Blueprint of a National Health Insurance Law

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The Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) is part of the Government of India’s Ayushman Bharat initiative. It is a scheme that is aimed at protecting poor and vulnerable families against financial risk arising out of catastrophic health episodes, which have the potential of pushing such families into impoverishment. The National Health Authority (NHA) has been created by an executive notification to implement the PM-JAY. The PM-JAY offers a benefit cover of INR 5,00,000 per family per year to approximately 10.74 crore eligible families, towards hospitalisation expenses for secondary and tertiary care. PM-JAY is thus a scheme of far-reaching socio-economic importance.

Recently, the Government has proposed the conversion of the scheme to a legally enforceable statutory framework. In this context, this Concept Paper attempts to lay out the blueprint of such a National Health Insurance Law which is in line with India’s international obligations and is constitutionally sound. It proposes that such a law must be informed by a rights-based approach to ensure that it is not discriminatory, is accountable and transparent, and provides for a robust grievance redressal and monitoring mechanism.  To ensure that a Central law is constitutionally sound, it proposes that a health insurance law can be enacted under ‘social insurance’ in Entry 23, List III of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Past experiences of conversion of schemes into legislation and the convergence of State and Central schemes also provide instructive lessons for drafting such a law. 

Click here to download the full report - ‘Blueprint of a National Health Insurance Law’.

Private control with Public money: How far can we go?

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In India, listed entities are prohibited from issuing equity shares with superior rights as to voting or dividend. The markets regulator came out with the consultation paper in March, after an Advisory Committee submitted a report recommending the use of DVRs as a mode of capital raising in listed companies. Vidhi’s response paper is based on review of recent academic literature and an assessment of the peculiarities of India’s capital markets. The paper has cited research that shows that over time, the potential advantages of dual class stock structures (as DVRs are known internationally) tend to recede, and the potential costs tend to rise. This holds true for even those DVR structures which are accompanied by appropriate protective mechanisms.

According to Vidhi’s response paper, DVR structures can be particularly problematic in markets with concentrated ownership patterns, as is the case in India. More specifically, such structures might encourage founders to take risks more aggressively (with lesser accountability) as the economic consequences of their decisions will be disproportionately borne by the public shareholders.

Capital structures which enable promoter/founder-led companies to raise capital while preserving control, either through retaining shares with superior voting rights or issuing shares with lower or fractional voting rights to public investors are at variance with the well-recognised corporate governance principle of ‘one share one vote’ (especially in publically listed companies).

 The debate around the desirability and efficacy of such capital structures, which has been a contentious and long-standing one in corporate law scholarship, rekindled after Google’s initial public offering (IPO) in 2004, after which other major companies such as Facebook, Zynga and Alibaba also made mega listings by implementing different versions of DCS. Globally, the permissibility and implementation of DCS structure varies greatly: while some countries such as Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, and more recently, Hong Kong, permit such structures (the applicability of limitations on the use of such structures varies across jurisdictions), other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Australia and China, prohibit the use of DCS structures.

 In the event that SEBI decides to permit the issuance of DVRs for listed entities in India, we propose that they be permitted in limited sectors where the founders’ vision and involvement is critical in the lead up to the company’s IPO and immediately thereafter, subject to a mandatory sunset provision of one year after which their superior voting rights should fall away.

Click here to download the full report ‘Private control with Public money: How far can we go?’

Taxation of Digital Economy in India

Features of businesses in the digital landscape are vastly different from those of typical brick and mortar businesses. These features include mobility, reliance on data, use of multi-sided business models, and volatility. However, tax policies still function on traditional concepts of territory and residence. They were designed to tax physical businesses and are not adept to handle ones that are conducted online. By playing on these gaps, practitioners in the digital economy are able to ‘legally’ avoid, or at least substantially reduce their tax burden. Therefore, devising a mechanism to appropriately tax the digital economy has become a popular agenda in international policy debates.

 Against this backdrop, our report “Taxation of Digital Economy in India – The Way Forward” first identifies the gaps in the taxation system that prevent the digital economy from being adequately taxed. The report subsequently discuss the work of international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic and Cultural Development, the United Nations and the European Union on the subject. While it seems that the long-term solution to effectively tax income earned by the digital economy is amending the international tax treaties, in the interim, many countries have adopted unilateral measures. In this report, we briefly analyse these unilateral measures introduced by countries such as Italy, United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, Hungary, Spain and Colombia.

 We also analyse the unilateral measures adopted by India in detail. The first of these, being Equalisation levy, which has been introduced in India to tax certain specified digital services, where consideration is provided to a non-resident, by a business either residing in India or having a Permanent Establishment here. In this section, we study the nature of Equalisation levy, its constitutional validity and also analyse its impact on the problem of double taxation. Another measure adopted by India, is the introduction of the concept of Significant economic presence of non-residents under the Income Tax Act, 1961 (‘IT Act’). While this concept is not effective at present, we analyse the provision added to the IT Act introducing significant economic presence and identify areas that require reforms before the provision is made effective. Lastly, we analyse the impact of data localisiation that mandates digital businesses to host servers in India. While the Reserve Bank of India has made data localisation mandatory for certain business, it is still at the stage of a proposal for a majority of digital business models. We study the impact of such mandates on the income tax regime. Based on our analysis of the global position and the Indian position in our report, we suggest the way forward to tax income from digital businesses in an equitable and effective fashion.

Click here for the full report.


Legislative Changes to Strengthen the GST Regime

In July 2017, India saw the implementation of the Goods and Services tax (‘GST’) law. Dubbed as the biggest tax reform since independence, the GST law subsumed numerous Central and State taxes into a single tax applicable to goods and services across the nation. Given that the GST caused a paradigm shift in the indirect tax framework, its implementation was expected to be disruptive. At the same time, the introduction of this mammoth reform came with expectations of a simpler, transparent and user-friendly tax regime.

While there were countless roadblocks and speedbumps, the law was embraced by most sections of the society, and the Government’s pro-activeness as far as addressing user complaints and clarifying contention issues, was highly appreciated. For a law this vast, implemented in a country as diverse as India, the GST fared well.

Now, after nearly two years of its implementation, the dust surrounding the GST’s initial implementation has settled.  Owing to the size of the reform, the margin of error previously allowed, is rapidly decreasing and expectations of businesses and consumers attached with its success are increasing.

In this series of reports titled “Legislative changes to strengthen the GST regime”, we test the GST law, against the touchstone of its capabilities of being taxpayer friendly. Through an analysis of the legal framework, and a review of orders passed by various institutions incorporated under the GST law, we seek to determine if the tax structure has been simplified, and it taxpayers are granted certainty, and stability under the new regime. We further recommend legislative changes to strengthen the system to attain the aforementioned goal of making it more taxpayer friendly.

Under the first report, we study the dispute resolution mechanism, and the anti-profiteering measures adopted under the GST law. Through an analysis of the legal framework, and the orders passed by dispute resolution and anti-profiteering institutions, we first identify issues of concern to the taxpayer. These include issues that complicate the regime, cause uncertainties, or place an unnecessary burned on taxpayers. Subsequently, we recommend legislative changes to rectify these concerns.    

Click here for the full report.

Examining the regulatory framework for pensions in India

Pensions primarily act as a buffer against old-age income insecurity. In the context of rising life expectancies, both globally and in India, having access to reliable old-age income security is urgent. While globally, populations aged 65 years and above are poised to touch 20%, per World Bank estimates, statistics from India indicate that the elderly population is poised to touch 19% by 2050. The importance of pension reforms is hence, timely and urgent.

In the Indian context, the present regulatory framework for pensions is highly fragmented, with multiple regulators, governing regulations and schemes. Such disparity does not lend itself well to creating simple, effective and harmonised pensions for all citizens. Further, the tilt towards securing pensions and social welfare for individuals in the organised workforce creates concerns about unequal access and inadequate protections offered to others. This disparate state of affairs, therefore, points to the need to discuss the challenges inherent in India’s pensions framework

Given the imperative for reform, the present report analyses the regulatory framework governing some of India’s largest pension schemes. While in a previous report,  we have discussed in detail, issues plaguing some of the flagship pension schemes meant for India’s informal sector workforce, the present report takes this discussion forward. 

The present report undertakes a broad review of issues plaguing India’s pensions regulatory framework generally. Within this framework, we focus on some of India’s biggest pension schemes such as the Employees’ Provident Fund and the National Pension System. Some of the key issues we look at are directly posed by the fragmented pensions framework such as the challenges posed by the classification of pension regulations, while other issues are more systemic and concern funding of pensions, tax distortions, dispersed investment guidelines and inadequate consumer protection.

Looking at best practices across selected jurisdictions and a critical analysis of some of the issues inherent in India’s existing pensions framework, we make a case for a comprehensive harmonisation of India’s fragmented pensions regulatory framework. We argue that multiple regulators, regulatory frameworks and legislations governing retiral income security, inhibits the development of an inclusive and equitable pensions framework, which provides equal opportunities and rights to all citizens. Therefore, we urge that all existing and new pension programmes should be guided by similar regulatory principles.

Based on our analysis, we set out certain recommendations for reform, both long-term and short-term. These include for instance, recommendations in relation to harmonising the existing pensions framework and investment guidelines, reducing tax distortions available to certain pension schemes, creating an enabling framework for resolving distressed pension funds, clarifying the role and function of existing pension regulators and requiring mandatory regulatory consultation and co-ordination.

At a time when India’s pensions framework is in the news, evidenced by the introduction of new schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan Scheme, a holistic re-look at the broader issues inherent in this framework is overdue and necessary. We hope that this report will initiate a conversation in this regard, and set the stage for reforms which would assist in making India’s existing pensions framework harmonised, accessible, and transparent, providing sustainable, and equitable retiral incomes for all citizens.

Click here to download the report on ‘Examining the regulatory framework for pensions in India: Making a case for harmonisation’.

Consumer Protection and Payment Wallets: A Case for Tech Based Intervention

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 From being a heavily cash-based economy, India is witnessing a steady growth in digital payments. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notes that the share of electronic transactions in the total volume of retail payments increased from 88.9% in 2016-17 to 92.6% in 2017-18 with a corresponding reduction in the share of paper-based clearing instruments from 11.1% in 2016-17 to 7.4% in 2017-18. One of the popular modes of electronic payments is prepaid payment instrument (PPI) / payment wallet. The share of transactions carried through such PPIs in the total volume of retail payment transactions increased from 18.04% in 2016-17 to 8 21.94% in 2017-18.

 While the development of technological innovations has enabled businesses to provide such innovative products / services to consumers and also further the cause of financial inclusion, they also create new risks for the financial systems, particularly for vulnerable consumers such as the low-income groups, that are often the beneficiaries of financial inclusion schemes.

 In light of these developments, it is critical for policy makers to assess whether current regulatory / supervisory approach for regulating the ever-evolving payments sector is adequate. Just as emerging technologies are enabling the evolution of FinTech, financial sector regulators in many jurisdictions are leveraging technological innovations to increase the efficiency of their supervisory approaches particularly in automated data collection and data analytics.

 Against this background, this Concept Paper explores the possibilities of integrating technological solutions in RBI’s supervisory framework for PPIs with a view to enable the regulator to have access to real-time or near-real time access to consumer complaints data of PPIs, which can then be further used for data analysis. Broadly, this Concept Paper presents two alternatives for the consideration of the regulator: (a) direct access to consumer complaints data from the systems of PPI issuers on a real-time or near real-time basis; or (b) setting up a centralised online grievance redressal platform by RBI for accepting consumer complaints. Timely access to consumer complaints data of PPIs can assist RBI in identifying potential risks. This is in contrast to the existing mechanism that relies on approaches based on past data and onsite inspections that may often result in delayed supervisory action. Further, RBI’s direct oversight over the redressal process is likely to promote accountability among PPI issuers for discharging their consumer protection mandate efficiently and inspire confidence of consumers in the process. This is crucial in promoting the cause of financial inclusion. Needless to say, there are several considerations that have to be considered before adopting any approach, including conducting a technical feasibility and cost-benefit analysis.

 While RBI has been proactive in taking steps to promote consumer protection in the digital payments industry, we hope that this Concept Paper will help in sharpening such interventions further.

Click here to access the report on Consumer Protection and Payment Wallets

Discretion and Delay: Challenges of Becoming a District and Civil Judge

A transparent judicial recruitment process is a key priority of a constitutional democracy. Yet, the process of direct recruitment of Civil and District Judges across states, has several gaps and inconsistencies. This creates the potential for exercising arbitrary discretion and  delays in recruitment.  In the Ranking Lower Court Appointments report, we studied the timeliness and the ability to fill vacancies of these direct recruitment examinations across states. This report, however, takes a step back to look at the underlying state judicial service rules that govern the examination process for Civil and District Judges. These rules were studied to  identify how they fare on the metrics of accountability, transparency and efficiency. In addition, interviews and perspectives from stakeholders involved in the recruitment process threw light on how norms laid down in the rules function in practice. 

The objective of this report is to clearly identify ambiguities in the drafting of state judicial service rules that leads to uncontrolled discretion, ad-hocism, and uncertainty in the judicial service examination process. We argue that state judicial service rules must be drafted to establish clear procedures, mechanisms and guidelines that places accountability, transparency and efficiency at its core.

Click here to download the report Discretion and Delay: Challenges of Becoming a District and Civil Judge


Submissions on the Karnataka Draft Solid Waste Management Bye Laws and the Karnataka Draft Solid Waste Management Policy

Vidhi Karnataka has made two submissions to Directorate of Municipal Administration, Karnataka on the Karnataka Draft Solid Waste Management Bye Laws and the Karnataka Draft Solid Waste Management Policy. The submissions can be downloaded from the following links

Submission on Karnataka Draft Solid Waste Management Bye Laws

Submission on Karnataka Draft Solid Waste Management Policy

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code-The journey so far and the road ahead

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy & EY are pleased to present "Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: The Journey so Far and the Road Ahead" which was inaugurated by the Hon'ble Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Shri Arun Jaitley on 18th December at the IBBI-Vidhi Conference "Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016: A roadmap for the next two years".

This report take stock of the developments in the insolvency eco-system since the implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, identifies key challenges for the insolvency eco-system and suggests the next generation of critical reforms required to address these challenges.

We hope that this report will provide both impactful and novel ideas to improve capital availability, promote entrepreneurship, reduce judicial backlog and build a more efficient insolvency resolution eco-system.

Click here to download the publication Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: The Journey so Far and the Road Ahead

A Framework for Countering Mobilised Violence

The Takshashashila Institution and the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Karnataka, have jointly prepared a report on how to reform the legal framework for countering mobilised violence. The report analyses the economic costs of collective violence, assesses the current legal framework and suggests reforms to the current approaches towards mobilised violence, including creating a framework for liability of organisations and their leadership; reforming hate speech provisions under the Indian Penal Code and addressing institutional deficiencies in tackling mobilised violence.

Download the full report here.

A Proposal To Reform The University Grants Commission

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The purpose of this vision document is to consider how a new regulator to replace the

University Grants Commission (“UGC”) should be structured. This document is neither a

holistic vision for higher education in India, nor does it attempt to take sides on the myriad

contentious issues that need to be addressed in the higher education sector. Rather, its aim is

more modest — it is a vision for what a pan-India regulator should look like if the higher

education sector in India is to truly flourish.

Click here to download the full report

Suggestions on the draft Creche Rules released by the Labour Department, Government of Karnataka, under Section 28 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

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Vidhi - Karnataka submitted suggestions and objections to the draft Creche Rules released by the Labour Department, Government of Karnataka, under Section 28 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The draft Rules were released in furtherance of the mandatory creche requirement under Section 11A inserted through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.

Vidhi's suggestions to the draft Rules address three broad concerns: accessibility of crèche facilities by every woman employee; inclusiveness of children with special needs; and quality of amenities in crèche as laid down in the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy."

Click below to download the suggestions submitted

English | Kannada

Competitive Neutrality in Corporate Governance Norms for CPSEs

State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) are significant players in the global economy. However, their governance poses unique challenges, primarily because the State which is the ‘owner’ of these enterprises, also acts as a ‘regulator’. This many a time manifests itself in the form of the State prescribing less-stringent norms for SOEs as compared to private sector companies, thus, creating an unequal playing field and distorting the principle of ‘competitive neutrality’.

The benefits of ‘competitive neutrality’ or maintaining an ownership-neutral legal and regulatory framework are aplenty. For example, adopting a market-driven legal framework for SOEs which is competitively neutral, will ensure better protection for minority shareholders, and will also make SOEs more productive by raising their governance standards. This in turn will assist in meeting several objectives of the government, including aiding disinvestment by securing higher valuations, increasing inflow of investment into SOEs, and reducing the liability of the government as a majority owner of such SOEs.

In the Indian context, SOEs are synonymous with Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), where the Central Government directly holds 51% or more shareholding in such companies. While various incentives may be offered to CPSEs such as subsidies and access to cheaper credit, our Report focuses on ‘statutory exemptions’ from corporate governance provisions, granted to government companies to demonstrate a lack of ‘competitive neutrality’ in the regulatory framework governing CPSEs vis-à-vis private sector companies.

Our Report studies various exemptions granted to CPSEs under company law, securities law and competition law, and reveals corporate governance distortions caused by such exemptions. Particularly, we find that certain exemptions granted to CPSEs under the current dispensation are redundant and may unnecessarily expose government finances to lapses. For instance, exempting CPSEs from the provisions of company law which place restrictions and reporting requirements for loans and investments made by companies, or disqualification of directors in case of companies which fail to file financial statements or repay deposit holders, are misplaced and do not resonate with the intent of the Central Government to increase accountability of the boards of CPSEs.

We supplement our analysis with three brief case studies - the acquisition of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. by Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd., the merger of State Bank of India with certain other state owned banks, and the Children’s Investment Fund-Coal India dispute, to lend context to our analysis of these exemptions. We also look at SOE governance in terms of competitive neutrality in the legal framework in three leading jurisdictions - Singapore, Brazil and Norway, and suggest Next Steps for India.

We hope that our Report sets the ball rolling and initiates a discussion on the merits of pursuing corporate governance reforms for India’s CPSEs, so that a level playing field is created, and Indian CPSEs are able to harness their true potential.

Download the full report Competitive Neutrality in Corporate Governance Norms for CPSEs

From Addict to Convict: The Working of the NDPS Act (1985) in Punjab

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Vidhi released it's study ‘From Addict to Convict: The Working of the NDPS Act (1985) in Punjab’ on 22nd Aug, 2018.  The report evaluates the effectiveness of the NDPS Act in Punjab by analysing 13,350 NDPS cases across 18 districts in Punjab.

The report has some compelling findings on how the NDPS Act has failed to meet its twin objectives of deterrence and rehabilitation in Punjab where drug offences continue unabated.The report also highlights on the effectiveness of deterrent punishments, criminalizing drug consumption, the need to adopt a public health approach towards addiction, coordination between relevant Ministries, and the need for requisite legislative and policy change.

Click the following links to download the report

Volume I (English) | Volume I (Punjabi)

Volume II (English | Volume II (Punjabi)

Reforming the Tribunals Framework in India: An Interim Report

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Tribunals form an important parallel structure for dispute resolution alongside regular courts. By involving expert members, administrative and logistical support from the executive, and specialised procedures, tribunals promise a speedy and more technical resolution of disputes under certain statutes. Unfortunately, despite its intentions, tribunals have often replicated some of the problems our judiciary suffers from and then some. Apart from issues such as rising pendency and inadequate funds, the constitution of tribunals often toes the line of judicial independence by an overemphasised role of the executive. Despite clear tests for constitutionality laid down in the Supreme Court, the reality of how tribunals operate is far from ideal. With non-uniform systems of appointments, removal, service conditions, etc. coupled with a larger say given to the executive, which is a frequent litigant before these fora, the framework of central tribunals leave much to be desired. While past Law Commission Reports and judicial pronouncements have tried to capture the essence of these issues, the true extent of the problems are often expressed in limited measure. Similarly, recommendations to improve this framework are often somewhat broad, with little emphasis given to specifics.

In this interim report, we examine the tribunals framework and offer a comprehensive statutory analysis of Acts, rules, and regulations, alongside a critical analysis of constitutional jurisprudence regarding tribunals. This captures the true extent of problems across the tribunals space. Furthermore, we construct an alternative to the present framework, by exploring a rationalised scheme of tribunal mergers and by fleshing out the organisational structure and functioning of a National Tribunals Commission to oversee this framework. This interim report hopes to offer the foundation for a more constructive discourse around tribunal reforms.

Download the full Report- Reforming the Tribunals Framework in India: An Interim Report

 

Securing our Future: Analysing the Regulatory Framework for Pensions in India

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In the past few decades, burgeoning populations and increasing life expectancies have led to an unprecedented rise in the elder population across the world. India is no exception to this trend, with the elder population projected to reach 19% of the total population by 2050. A significant part of this group will be unable to work for a living, and also simultaneously incur higher medical and other expenses. Not only does the lack of a financial security net for this group leave it vulnerable to a number of exigencies, it also increases the likelihood of inter-generational continuity of debt and a higher fiscal burden for the government of the day. Given these factors, the presence of a sound, efficient and reliable pension system is indispensable to the economy. Further some parts of the elder population, by virtue of their socio-economic standing, levels of education and financial sophistication are likely to be hit harder by ageing, and may therefore require targeted intervention for adequate protection. 

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA), set up in 2003, is responsible for establishing, developing and regulating pension funds in India. 

This Report has undertaken a study of the PFRDA Act and some of the key regulations under it, and suggested reforms wherever appropriate. Some of the important reforms surveyed are in the areas of redressal of subscriber grievances, regulations with respect to aggregators and points of presence, as well as the NPS Trust Regulations.

 International experience in this field, such as the pension systems in United Kingdom, Australia, Chile, Canada and New Zealand have also been surveyed to highlight best practices in this regard. 

This Report also points to prevailing gaps in the regulation of micro-pensions and the treatment of distressed pension funds. Both of these are critical, and this Report makes the case for detailed discussions on them. 

Lastly, this Report examines the Atal Pension Yojana, a PFRDA scheme targeted solely towards the unorganised sector. Having identified some unique concerns for this sector (which comprises of the majority of the workforce), this Report suggests some measures to tackle the same.

Download the full report Securing our Future: Analysing the Regulatory Framework for Pensions in India

Status of Physical Infrastructure in Lower Judiciary

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The state of physical infrastructure in the lower courts remains an under-studied topic in India, despite such infrastructure being an important component of access to justice. In this bilingual report (English and Hindi), we examine the state of physical infrastructure of lower courts in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). Using parameters developed by the National Court Management Systems (NCMS) Baseline Report on Court Development Planning System (Infrastructure and Budgeting), 2012, we have surveyed twelve (12) court complexes in Delhi and NCR. 

We illustrate how a litigant accesses court spaces and interacts with its physical infrastructure. A special focus has been given to vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, to assess whether the physical infrastructure enables access or otherwise. The report also examines how this infrastructure varies between rural and urban court complexes. Broadly, it offers a comprehensive assessment of the status of physical infrastructure and what a litigant can expect from their nearest court complex. By doing so, it provides a blueprint for the infrastructural development of lower courts that can be used by the judiciary and executive.

Download the full report 'Status of Physical Infrastructure in Lower Judiciary'

Submissions on the draft New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2018

 

Vidhi responded to a call for public comments on the Draft New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2018. We have recommended changes to these Rules to better protect the rights and safety of clinical trial volunteers, ensure harmonisation with international standards where needed, ensure the integrity of the drug regulatory process and improve enforcement.

Download the complete submissions on the draft New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2018

Money and Elections: Necessary Reforms in Electoral Finance

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In light of the modifications in electoral finance laws made in the 2016 and 2017 Budget, this report builds on existing discussions to clarify how such reforms in election law can be evaluated. It examines the evolution of key legal provisions before identifying barriers and systemic issues in the field on the basis of India’s unique experiences. It further enumerates potential solutions on the basis of international practice and draws up proposals to overcome existing regulatory barriers so that such solutions may be effectuated:

1. Electoral finance law must pivot towards transparency, strictly requiring disclosures of candidate assets and liabilities (including the source of assets), registration and reporting requirements for political parties, and the applicability of the Right to Information Act, 2005 to such parties.

2. Rules regarding funding and expenditure need to be tightened by placing an absolute cap on anonymous donations, banning corporate donations (except possibly to an Election Commission-controlled Trust), regulating political advertisements, preventing foreign sources of donations, outlining permissible categories of expenditure, regulating third-party expenditures, and laying a limited base for public funding.

3. The enforcement of the proposals above must be accompanied by the possibility of strict penalties such as the deregistration of defaulting political parties, along with increased provision for the independence of the Election Commission of India.   

Issues related to electoral finance have a long and troubling history in our polity with many previous attempts to tackle the problems involved. However, the matter has come back into focus with the last few Union Budgets creating avenues for funding through new instruments, measures that reduce public scrutiny on certain fronts, and changes that affect past foreign donations. This report was released at the Vidhi Dialogue event featuring Dr S.Y. Quraishi, Prof Rajeev Gowda, and Dr Aditya Sondhi.

Download the full report- Money and Elections: Necessary Reforms in Electoral Finance

Waste Picker Welfare Law in Karnataka

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Vidhi's report on Waste Picker Welfare Law in Karnataka focuses on the importance of Waste Pickers to India's Solid Waste Management and the need for a Waste Picker Welfare Law to ensure their well being.

The report specifically explores three themes- 

One, the vital contributions of waste pickers across India in tackling its solid waste management crisis. Two, the plight of waste pickers in the country due to the non recognition of waste picking as a genuine profession under the law and finally, the need for a law that specifically recognizes it as a genuine profession and grants them their associated rights

Download the full report on Waste Pickers Welfare Law In Karnataka