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CENTRE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, POLICY AND GOVERNANCE
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE CENTRE:The Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy and Governance focuses on foregrounding rights, rightslessness, and other vulnerabilities in understanding, critiquing, and reforming laws, legal institutions, and modes of governance, so that they reflect the constitutional ideals of justice. The Centre has the following objectives:
- To engage with constitutional theory and its practical application in framing law and policy in order to realize the constitutional vision of a rights-based just legal order.
- To undertake empirical and other studies on the working of the legal system and its interactions with social norms and structures, in order to engage in justice oriented law, policy and governance reform.
- To focus heavily, though not exclusively, on courts as institutions that are mandated to realize the constitutional vision of justice.
- To engage in action-oriented research for rights-based law and governance reform including through interventions in various fora such as governmental and judicial institutions.
- To create and disseminate knowledge about constitutional law, policy and governance through publications, class-room teaching and other allied activities, including focusing on clinical legal education on issues of access to justice.
- To approach all questions from a comparative perspective in order to place Indian constitutional praxis in context and understand and evaluate options and alternatives for policy and law reform.
PEOPLEEXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Dr. Mrinal Satish, Associate Professor of Law, NLU Delhi
RESEARCH DIRECTOR: Dr. Aparna Chandra, Assistant Professor of Law, NLU Delhi
SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW: Ms. Keerthana Medarametla
RESEARCH FELLOW: Ms. Becky Elizabeth Isaac
STUDENT FELLOWS: Ms. Shruti Arora, Ms. Shweta Kabra, Mr. Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj, Ms. Kudrat Agrawal, Ms. Karishma Padia, Ms. Mahima Jain
CLPG-DELHI HIGH COURT LEGAL SERVICES COMMITTEE PRISONS PROJECT
CLPG is collaborating with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee to work on two projects which involve studying undertrial incarceration in Delhi, preparing periodic reports on the status of each case, documenting the causes of delay (if any), compliance with guidelines and laws, and availability of bail for the person. The Centre will also prepare a policy proposal based on these cases highlighting systemic concerns and blockages in the criminal justice system, and providing suggestions for reforms. This project is funded by the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee.
CLPG-DAKSH RULE OF LAW PROJECT
Daksh India is working on a “Rule of Law” project which studies the problem of judicial delay, particularly the pendency of cases within the Indian legal system. This project uses publically available data pertaining to court cases to build a user-friendly database. The aim of the project is to enable research and public debate on the topic of judicial delays and to identify meaningful and sustainable solutions to tackle the issue of judicial delays.
CLPG and Daksh are collaborating on analysis of the data available with Daksh, as well as other publicly available data on the Indian judiciary. CLPG and Daksh will provide data-driven inputs into debates and discourses around judicial reform in India. CLPG and Daksh will also collaborate to make specific interventions in the field of judicial reform through other means, such as making joint proposals for research projects and funding, jointly undertaking to write policy papers, organizing colloquia and conferences, jointly publishing research work on the issue etc. Daksh has funded the hiring of a research fellow to work on this project.
PROJECT ON EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF SUPREME COURT DECISIONS :
This research project, funded by the University of Chicago, is a collaboration between Dr. Aparna Chandra, Research Director of the Centre, Prof. Sital Kalantry (Cornell Law School) and Prof. William Hubbard (University of Chicago Law School). The project is an empirical analysis of the functioning of the Indian Supreme Court by examining all reported decisions of the Court in the period 2010-2014.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2006
The Lawyers Collective Womens’ Rights Initiative and the Centre for Constitutional Law Policy and Governance are collaborating on an empirical study analyzing the working of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2006. The project involves an analysis of orders passed under the Act, by courts across the country.
PRISONERS’ RIGHTS MANUAL
The Centre is collaborating with Human Rights Law Network to revise and update HRLN’s Prisoners’ Rights Manual. These manuals provide ready reference material for lawyers and civil society organizations working on the issue of prisoners’ rights.
FAIR TRIAL MANUAL
The Centre is collaborating with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative to revise and update the 2010 edition of CHRI’s “Fair Trial Manual: A Handbook for Judges and Magistrates”.
INSTITUTIONAL PEER REVIEWER FOR INDIA EXCLUSION REPORT
The Centre has been requested to be an institutional peer reviewer for the India Exclusion Report, 2015 being brought out by the Centre for Equity Studies.
CONSULTANCY AND ASSISTANCE TO THE TWENTIETH LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA:
The Centre assisted the Twentieth Law Commission of India in various projects that the Commission undertook during its term. These include:
- 262nd Report on the “Death Penalty”: Dr.Mrinal Satish and Dr. Aparna Chandra were both members of the Sub-Committee formed by the Commission to undertake a comprehensive study of the death penalty in India and to formulate drafts of the Report. Student fellows of the Centre provided research assistance to the Sub-Committee.
- 245th Report on Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (Wo)manpower: Dr. Aparna Chandra worked with the Law Commission of India on its 245th report on “Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (Wo)manpower.” This report was initially prepared on the directions of the Supreme Court in Imtiyaz Ahmad v. State of UP, AIR 2012 SC 642. The report focuses on determining the number of judges required for reducing backlog of cases in the district judiciary. Dr. Chandra worked on collating and analysing data, as well as drafting the report, and the Centre continues to work with the Law Commission on analyzing new data that is being submitted to the Supreme Court by the various High Courts in this matter.
- Discussion Paper on the Fatal Accidents Act: Dr. Aparna Chandra was a member of a Sub-Committee set up by the Law Commission to draft adiscussion paper, leading to a report, on reforming laws relating to liability and compensation for fatal accidents in India, in light of various problems with the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 and other laws governing redressal for fatal accidents. For this purpose, the paper surveys the current legal regime for compensating the loss of life in fatal accidents, and analyses the inadequacies of this framework. In light of this discussion, the papermakes specificproposals for reforming the law relating to compensation for fatal accidents. The paper locates theliability and compensation regime within the framework of the state’s constitutional obligations to ensure social justice and welfare, and to enable citizens to live their lives with dignity. In light of this constitutional orientation, and keeping in mind the existing statutory compensation mechanisms, the paperproposes reformsto the existing law. Since the Fatal Accidents Act has counterparts in many other jurisdictions around the world, the paper provides a comparative assessment of amendments and innovations made in other jurisdictions for ensuring effective and timely justice to victims in the event of fatal accidents.
- Proposed Report on “Review of the Criminal Justice System” : Dr. Mrinal Satish and Dr. Aparna Chandra were members of the sub-committee and core-coordination committee appointed by the Law Commission for a project involving the review of the working of the criminal justice system. The Law Commission of India undertookthis exercise to identify reforms in the criminal justice system, with the understanding that “The criminal justice system must respect, protect, and promote constitutional principles, the evolving international human rights standards, and justice, including through efficacious substantive and procedural norms which are attentive towards marginalized and vulnerable groups whose access to the criminal justice system is impeded. Reform of the criminal justice system should be directed towards fulfilling these mandates and thereby making the legal regime more responsive, holistic and humane.”
- Project on Process Re-engineering in the Criminal Justice System: The Centre, through Dr. Mrinal Satish and Dr. Aparna Chandra provided assistance to the Law Commission of India in the preparation of a proposed report advising the E-Committee of the Supreme Court of India on necessary amendments to be made to rules of criminal courts in order to facilitate usage of technology to make the systems more efficient, accessible and transparent.
THE PRISON ADVOCACY PROJECT
The Centre has worked on various prison projects, primarily on the issue of Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The work on Section 436A began before the judgment of the Supreme Court in Bhim Singh. Union of India(this leg of the project was in collaboration with Amnesty International, India). After the Supreme Court’s judgment in Bhim Singh, the Centre assisted Tihar prison authorities in screening and identifying undertrial prisoners eligible for release under Section 436A. The Centre continues to work in prisons on issues relating to excessive pre- and under- trial detention.
Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy and Governance, National Law University, Delhi, Sector 14, Dwarka, New Delhi—110078