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

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Breaking up Tech Giants

The economic power wielded by tech giants has been aided and abetted by the lax enforcement of antitrust regulations by the United States. It has allowed them to create an almost impassable moat around their businesses, while being able to bully, browbeat, and buy out any competitors who look remotely threatening. Calls by politicians to break up these tech giants are more than timely and need to be taken seriously by regulators across the world.

Taxation and the Rule of Law

As necessary as the power of taxation is to the functioning of a proper government, constitutionalism and the rule of law require that the government’s powers to levy and collect tax should be governed by the letter of the law. Judicial oversight is supposed to ensure that the government follows the mandate of the law in revenue collection. However, the Supreme Court’s record on this matter has been less than salutary, its problematic approach, perhaps, reflected best in Mafatlal Industries Ltd v Union of India .

The City in the Constitution

The Constitution of India considers states to be the smallest unit of governance, leaving further devolution of powers at their discretion. Even the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments do not sufficiently empower the panchayati raj institutions or urban local bodies to respond to the needs of citizens in a democratic manner. With growing urbanisation, the problem of democratic deficit in the cities is going to become even more acute.

War on Air Pollution Will Not Be Won in the Courts

Despite certain measures adopted in the last 12 months, the air pollution problem across northern India has re-emerged this winter, and only worsened after the Diwali festival. The conversations, however, continue to be dominated by Delhi, and revolve around finding quick fixes, mostly pushed by courts, without looking at the deeper, underlying problems or addressing state capacity to deal with air pollution.

Criminal Laws and Civil Rights

In the past few weeks, constitution benches of the Supreme Court have struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) ( Navtej Singh Johar and Ors v Union of India 2018) and Section 497 of the IPC ( Joseph Shine v Union of India 2018), partly upheld the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of...

Not Just Hadiya

Although the legal system formally defends the rights of individuals as to who they want to live with or marry, it does pose various impediments in the path of those who choose against the will of their parents or the dictates of society. The abuse of process by parents and even third parties goes unpunished by the legal system, only creating new hurdles in the free exercise of the individual’s rights.

National Register of Citizens and the Supreme Court

The imminent withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by the union government in the face of strong protests by the residents of the north-eastern states is hardly a victory for constitutional principles or morality. It leaves “illegal migrants” in a continued limbo and heightens ethnic tensions in the North East. It also shifts the focus to the Supreme Court, which has taken upon itself the extremely delicate task of overseeing the preparation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam.

Reforming the Office of the Governor

The blatantly partisan actions of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala in the aftermath of the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018, which had thrown up a hung result, call for the need to scrutinise the post and functioning of governors within India’s constitutional scheme. Such malfeasance on the part of governors is not recent and their supposedly neutral role has always been more a pious hope than a reality. The need of the hour is serious constitutional reform, whether by the legislature or by the judiciary.

The Ordinance Route

The deadlock in Parliament has resulted in the increasing tendency of the union government to promulgate legislation through ordinances, when Parliament is not in session. While there are no substantive restrictions on the President’s power to promulgate ordinances, given the inherently temporary nature of ordinances, the exercise of this power must be limited keeping in mind the concerns of rule of law.

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