Archive | December 2012

Thousand-Wise, Billion-Foolish ? – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                                February 20, 2005

Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister of India

Yashwant Sinha, India’s former Finance Minister (Photo: Wikipedia)

Thousand-Wise, Billion-Foolish ?

 

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Authorities preparing India’s 2005 Budget have been urged to stop exempting dividends Indian and foreign promoters earn– to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees.

Virtually unnoticed by millions of toiling Indian taxpayers, hundreds– perhaps thousands– of promoters have netted thousands of crores of rupees free of tax over the past eight years.

Critics say in an economy which suffers from managerial and resource inadequacy and does not ensure citizens’ access to water, housing, jobs, an effective system of justice and other basics, such policies smack of a class bias.

On one hand, authorities tax wage earners and even productivity awards, and have cut provident fund interest.

On the other, lakhs of crores are sunk in non-performing assets– loans the rich haven’t repaid– and thousands of crores fly out as company reserves distributed to individuals are exempted.

According to a news report this week, some multinationals running operations in India have declared huge dividend payouts– windfalls for bulk shareholders abroad.

The joyride started in February 1997 with then Congress Finance Minister P Chidambaram abolishing dividend tax on recipients as part of what the market hailed as a ”dream budget.”

In fact, says one critic, this was the prospect that brought the cheer and the accolades.

Since then, governments– National Democratic Alliance as well as United Progressive Alliance– have– with one exception– exempted recipients, encouraging companies to declare higher dividends– or tax-free cash year after year.

One e-published source claims the average dividend payout from Indian companies moved up from 20 per cent to 25 per cent in financial year 2004.

According to India Infoline, a hundred companies paid Rs 4,334.18 crore dividends for 2003-04– up 54.1 per cent over the Rs 2,811.3 crore paid in the previous year.

Advocates of dividend tax exemption claim it eliminates double taxation of profits– in the hands of the company and again in the hands of shareholders.

But opponents say taxing dividends declared by companies is not the same as taxing recipients’ dividend income.

A 19th century United States court ruling held that ”the capital stock of a corporation, and the shares into which such stock may be divided and held by individual shareholders, are two distinct pieces of property.

”The capital stock and the shares of stock in the hands of the shareholders may both be taxed, and it is not double taxation,” US Judge Rufus Peckham declared in 1896 in Bank of Commerce v State of Tennessee.

Asked to comment, a top Indian economist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, ”There is no valid argument against taxing dividend or to favour exemption, especially considering that even wage earners who take home far less, are taxed.”

Yet, through that single exemption, critics say, the NDA and the UPA governments between them have contributed to thousands of crores of rupees of revenue shortfall over the years.

One man who tried to end that spree was NDA Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha who allowed exemption in February 2001– but abolished it a year later.

In that budget speech– his last– Sinha confessed he was troubled by the ”inherent inequity” in the system which ”must go.”

മലയാളം: ജസ്വന്ത് സിംഹ്

Jaswant Singh (Photo: Wikipedia)

The inequity: ”Income is exempt in the hands of the recipient” and ”allows persons in the high-income groups to be taxed at much lower rates than the rates applicable to them.”

Sinha said, ”these issues have been troubling me over the past four years, and I am now convinced that the existing system must go.” He moved to abolish tax on dividends distributed by companies and levy it on ”such income… in the hands of the recipients.”

”Few are aware,” Sinha remarked in a newspaper interview in July 2002, ”that there are people in this country who have been earning anything between Rs 10 to Rs 20 crore by way of dividends. They have been earning in crores without having to pay any tax. You think it is unjustified to tax them?” he countered.

His previous Budget, Sinha went on, registered a revenue shortfall of Rs 40,000 crore, of which ”something like Rs 22,000 crore could be directly ascribed to concessions.”

Sinha’s public remarks notwithstanding, such qualms did not appear to weigh with either his NDA successor, Jaswant Singh, or UPA incumbent Chidambaram.

In a telephone interview this week, Sinha told UNI he believed that ”all income should be treated alike from the point of view of tax.”

He said ”the hue and cry that followed the 2002 budget was largely on account of the fact that I re-introduced tax on the dividend. Many opinion makers invest in stocks and resented the tax.”

But the exemption was reintroduced in 2003 on expert advice supplied by a group led by Dr Vijay Kelkar, an economist and former International Monetary Fund executive director.

The group recommended exempting dividend both in the hands of shareholders as well as companies distributing it.

Singh was petitioned by the Legal Cell of All India Tax Payers’ Association which spelt out the incongruity in taxing everyone– even agriculturists– but exempting dividends to promoters.

Palaniappan Chidambaram (1)

Palaniappan Chidambaram (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Association warned that letting huge tax free sums accumulate in the hands of industrialists would increase the gap between rich and poor– violating Article 14 and the spirit of Article 39 (b) and (c) of the Constitution.

Those Articles provide for equality before law and forbid pursuit of economic policies that result in concentration of wealth to common detriment.

The Association said the move for full fledged exemption had not even found takers in the US.

Last week, the petitioners again represented to the authorities, urging withdrawal of exemption of tax on dividends in recipients’ hands, saying it amounts to discrimination between a common taxpayer and industrialists.

The Association says the dividends declared by companies end up in the pocket of the private management controlling the majority of shares, adding to individual incomes.

It says ten or twelve per cent tax companies must pay to declare dividend is not much price for promoters to transfer company reserves to individual accounts.

Individuals in control of companies can thus help themselves to more and more tax free income– increasing the gap between rich and poor and possibly undermining companies and jobs, it says.

UNI MJ RA GR1013

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Fear Of Torture Doesn’t Let UK Deport Suspects : AG – By Mukesh Jhangiani

English: The Rt. Hon Lord Goldsmith QC, at the...

Peter Goldsmith (Photo: Wikipedia)

                                                                                                                                                             January 9, 2003

 

 

Fear Of Torture Doesn’t Let UK Deport Suspects : AG

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Fears that terror suspects might face ”death, torture or inhuman and degrading treatment” in their country of origin ”prevents us sending them back,” Britain’s chief legal advisor says.

”We have of course had to confront these issues in the United Kingdom,” Attorney-General of England and Wales Peter Goldsmith said, lecturing at the Indian Society of International Law in the Capital last night.

Mr Goldsmith, who delivered the 2003 M K Nambyar Lecture, also touched on Britain’s failure to deport a Pakistani cleric who raised money and recruits for a Kashmiri terrorist group accused of attacking the Indian Parliament in New Delhi last year.

He said the terrorist threat ”is now on an unprecedented global scale, as the dreadful events that have taken place over the last 16 months only too graphically testify: from New York-Washington and Bali to Moscow, Mombasa and here in India.”

The lecture titled ‘Right or Rights: Does tackling terrorism force us to choose?’ dwelt on steps States should take to protect themselves from the activities of terrorists and the Courts’ role in relations to State action.

”One of the more controversial steps,” the British AG said, ”relates to the treatment of persons within the country who have no immigration right to remain and who are suspected of involvement in terrorism and pose a threat to national security.

”In relation to these persons we have a difficulty,” he said. ”Under our immigration laws we have the right to deport them because they have no right to be in the country.

”But we are prevented from carrying out the deportation because of certain international obligations, notably under the European Convention of Human Rights, which is now a part of our domestic law.

”Where the individuals would face death, torture or inhuman and degrading treatment if returned to their country of origin, those obligations (under Article 3) prevent us sending them back.

”So we are faced with a choice: either to leave them to roam free in the country–which is an unacceptable risk given the heightened threats since 11 September– or to detain them unless and until they voluntarily leave the country.

”Under these new powers, 13 people have so far been detained and two, having been detained, have voluntarily left the country,” he told the audience.

Mr Goldsmith spoke of the ”inherent, but now heightened, tension within the Constitution” between the judicial branch and democratic powers– Parliament and the executive– which, he said, was to be resolved by the ”emerging principle of judicial deference.”

Mr Goldsmith cited the case of Shafiq ur Rehman, a Pakistani cleric who was ordered to be deported from Britain four years ago as a ”danger to national security” but was told a few months back that deportation proceedings against him have been dropped.

”In this case,” Mr Goldsmith recalled, the British Home Secretary had decided that the appellant’s deportation would be ”conducive to the public good” based on conclusions as to his involvement with a terrorist organisation ”operating in the Indian sub-continent (which was seeking ‘the liberation of Kashmir’).”

Shikaras are a common feature in lakes and riv...

Kashmir valley (Photo: Wikipedia)

But the appellant ”successfully appealed” to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which could not understand ”how conduct prejudicial to the national security of the Indian sub-continent could be prejudicial” to UK’s national security, he said.

”In the House of Lords, however which granted the Home Secretary’s appeal, Lord Hoffmann took the view that SIAC was not entitled to differ from the opinion of the Home Secretary on the question of whether, for example, the promotion of terrorism in a foreign country by a UK resident would be contrary to the interests of the UK’s own national security. In the carrying out of such assessments, the Courts should extend the appropriate degree of deference to the executive.

”That was not to say, of course, that the whole decision on whether deportation would be in the interests of national security was surrendered by the Court to the Home Secretary.

”For example, the question whether deporting someone would expose him to the risk of ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention would be a matter which would certainly not lie within the exclusive province of the executive.

”This is an indication that the Courts are prepared to distinguish between those elements of a decision which attract deference and those which do not.

”The key question, is how well-placed or well-equipped the Courts are– having regard to the particular subject-matter of the decision and the particular areas in which the Courts have accepted expertise– to determine the particular issue,” he said.

India’s Chief Justice V N Khare presided over the lecture, which was organised jointly by the Bangalore-based National Law School of India University and the M K Nambyar Memorial Trust founded by Senior Advocate K K Venugopal to commemorate his father, one of India’s leading constitutional lawyers.

Describing the global nature and magnitude of the threat of terrorism, Mr Goldsmith said, the increased world travel, internet and global telecommunications which benefit millions ”have brought new challenges too, especially in the area of crime.”

Criminals conduct their business across international boundaries, Mr Goldsmith said. ”They traffic young women from the Ukraine or Romania to Bosnia and through the European Union to the UK; they smuggle drugs from the cocaine factories of Colombia to the streets of Paris or Rome; or launder money through bank accounts in all the financial cities of the world. Through international travel and cyberspace they operate globally. The scale of the problems is huge.”

He said drugs were a huge international business– UK market alone estimated at seven billion pounds– accounted for 2000 drugs-related deaths a year and much other crime: property crime, drug dealing, fraud and prostitution.

In one city, he said, it was reported that 70 per cent of all recorded crime was committed by drug users. He cited UN estimate that illegal immigration business is worth 15 to 30 billion dollars a year.

Estimates put the value of money laundering transactions– a key part of much organised crime– at two to five per cent of global GDP– around 1.5 trillion dollars. ”So crime now presents a global threat.

”But our national law enforcement is based firmly on a national level. Law enforcement agencies have to operate within their own national systems and national laws.

”A drug trafficker may have contacts and collaborators in any number of countries. Even to obtain the evidence of people in each of those countries may present a major logistical problem for prosecutors.

”Our courts cannot directly order the attendance of a witness from another country to attend before it; without the assistance of foreign authorities it cannot compel the production by a foreign bank of its records of transactions in another country; nor give us the ability to order the police force of another nation to investigate a particular potential witness in that country.

”And of course our national jurisdiction will usually be limited to crimes committed in our own countries so that we cannot bring to justice those whose activities may have affected us but whose conduct has been abroad.

”In short, we must respect national boundaries and frontiers whilst the criminals treat them with contempt. It is through international cooperation that we can hope to find an answer to this challenge,” the AG said.

UNI MJ RSB GC1340

Drawing Line Between Trial And Punishment ! – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                                          March 25, 2011

M. Veerappa Moila

M. Veerappa Moily (Photo: Nestlé)

Drawing Line Between Trial And Punishment !

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – More than 300,000 under-trials were let out of custody after a special drive begun early last year but with new arrivals daily the number in prisons remains almost what it was– more than 200,000.

”Imagine the plight in absence of such an effort,” was how a senior government official responded when asked about the impact of the special drive, which, he pointed out, has been extended.

Article 21 of the Constitution lays down that ”No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

A statistic to bear in mind: roughly two out of every three prisoners in India are under-trials– only one is a convict serving sentence.

Doing Time, Doing Vipassana

Guilty or Innocent (Photo: publik16)

That, critics say, is a telling reflection of a justice system ostensibly committed to treating an accused as innocent until proven guilty.

For instance, 162 of 543 Members elected to Parliament in 2009 faced criminal charges as against 128 in 2004. Correspondingly, 76 and 58 of them faced serious charges.

Of 813 legislative assembly members in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which go to the polls next month, 204 faced criminal charges, 83 of them serious charges.

Serious crime cases include those involving murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery and extortion.

The special drive was an initiative by Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily to decongest prisons.

”We want to dispose of as many as two-thirds of the under-trial cases by July 31,” Dr Moily told journalists on Republic Day eve 14 months ago. ”The mission begins January 26.”

The exercise involved expediting legal process for some 200,000 under-trials as part of a National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms.

In a jurisprudence known to let even those accused of serious crimes get bail or get elected to legislatures, many under-trials are believed to spend longer in jail than their alleged petty crimes warrant.

By law anyone arrested has a right to be informed of any charges he or she faces, consult a lawyer of his or her choice and to be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.

Lawyers say that without legal aid, those who cannot afford bail inevitably suffer prolonged incarceration during the pendency of investigation by police and trial by a court.

Experts say they languish simply because they are illiterate, do not know their rights or charges they face, and cannot afford lawyers– although Rs 50 crores is spent annually on legal aid.

According to a National Human Rights Commission consultant, India’s prison capacity in December 2008 was 293,144 inmates, against which 386,791 inmates were actually in prison– 264,502 of them under-trials and 122,289, convicts.

While authorities have been acquiescing in the miscarriage of justice, the victims’ plight has, from time to time, evoked concern at home and abroad with critics assailing India’s tortuously slow courts.

India is bound by several international human rights conventions and for decades the government as well as courts have been aware of the violations.

An early official reference to the plight of under-trial prisoners came in the findings of K F Rustamji, a National Police Commission member, 32 years ago.

He saw under-trials as ”dumb, simple persons, caught in the web of the law, unable to comprehend as to what has happened, what the charge against them is, or why they have been sent to jail,” and prisons as a system ”slowly grinding thousands of people into dust.”

Indeed, the first public interest litigation– Hussainara Khatoon & Ors vs Home Secretary, State Of Bihar… 1979– brought to light how undertrial prisoners had been in jail longer than if they had been charged, tried, convicted and given maximum punishment.

Supreme Court lawyers recall a September 1977 judgement by Justice V R Krishna Iyer who held that ”the basic rule may perhaps be tersely put as bail, not jail.”

Among exceptions he spelt out ”are circumstances suggestive of fleeing from justice or thwarting the course of justice or creating other troubles in the shape of repeating offences or intimidating witnesses and the like.”

”It made clear that incarceration in the name of judicial custody and protracted or delayed trial is itself criminal as it hits at the very base of Article 21,” says advocate Ravi Prakash Gupta.

Eight years ago, National Democratic Alliance Law Minister Jana Krishnamurthy drew attention to the plight of more than 200,000 under-trials.

”It’s a shame,” he said, that in independent India men and women have to await their day in court for over ten years.

The yearly cost to public exchequer for under-trials upkeep was then estimated at Rs 4.6 crore.

Although under-trials’ guilt is yet to be proven, they remain in prison almost indefinitely.

Experts say unlike convicts, found guilty, they are not even entitled to such basics as uniforms, literacy lessons or work.

NHRC consultant Lakshmidhar Mishra says children and juveniles are worse off inasmuch as they are put up in regular jails with hardened criminals contrary to law for lodging them in police lockups or observation homes, which are neither adequate in number nor adequately equipped.

There was no let-up until about a year ago, when a move to cut two thirds of under-trial cases was announced by Dr Moily of the United Progressive Alliance.

Addressing lawyers on November 26, 2009, marked as Law Day, the Minister regretted the justice system’s failure to give every citizen equal protection of law.

”A necessary corollary to the guarantee of the rule of law is Article 14 of the Constitution,” Dr Moily reminded.

Article 14: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

”Unfortunately,” he admitted that ”justice delivery system in its working in India has not been able to guarantee this protection to every citizen– man, woman and child.”

The government asked High Courts to identify under-trials not involved in heinous crimes or preventive detention so that their cases may be put on a fast track to expedite pressing cases.

The Indian Constitution guarantees speedy trial. But the commodity is routinely in short supply, with litigation often taking years, even decades.

Indian courts have close to 31 million cases pending, a factor that discourages justice seekers at home, investors from abroad, and has even judges advocating alternative ways of resolving disputes.

Hope may be hard to entertain given hundreds of High Court judgeships and thousands of lower judicial posts perennially vacant and inconsistent sentencing practices across India undermining the deterrent value of law.

Government figures show that there were 213,739 under-trials in prison as the drive got underway.

Over the next six months or so, only 43,504 were convicted and 50,282 discharged.

As many as 309,728 under-trials were released after having been kept in jails for unspecified periods.

About the same time, 399,115 new under-trials arrived in prisons across India, to wait for their day in the court.

Government data indicate that of 612,854 under-trials in prison for unspecified periods– ranging from a day to possibly several years– merely 7.09 per cent were actually convicted in those six months or so.

The figures made available do not, for instance, specify how long individuals spent in jail on what sort of charges before they were convicted, discharged or released.

Nor has there been a mention of compensating any who might have been jailed or held without basis.

Any compensation awarded by human rights or other authorities is discretionary, depending on how a given judge feels at the moment– hardly fair.

No compensation is mandated by the Indian Constitution or statutes for wrongful confinement.

In a telephone interview with United News of India special correspondent Mukesh Jhangiani, Dr Mishra called it ”a significant omission,” and agreed that a remedial legislation is needed.

But given the pace of legislation in India, remedies are neither swift nor easy.

The figures indicating that the number of under-trials in prison at the end of the drive was 212,454– just 1,285 less than at the outset– do not necessarily reflect a nationwide trend.

In 16 out of 27 States or Union territories for which the Justice Department has received figures, the numbers actually went up.

West Bengal led in this increase with 14,238 under-trials put into prisons while 9,337 were released, an increase of 4,901 under-trials in prison.

It was followed by Orissa, with an increase of 4,305, Rajasthan, 3071, Haryana, 1,737, Jharkhand, 1,726, Bihar, 1,550, Chhattisgarh, 1,516, Gujarat, 1,086, and Assam, 1,000.

Smaller increases were reported by Andhra Pradesh, 678, Punjab, 677, Kerala, 652, Manipur, 238, Tripura, 118, Himachal Pradesh, 107, Goa, 106, Nagaland, 69, and Arunachal Pradesh, 47.

One State which reported the highest decline was Uttar Pradesh which released 77,205 under-trials while putting in jail 55,287, an actual decrease of 21,918.

It was followed by Madhya Pradesh, where the number of under-trials in prison declined by 748, Karnataka, 643, Uttarakhand, 569, New Delhi, 356, Maharashtra, 257, Mizoram, 156, Meghalaya, 112, Sikkim, 58, Chandigarh, 11, and Daman and Diu, 1.

The Department had no figures immediately from Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.

The programme originally scheduled to end on July 31, ”is continuing,” Dr Moily told journalists a few weeks ago.

From citizens’ perspective locking up innocent, law-abiding individuals is as undesirable and indeed repugnant as letting crooks and lawbreakers roam free or shape laws or societies.

UNI MJ NK 1749

Cutting 2/3rd Undertrial Cases By Mid-2010 – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                     November 26, 2009

English: SVG version of the coat of arms of th...

CIArb Coat of arms (Photo: Wikipedia)

Cutting 2/3rd Undertrial Cases By Mid-2010

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – A move to cut two thirds of undertrial cases by the middle of next year was announced by Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily today.

The announcement may mean freedom for many of 170,000 Indians in jail for periods longer than entailed by petty offences they are alleged to have committed.

The plight of such undertrials has evoked concern for years, without much remedy at hand given the painfully slow system of justice at work.
Dr Moily spoke about the plan at two separate events in the Capital, one marking the National Law Day and another opening an India Chapter of a United Kingdom-based arbitration institute._
Addressing the Bar Council of India, a statutory body of a million lawyers across the nation, Dr Moily regretted the Justice system’s failure to give every citizen equal protection of law.
Advocates celebrating the day were reminded that ”a necessary corollary to the guarantee of the rule of law is Article 14 of the Constitution.”
The Article says: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
”Unfortunately, Justice delivery system in its working in India has not been able to guarantee this protection to every citizen– man, woman and child,” Dr Moily noted.
Dr Moily estimated the number of undertrials in prisons in India at more than 300,000– 70 per cent of the jail population, which means only 30 per cent inmates are serving sentences after conviction.
Roughly 200,000 inmates have been in jail for several years, essentially because of delays in the justice delivery system, officials say.
The second event was the opening of the India chapter of the London-based Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) for ”faster resolution of pending court cases.”
Declaring the Chapter open, CIArb Director General Michael Forbes Smith stressed ”assured level of training and experience” and maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct in the practice of private dispute resolution.”
The 94-year old Institute with 11,000 members across more than 100 countries is a ”not for profit, UK registered charity working in the public interest through an international network of 31 Branches and Chapters.
Indian courts have close to 31 million cases pending, a factor many litigants find discouraging, as indeed do many businesses contemplating to invest in India owing among other things to a promise of cheaper labour.
Indian Arbitration yet to pick up Arbitration is an alternative way to settle disputes, but despite ripe grounds– court delays and huge arrears– it has yet to pick up in India.
A good many arbitral awards are known to have ended up in courts again, rendering the alternative not much of one.
Investors are often known to decline a resort to Indian rbitration.
As one of the speakers at the opening pointed out, arbitration in India does not appear to have emerged as a cost-effective and speedier alternative to courts.
Retired Chief Justice of India J S Verma told audience it’s ”quite disturbing” to know the fees of some professionals, as indeed how much richer, more affluent some judges are ”post-retirement.”
Justice Verma, introduced as one of the few Judges who accepted no post-retirement office of profit, stressed that arbitration was not intended to make ”us richer after we retire… The mindset has to improve.”
Asked how arbitrators who violate ethics are dealt with, the CIArb Director General told United News of India Special Correspondent Mukesh Jhangiani that a conduct panel goes over complaints.
Depending on merit, a case may be referred to a disciplinary tribunal and possibly result in debarment, Smith said. But he could not immediately recall such instances.
He said complaints are sometimes made by disappointed parties seeking to appeal the arbitrator’s award by means of a personal attack on the ability or competence of an arbitrator.
UNI MJ KJ

Spread Word About Legal Aid – Apex Court Judge – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                     October 19, 2008

Spread Word About Legal Aid – Apex Court Judge*

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Hoping to serve ”global legal community’s interest in India more effectively,” a New Delhi-based law publisher has been reminded of tasks at home– spreading word about legal aid, for one.

The suggestion from Supreme Court Judge Altamas Kabir came at a function this week celebrating the 4-month-old merger of Britain’s LexisNexis Butterworths with Indian law book publisher Wadhwa Nagpur.

A lot of people in India are not aware of the existence of legal aid cells in the country, said Justice Kabir, citing an instance of information people ought to have.
He said with the development of information technology industry and globalisation of laws, the legal and judicial fraternity in India frequently refer to legal developments and literature from abroad.
Justice Kabir touched on changes with which the Indian legal system must cope– and the consequent demands they pose, voicing hope that the company’s content suite will aid in the process.
The event was attended among others by Law Commission of India Chairman A R Lakshmanan, Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah and Senior Advocate K K Venugopal.
India has some 14,000 judicial officers presiding in courts and almost a million lawyers enrolled with the nation’s statutory Bar Councils.
Dr Justice Lakshmanan hailed the merger, saying the new entity would provide the best local and global content to Indian legal industry.
Justice Shah emphasised the need for easy access to information from various sources for providing litigants speedy justice given the rapidly growing volume of cases as well as arrears.
Noting the importance Indian courts give precedents, Justice Shah said systematic and comprehensive online databases and efficient law reporting would help lawyers and the judiciary serve people better.
Venugopal said a comprehensive database as a ‘readyreckoner’ was imperative for Indian lawyers and law students– given the value of knowledge and the high costs of journals or classics.
He suggested that the publishers focus on producing quality legal journals that can generate discussions on Indian laws, judiciary and the legal system.
The event marked the launch of DD Basu’s Shorter Constitution of India by Justice Kabir, first anniversary issue of Halsbury’s Law Monthly by Justice Shah and an Online LexisNexis Bookstore by Dr Justice Lakshmanan.
LexisNexis Group’s New York-based Senior Vice President Robert Rigby-Hall– the new company’s Managing Director– promised ”richer, more comprehensive solutions to the Indian legal industry.”
These, he said, would include integrated content from key markets such as the United States, Britain and Australia and could play a crucial role in such reforms as digitisation of courts and bringing efficiency into the Indian legal profession.
A statement by the Wadhwa Brothers of Wadhwa Nagpur said ”The merger will add significant value to the Indian legal market and enable us to serve the global legal community’s interest in India more effectively.
”With increased global demand for Indian legal content, and emergence of the Legal Process Outsourcing industry, it is an exciting opportunity to make Wadhwa Nagpur content available to the worldwide marketplace,” it said.
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