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29 April: At the two-day virtual conference on 'Economic Dimensions in Judicial Decisions’ over 45 thought leaders including judges, legal practitioners, experts from the government and regulatory bodies, academicians and scholars, members from media and the civil society came together to address the importance of Economic Dimensions in Judicial Decisions. The Conference was organised by O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) and CUTS International and comprised 8 thematic sessions and 2 plenary sessions including 4 keynote addresses, a book discussion, and a judges’ colloquium.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought under the lens various issues of justice. It is an important moment to reflect how economic dimensions in judicial decisions can strengthen the system. Given this objective, the conference organized a special Judges’ Colloquium to bring the diverse and rich perspectives of esteemed and former Judges of the Supreme Court of India including Hon'ble Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar, Hon'ble Mr. Justice B.N. Srikrishna, and Hon'ble Mr. Justice Madan Lokur, to discuss the role of economic analysis of law in India.
On this occasion, Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.N. Srikrishna, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India said, “I consider that economic activity needs to be governed and balanced with human rights and human lives itself. In this aspect judges play a very critical role. The Supreme Court or any court for that matter, before it takes a jump into the sea must gauge the depth of the water. If it doesn’t, then there is going to be infinite chaos and that is going to affect people who are not intended to be affected by it.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Madan Lokur, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India said that, “The pandemic has shown that the rich got richer and the super-rich got super richer but those at the bottom of the economic ladder were the ones who were very badly hit. We saw that last year with the migration of millions of people trying to return to their homes in the rural areas. We are seeing this perhaps in a smaller scale this year when the pandemic is ravaging in the country. Judicial decision- making and legislative action must factor in all these issues: not only looking at the importance of corporates and their contribution to society but also looking at marginalized section of the society, not only by judges but also by the legislature.”
Summarizing the importance of economic dimensions of judicial decisions, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, “The judges need to acquire greater expertise or assistance from an expert body to apply more effectively, economic factors into their judgements for the purposes of bringing economic prosperity. The role of courts is very important in the economic growth of a country.”
To address the larger goals of transforming the Indian judicial landscape, two special plenary sessions were organized at this event with keynote addresses delivered by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate and Member of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Mr. Manish Tewari, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha.
Speaking on the subject of institutionalisation of reforms in courts in India, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate and Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha said, “The elephant in the room is the ABCD, which is A for Access, B for backlog, C for cost and D for delay. This is the bane of our legal system, not the great fancy doctrines which you're taught in your classrooms”.
Addressing the challenges faced by the Indian economy policymakers in achieving inclusive growth, Mr. Manish Tewari, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha said, “Social disharmony and economic development does not go hand in hand. If we want economic development, if we want India to grow at 8% which is the minimum that we require in order to keep the body and soul of such a huge population together, we have to bring back social peace.”
This conference also included a discussion on the upcoming book ‘Supreme Court and the Indian Economy’ by Mr. Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International. Mr. Mehta, sharing some deeper insights in context of the theme of the conference, said, “If the judiciary would like to see it evolve as a very sensible institution where to get its own actions analysed and publically debated, there is no harm in that. There are various ways to institutionalize, you have the law commission for example who could look into this or maybe the Supreme Court itself could set up a body which could do this on its own.”
After an enriching and intellectually stimulating set of deliberations across two days, the vision of the conference was summarized by Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India and Dr. Frederic Jenny, Emeritus Professor of Economics and Co-Director, Centre for Law & Economics, Essec School of Business, Paris and Chairman, OECD Committee on Competition.
Delivering a keynote address at the Valedictory Session, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said, “We need a well-functioning, legal system that would command respect, that would create a sense of certainty among economic participants, that would enable investors to make investment decisions.”
Dr. Frederic Jenny, said, “The economic effectiveness of the judicial decision hinges not only on the ability of the judges to grasp the economic backgrounds and the consequences of the case they deal with but also on their ability to deliver judgement in a timely fashion. As we know justice delayed is justice denied”
The conference witnessed discussions on a wide range of topics including 'Economic Analysis of Public, Infrastructure, Trade, and Constitutional Law'; 'Law and Economics Approach to Corporate Laws and Corporate Debt Restructuring in India'; 'Law & Economics Approach to Competition Policy, Digital Economy and New Technologies'; 'An Economic Analysis of Industrial Innovation and Intellectual Property Law'; 'Economic Analysis in Public Health and Environment Domains'; 'Teaching economics to law students, and law to economics students in India'.