Events

NSLR | Symposium on Law & Public Health

On 16th and 17th February 2019, NSLR will hold its 1st Symposium. NSLR is the Student Law Review at NALSAR University of Law. The Symposium aims to improve the visibility and effectiveness of law as a tool to protect and promote public health in India from a human rights perspective.

Publications

Tobacco Subsidies or Public Health

This is a report of Karnataka Level Workshop and Consultation with researchers and experts on public health and tobacco control laws conducted on May 23rd 2016.


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Events

A Consultation on Tobacco Subsidies or Public Health

CLPR will hold a State-level consultation in order to get inputs from various stakeholders interested in the removal of tobacco subsidies. These stakeholders include representatives from civil society and public health NGOs, academia and community organisers.

Publications

Right to Public Health

The article is about a Public Interest Litigation filed in the High Court of Karnataka, Bangalore on the pitiable state of the government hospitals in Bangalore which are short of doctors, beds and equipment, thereby raising pertinent questions about public health being a right for people. The court, however, has taken up this issue quite seriously and this is very essential given the state of government hospitals now. One hopes that more pressure is applied to ensure quality in public healthcare because this is a basic constitutional right in a welfare state.

Blog

Equality, Non-Discrimination & the Guarantee of Healthcare

The right to equality and non-discrimination involves not only formal equality in law but obligations on the State to provide substantive non-discrimination for those persons and groups who suffer differential impacts. In the context of healthcare, this means recognizing stigma, discrimination, and exclusion as a result of disability, health status, gender and gender identity, and other social, economic, and cultural categories. Positive obligations, in that case, should extend beyond the prohibition of discrimination, to inclusive policies, reasonable accommodation, and affirmative action’s accounting for special needs and acknowledging existing barriers in the access to healthcare. As the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted, healthcare as an occupation is also in need of protection with multiple reports of attacks on healthcare workers stigmatized as carriers of the virus.

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Public Hearing on 26th Oct on Aadhaar related denial of Social Security

In 2013, the Supreme Court passed an order categorically stating that no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card and warned that only persons entitled to the card under the law should have it. In 2015, the Supreme Court passed a judgment which, among other things, directed the government to ‘give wide publicity in electronic and print media that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card.’ Despite these orders, Aadhaar has been linked to every aspect of people’s lives. While there has been much opposition to the invasion of privacy by the Aadhaar scheme, the systemic denial of basic entitlements to the most vulnerable citizens has not been highlighted with the same vigour.

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Day 12: Arguments before the Karnataka HC on validity of Health Warnings for Tobacco Product Packaging

The Counsel began by explaining that, as on 28th September 2015, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) had stated that the impugned 2014 Amendment Rules would come into force on the 1st of April 2016. After the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation (PCSL) gave its Final Report against the implementation of the impugned 85% health warnings, the Counsel submitted that the MHFW should have rescinded its notification.

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Day 6: Arguments before the Karnataka HC on validity of Health Warnings for Tobacco Product Packaging

The Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India continued with his arguments on Day 6 of the hearing before the Karnataka High Court. The Counsel began by referring to a constitutional challenge to pictorial health warnings that were imposed on tobacco products, in the United States in the case of R.J. Reynolds v. FDA. The petitioners, in this case before the Trial Court (No. 11–1482, 2012 WL 653828) and consequently, the Court of Appeal [No. 11-5332 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 24, 2012)], sought to have this mandatory imposition declared as constituting “compelled speech”.

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Day 5: Arguments before the Karnataka HC on validity of Health Warnings for Tobacco Product Packaging

The hearing before the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court continued on Day 5 as the counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India cited decisions of the Indian and the US Supreme Courts, in support of the existence of a right to commercial speech within the ambit of Article 19(1)(a). The arguments on this day, focused mainly on proving that the petitioner’s right to commercial speech is being curtailed by the impugned rules notified by the Government which excessively restrict the ability to advertise on the packaging of tobacco products.

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Day 3: Arguments Before the Karnataka High Court on Validity of Health Warnings for Tobacco Product Packaging

One of the other arguments made today by the Petitioners was alleging lack of legislative competence of the Central Government to enact the COTPA and promote it as a public health measure since the same is a state subject. It also argued that the Supreme Court held in Ghodavat Pan Masala case that COTPA is not a legislation for the furtherance of public health. This argument will be explored in subsequent proceedings before the High Court.

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Day 1- Arguments Before the Karnataka High Court on Validity of Health Warnings for Tobacco Product Packaging

CLPR is representing the Consortium for Tobacco Free Karnataka as an Intervenor on the grounds of public health. Starting today, we are reporting the summary of arguments taking place every day in court in these matters. A report of the court proceedings would not only serve as information for the public health community in the country to be aware and upto date with these proceedings, but also to document the arguments made in these petitions as these proceedings are one of the most important ones in the field of tobacco and public health in the country today.

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Day 2: Arguments before the Karnataka HC on validity of Health Warnings for Tobacco Product Packaging

The thrust of Day 2’s arguments by the Petitioners was on highlighting how the 2014 amendment to the 2008 Packaging and Labelling rules was an act of excessive delegated legislation. He referred to Tobacco Board Act, 1975 and, the now repealed Cigarettes (Regulation of Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 1975. The counsel made a submission that they were mainly aggrieved by the rules and therefore, they would focus mostly on pointing out the lack of constitutionality of the rules and the fact that it was an act of delegated legislation rather than focusing on the constitutionality of the act per se.’

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The Mental Health Care Bill 2012: An Overview

After India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which came into force in 2008, there was a clear need to overhaul the existing disability laws in India to bring them in compliance with the UNCRPD. It is in pursuance of this that the Mental Health Act 1987 (“MHA”) is sought to be replaced the new Mental Health Care Bill 2012 (“2012 Bill”). This is a brief overview of the 2012 Bill.

Publications

Smoking out the Elephant in the Room

In this article, the author calls for the implementation of internationally accepted guidelines to protect public health policies from being influenced by the vested interests of the tobacco industry. This article was written with reference to Rules that made it mandatory for health warnings to cover 85% of the total display area on packages of tobacco products. The author suggests several proactive measures to address conflicts of interest.

Publications

Behind the Smokescreen

In this article, Jayna Kothari and Aparna Ravi highlight the conflicts of interest between the government and the tobacco industry and note how the intervention of the tobacco industry led to the indefinite suspension of the proposed tobacco packaging rules by the Indian Government. The new rules mandate that warnings should cover up to 85% of the cigarette packaging. The halt in implementation indicates the industry’s influence on government policy making and the serious implications this can have on public health. The article concludes that immediate steps need to be taken to isolate the tobacco industry from the Government’s policy-making wing.

Blog

Queering COVID-19

Unlike many other Indians, LGBTIQ+ Indians don’t yet have equal rights.  They, in reality, are still sub-legal citizens.  This reflects abundantly in our laws spanning across anti-discrimination, education, sexual crimes and harassment, civil and criminal law, healthcare, housing, the labour code, and much more.  Our laws exclude LGBTIQ+ communities and that leaves a huge legislative vacuum.  Despite NALSA and Navtej judgments and the contentious Transgender Rights Act, many states remain non-starters. 

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Alcohol and State Revenue: The Debate in the Constituent Assembly

One of the first steps that many Indian States embarked on as part easing coronavirus related lockdown measures was to allow liquor shops to sell alcohol. Serpentine queues were a common sight at liquor shop across States in India. The restlessness of the State governments to open liquor shops was quite evident – bringing its dependence on alcohol-based  revenue into sharp relief.

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Is Uttar Pradesh’s Suspension of the Industrial Disputes Act Constitutional?

On May 6th, the Uttar Pradesh government issued an ordinance suspending the operation of 35 out of 38 labour legislation for the next three years. While the ordinance will only come into effect if it receives Presidential assent, this is almost a given due to the constitutional requirement that the President acts on the advice of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, and that UP is a BJP-ruled state.

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Packing a Punch: How the Ban on Sale of Loose Cigarettes Was Shelved in a Week

Discussion and debate on regulation of tobacco sale must highlight that it is not the concern of the Government to safeguard tobacco company shares. It is, however, unquestionably the duty of the Government to ensure that every sale of cigarette is accompanied by a statutory warning and that regulations do not make it easier for children to afford and access cigarettes.

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Should the National Green Tribunal have Suo Moto Powers?

The Supreme Court (SC) and High Courts (HC) often take up cases on their own volition, without any party approaching the Court. This is an exercise of their suo moto powers. The SC generally invokes its suo moto powers for cases related to human rights. Environmental issues, such as air pollution in Delhi and the remediation of polluted rivers have been taken up through this route.

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Disquiet Over the New Anti-Trafficking Bill Remains

The monsoon session of parliament is likely to witness the tabling of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 which proposes a common statute that would bring into its ambit all forms of human trafficking including sexual exploitation, indentured labour, slavery, sexual servitude and organ trade. Despite the new Bill expanding the scope and territorial jurisdiction of offences, provisions of the new Bill remain worrisome especially to sex workers in India.        

  

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When Voluntary Sterilisation is Coerced

A day before World Population Day, on 10 July, the Uttar Pradesh Government announced a draft of the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021 (Bill). The Bill has triggered widespread controversy.

Blog

Ethics in AI Talk Series: Information Regulation, Artificial Intelligence and Governance

On July 8th, the Center for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) co-hosted a webinar: ‘Ethics in AI Talk Series: A Conversation on Information Regulation, Artificial Intelligence, and Governance’. The webinar presented research from CLPR’s ‘Public Law of Information in India’ and IIMB’s ‘AI and Personhood Ethics’ projects.

Blog

CLPR | Trans Law Quarterly | Issue III & IV

It has been a year since the first Lockdown in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet things seem far from over, not just with this virus but that we still continue to suffer the effects of those months we were isolated and distanced – not just in our well being but in our capacities to gather, to protest, to create the world we need to live in.

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Priority Access to Vaccines for Persons with Disabilities

Due to the low availability of vaccines in India, the question of who should get the limited supply, and in what order, has triggered heated public debate. Persons with disabilities are among those who are in crucial need of the vaccine, and paradoxically, they have the most difficulty in procuring it, due to problems accessing registration portals, travelling to vaccine sites, etc.

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India’s International Obligations Form the Basis for a new Equality Law

India has enacted several legislations due to its international commitments. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 was enacted to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities. The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 refers to human rights as outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

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Need for political inclusion of migrant workers

During the 2020 national lockdown, migrant workers in distress walking hundreds of kilometers was an iconic image of India. The pandemic demonstrated how a lack of sufficient social security measures jeopardise their health, work, and livelihood. But the migrant workers are not only deprived of welfare measures but access to political participation as well. In the context of elections recently concluded in prominent states, it is important to relook into this exclusionary character of the current electoral law framework.

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Acid Attack Survivors: Implementing Their Right to Dignity

The Supreme Court has consistently held that the State has an obligation towards acid attack survivors and given elaborate judgements for compensation to be provided. However, the principles of equality and dignity are rarely realised for them in practice. This post focuses on their right to seek monetary compensation and also recognized as persons with disabilities. 

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The Philosophy and Law of Information Regulation in India | Call for Papers

We invite multi-disciplinary submissions from fields of law, history of science, science and technology studies, informatics and information sciences, political and economic philosophy, design studies, and other related fields to reflect on the relationship between law, technology and information, with specific reference to the institutions of public law in India.

Litigation

Child Rights Trust v. Union of India

Child Rights Trust (a Bangalore based NGO working extensively in the area of Child Rights) and Ms. Neena Nayak (a child Rights advocate and activist) filed a Writ Petition seeking enforcement of Fundamental Rights, under Articles 14, 15, 19, 21, 21A, 39 and 47 of the Constitution, of migrant children and children of migrant families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Petition seeks to ensure that migrant children and children of migrant workers are provided with proper living conditions, nutrition, health care/immunization, access to education and their protection. The Petition highlights that the lack of present-day assessment of the number and essential needs of migrant children, infants and pregnant and lactating women of migrant families has aggravated their vulnerabilities during the lockdown.

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Legal gender recognition in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

The State legally documents the gender of an individual from birth. For trans persons, the ability to have their gender recognized in official documents is an integral part of their right to life and dignity. Recent developments in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka relating to the legal recognition of the trans community’s right to gender recognition have been hailed as progressive; but do they go far enough? On January 26 2014, the Bangladeshi cabinet formulated a policy creating a distinct third-gender category – ‘hijra’- for trans persons. While this indicates that the State views ‘hijra’ as an umbrella term for all trans people, the term is considered to exclude other communities

Litigation

Kabeer C alias Aneera v. State of Kerala & Ors.

A Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Kerala High Court by Aneera Kabeer, a transgender person involved in mobilising persons in the transgender community for the purpose of achieving equal opportunities for the community. The Petition seeks various reliefs relating to transgender people during period of COVID-19 threat. The writ petition sought for measures by the state government for “the distribution of food ration, medicines, access to medical treatment, etc. to the transgender community in Kerala.”

Blog

COVID-19, Caste and the City

On 27th May 2020, a tragic image of a child playing beside his dead mother made headlines. Unfortunately, this is only one of the many instances, which has brought to light India’s stark class inequalities during the migrant crisis.

The migrant crisis has certainly brought some attention to class inequality in India. However, we must resist the urge to view the crisis only through class. About 16% of the total intra-state migrants in India belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 8% to the Scheduled Tribes (STs), almost equal to their share in the total population, as per data from Census 2011. It is then plausible that a significant fraction of migrants attempting to return to their homes during the lockdown are SC/STs. These communities are vulnerable on the account of their class and caste.

Litigation

Grace Banu Ganeshan & Ors. v. Union of India & anr. | A constitutional challenge to The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019

CLPR has filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court of India on behalf of Grace Banu, and others, who are members of the transgender community, and well-known transgender rights activists who have been working for the promotion of the rights and entitlements of transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons in India for the last several years.

Blog

CLPR | Trans Law Quarterly | Issue I

Putting this newsletter together became a practice of accounting how we gather together, of holding to our greatest capacity as we shrink in the onslaught of terrible abandonment and destruction. We hope that whenever you find the time to peruse through this, it will remind you that we are in this together.

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Unemployment Protections in Indian Constitutional History

The COVID-19 outbreak has severely impacted labourers in India especially those working in the informal sector who constitute 90% of India’s workforce. The recent cases in Surat and Mumbai of the unemployed migrant labourers seeking to go back to their hometowns are worrisome. According to the International Labour Organization’s report, Indian informal economy is looking at a job loss for 400 million people.

Litigation

Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India

The Karnataka High Court has taken up a public interest litigation on relief measures during the COVID lockdown, ranging from access to food and essential items, access to medicines, animal welfare and parole for prisoners. In these ongoing PILs, CLPR has filed an Intervention Application on behalf of Ondede, an organisation working for the rights of transgender persons, and the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, which works closely with SC/ST communities especially manual scavenging groups, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, slum dweller and other vulnerable groups.

Blog

(IN)-EQUALITY in Private Actions

India has witnessed a rise in intolerance over the past few months. From intolerance towards dissent, housing decisions taken based on political leanings to violence towards minorities (religious or socio-economic), show a growing unease and divide in the citizens of India. These acts of violence, discrimination or unequal treatment can be divided into two categories.

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Equality Bill 2019 | May 15th Consultation

On 15th May, we organised a consultation on our Equality Bill 2019 (“Bill”) in Hyderabad. The CLPR team presented the provisions of the Bill and sought suggestions, inputs and feedback from the participants, which included various academics and members of civil society organisations working with marginalised groups. This blog post presents the key points of the consultation.

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Indian General Elections 2019: Election Manifestos and Deprived Electorates

In the run up to the 17th Lok Sabha Elections 2019, India’s major political parties have released their manifestos to woo the Indian electorates. In this blog post, Avinash Shahi critically explores the pledges committed by national political parties for the upliftment of marginalized groups, which routinely confronts deprivations and indignities.

Litigation

Grace Banu Ganesan v. State of Tamil Nadu

This Public Interest Litigation filed by Grace Banu, a transgender rights activist, seeks the implementation of horizontal reservations for transgender and intersex persons in admission into educational institutions and public appointment in the State of Tamil Nadu.

Publications

Making Rights Real

CLPR’s policy brief develops a comprehensive and functional strategy for the implementation of reservations for transgender and intersex persons in educational institutions and public employment. In order to implement reservations, we must address three principal issues: identification of beneficiaries of reservations, legal basis for reservations and the appropriate form of reservations.

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Pakistan’s Historic Transgender Rights Act: A step towards Trans Equality

The Parliament of Pakistan passed The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act on May 8th 2018 marking a historic victory for the trans community in Pakistan. The Act, which protects the rights of gender non-conforming persons and outlaws discrimination both by the State as well as private entities and persons, grants an individual the right to self identity their gender.

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Akrama-Sakrama: Regularisation of Illegal Constructions

A rapid growth in urban populations has led to a growing and increasingly unsustainable demand for housing in cities. In several cases, governments have resorted to regularisation of illegal constructions. The Karnataka government re-introduced such a scheme by making statutory amendments in 2015 whereby owners of illegal constructions could get them regularised on payment of a fee. This scheme will have disastrous consequences for town-planning and development across the state.

Publications

Rights in Review | The Supreme Court in 2014

Rights in Review is a CLPR publication which analyses 15 key judgements ruled by the Supreme Courtin 2014. This publication is aimed at acquainting the reader with various aspects of fundamental rights protection and the relevance and impact of the decisions in public life.