policy, it is not necessarily unconstitutional and is entirely within the framework of federalism under India’s Constitution.

Four Transfers and One Saving Grace

The controversies over the transfers of judges have brought the collegium’s credibility to a nadir in recent times. The absence of proper justification for its decisions, especially given the allegations of government interference, have only served to show why lack of transparency is harmful. In this context, the decision to discuss and debate allegations against nominee judges is a small but welcome step.

On Ethics of Legal Representation

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Ram Jethmalani was a hugely controversial figure, liked or disliked based on who he represented in court. This, however, is the wrong way to frame an understanding of his work as a lawyer. In focusing on “who” he represented, there is a risk that the fundamental right of representation for the accused is undermined, and it prevents us from also critiquing the “how” of representation.

Code on Wages and the Gig Economy

The Code on Wages, 2019 ostensibly seeks to harmonise four different laws governing the payment of wages and minimum wages in India, and “simplify and rationalise” the law. However, it is a missed opportunity to update the definition of “employee” in the context of the rise of the “gig economy,” a source of livelihood for a large number of workers who do not enjoy formal protection under the labour laws.

The True Dangers of the RTI (Amendment) Bill

The proposed amendment to the Right to Information Act, 2005 has caused controversy around the institution of the Central Information Commission being weakened and undermined by the proposed changes. While there is reason for the anxiety, it arises not purely because of the text of the law, but the absence of proper justification for the amendments.

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