The Constitution of India has tasked the Parliament and State Legislatures in India to enact and adopt laws for India to create predictability, certainty and confidence amongst the people. Which is why, it is important for the legislature to identify the areas under ambiguity and lay down guidelines in form of legislations. This saves us the cost of unnecessary and directionless litigation, the economic loss associated with the uproars against chaotic laws and definitely the fingers pointing at the legislative soundness and sincerity of our legal system.
In my view, to start with, the following three areas require urgent attention of the law makers –
1. Law to Regulate Fisheries Subsidies
The continuous overexploitation and impending depletion of the fishing stocks in the oceans have made the global economies conscious towards the imminent need for conservation of marine ecology. This exploitation of limited marine resources is, however, undeviatingly associated and further aided by the practices of the countries worldwide, as huge subsidies are being provided at various levels to different stakeholders operating in the fisheries sector.
Basic economic theory argues that fisheries should be self-sustaining, as when fish stocks tend to get low and/or the cost of fishing rises, fishing will become less profitable, and people, along with capital assets will move out of the business, thus allowing stocks to recover. However, if the governments allow and aid the otherwise unprofitable fleets to continue fishing by providing additional funds and subsidies, it would make the recovery of stocks impossible.
India is one of the largest providers of fisheries subsidies amongst the developing countries. The total amount of such subsidies provided by India remains significantly lesser when compared to the developed countries; however, the governments at different levels have managed to increase the financial contributions every year, considering the fact that the Constitution of India empowers both the Central as well as State Government to make regulations for the same.
Which is why, there is an imminent need for a nation-wide legislation in order to convert fishing capacity-stimulating subsidies to beneficial ones, those that focus on sustainability and ecosystem restoration. Such action will benefit Indian fisheries in the long-run, making them more economically viable, and a beneficial way to spend taxpayer money while maintaining the ecological balance in the water bodies as well giving way to sustainability.
2. Law for Treatment of Refugees
The recent Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 provides a fast track mechanism for citizenship to the migrants of a certain class, however, the future and rights of the other migrants and refugees in India remains highly uncertain. India is not a signatory to the United Nation’s Convention Relating to the Rights of Refugees, 1951 and therefore, is not under an obligation to follow the principles laid out by the convention. There is no specific legislation in India which specifies the rights of refugees in India.
This ambiguity of the situation is further propelled by the inconsistent court decisions and the development of non-uniform jurisprudence over the right of refugees in India. The Delhi High Court and Gujarat High Courts, for instance, in different cases have, citing Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General International Law and the constitutional guarantee of right to life and liberty, upheld the right of asylum seekers and aliens to stay in India and not be deported in cases where risk of persecution is involved. At the same time, the Supreme Court in ‘KhudiramChakhma Case’, left it upon the union government to decide the fate of migrants in India, calling it a matter of policy.
Such ambiguity and confusion over the fate of approximately 10 Lakh people can’t continue for long. A decisive policy, one that is creatively drafted with clarity on all fronts and edges to contain all the protest and disturbance on part of the Central government in form of a protective legislation is required urgently.
The need for a legislation in this field is a cry from the depth of the past of India, and CAA coming now is too little compassion coming too late. It cannot be denied that India needs a filter for its vast population, for economic, as well as security issues, however, that has to be done keeping in mind the timing of imposition,demographics, emotions of the people, history of the nation, political infiltrators, general reaction of the people of different cultures, religion, states, groups and intellect.
3. Data Protection Legislation
While the Hon’ble SC in ‘K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India’ ruled Right to Privacy to be a fundamental right, most experts argue that privacy remains a distant reality in India, especially on cyberspace. The issue was examined in detail by an expert committee, chaired by B.N. Saikrishna J., which pointed out that the provisions of the incumbent Information Technology Act 2000 (I.T. Act) were insufficient to deal with the existing security challenges posed by rapidly improving technology, across the globe.
The I.T. Act defines sensitive personal data very narrowly. It restricts the meaning of the term within 5 categories (password, financial information, health parameters, sexual orientation and biometric), which doesn’t suffice the needs of the current times. Additionally, I.T. Act has application over companies and not the government; and the governments across the world remain the largest infringer of privacy rights. Not to mention some of the provisions of the act can be overridden by a contract.
The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 was introduced in the Parliament last year and was referred to a standing committee. With the huge controversy surrounding the bill from all sides, the future of the bill remained rather uncertain and finally was pulled off due to the dissolution of the house. The bill has now been re-introduced (Dec) and is facing the same quantum if criticism as before, if not less. The bill is a little weighed down when it comes to the government and may have an adverse effect on the new yet-to-come technologies in the cyber world.
This, however, can’t serve as an excuse against impending need for a data protection law in light of lack of surveillance reforms, inconsistent judicial enforcement of privacy, CCTV Cameras, drone deployment, and facial recognition technologies.
The European Union’s elusive General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a successful example of a regulatory regime providing guidelines for improved data management which had reportedly been referred to by the J. SriKrishna committee that originally drafted the bill. However, the reintroduction of bill has attracted criticism from the public, legal experts and even its drafter himself, specially emphasizing upon the couple of tweaks which the reintroduced bill has come knotted with.
The laws suggested above are not exhaustive, in fact, far from exhaustive, and India, to legislatively square its population and diversity up needs many new and dedicated laws to be introduced and the old laws to be pacified.
You can suggest some down below!