Thursday, April 25, 2013

Obituary of Justice Verma

Here is my obituary of Justice Verma in today's The Indian Express. (This is the another link). Express also carried this obituary by Soli Sorabjee and another by Seema Chishti

Monday, April 22, 2013

NLSIR Symposium: Mapping the Future of Commercial Arbitration in India

[The following announcement is posted on behalf of the National Law School of India Review]

The National Law School of India Review (NLSIR) - the flagship journal of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore is pleased to announce the VIth NLSIR Symposium on “Mapping the Future of Commercial Arbitration in India” scheduled to be held on May 18 and 19, 2013 at the NLSIU campus. The last three years have witnessed dynamic shifts in the law and practice of Arbitration in India. While there have been steps in the right direction, an unwieldy system continues to weigh down practitioners. Four years after first delving into the nuances of commercial arbitration in India, the Symposium hopes to assess the development of Arbitration law over the last few years.

Confirmed speakers for the symposium include renowned legal luminaries such as Hon’ble Mr. Justice (Retd.) S U Kamdar (Former Justice, Bombay High Court), Mr. Anirudh Krishnan (Advocate, Madras High Court), Mr. Ashwin Shanker (Advocate, Bombay High Court) Mr. Aditya Sondhi (Advocate, Karnataka High Court), Mr. Ajay Thomas (Registrar, London Court of International Arbitration, India), Mr. Vivekananda N. (Head (South Asia) & Counsel, Singapore International Arbitration Centre), Mr. Nangavaram Rajah (Nani Palkhivala Arbitration Centre), Mr. Promod Nair (Partner, J Sagar Associates), Mr. Shreyas Jayasimha (Partner, AZB & Partners), amongst others.

This year, the discussions will be divided into four panels:

Session I: The Implications of BALCO on Arbitration Practice 
(Forenoon, May 18, 2013, Saturday)

Session II: Revisiting the Expansive Role of the Indian Judiciary and its Implications (Afternoon, May 18, 2013, Saturday)

Session III: Determining the Governing Law of the Arbitration Agreement – Arsanovia and Beyond
(Forenoon, May 19, 2013, Sunday)

Session IV: The Way Forward: A Call for Institutional Arbitration?
(Afternoon, May 19, 2013, Sunday)

Registration fee for those who make an advance payment/bank transfer is Rs. 500 for students and Rs. 1000 for others. All those interested are requested to register at:

The registration fee for those who register at the venue is Rs. 750 for students and Rs. 1250 for others.

For more details including the concept note and future updates please visit:

For regular updates, also see our Facebook page:

For further information, please contact Ashwita Ambast (Chief Editor): +91-9986478265; Sahil Kher (Deputy Chief Editor): +91-9739265715 or email us at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A court too far

Some of our contributors and readers have put together a fascinating collection of articles based on research and analysis on various aspects of  access to Supreme Court in the latest cover story of Frontline.    (Readers can access Frontine's refurbished site here.)
Readers may suspect some inconsistency insofar as the lead article by Nick Robinson makes a strong case for the Court to hear less and less regular cases, while Prof. Mohan Gopal argues that the Court suffers from docket exclusion, rather than docket explosion.  As far as I understand it, this inconsistency is more imagined than real.  Nick Robinson wants the Court to hear less and less of cases filed by the rich and the privileged and the cases which are currently disproportionately heard by the court, category-wise, so that it can hear more of the cases, raising substantial questions of law and the Constitution.  Prof. Mohan Gopal, on the other hand, would agree with Nick that  the Court ought to hear more such cases, but would suggest that the answer to the Court's growing distance from the common man lies in democratising the access, by making it easier and affordable. My piece on the Novartis case raises the question whether the verdict could have gone in favour of Novartis, had it been heard by another Bench, pointing to the uncertainty in law that characterises the Court's current functioning. A separate article by me, which is not a part of the cover story, highlights the significance of this landmark judgment.

Prof. Mohan Gopal, for the first time, articulates his dissent over the Judicial Impact Assessment.  Though he was a member of the Task Force, set up by the Government following the Supreme Court's judgment in the Salem Advocates case, he did not sign the report, and had no intention to publicly disagree with it at that time.

The cover story is enriched by articles authored by Abhinav Chandrachud, critiquing the unwritten qualifications for membership on the court, Arghya Sengupta, examining the breakdown of precedent at the Supreme Court, and Sidharth Chauhan, exploring the court's relationship with the media.

The cover story gave me an opportunity to interview the new Solicitor General, Mohan Parasaran, and also benefit from reading Arun Thiruvengadam's excellent chapter on PIL, in the recent book edited by him along with Vikram Raghavan and Sunil Khilnani and reviewed by me elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Website and Report for JGLS Centre for Health Law, Ethics, and Technology

Jindal Global Law School's increasingly prominent Centre for Health Law, Ethics, and Technology (CHLET) has launched a website. Their latest report on Access to Contraceptive Services and Information in the State of Haryana can be found on the website here.  The centre focuses on empirical research in the field of health law.

There are a few centres like CHLET in Indian law schools that are currently extremely active at doing research and advocacy around specific social issues. National Law School's Centre for Child and the Law and its Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy immediately come to mind as trailblazers in this area. Internationally, such centres have also become the norm. I believe Harvard Law School has over twenty (and its Berkman Centre on Internet and Society might be considered the leading activist group in global civil society today working on internet governance). At their most developed, these centres act like mini-NGO's embedded in the law school, resourcing their own activities and funding their own staff.  They usually begin around a faculty member's interest, but can quickly develop a life of their own (especially if they are able to bring in significant self-funded staff). The Brennan Centre at NYU over the years has seemed less and less part of NYU and more and more its own autonomous (and quite large) activist group/think tank. Nor is the development limited to law schools. Jeffrey Sachs' Earth Institute at Columbia University is perhaps the best known example of such an institution in the world.

I have sometimes wondered what the development of these centres in the last couple decades tells us about changing patterns of education (or perhaps changing patterns of funding for non-profits). At one level they are a logical extension of activism by faculty, which has a long history on many universities - just better organized and funded. These centres provide an opportunity for students to get firsthand experience in the issues involved and the centres bring in speakers and host conferences on campus. In the US some alumni have sometimes complained about centres they don't ideologically agree with, but since most of the centres are self-funded, declare themselves non-partisan, and are initiated by individual faculty members they are not easy targets. That said, they carry the name of the school and so can often attract more funding or attention for their activities as a result.

It will be interesting to see how these centres evolve in India and elsewhere. High end activism requires sophisticated knowledge. Faculty and students want to engage in real issues they care about in the world. It's no mystery that these centres are then popping up on law school campuses.  Time will tell how they end up shaping civil society and the issues they focus on.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

SC Novartis judgment is pro-innovation

In this article in today's Indian Express, I argue that the recent Supreme Court judgment in the Novartis' case is very much pro-innovation, but tries to weed out marketing gimmicks from patent protection.
This blog has previously dealt with the issue here

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

NLSIR - Herbert Smith Freehills India Essay Competition 2013

[The following is an announcement from the National Law School of India Review (NLSIR)]

The National Law School of India Review (NLSIR) in association with Herbert Smith Freehills is pleased to announce the Herbert Smith Freehills India Essay Competition 2013. The Competition is open to undergraduate law students from NLSIU, Bangalore, NALSAR, Hyderabad, WBNUJS, Kolkata, NLU, Jodhpur, NLU, Delhi, GNLU, Gujarat, NLIU, Bhopal, NLU, Odisha, Jindal Global Law School, and School of Excellence in Law, Chennai.

The topics for this year’s Competition are:

(1) Corporate Social Responsibility in the new Companies Act: A Critical Perspective

(2) The implications of BALCO v. Kaiser Aluminium: A practitioner’s perspective

The two best essays per topic win prizes of Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 12,500 respectively along with certificates.

The winning essays will also be considered for publication in the next issue of NLSIR in accordance with the Editorial Policy of the journal.

The deadline for submission is 11.59 P.M., 29 May, 2013.

The word limit is 3000 words inclusive of footnotes but excluding the abstract and bibliography.

Joint authorship is not permitted. The entries must be accompanied by a 300 word abstract and should follow a uniform system of citation. For further details regarding the structure and evaluation criteria, please refer to the submission guidelines that have been sent to the participating colleges.

All entries are required to be submitted via e-mail as a PDF document to

For any further details or queries, please contact us at