Comments on the draft Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill, 2017


Vidhi responded to a call for public comments on the draft Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill, 2017. Vidhi’s submissions critiqued the Bill based on inconsistency with existing legal frameworks and Supreme Court decisions, as well as pari materia legislations on fee regulation across different States. The submissions recommend several changes to the existing Bill based on the above analysis. Vidhi’s submissions can be accessed here.

Vidhi's work on discrimination against leprosy affected persons


In 2015, Vidhi assisted the Law Commission of India with its Report No 256 on Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy. The Report recommended some affirmative action measures to be taken against persons affected by leprosy, as well as the repeal of some laws that discriminated against such persons. However, no legislative action was taken on the basis of this report except for the repeal of the Lepers' Act, 1898. 

Vidhi worked with the Leprosy Mission Trust of India to uncover laws apart from those mentioned in the Law Commission Report that discriminated against persons affected by leprosy. We searched Manupatra and SCC Online for the words 'leper' or 'leprosy' to arrive at 119 Central and State statutes and rules that contained such discrimination. We excluded provisions from public health laws that applied to persons with infectious diseases generally without specifically mentioning leprosy. The laws that we included are only those that directly discriminate against persons affected by leprosy by explicitly mentioning them. We excluded laws that might discriminate against such persons indirectly since this would have required more evidence than the news reports and anecdotes we came across, and would also have been more appropriately challenged by persons directly affected. 

The petition challenges the 119 laws on the grounds that they violate the right to equality and dignity under Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, as well as the fundamental freedoms to move throughout the territory of India and practise any occupation, guaranteed under Article 19. These laws disqualify persons affected by leprosy from public office, allow their segregation by public authorities and prevent them from accessing public transport. In December, 2017, the Supreme Court admitted Vidhi's petition and has ordered notice to be issued to the Central and State Governments. 

The petition can be accessed here and the list of laws is available here.

Litigation on Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities

Inclusive education was recognized as a right under the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, particularly with respect to elementary education. This right ensures access of children with disabilities to the same learning environment as children without disability, as well as reasonable accommodation in the common learning environment to meet the learning needs of children with disability. This is recognized in spirit by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016("RPWD Act"). Similarly, the Right to Education Act, 2009 ("RTE Act") expressly  recognizes the right of children with disabilities to free and compulsory education, in the same manner as children without disability.

In light of the above, Vidhi has intervened in the Supreme Court in a matter related to education for children with disability in Uttar Pradesh and appointment of special educators. Vidhi's submissions argue that State cannot exclude children with disabilities from mainstream education on the basis of categories of disability and as such, the State should endeavour to deinstitutionalise existing special schools. Vidhi's submissions before the Court are available here

Vidhi has also filed a petition in the Delhi High Court praying for a policy that sets out norms and standards for inclusive education and for measures that will ensure that schools comply with these standards. Vidhi's submissions are based on a harmonious reading of the RTE Act and RPWD Act. The petition submits that even though the current statutory framework ensures that children with disabilities are admitted to mainstream schools, however in the absence of any enforceability of standards the said inclusion is not meaningful. Vidhi's petition is available here. 


Vidhi's Briefing Book Launch & Public Debate


Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy celebrated the occasion of its fourth anniversary with the launch of its fourth Briefing Book titled 'Towards the Rule of Law: 25 Legal Reforms for India' on December 22, 2017 at Constitution Club of India. The launch of the Briefing Book was followed by a public debate on the topic: “This house believes that India is a rule of law state.”

The public debate was moderated by Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai (Consulting Editor, India Today Group). The speakers included  Ms. Madhavi Divan (Advocate, Supreme Court of India), Mr. Sidharth Chauhan (Asst. Professor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad), Mr. Baijayant “Jay” Panda (Hon’ble Member of Parliament), Mr. Swapan Dasgupta (Hon’ble Member of Parliament), Ms. Shruti Kapila (University Lecturer, Cambridge University) and, Mr. Alok Prasanna (Senior Resident Fellow, Vidhi).

View the video for event here

Vidhi seeks legal recognition for Advance Directives


The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, represented by Senior Advocate, Mr Arvind Datar, intervened before a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today in a writ petition filed by Common Cause, seeking legal recognition for Advance Directives, also known as living wills. Advance directives are instruments that allow a person to express her prior wishes regarding what medical treatment she should or should not receive at a future time, should she lack the capacity to make an informed decision then. Vidhi argued that the recognition of Advance Directives was a necessary extension of the right to life and the right to die with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution, as well as the right to refuse medical treatment. Vidhi provided the Court with examples of legislation from other jurisdictions recognising advance directives and asked the Court to lay down guidelines that would grant legal validity to Advance Directives while also preventing their misuse.

A copy of Vidhi's written submissions is available here. Vidhi's intervention application can be accessed here

The Vidhi Dialogues: In conversation with Ms. Anubha Rastogi, Dr. Aparna Chandra and Dr. Suneeta Mittal

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The Supreme Court, in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, recognized the concept of 'bodily integrity' as an element of the right to privacy. At the same time, the Supreme Court and High Courts have been witnessing individual petitions for the right to seek abortion beyond 20 weeks- including those by minor rape victims. These petitions bring to light several criticisms of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The criticisms may be science-based (progress in medical science may allow for later-term safe abortions), ethics-based (the decision-making in the Act is not centred around the woman seeking abortion) or constitutional (the Act excessively restricts bodily intergrity). The Surrogacy Bill, 2016 raises similar questions about the right of women to enjoy autonomy in reproductive decisions that affect their bodies.

In the next edition of Vidhi Dialogues, three women- an academic, an advocate and a medical practitioner come together to deliberate on the issue of reproductive autonomy and bodily integrity. The discussion will centre around the intersection between legal, ethical and medical frameworks on the issue of reproductive rights.

Ms. Anubha Rastogi is a Mumbai-based lawyer with 14 years of experience in litigation on issues of human rights violation as well as in advocacy, research and policy-making. She has worked extensively on issues of women's rights including sexual and reproductive health from a rights-based point of view.

Dr. Aparna Chandra is an Assistant Professor of Law and Research Director at the Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy and Governance at National Law University, Delhi. She is currently collaborating with the Centre for Reproductive Rights, New York, on a manual on Reproductive Rights in India. She has previously co-taught a course in collaboration with Cornell Law School on Surrogacy Law and Practice.

Dr. Suneeta Mittal is Director & HoD of Obsretics & Gynecology at Fortis Memorial Research Institute. She has worked in this field for more than 42 years, including pioneering work in introducing Emergency Contraception in India, issuance of guidelines on safe abortions, and a collaboration with the Indian Government and UNICEF on Minimum Standards for Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. She previously served as Director-in-Charge, WHO-CCR in Human Reproduction, AIIMS, New Delhi for more than 12 years and as short-term consultant for WHO and UNFPA for reproductive health issues at several countries.

The dialogue is scheduled for 13th October, at 6.30 p.m., at the India International Centre, Lecture Room I, Annexe.

For admission to the event, we will prioritise guests who have registered. You can register for the event here

We look forward to seeing you!

The Vidhi Dialogues: In Conversation with Justice A.P. Shah and Mr. Sushant Singh

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With the retirement of Justice Khehar at the end of August, Justice Dipak Misra has been appointed the next Chief Justice of India. A Memorandum of Procedure on the appointment of judges, however, is still to be finalised. General Bipin Rawat was also named the Chief of Army Staff a few months ago, superseding two senior army officers. These developments give rise to questions about whether the seniority convention as an objective method of appointment should continue, or should be replaced with appointment based on merit.

In this edition of Vidhi Dialogues, Justice A.P. Shah and Mr. Sushant Singh will discuss their views on ‘Seniority Convention and Appointments to High Offices’ and whether a better selection mechanism can be developed for these appointments.

Justice A.P. Shah is the Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India, and has served as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.

Mr. Sushant Singh is the Associate Editor at the Indian Express. He has earlier served with the Indian Army and as a peacekeeper with the United Nations.

The dialogue is scheduled for 15th September, at 7 p.m., at the India International Centre, Conference Room II.

For admission to the event, we will prioritise guests who have registered. You can register for the event here

We look forward to seeing you!

The Vidhi Dialogues: In Conversation with Dr. Navroz Dubash and Dr. Srikanta K. Panigrahi

The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Accord, last month, has cast a shadow on the overall functionality of this Agreement. The implications of the US withdrawal are two-fold: first, the US is one of the three top polluters along with China and India, responsible for highest carbon emission levels and its withdrawal is a dent on the global unity that was embedded in the Paris Accord. Secondly, the US was also envisioned to be a major contributor to the Green Climate Fund, established under the Accord, and its withdrawal may impede the growth of this fund. 

The Vidhi Dialogue will explore the implications of the US withdrawal on India and its obligations under the Paris Accord. For this edition, we are happy to present two distinguished environmentalists, Dr Navroz Dubash and Dr Srikanta K. Panigrahi, who will be presenting their insights on the theme of this dialogue.

Dr Navroz Dubash is a senior fellow at CPR and coordinator of the Initiative on Climate, Energy, and Environment. His research and policy interests include climate change policy and governance, the political economy of energy and water, the regulatory state in the developing world and the role of civil society in global environmental governance. In 2015 he was conferred the 12th T N Khoshoo Memorial Award in recognition of the impact of his work on Indian climate change policy and the international discourse on global climate governance.

Dr Srikanta K. Panigrahi is the Director General of Carbon Minus, and was instrumental in initiating the Kyoto Protocol in India. Presently, he sits as a member on the Prime Minister's National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, which has been set up under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. He was also a member of the Working Group which prepared the National Action Plan for Operationalising Clean Development Mechanism in India.

The dialogue is scheduled for July 5th, at 7 p.m., at the India International Centre (Annexe.) Lecture Hall II.

For admission to the event, we will prioritise guests who have registeredYou can register here.

We look forward to seeing you!

Talk on 'Law and Politics of Brexit in the UK Supreme Court'

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy welcomes you to our latest talk on the Brexit case (R. v. Secretary of State). The case revolves around the process for initiating Britain’s exit from the EU—primarily, whether Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (under which a member country’s exit is to be negotiated) can be triggered by the executive without parliamentary approval. Theresa May’s government had advocated the use of an executive power termed the ‘royal prerogative,’ which arguably empowered it to commence exit negotiations without the consent of Parliament. This argument was rejected by the UK Supreme Court in January 2017, thereby requiring the government to go back to Parliament and seek its approval before triggering Article 50. At the talk, Professor Timothy Endicott (former Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of Oxford) will describe the political climate and legal position which led to the UK Supreme Court's decision.

The event is scheduled for Monday, March 20th at 7 pm at Lecture Hall 1, India International Centre Annexe, Max Mueller Marg. Tea will be served before the event.

For admission to the event, we will prioritise guests who have registeredYou can register here.

We look forward to seeing you!

The Economic Survey and the Union Budget: Legal and Policy Implications

Vidhi is happy to announce its second Vidhi Dialogue, featuring Dr. Arvind Subramanian and Mr. Arvind Datar, on "The Economic Survey and the Union Budget: Legal and Policy Implications ." The discussion will focus on

  • Trade and commerce in the Constitution vis-a-vis the World Trade Organisation
  • Interstate trade, specifically Agricultural Produce Market Committees and electricity cesses
  • Electoral bonds and political funding reform
  • Bad loans of banks, and the proposal for confiscating the property of wilful defaulters,

Dr. Arvind Subramanian is Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India. He has regularly published and been cited in leading news publications and academic journals, and is the author of Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China's Economic Dominance and India's Turn: Understanding the Economic Transformation. Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the world's top global thinkers in 2011.

Mr. Arvind Datar is a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of India, and has been a litigating lawyer for more than three decades. He has appeared in several landmark cases, including the Sahara case, and has several publications to his credit, including a commentary on the Constitution and a co-authored book on Nani Palkhivala.

The discussion will involve introductory remarks by each speaker, followed by a moderated dialogue and questions from the audience.

We welcome questions in advance from our guests registering for the event, of which we will select 5 to 7. Please ensure your question is relevant to the event's theme, and do indicate which speaker(s) the question is addressed to. The questions can be emailed to

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, February 15th at 6 pm at Seminar Halls 1 & 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg. Tea will be served before the event. 

For admission to the event, we will prioritise guests who have registeredYou can register here.

We look forward to seeing you!

The Vidhi Dialogues : In conversation with Prof. Timothy Garton Ash and Mr. Gautam Bhatia

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy is happy to announce its new public event: The Vidhi Dialogues. This series looks to take up critical and contemporary issues of governance and invites speakers to engage in a free-flowing conversation. 

For our first dialogue, we are hosting Timothy Garton Ash and Gautam Bhatia, who will facilitate a discussion on India's role in the global struggle over free speech.

Prof. Garton Ash is a professor of European Studies, and an Honorary Chair at the St. Antony’s College European Studies Centre, at Oxford University. An eloquent free speech advocate, he is a regular columnist with the Guardian. His recently published work titled Free Speech: 10 Principles for a Connected World, has received much critical acclaim.

Mr. Bhatia is a Delhi based lawyer and legal academic, who is renowned for his detailed scholastic insights into the Indian Constitution. His latest publication, titled Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution, explores free speech jurisprudence in India through doctrinal, comparative and philosophical perspective.

The discussion will involve brief introductory remarks by each speaker on the theme, followed by a moderated dialogue where the audience can engage with the experts. 

The event is scheduled for January 24, 2017, at Lecture Hall I, India International Centre Annexe at 7 p.m. Tea will be served at 6:30 p.m. 

Do register here. We look forward to seeing you!


Event: Dr. Tarunabh Khaitan on Securing Dissenters' Consent for India's Constitution: The Role of Directive Principles

Vidhi invites you to a talk by Dr. Tarunabh Khaitan on "Securing Dissenters' Consent for India's Constitution: The Role of Directive Principles".

Dr. Khaitan is an Associate Professor in Law at Wadham College, Oxford. He completed his undergraduate studies (BA LLB Hons) at the National Law School (Bangalore) in 2004. Thereafter, he came to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar to complete his postgraduate studies (BCL with distinction, MPhil with distinction, DPhil) at Exeter College. His monograph entitled ‘A theory of Discrimination’ (OUP 2015) was reviewed very positively in leading journals.

The event is scheduled for Monday, December 19, 6:00 pm at the Vidhi office: D-359, Lower Ground Floor, Defence Colony.  

We will be delighted if you join us!

Event: Vidhi Public Lecture 2016 by Justice Ruma Pal on the Uniform Civil Code

We are pleased to invite you to the first edition of the Vidhi Public Lecture series. The lecture is to be delivered by Justice Ruma Pal on 'The Uniform Civil Code'. 

Justice Ruma Pal is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India who served on the bench from January 2000 to June 2006. After studying law at Oxford University, she started her practice in 1968 in civil, revenue, labour and constitutional matters at the Calcutta High Court. After a long and distinguished career, she was appointed as Judge at the Calcutta High Court in 1990. She was elevated to the Supreme Court on January 28, 2000 and has delivered several seminal judgments.

The event is slated for Wednesday, December 14th, 5:30 pm in Seminar Hall 2 and 3 at the India International Centre, Kamladevi Complex, Max Mueller Marg.

We look forward to seeing you! Do register here

Event: Law in Numbers - Evidence-based Approaches to Legal Reform

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy would like to invite you to a Conference on "Law in Numbers: Evidence-Based Approaches to Legal Reforms" and the release of its third Briefing Book.

Spread over two days, the Conference will have four panel discussions. The details of the panels are as follows:

Date and Venue: 2nd December, 2016 at India Habitat Centre (Gulmohar Hall)

Panel I: Are Special Courts really special?
Time: 6:45pm
Speakers: Justice Gita Mittal, Judge, Delhi High Court; Dayan Krishnan, Senior Advocate, Delhi High Court; Dr. Mrinal Satish, Associate Professor, NLU-Delhi.

Date and Venue: 3rd December, 2016 at India International Centre Annexe (Lecture Hall I)

Panel II: Role of pharmaceutical regulation in meeting public health needs
Time: 11:30 am followed by lunch at 1:00 pm
Speakers: Dr. Badri Narayan Patnaik, Head of Clinical Research and Development, Sanofi India; Dinesh Thakur, Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur and Ranbaxy Whistleblower; Dr. Sita Naik, Advisor, Apollo Hospitals Educational and Research Foundation.

Panel III: Assessing the speed and quality of environmental review processes
Time: 2:00 pm
Speakers: Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director, CPR - Namati Environmental Justice Programme; Shibani Ghosh, Centre for Policy Research; Professor KT Ravindran, Dean Emeritus, RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University; Dr. Anant Sudarshan, India Director, Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago.

Panel IV: From the President to the People: The Executive's role in implementing legislation
Time: 3:15 pm
Speakers: Ritin Rai, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Dr. TK Viswanathan, Former Secretary-General, Lok Sabha and Former Law Secretary; KP Krishnan, Special Secretary, Department of Land Resources.

We really hope you can spare the time to join us for these events. Please register here

We look forward to seeing you!

Video: 'Great Cases' talk by Mr. Anand Grover on the Novartis case

On August 26, 2016, Vidhi continued its Great Cases series with a talk by Mr. Anand Grover, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India on the Novartis Case (Novartis AG v. Union of India). The primary issue in the Novartis Case revolved around whether the pharmaceutical company Novartis AG could patent the anti-cancer drug, Gleevec in India. After litigation that lasted seven years, the Supreme Court held that Novartis cannot be given any patent for this drug. The case pertained to the patentability criteria in the context of Gleevec, and also involved important human rights issues.

At the talk, Mr. Grover shared insights from appearing for the Cancer Patients Aid Association in this case. Watch the video here:

Video: Panel Discussion on Appointments to the Lower and Higher Judiciary

On 31st August, 2016 Vidhi and the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms organised panel discussions on appointments to the lower and higher judiciaries in India. Ms. Maja Daruwala, Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative moderated the first panel on appointments to the higher judiciary, which included Senior Advocates, Mr. Anil Divan and Mr. Shanti Bhushan, among others. The second panel on appointments to the lower judiciary was moderated by Vidhi Senior Resident Fellow Mr. Alok Prasanna Kumar, and comprised Gen. Secy., National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights Mr. Paul Divakar, NLU-Delhi Assistant Professor Ms. Aparna Chandra, and Senior Advocate Mr. Sanjay Hegde.

Watch the discussion here: