Saturday, August 27, 2011

Laws in India to tackle corruption

So you thought India had no laws for tackling corruption? Well, surprise surprise. There are a lot of them. Here's a list. 

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
The Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 (POCA) was enacted to consolidate different anti-corruption provisions from various pieces of legislation under one umbrella and to make them more effective. The Corruption Act, inter alia, widened the scope of the definition of a “public servant”; enhanced penalties provided for offences in earlier laws; incorporated the provisions of freezing of suspected property during trial; mandated trial on a day-to-day basis, prohibited the grant of stay on trial; etc. The Corruption Act is the main law for dealing with offences pertaining to corruption in India, however many avenues of corruption cannot be dealt with under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)
India has welcomed the UNCAC, which provides for international co-operation and mutual legal assistance in investigating cases of corruption and recovery of assets. India signed the UNCAC in December 2005. By signing the Convention India has reiterated its resolve to strengthen international co-operation as envisaged in the Convention. It has now even ratified it. The Convention will boost India’s effort and commitment to fight corruption at both domestic and international level.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002
Many public servants are able to hold their ill-gotten wealth in foreign countries, which they subsequently transfer to their homeland through money laundering, disguising them as funds, apparently from a legal source. This Act empowers the Directorate of Enforcement, India, and Financial Intelligence Unit, India, both agencies of the Government of India, to investigate and prosecute such persons under the said Act.

The Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999
Middlemen or touts, who take huge commissions for brokering deals pertaining to purchases from foreign suppliers, often transfer such money in foreign currencies, claiming it to be the proceeds of some business abroad. This Act empowers the Directorate of Enforcement, India to investigate and prosecute such persons under the said act.

The Right to Information Act, 2005
It is a well-known fact that too much secrecy in public administration breeds corruption. The Right to Information Act aims at ensuring efficiency, transparency and accountability in public life. This Act requires all public authorities, except the ones that handle work relating to national security, to publish all information about their functioning at regular intervals through various means of communication, including the Internet. Now any person can seek any information from the concerned public authority just by filing an application at almost at no cost. The public authority has to reply to the application compulsorily within 30 days. If the information sought is denied, the applicant has a right to agitate further before the appellate authorities under this Act. This can indeed be described as a revolutionary step towards the eradication of corruption from public life.

Central Vigilance Commission
The Central Vigilance Commission is a statutory body which monitors corruption in governmental departments. It supervises the work of Chief Vigilance Officers of all the departments of government and issues guidelines to them. The CVC also receives complaints from the general public about corruption. It refers such complaints to the CBI for verification and investigation if found to contain verifiable allegations. The CVOs are in-house supervisors of government departments who monitor the conduct of personnel and enquire into complaints against them pertaining to corruption. If upon enquiry they conclude that a criminal case under the Corruption Act appears to have been made out, they refer the case to the CBI for investigation.

Use of telephonic/Electronic surveillance
The legal provisions relating to telephonic or electronic surveillance under the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 are effectively used by the CBI to gather accurate information about corrupt activities of the public servants. After ascertaining details about various phone numbers and email identifications used by the public servant, permission of the competent authority is taken to put the same under surveillance. Information gathered during such surveillance has been successfully used in exposing big scams.

Freezing, Seizure and Confiscation of Properties - The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 1944 (Article 31 of UNCAC)
This is an important law on freezing, seizure and confiscation of properties which are proceeds of crime, including offences under the Corruption Act. Such properties identified during investigation can be frozen under this law. Properties can remain frozen till disposal of the case by the court after completion of the investigation. If the alleged offence is proved in the court of law and the property is proved to be the proceeds of crime, the court will order its confiscation.

Criminal Procedure Code 1973 together with Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) in Criminal Matters and Extradition Treaties
Sec. 166 A and 166 B of the above code empower the crime investigation agencies of India to make requests to other countries as well as to entertain requests from other countries to render assistance in the investigation of crime registered in the respective countries. Such letters of request are popularly known as Letters Rogatory. Such Letters Rogatory are executed on the basis of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties and Extradition Treaties India has signed with other countries. To date India has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties in Criminal Matters with 20 countries and Extradition Treaties with 25 countries. The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties invariably have a chapter on asset recovery and sharing the same. With other countries, international co-operation is sought on the basis of guarantee of reciprocity

Also we have the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Also with the Whistle Blower Bill in the pipeline, do we really need a new law?  Stop going to stupid candle light rallies and start implementing anti corruption habits in your day to day life. Oh and next time you say we don't have laws, think about this post. 

P.S.- The list of laws and the information related to it is taken from this blog. Do check it out. It has a complete analysis of corruption in India. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I am on a fast until...

I am going the Anna Hazare way. Shh. I shouldn't say that. I am fighting for my rights. For our rights. Since the past two decades or so we have suffered enough. By we I mean bloggers. We have written millions of articles. Researched for a lot of them. Emailed it to so many friends that we ended up in their spam lists. We worked hard so that people would have quality blogs to read. We put effort into each blog.

What do we get in return?

2-3 'nice post' comments. An occasional interesting comment. Sometimes not even that. The blog gets lost in the online universe. Never to be seen again. Add to this the fact that research has shown that only 5% of the people who read online blogs actually write one. So for every 20 people in the online world, there is just one person who writes and the rest just read stuff! Sometimes we even go to the extent of pasting random emails as blogs. It takes effort. 

We have remained quite for a long time now. I have finally decided to get inspired by Anna and fast for our rights. 

Fight for our 'Right to be Appreciated'. 

I am going on a fast right after dinner and I will not end it as long as all my demands are met. I am pretty serious. I am even wearing a gandhi topi and white clothes. 

We have the following demands:

1. Google should rank my blog as the best among all blogs from India. my page rank should be highest. 
2. Everyone should compulsorily read my blog and comment on it or like it or tweet about it or +1 it. 
3. Everyone who comes online has to be compulsorily directed to my blog. 
4. My blog should be even more important than the president's and the prime minister's blog. 
5. The views expressed in my blog should be be like Caesar's wife. Above suspicion. 
6. My blog's link should the first link to come up whenever anyone searches anything online.
7. This particular blog post should get 500+ facebook likes and 200 +1's and should be RT-ed by 1000 people. 

I am not ready to compromise on any of these demands. It's been a long time since I have been writing to Google about the importance of my blog but I have not received any reply. This is just preposterous. 

I will be sitting online on Gtalk with my 4 trusted followers. I am sure we will get the support of thousands of bloggers who we will portray as lakhs. Let the google guys come and talk to us directly. We will suggest a 'Right to Bullshit' Amendment in their publishing rules and hence make our reign supreme. 

Our timing is perfect, EPL has not warmed up yet and Indian team has lost to England. Everything is planned. See on Gtalk. 

P.S. - Please do not call me by my real name. Nick names are cooler. Henceforth, refer to me as Napster Baba. My core team should be called the Nappies. #likeaboss

Yes I have taken this photos from somewhere else. No, I will not tell you from where. Sue me, bitch!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The rise and rise of legal blogging in India

If you had asked someone a couple of years back on websites or blogs that were specific to legal topics, they would have just stared at you as if you were asking them about UFOs.

Today, there are so many such places that it is difficult to keep a track of what's going on in all these places.

What does this mean to an average law student?

It means a lot more scope to develop your writing skills. It's a platform like never before. You can create a brand name for yourself. Blogging is a very efficient way to learn drafting. It improves the way we use simple and short paragraphs to get our point across. It helps you put your thoughts into words. And ofcourse you get to know a lot of stuff that you would usually not hear about in class. The new developments in concepts, case laws, explanation of concepts, the sarcastic posts and how can we forget, the 'my law school is better than yours' fights. It's all there.

I personally started blogging with Legally India. I blog under the user name 'Napster'. I realised the power of regular legal blogging when one of the juniors in my college came to me and asked me if I was 'The Napster'. It was funny and heart warming and felt good. You can experience it too. Just pick a website from the list below and start writing.

The first one I found out was Legally India. It's a legal news website but has a rather well updated blogs section as well. Also, there is the Mooting premier league, the recruitment statistics etc are a great addition. A great place to get all round information.

Bar and Bench is also pretty similar. They are basically competitors but both of them do a great job. There is enough space in the Indian market for the both of them to prosper.

Lawctopus is also a great website. Its run by students but all the work is done very professionally. It has a homely feeling to it. You can relate to a lot of their posts. Plus they have interesting display pictures on their facebook dp.

Mighty Laws is also a student run website. It got a lot of publicity through its recently concluded blogging competition. It has a very simple and clean look. A bit more frequency in posts would make it a lot better. 
(The website is currently not working. I will update this once it starts working. Till then, here's their facebook page.)

Mylaw is the one that has made the most sensational entry into the blogging arena. They have big shots in their arsenal and post 4-5 articles almost everyday. They might steal the show just on the basis of sheer volume of posts. Although, the quality of the posts are pretty good too. 

Corporate Law Blogs, Spicy IP and Law and Other things are blogs which have been running for a long time now but they have become very popular in the past year or so. They are very regular in posting. They have a great base of writers who contribute good articles. 

Lawcrates and Legalpulp are relatively new and I don't know much about them but my first impression of them is good. They look all set to give the others a run for their money.

The Legal Blog is something I found out about just yesterday. It looks great. It has a lot of interesting posts. Very well researched. It seems like it has a lot of lawyers who blog.

Law is Greek is one more place which has been around for a while now. They have been doing well. The website is more organised now and the material available is also plenty.

Apart from these blogging websites, we also have Legally Drawn, a website with cartoon strips about lawyers and their lives. We also have Project Cloud. A one stop destination for details on upcoming conferences, journals, seminar and competitions.

We also have LegalEagle. They give legal news and latest judgements. They also have a mobile subscription thing which means that they will SMS you the news/judgement and that too free of cost. Manupatra should also learn from them in that aspect. Here's the facebook page. Go like it.

So you can see that the world of legal literature is growing. It's very good news for bloggers and people who want to write blogs as a hobby. The best part is, there might be a lot of these websites out there. The above list is just the ones I know. If you know more then do send me a link via comments. I will check it out and post a review.

So what are you waiting for?

Start writing!

P.S. - I wonder if blogging websites would be willing to give a token payment to people to write blogs. It would mean more visitors for them and a a small motivation for bloggers to post more frequently.

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