Event: International Conference on 'Comparative Perspectives on the Right to Education for Minorities and Disadvantaged Groups'

Vidhi's Education Initiative is organising an International Conference on Comparative Perspectives on the Right to Education for Minorities and Disadvantaged Groups, in collaboration with the Oxford Human Rights Hub and the Open Society Foundations.

It shall take place on 14th and 15th January 2016, at Seminar Halls 1 and 2, India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi - 110003.

The aim of this conference is to bring together a diverse group of participants from India, South Africa, UK and other countries, and engage them on the key challenges surrounding the enforcement of the right to education for minorities and disadvantaged groups.

The conference consists of four panels, namely:

  • The Role of Public and Private Actors: Challenges Facing the Right to Education
  • Gender Equality in Education: Moving Beyond Access to Primary Education
  • Measuring Quality and Enforcing a Right to Quality Education
  • Balancing the Right to Freedom of Religion and Culture and the Right to Education

The conference will conclude with a Plenary Session on The Role of Courts in Realising the Right to Education.

Schedule

Day 1: Thursday, 14th January, 2016 

09:30 – 10:00 am - Registration
10:00 – 10:35 am - Inaugural Address by Shantha Sinha, former Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
10:35 – 10:45 am - Release of Vidhi paper on ‘Right to Education and Minority Rights: Towards a Fine Constitutional Balance’

10:45 – 11:00 am - Tea 

11:00 – 01:00 pm - Panel 1 - The Role of Public and Private Actors: Challenges Facing the Right to Education

Panel members -

  1. Kiran Bhatty, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

  2. Sarah Sephton, Legal Resources Centre, South Africa

  3. Amit Kaushik, IPE Global, New Delhi


1:00 – 2:00 pm - Lunch 

2:00 – 4:00 pm - Panel 2 - Gender Equality in Education: Moving Beyond Access to Primary Education

Panel members -

  1. Sandra Fredman, Oxford Human Rights Hub, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  2. Shabistan Gaffar, All India Confederation of Women’s Empowerment Through Education, New Delhi

  3. Archana Dwivedi and Kanija, Nirantar, New Delhi 

  4. Maya Menon, Teacher Foundation, Bengaluru

  5. Meghan Campbell, Oxford Human Rights Hub, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  6. Afshan Huma, Alama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan (recorded presentation)


Day 2: Friday, 15th January, 2016


9:30 – 10:15 am - Registration

10:15 am – 12:15 pm - Panel 3 - Measuring Quality and Enforcing a Right to Quality Education
Panel members -

  1. Pranav Kothari, Educational Initiatives, Ahmedabad

  2. Shailendra Sharma, Pratham, New Delhi 

  3. Geeta Kingdon, University of London, United Kingdom

  4. Helen Taylor, Oxford Human Rights Hub, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  5. Avinash Singh, National University for Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi


12:15 – 1:30 pm - Lunch

1:30 – 3:30 pm - Panel 4 - Balancing the Right to Freedom of Religion and Culture and the Right to Education

Panel members -

  1. Jayna Kothari, Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bengaluru

  2. Ranu Jain, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

  3. Michael Bishop, Legal Resources Centre, South Africa

  4. Azra Razzak, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi 

  5. Farida Khan, National Commission for Minorities, New Delhi 

3:30 – 4:00 pm - Tea

4:00 – 5:30 pm - Plenary Session – The Role of Courts in Realising the Right to Education

Panel members-

  1. Justice A.P. Shah, Former Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi and Chairman, 20th Law Commission of India

  2. Colin Gonsalves, Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi

  3. Sandra Fredman, Oxford Human Rights Hub, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Event: Vikram Raghavan's talk on George Gadbois and the Judges of the Supreme Court of India

Vidhi invites you to a talk by Vikram Raghavan on “George Gadbois and the Judges of the Supreme Court of India”. Using photographs and archival documents, the talk will focus on the work of George Gadbois, an American political scientist who has spent over half a century studying the Indian judiciary. Gadbois authored Judges of the Supreme Court of India, a widely-consulted book now in its fifth printing. The book relies on several decades of research including exclusive interviews with retired justices, their close relatives, and members of the bar. Drawing insights from Gadbois’ work, the talk will provide perspective on socio-economic contexts that shaped the judges and their interpretations. 

Mr. Raghavan trained as a lawyer in India and the United States. He created and contributes to a blog called Law and Other Things and writes occasional pieces for the Economic and Political Weekly. Mr. Raghavan has authored a book titled ‘Communications Law in India’ (LexisNexis 2006) and co-edited a volume of essays titled ‘Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia’ (Oxford University Press 2013). He is presently working on a narrative account about how India became a constitutional republic in 1950.

The talk shall take place on January 14, 2016 at India International Centre Annexe, New Delhi (Lecture Hall II) at 6 p.m. Tea will be served from 5:30 p.m. Do register here.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Bill, 2015 introduced in Parliament

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 NY

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 NY

In the Indian economy, one of the significant factors for the failure of credit market is the lack of resolution of insolvency. The current laws governing insolvency are fragmented, multi-layered and the adjudication of insolvency matters take place in multiple fora, resulting in the development of an unpredictable regime.

Several government committees have worked on this subject for the past few decades. However, the Bankruptcy Law Reform Committee (BLRC) which was set up in August, 2014 under the chairmanship of Mr. T.K. Vishwanathan (former Secretary General, Lok Sabha and former Union Law Secretary) is the first committee with the mandate of suggesting comprehensive and not incremental reforms. The BLRC extensively studied the insolvency regime within India as well as various international jurisdictions and proposed an all-encompassing law for corporate and individual insolvency, reflecting the best practices from across the globe.

In November this year (2015), the BLRC submitted to the Ministry of Finance its final report in two volumes, which was put up for public comments. The report was well received by stakeholders and is pegged as a major reform for the Indian economy, needed for facilitating credit and creating a higher flow of capital in the economy. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley identified Bankruptcy Law Reform as a key priority for improving the ease of doing business in India.

Volume I captures the rationale and design of the proposed law elaborates upon the economic rationale for the proposed law and the infrastructure required to set the law in motion.

The underlying principle for corporates is the assessment of viability of an enterprise in the early stages of insolvency, such that the creditor and the debtors can negotiate a financial arrangement while preserving the economic value of the enterprise. However, if the negotiations fail, then the enterprise is liquidated. The insolvency resolution is required to be done within a period of 180 days, and there is also a provision for fast track insolvency resolution for certain entities which is required to be completed within 90 days.

Since the stigma attached to bankruptcy is higher for individuals, the focus of the individual insolvency is on negotiated repayment between the creditors and the debtor. Bankruptcy is triggered only on a failure of such negotiations, however, unlike corporate insolvency, it is not automatic. A special mechanism of debt waiver for a specific set of indigent persons is also envisaged, to provide them with a fresh start.

Volume II encapsulates the draft of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code for the country. The intent is to provide a sound framework of law with procedural and judicial certainty. The code contains the legal provisions governing the mechanisms for corporate and individual insolvency and bankruptcy resolution. It also contains the law for - setting up and operationalizing the insolvency and bankruptcy regulator, the functioning of the adjudicator and insolvency professionals and the establishment of information utilities and insolvency professional agencies.

The Bill was introduced in Parliament on 21st December and has been hailed as an 'excellent reform' for India that will pay a critical role in improving the ease of doing business.

Vidhi assisted the BLRC and the Ministry of Finance in the research and drafting of the Code, and is presently assisting the ministry in follow up work.  

Bangalore Event: A Panel Discussion on Cooperative Federalism

On 2nd December, Vidhi organized ‘A Panel Discussion on Cooperative Federalism’ – From Rhetoric to Reality. The event was in collaboration with Bangalore International Centre and Indian Institute for Human Settlements.

Vidhi invited Dr. M. Govinda Rao (Member, 14th Finance Commission), Mr. Nandan Nilekani (Former Chairman, UIDAI) and Ms. Srijoni Sen (Lead, Public Law, Vidhi) to share their unique insights into the inner workings of Indian federalism from an economic and a governance perspective.

The discussion saw a lively engagement, through examples and experiences shared by the speaker, of how cooperative federalism could be better understood in the Indian context, and what it might mean in the years to come.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Arghya Sengupta (Research Director, Vidhi).  

Panel Discussion: The NJAC Verdict Deconstructed

On 5th November, Vidhi organized a panel discussion on the ‘NJAC Verdict Deconstructed’ and its implications on constitutional law and theory in India.

The event was moderated by Vidhi’s Research Director Dr. Arghya Sengupta. Vidhi invited an eminent group of experts to throw light on the subject. The panel consisted of Mr. Arvind Datar, Senior Advocate, who appeared for the petitioners in the NJAC case; Mr. A K Ganguli Senior Advocate, amicus curiae in the Suraz India case where the Supreme Court first expressed concern about the Collegium; Mr. Raju Ramachandran, Senior Advocate, one of the leading authorities in India on the basic structure doctrine, and Mr. Madhav Khosla, PhD candidate at Harvard University and author of Oxford India's Short Introduction to the Indian Constitution.

The discussion revolved around four main themes: first, the implications of the judgment for the basic structure doctrine, second, the conceptualisation of judicial independence in the judgment,  third, the composition of the NJAC, specifically the inclusion of the Law Minister and the eminent persons, and fourth, the criticisms of the collegium in the case, and the way forward for collegium reform. An engaged audience pushed for greater exploration of these themes in the lively Q&A that followed the panel discussion.

'Great Cases': Talk by Mr. Mohan Parasaran on the Vodafone case

On 31st October, Vidhi organized its sixth talk in the 'Great Cases' series by Mr. Mohan Parasaran, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India on the Vodafone tax case (Vodafone International Holdings v Union of India).

Mr Parasaran, obtained his law degree from the Delhi University and his Masters in Law from the University of Cambridge. He started the practice of law at the Madras High Court in 1985.  He was appointed Additional Solicitor General of India in 2004 and served in that capacity till February 2013 when he was appointed Solicitor General of India. 

In the event organized by Vidhi, Mr. Parasaran spoke about the dispute between Vodafone UK and the Indian Income Tax Department regarding the payment of Rs. 11000 crores as tax deductible at source by Vodafone for its Rs. 55,000 crore purchase of Hutchison Whampoa's mobile phone services business in India.

 Mr Parasaran appeared on behalf of the Tax Department in all the rounds of litigation concerning the Vodafone case before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court in his capacity as the then Additional Solicitor General of India.  

The video of the proceedings can be accessed below:


New Judicial Reform Projects

1024px-Allahabad_high_court.jpg

Previously, the Judicial Reform Initiative has undertaken several projects, including detailed study and analysis of the growing trend of 'Tribunalisation' and shortcomings in different statutory tribunals. 

Over the next few months, the Initiative will be involved in a project titled 'Strengthening Mediation as a Viable Dispute Resolution Mechanism in India'. The project will undertake a review of mediation practices in India and recommend requisite steps to enhance its role by structuring out a more formal procedure to conduct mediation proceedings. 

The Initiative will also be working on a project titled 'Breaking the Backlog: Analysis of the Case Workload of High Courts and District Courts in India'. The objective is to empirically analyse judicial backlog and pendency of cases in these High Courts and District Courts, and propose necessary procedural reforms to ameliorate this situation.

Speeches and Video: A Conversation on Cooperative Federalism

On 23rd September, 2015, Vidhi organized A Conversation on Cooperative Federalism’. The theme of the event was centred on Vidhi’s second briefing book on Cooperative Federalism – From Rhetoric to Reality. 

The book was released by Dr. Y. V. Reddy (former Governor, RBI and Chairperson of the 14th Finance Commission) and Justice (Retd.) B. N. Srikrishna (former Supreme Court Judge and Chairman of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission). The event started with a welcome address by Dr. A. S. Ganguly followed by speeches from Dr. Reddy and Justice Srikrishna.

 
 

In his speech, Dr. Y. V. Reddy shared many of his experiences during his years in office and was optimistic in his remarks. He said that although the frustration over delay in GST is understandable, considerable progress has been made during the past 50 years. Adding that the practice of federalism has empowered states, he said that “States are being encouraged to compete, to perform and deliver.”

Dr. Reddy's complete speech can be accessed here.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna spoke about the history of federalism. He derived facts from the United States’ adoption of federalist structure in 1787, and the concept of confederation in Greece. He said that the Indian Constitution has consciously adopted federalism, and that “federalism in India developed in an asymmetrical manner…with both vertical and horizontal imbalances.” He pointed out that federalism can succeed only if there is a strong sense of unity underlining the individual diversities.

Justice Srikrishna's complete speech can be accessed here.

 

You can also watch the entire event below:

And finally, a link to our Briefing Book is here.

RBI takes steps to improve credit rating of infrastructure company bonds

Photo by Ramnath Bhat licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo by Ramnath Bhat licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The RBI recently issued a circular that allows infrastructure companies to issue bonds (debt instruments) supported by credit enhancement through an irrevocable contingent line of credit provided by commercial banks up to a limit of 20% of the bond issue size.  Such partial credit enhancement will enable the bonds to get higher credit ratings, which should attract investments from insurance and provident/pension funds, which are otherwise unable to invest in such bonds because of the low credit ratings. The circular promotes an alternative source of finance for infrastructure companies, which are heavily dependent on banks for their financing requirements. 

Vidhi advised the RBI on certain key aspects of this circular. 

Event: A Conversation on Cooperative Federalism on 23rd September

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy would like to invite you to the release of our Briefing Book and a Conversation on 'Cooperative Federalism: From Rhetoric to Reality'.

The event is slated for the 23rd of September, Wednesday, at 7 pm at Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. 

At this event, Dr. Y. V. Reddy (Chairman, 14th Finance Commission and Former Governor, RBI) and Justice (Retd.) B. N. Srikrishna (Former Judge, Supreme Court) will share their unique insights into the inner workings of Indian federalism from an economic and a constitutional perspective.

Vidhi will also launch its Briefing Book titled ‘Cooperative Federalism: From Rhetoric to Reality’ at the event. The Briefing Book examines the meaning of the term ‘cooperative federalism’, highlights twenty issues of contemporary relevance where it is at play, and suggests solutions that will enable India to move towards the evolving aspirations of federalism.

PLEASE REGISTER at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-conversation-on-cooperative-federalism-with-dr-y-v-reddy-justice-b-n-srikrishna-tickets-18606419301

We look forward to seeing you!

Report of the Committee to recommend measures for curbing mis-selling of financial products

Image by Katrina.Tuliao licensed under CC2.0

Image by Katrina.Tuliao licensed under CC2.0

The Ministry of Finance recently released a Report prepared by a Committee to recommend measures for curbing mis-selling and rationalising distribution incentives in financial products . The remit of the study undertaken for the Report was to analyse the incentive structures of various financial investment products and suggest measures for ensuring the protection of consumers. Bearing in mind the inferences from the study, the Report makes specific recommendations in the context of product structures, costs, commissions and necessary disclosures for the benefit of the consumers.

Vidhi provided research assistance to the Committee constituted to draft the Report.

Great Cases: Talk by Mr Shyam Divan on the Naz Foundation cases

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy cordially invites you its fifth talk in the ‪Great Cases‬ series by Mr. Shyam Divan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India on Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi and Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation.

Mr. Divan is a distinguished lawyer with many years of experience before the High Court of Bombay and the Supreme Court of India. He has been involved in several prominent constitutional law and environmental law cases. He has also co-authored a book titled “Environmental Law and Policy in India”. At this event, Mr. Divan will discuss his reflections on both cases, which have had a lasting impact on LGBT rights.

Date: August 22nd
Time: 5:30 pm
Venue: UChicago Centre, DLF Capitol Point, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi - 110001.

There are limited number of seats at the venue, so please register on the link given below to provide us with a confirmation of your attendance.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/great-cases-talk-by-mr-shyam-d… .

We look forward to seeing you!

Audio: 'Great Cases' Talk by Sidharth Luthra

In the fourth talk of the Great Cases Series, Senior Advocate Mr. Sidharth Luthra narrated his experiences in the two cases - the Subramaniam Swamy case, relating to Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 in the context of investigation of corruption in public offices and in the case relating to the commutation of death sentences of the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi. Mr Luthra also discussed the background of these cases, the legal issues involved and the possible future consequences.

Thereafter, a wide-ranging discussion between Mr Luthra and the members of the audience followed, where the two cases as well as various aspects of criminal law and constitutional law were discussed.


Audio: Vikram Raghavan's talk on Granville Austin

On July 22nd, Vidhi hosted a talk by Mr. Vikram Raghavan, lawyer and mentor at Vidhi, on 'Granville Austin and the Making of India's Constitution.

Mr. Raghavan examined the life and work of Granville Austin, who is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on the Indian Constitution. Through the use of rare archival documents and photographs, Mr. Raghavan explored how Mr Austin came to write his two influential works on the Indian Constitution and how they have been received in India by lawyers, experts and lay-persons alike.

For those who couldn't join us, as promised, here is a recording of the talk. Hope to see you next time around!

Upcoming 'Great Cases' Talk: Mr. Sidharth Luthra on Great Criminal Law Cases of 2014

UPDATE: We regret to inform you that there are no more available seats for this event. Please check back for the video that will be updated shortly, and stay tuned for future talks!

Date: Saturday, July 25, 2015

Time: 5.30 pm

Venue: India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in association with The Firm (CNBC TV 18) presents, a series of talks on Great Cases where we will be inviting senior lawyers and retired judges to speak about their landmark cases. 

Vidhi cordially invites you its fourth talk in this series by Mr. Sidharth Luthra, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India on the Great Criminal Law Cases of 2014.

Mr. Luthra is an alumnus of Hindu College and Faculty of Law, Delhi University and has an M.Phil in Criminology from the University of Cambridge. He has previously served as the Additional Solicitor General of India. 

Mr. Luthra has appeared in various landmark criminal cases including the judgement on right to suicide, age of juveniles, the mercy plea of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins and the Tehelka case that related to corruption in defence deals. 

At the event, he will talk about his experiences in a number of noteworthy criminal cases that came up before the Supreme Court in 2014, including the Subramaniam Swamy case, which related to corruption in public offices and the Sriharan/Murugan cases that dealt with commutation of death sentences.

There will be tea and biscuits before the talk at 17:30 and a Q&A after.

Please note that in light of hectic work schedules during the week, we have decided to hold the talk on a Saturday evening for the sake of convenience.

We look forward to seeing you!

 

New RBI Norms on Debt Restructuring

The Reserve Bank of India has notified a ‘Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme’ as part of its ‘Framework for Revitalization of Distressed Assets in the Economy’. Among other provisions, the scheme allows lenders to acquire a controlling interest in a distressed debtor company and appoint professional management to run the affairs of the company as part of a debt restructuring exercise in appropriate cases. 

This is based on Vidhi’s recommendations in a concept paper submitted to the RBI in October last year as part of our research mandate from the RBI. The Scheme can be accessed here.  

 

Revival and Rehabilitation of MSMEs

The Notification on instructions for the Framework for the Revival and Rehabilitation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, issued by the Central Government dated 29th May, 2015 provides for an out-of-court mechanism for the rehabilitation of sick MSMEs. It intends to provide early and feasible solutions to bankruptcy proceedings, without procedural delays. 

The Notification is based on the recommendations contained in Chapter 8 of the BLRC's Interim Report, which Vidhi assisted in drafting. 

 

'Great Cases' Talk by Ms. Karuna Nundy on Shreya Singhal v. UOI

In the third talk of our series on 'Great Cases', Ms. Karuna Nundy, who appeared on behalf of PUCL in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, spoke about the impact of the judgment on the development of free speech laws in India, and her experiences in court while litigating this case. The complete video of her talk can be accessed on the website of The Firm

'Great Cases' Talk by Mr. Raju Ramachandran on the Ajmal Kasab Case

Mr. Raju Ramachandran spoke to an audience of 60-odd lawyers, journalists and scholars about his experiences as amicus curiae to the Supreme Court in the Ajmal Kasab decision. Through his experience of being asked to defend Kasab, the reactions he faced and the arguments presented in Court, he raised larger questions on the role of an amicus, which led to a lively discussion after the talk.