27 Sep 2009

Legal updates from the week gone by !!!

While we had earlier posted an exclusive note on the proposed 'Goods and Service Tax' (GST) in India, the recent movement amidst the financial circles makes us feel that GST is closer than we think. The Government has promised GST for the first time in 2007 when the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram stated so in the Parliament and the Government also gave a commitment to the WTO. However things have begun to take shape only after the UPA Government was reelected and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee took charge of the Finance Minister. The matter has been upbeat since then. We already have the first (and may be the final) draft of the direct tax code. Now the recent news reports suggest that the States have indeed come to a concensus on the model of GST and have also agreed that there would prevail two-sets of rates for GST; a standard rate and a lower rate for essential commodities. The ball is now in Centre's court wherein a final decision (atleast in principle) seems due later this month or early next month.


Acting on a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO 'Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group', the Delhi High Court has recently directed the educational bodies to take special measures to promote the education of disabled children. Taking note of the fact that disabled children are being denied admission to educational institutions on grounds of lack of facilities, the Government and concerned departments have been directed to take additional measures to train teachers and staff who can specifically look after the education of disable children. Have a look at the decision.


And if a Concept Paper (in 2005) and a bill on the proposed law (Companies Bill, 2008) was not the end of it, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has unveiled a new Companies Bill, 2009 to be introduced in the Parliament in the upcoming sessions. The Ministry promises a law, but then the industry has had a lot of them. Its time for replacement of the old Companies Act, 1956 to bring the law to suit the need of the times. Hope the law-makers would appreciate and oblige the industry this time.


"The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a ban on flash trading and new rules on credit-rating companies, which drew fire from lawmakers for misreading the risks of investing in toxic mortgage securities" reports Bloomberg. "The SEC proposals include forcing banks selling securities to disclose whether they shopped for ratings among companies for an assessment that would make it easier to sell debt. Such information would tell investors whether ratings underestimate the risk that bonds will default, the SEC said. Commissioners also plan to vote on whether to require the ratings companies to disclose revenue from their biggest clients and that employees provide written statements that their opinions can be used as part of a securities sale. The change may subject ratings companies to lawsuits if investors can prove ratings were based on false information", notes the news-report.


Who exactly has the right to reform (read 'regulate') legal education in India? The Ministry of Law or the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which by default exercises regulatory rights on all educational institutions in India or the Bar Council of India, which under the Advocates Act has been given the responsibility to look after professional standards in the country. The issue has created a log-jam between the two pro-active ministers of the respective ministries with yet no word from the Council. Read more


Should dogfight videos be protected under the First Amendment (freedom of speech and expression)? This question is exactly what faces the United States Supreme Court next month. A film producer who was sentenced to imprisonment under a United States Federal law that punishes 'depictions of animal cruelty' has challenged the law and the matter is posted for determination before the US Supreme Court next month. Read more.


And finally, we have this article recently posted on SSRN titled 'Legal Education Reform in India: Dialogue Among Indian Law Teachers'  covering the past and present of the educational team behind the legal professionals and under-covers their future. The article marks the first issue of the Jindal Global Law Review, the journal of the newly established Jindal Global Law School in Haryana. A good read ... !!!


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