Speaker 1 - Prof. (Dr.) R. N. Sharma
Topic: "Mens Rea vis-à-vis Socio Economic Offences”
Prof.R.N. Sharma commenced his lecture by stating about the two divisions of crime - Conventional Crimes (like murder, rape, assault, robbery etc.) and Non-Conventional Crimes (like white-collar crimes, blue-collar crimes, pink collar crimes, occupational crimes etc.).
Giving a background of the term Mens Rea, he stated that the term is a Latin term that was coined and made applicable by Justice Edward Coke and is an essential element for invoking punishment in case of conventional crimes and may or may not be required for non-conventional crimes. Sir stated that it was the greed of the people that prompted the government to introduce certain statutes that cover non-conventional crimes. He defined the two elements of crime - Actus reus and Mens rea that means a wrongful intention.
He stated that where a statute creates an offence, irrespective of the language of the statute, it is usually understood that the element of mens rea is absent in the definition of the crime unless a contrary intention appears. He discussed the cases under which mens rea is expressly excluded from the statute, where mens rea is of mild type and in cases of vicarious liability.
He elaborated on the definition of white-collar crime given by Sutherland which is defined as a crime that is committed by a person of respect and high social status committed by people during their trade, business or profession like people involved in unfair labour practices, financial manipulation, unfair trade practices etc. socio-economic offences as including activities that harm the allocation and organization of resources in a society. He also expanded on the types of Socio-Economic offences, some of them being White Collar Crimes, Public Welfare Offences, Victimless Crimes and discussed socio-economic offences under different statutes like the Income Tax Act, FERA, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act etc. He focused on his lecture the observations of the Hon’ble Courts in some leading cases. And concluded his lecture by briefly stating the Measures Recommended by the Law Commission of India in its 47th report.
Speaker 2 - Prof. (Dr.) V. K. Singh
Topic: "Competition Law and Digital Economy”
Prof. V.K. Singh commenced his lecture about the competition law which means a situation in the market where firms or sellers independently strive for the buyer's patronage to achieve a particular business objective, e.g., profit, sales, or market share. He further highlighted the definition of Competition Policy of WTO - "the full range of measures that may be used to promote competitive market structures and behaviour, including but not limited to a comprehensive competition law dealing with anti-competitive practices of enterprises." There is always a question of whether competition comes first or the competition policy. The firms that face more competition they experience faster productivity growth. The competition promotes innovation and the entry of new players into the market. Even the less efficient firms give way to more efficient firms. The threat of entry mandates the firms to perform better and increases the consumer choices.
He further highlighted the objectives of the Act i.e., preventing practices having an appreciable adverse effect, promoting, and sustaining competition in markets, protecting the interests of consumers, ensuring freedom of trade. The Act basically focuses on three areas - Anti-Competitive Agreements, Abuse of Dominance, Regulation of Combinations and Competition Advocacy. For determining whether a market constitutes a "relevant market" for the purposes of the Competition Act, 2002, he highlighted Section 19(5) of the Act that states that the Commission shall have due regard to the "relevant geographic market" and "relevant product market" The challenge in the case of digital markets is that they are transforming tremendously, some of the latest developments being advanced human-machine interfaces, IoT platforms, cloud computing, big data analytics and advanced Algorithms etc.
He further discussed the celebrated case of Microsoft, which was the first important case in the digital sphere in which Microsoft was held for abusing its dominant position to crush threats to its monopoly and preventing the entry of new players. He illustrated how Internet Explorer, which occupied 90% of the browser market on PCs in 2004, is inching towards extinction.
With the help of a few infographics, he demonstrated the platform revolution and how network-based markets are transforming the rules of business. Sir concluded his lecture by quoting Gianni Versace - "It is nice to have valid competitions; it pushes you to do better"
Speaker 3 - Justice Govind Mathur
Topic: "New Dimensions to Sedition Law”
Hon’ble Justice Govind Mathur commenced his lecture by stressing the importance of the judgement given by the Supreme Court in the “Kedarnath Singh Case” decades ago, which was holding value till date. But in the last 2 decades, a new dimension has been given by the executive. He explained in his lecture that Sedition was a tool that was used by the Britishers for the suppression of freedom movement and suppression of freedom of speech. He mentioned the view of the members of the Constituent Assembly, who said that it had no place in the upcoming scheme of democratic India. He stated that while booking people in large numbers for the alleged act of sedition, the judgement given in Kedarnath Singh’s case and the checks and balances that have been provided in the judgement have not been followed.
While highlighting some famous cases of sedition like those against Praveen Togadia in 2003, Arundati Roy in 2010 for her comments in Kashmir, Prof. Vinayak Sen, Aseem Trivedi for his cartoons which were against corruption, Rajdeep Sardesai and many more, he stated that looking at the rampant use of the Sedition law, the Supreme Court has now taken cognizance. It was only last week that the Supreme Court, based on multiple writ petitions filed before itself, again took cognizance and questioned the need for the colonial law even after so many years of Independence. He questioned the participants whether it was so easy to use the Sedition law and reminded them that we are living in a country where rule of law prevails, and the Constitution provides fundamental rights to its citizens. He also cited the example of Australia, New Zealand and the UK, where the law of sedition has been scrapped and has been replaced by certain anti-terror laws. Even in the USA, a liberal approach is taken as far as sedition is concerned .He briefly discussed the recommendations given by the 21st Law Commission and in conclusion stressed the need for Judges, Lawyers, Law teachers and all those concerned with Law to debate and assist the Supreme Court in deciding on the fate of the Sedition Law and the misuse of Section 124A IPC and to ensure that our democratic scheme, democratic setup and rule of law prevails.
Speaker 4 - Prof. (Dr.) Yugal Kishore
Topic: "Restoration of Environment”
Prof. Yugal Kishore commenced his lecture by defining the environment as per the Environment Protection Act,1986 - "environment includes water, air, land and interrelationship which exists among and between water, air, land, human being, other living creatures’ plants, microorganisms and property.' He stated that ecological balance is formed by the interrelationship and interaction of all the constituents of the environment. Sir defined restoration of the environment as the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.
He further discussed the 10 Ps of environmental degradation, some of them being population explosion, a place to live in and do business, power utilization, exponential increase in production and consumption, pollution of air, water and land etc. He mentioned that three main laws deal with the protection of the environment - The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. But since these laws were based on Criminal Justice Administrative System, they cannot efficiently protect the environment.
He briefly discussed the landmark cases on environment, under Tort Law - J.C. Galstaun v. Dunia Lal Seal (1905), Ram Baj Singh v. Babulal (1982), the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case and M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (1986) and discussed the evolution of the Absolute Liability Doctrine.
With the help of a few more landmark judgements, he highlighted certain issues in the restoration of the environment. One was relating to the principle which is to be applied by the courts - Doctrine of Absolute Liability or the Polluter Pays Principle. The second issue is related to the authority that can compute the damages. Which authority has the responsibility to restore the environment was another issue? Through his presentation, sir explained the methodology for accessing environmental compensation and action plan to utilise the fund, the calculation of which could be done by a formula - EC=P.I *N* R*S*LF.