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Economic Laws Practice (ELP) has analysed the Union budget highlights.[Download PDF]

India will have a comprehensive bankruptcy code making it easier for entrepreneurs to exit unviable ventures on the lines prevailing in the US, towards improving the ease of doing business, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely said Saturday.

“Bankruptcy law reform, that brings about legal certainty and speed, has been identified as a key priority for improving the ease of doing business,” Jaitley told the Lok Sabha while presenting the NDA government’s first full budget.

“We will bring a comprehensive Bankruptcy Code in fiscal 2015-16, that will meet global standards and provide necessary judicial capacity,” he added.

The new code will essentially help banks recover dues in case promoters default.

It will replace the Sick Industrial Companies Act (SICA) as well as the Board for Industrial and Finance reconstruction (BIFR) Act which have failed in achieving the objective of bankruptcy law reform, the finance minister said.

A recent celebrated case of corporate default is that of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines, which owes over Rs.7,000 crore to a consortium of banks. The airlines owes the state-run State Bank of India Rs.2,000 crore, while the bank took possession of Kingfisher House in Mumbai earlier this month in a bid to recover some part of its money.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday said the government proposes to set up exclusive commercial courts including in various high courts for the quick resolution of commercial disputes.

Announcing the measure in his budget speech for 2015-16, he said that government would consult all the stakeholders before bringing a bill in parliament for setting up court to exclusively deal with commercial disputes.

For the “quick resolution of commercial disputes, the government proposes to set up exclusive commercial divisions in various courts in India based on the recommendations of the 253rd Report of the Law Commission”, he said.

The Law Commission in its 253rd report submitted to the government Jan 29, had while recommending the setting up the commercial courts, the commercial divisions and the commercial appellate divisions of high courts had said that the “goal is to ensure that cases are disposed of expeditiously, fairly and at reasonable cost to the litigant”.

It maintained that the setting up of such courts would not only benefit the litigant but other potential litigants (especially those engaged in trade and commerce) would also be advantaged by the reduction in backlog because of quick resolution of commercial disputes.

Quick resolution of commercial disputes would further the “economic growth, increase foreign investment, and make India an attractive place to do business”, it noted, stressing that a “robust dispute resolution mechanism is a sine qua non for the all-round development of an economy”.

(Read the law commission report)

The union budget for 2015-16 has earmarked Rs.806.2 crore for the development of judicial infrastructure in states and union territories, the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms and the administration of justice.

It has earmarked Rs.212.19 crore for the mission under the plan head which is up by Rs.124.99 crore compared to the Rs.87.30 crore allocated in 2014-15.

The national justice mission was set up in 2011 to improve a variety of issues relating to the judiciary to reduce pendency and arrears and increase access to justice.

But the catch is that in 2014-15, the government had revised and scaled down the expenditure to just Rs.5.69 crore of the allocated plan expenditure of Rs.89.30 crore for the mission.

However, there is a steep decline in the government allocation for the computerization of district and the subordinate courts with the allocation of just Rs.2 crore.

In 2014-15, the total allocation for computerization was Rs.58 crore which was scaled down to Rs.29.87 crore in the revised budget estimates.

The grant in aid to the states for the development of judicial infrastructure is earmarked at Rs.443.69 crore which is nearly half of Rs.842.40 crore allocated in the revised budget estimates in 2014-15.

Similarly grant in aid for the UTs is Rs.63 crore against the Rs.60 crore allocated in previous fiscal.

The Supreme Court has been allocated Rs.562.99 crore for plan expenditure which is Rs.373.01 crore less than what was allocated under the plan head in the 2014-15 budget.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has only recovered 0.74 per cent out of Rs 12,474 crore of fines it has imposed, reported the PTI, with the vast majority (Rs 12,292.57 crore) having been stayed on appeal and with Rs 61.10 crore having been dismissed, according to corporate affairs minister Arun Jaitley.

Cameras in court: Remoter possibility?On 13 February 2014, towards the tail-end of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) short-lived first tenure in charge of Delhi, then-Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti wrote a 15-page letter to his party colleagues.

Apex court lawyer Suhaas Joshi has filed a criminal complaint in a Delhi metropolitan court against online shopping site Snapdeal and a sex-toy e-commerce website that closed down a month ago, arguing that they violated section 377 of the IPC that bans “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”, reported QZ.

Joshi, who told Quartz that he “only wanted to test the law” so that “either parliament should debate and discuss the issue or state should come to the rescue of all those affected”, also complained under the IPC’s section 292, 292A, 293 and 294, dealing with public obscenity. The court asked the police to investigate the matter on 5 February.

Joshi singled out products such as “anal lubes and massagers that are shaped like the male phallus”, clarifying that he was not against homosexuality but wanted to point out the double standard of the law banning the sexual activity, while allowing for the sale of items used in such activities.

Bangalore-based self-described Supreme Court advocate Vikas Bansode, legal advisor to former Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj, has had his Z-class security cover renewed and upgraded to Z-plus level “for an indefinite period” on 24 January by the local police, reported the Bangalore Mirror.

Bansode, who was nearly appointed legal advisor to an SIT looking into illegal mining after Bhardwaj’s resignation, apparently enjoys the same security cover as Karnataka’s chief minister and governor - including eight 24-hour guards, some of whom are armed, two police vehicles with a driver and three security personnel, co-ordinated by a reserve sub-inspector, costing around Rs 1.5 crore per year - according to the Mirror.

Trouble is, police declined to tell the Mirror why Bansode was awarded this privilege by a high-powered committee of cops and the state’s chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee.

Women: Minority leadersSix women sit huddled in one corner of the administration room in Patiala House court complex, surrounded by a sea of smiling men.

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