Social media code of conduct and ethics - election commission of India

The 2014 General Elections saw a new kind of election campaigning. Far removed from the dusty rallies, a considerable part of the campaigning took place online. Political parties employed big data analytics to crunch user information of nearly 100 million Indian social media users and used it to their advantage in campaigning.

Political parties’ major portion of campaigning was done by PR executives sitting on computers, in addition to the proactive Twitter accounts of their leaders. A study estimated that around Rs. 300-400 crores were spent by the political parties for their publicity and campaigns on social and digital media in 2014.
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Court of Arbitration for Art - CAFA II

For Art’s Sake: The Court of Arbitration for Art – Part I looked at the history of art disputes and the introduction of the Court of Arbitration for Art and how it solves the issues of adjudication faced in art disputes.

Part – II elaborates on the Procedure that will be followed by the Court of Arbitration for Art and what this development means for the Indian art industry.

How CAfA helps

It is essential in cases involving art disputes that there is a regime to govern and decide the disputes that may arise in the course of such sale purchases, mainly concerning the authenticity of the artworks, their valuation, instances of art fraud, cases of stolen art, chain of title disputes, contract, as well as copyright issues. Although, “art” in the broad sense of the term includes music, film, theatre, literature, et cetera, the scope of CafA is likely to adjudicate on disputes regarding fine arts and/or visual arts.
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Court of Arbitration for Art - CAFA

Consider this: you purchased a rare Jackson Pollock painting from a prestigious auction house’s website, the auction house even provided you with a “Certificate of Authenticity”. However, an expert on Jackson Pollock remarks that the painting may be a copy/ a very public dispute ensues, not only questioning the value and authenticity of the painting, but also the reputation of the auction house. While the Courts hear the dispute, the value of the painting is affected by the controversy, its authenticity ever a subject of debate and given the bad publicity from the litigation; the million-dollar Jackson Pollock’s value is now diminished greatly.

What the Court of Arbitration of Art (CAfA) is All About

Established in June 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Art (the “Court” or “CAfA”) operates as a specialised arbitration and mediation tribunal for resolving art disputes. CAfA intends to undertake proceedings at a global level, addressing matters such as art authentication, contract and chain of title disputes, copyright, and moral rights, to name a few. The importance of this Court stems from problems often associated with judicially-administered art disputes, particularly pertaining to evidence and the art industry’s difficulty in accepting judgements pronounced by national courts, due to lack of expertise in the field. CAfA aims to resolve these issues by providing an arbitral tribunal comprising of art experts, rendering awards or results based on sound knowledge and extensive experience.
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By utilising its powers under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India has delivered an unprecedented decision on August 09, 2018 in Chitra Sharma & Ors. v. Union of India and Ors[1]., and other connected matters (the Jaypee / homebuyers Case)[2]. In this era of evolving jurisprudence on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), the Supreme Court, by this landmark decision, has settled some highly debated issues with respect to its implementation and has provided much required certainty. This has been achieved by the Supreme Court paving the way to reset the clock by re-commencing the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP).

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The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 (2015 Amendment) came into force with effect from October 23, 2015. Although this amendment was enacted to remove controversies and iron out wrinkles in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, (Parent Act), it has in fact, given rise to its own set of controversies. One of the burning issues was the applicability of the 2015 Amendment. Section 26 of the 2015 Amendment provides for its applicability, and reads as follows:

  1. Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the arbitral proceedings commenced, in accordance with the provisions of Section 21 of the principal Act, before the commencement of this Act unless the parties otherwise agree but this Act shall apply in relation to arbitral proceedings commenced on or after the date of commencement of this Act.

One would believe that the above provision would have settled any issue of applicability of the 2015 Amendment. It has instead given rise to more litigation,[i] which has now been partially addressed by the Supreme Court.[ii]

The controversy in all the litigation that came up before the High Courts, and which also saw conflicting points of view, was around the applicability of the amended Section 36 of the Parent Act. In the pre-amendment era, when an award debtor challenged an award under Section 34, the award creditor was prevented from enforcing the award until a determination had been made by a court on the challenge, because of an ‘automatic stay’ on the operation of the award.

In order to overcome this, and for the benefit of award creditors, Section 36 of the Parent Act, was amended to do away with this ‘automatic stay’. It required the challenging party to separately apply for a stay and also required the court to direct the award debtor to deposit the award amount, so as to avoid frivolous challenges. The question for the courts has been the applicability of the amended Section 36 to Section 34 applications that were filed before and after the 2015 Amendment came into force.


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Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017

This is the sixth blog piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.


The need for “rule of law” to prevail is repeatedly espoused by today’s social and political commentators. In light of this, it is important to revisit the origin of the doctrine of “rule of law”, and understand how it originated, so as to fully appreciate its significance and meaning.

In 1676, Sir Mathew Hale, the then Chief Justice of King’s Bench (1671-76), set out 18 tenets for dispensing of justice. The sixth tenet read as follows,

“That I suffer not myself to be possessed with any judgment at all till the whole business of both parties be heard.”

This very sound principle has two fundamental requirements.

The first is that the judge ought not to be predisposed to either one of the adversarial parties, and should not form a view on the merits of the matter before him until all the parties are heard. This of course is very difficult to do given that all persons including judges are bound to have their own views, opinions and preferences. However, through the ages the hallmark of an eminent member of the judiciary is the manner in which he/she overcomes inherent prejudices so as to ensure that the judicial adjudication is based only on the law, the facts based only on evidence on record before the court, and the interplay of the facts in relation to the law.


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The Central Government in India had introduced the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (“PMLA”), to prevent the circulation of laundered money. The Act defines money laundering as any process or activity connected to proceeds of crime, including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and projecting or claiming it as legitimate property. While the PMLA Act allowed for confiscation and seizure of properties obtained from the laundered money, such actions were still subject to the processes of criminal prosecution. This led to many of the persons accused of money laundering, to flee the jurisdiction of Indian courts to avoid criminal prosecution under PMLA and the consequent confiscation of the properties.

On March 12, 2018, the Indian government introduced the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 (“Bill/Proposed Act”), in the Lok Sabha, after receiving approval from the Cabinet, to address the issue of such economic offenders avoiding criminal prosecution. The Bill defines a ‘fugitive economic offender’ as any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to economic offences, under various statutes, listed in a schedule to the Bill (“Scheduled Offence”) has been issued, on or after the enactment of this Bill, by any Indian court, and who:

  • Has left India to avoid criminal prosecution, or
  • Being abroad refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

Pertinently, in 2015, the definition of proceeds of crime in the PMLA was amended to include property equivalent to proceeds of crime held outside the country.


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The Union Cabinet recently issued a press release for the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (“2018 Bill”). The amendments which, when passed will apply to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) are pursuant to the Srikrishna Committee Report[1] released in July, 2017 (“Report”), recommending further amendments on the back of the 2015 amendments, primarily to improve on or clarify various provisions.

Key amendments approved include the following:

  • Arbitration Council of India

The Report recommended the creation of an independent body to accredit arbitral institutions and arbitrators as a number of stakeholders interviewed were disenchanted with the existing arbitral facilities in India. The recommendation has been accepted and an independent body will be set up, namely, the Arbitration Council of India to enable formal evaluation and accreditation. This Council will frame norms for alternate dispute resolution and evolve professional guidelines. This is a positive step to ensure the quality of arbitral institutions. Though India has several arbitral institutions, few apart from the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration are recognized as having the expertise to administer multi-party international arbitrations.


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Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017

This is the fifth blog piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.


India’s judiciary has been known for judicial activism with the Supreme Court often deciding to intervene, not just to strike down laws that are held to be unconstitutional, but also in governance, which many believe ought to be the exclusive domain of the executive. While opinion is divided about the desirability of judicial activism, most would agree that it is the judiciary and its fearless will to intervene and deliver justice, even at the risk of stepping into the domain of the legislature or the executive, which has preserved democratic process over the years.

Unfortunately, rampant judicial activism has given rise to an inevitable debate about the balance of powers between the “three pillars of democracy” and then, as a corollary, the question of the manner in which Judges are appointed in the first place. The prevalent “Collegium System” has been severely criticised, as being non-transparent and prone to nepotism, with several jurists and respected members of the bar themselves pointing out that in no other large democracy does an institution so powerful, choose its own members. The time is therefore right to look closely at the history of how the “Collegium System” evolved, through what is known as the Three Judges Cases.


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Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017

This is the fourth blog piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.


The world is becoming corporatised, and the time of the business owner living over his little shop are well-nigh over. The world is also becoming smaller and, as it does, a business’s reach spreads across multiple jurisdictions and through multiple subsidiary or group companies.

In this age of corporatisation, most jurisdictions recognise the concept of a company as a separate juristic person, with an identity distinct and independent of its shareholders, members or directors. This corporate existence separates a company’s identity from that of its promoters or shareholders. It enables the company to contract in its own name, with its shareholders and third parties, to acquire and hold property in its own name, and to sue and be sued in its own name. A company has perpetual succession; its life is not co-dependent with that of its shareholders and it remains in existence irrespective of any change in its members, until it is dissolved by liquidation. The shareholders of a company are not identified with the company and cannot be held personally liable for acts undertaken by, or liabilities of, the company.

This independence or distinction is not a new concept. In the late 19th Century, the judgment in the classic case of Salomon v. Salomon[1] was passed, ruling that a company is a separate legal entity distinct from its members and so insulating Mr. Salomon, the founder of A. Salomon and Company, Ltd., from personal liability to the creditors of the company he founded.


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