Vidhi Aid

National Solidarity Event- The Law Isn't Straight | 19 May 2018, Scope Complex and Central Park (New Delhi)

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To mark the upcoming International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) India HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Vidhi Centre For Legal Policy, are organizing a day-long ‘National Solidarity Event- The Law Isnt Straight’ under Samarth programme addressing stigma and discrimination towards sexual minority people.

May 19, 2018 | 10:30 am to 4:00 pm | Scope Complex Auditorium, Lodhi Road, New Delhi

Followed by a Public awareness event from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Central Park, Connaught Place, New Delhi

We look forward to your august presence. Download the detailed agenda here

Vidhi's work on discrimination against leprosy affected persons

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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 seeks legal recognition for Advance Directives

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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

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

Eliminating discrimination against persons affected by leprosy

The Law Commission of India's 256th Report on Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy has been released. 

The Report provides the framework for a model law that seeks to address the issue of such discrimination, by imposing obligations on both public and private establishments and through the amendment and/or repeal of archaic provisions under applicable legislations.

Vidhi fellows Yashaswini Mittal and Arghya Sengupta assisted the Law Commission in drafting this report.

Full text of the report is available here.

The State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c)

Vidhi collaborated with the Central Square Foundation, IIMA RTE Resource Centre, and the Accountability Initiative in drafting a Report on "The State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c)", which was released today at the India Habitat Centre.

Vidhi's Non-Resident Expert Rukmini Das along with Vidhi fellows Arghya Sengupta and Faiza Rahman were involved in the drafting of the Report.

The Report can be accessed here.
 

Pro bono research assistance to the Goa Foundation

The Goa Foundation is a well - known environmental action group in Goa, founded in 1986, which has initiated key public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, particularly with regard to the effects of mining on Goa's natural environment. In 2014, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment (Goa Foundation v Union of India) setting up a permanent fund which would receive a percentage of proceeds from mining activities in the interest of inter-generational equity.

Vidhi provided pro bono research assistance to the Goa Foundation in March 2015 on some legal issues related to the operationalisation of this judgment. 

Research Note for the Ministry of Mines

The regulatory framework on mining in India has recently become an important topic of discussion in light of the ‘Coal Block Scam’ and various Supreme Court judgments that have taken note of the flagrant violation of regulations in the mining sector. 

In November 2014, Vidhi drafted a research note for the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, on key provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act,1957 and the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960.