Press Releases Archive


The much-awaited conference on ‘Rule of Law’ was flagged off today with its impressive inaugural session.  The inaugural session was attended by Shri M.N. Venkatachaliah, former Chief Justice of India, Shri. D.V. Subba Rao, former governor of RBI, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayana, former IAS and founder of Lok Satta movement, Prof. B. Rajasekhar, pro-vice chancellor of Hyderabad Central University, Prof. Ashwini Chhattre, Director of Bharathi Institute of Public Policy of Indiana School of Business.  

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan started that Rule of Law was chosen as the theme for the conference with great optimism. A rational and pragmatic solution for the challenges plaguing the Indian judicial system can be found, and for that citizens must strive to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem. The aim of the conference is to bring together all stakeholders to find workable solutions and recognize that the striving for the impossible best is the enemy of the possible good. 

Justice Venkatachaliah stated that looking at the arrears in courts points to deeper malaise in the country and such miscarriage of justice is not witnessed in advanced countries.  He also added that approximately Rs. 2 lakh crores of equivalent is lost in the judicial process as wasteful man hours.  Another important point he made was that many courts have less clarity on laws and statutes. 

Dr. Subba Rao congratulated Foundation for Democratic Reforms for bringing out Advocacy paper 'Rule of Law' in the public discussion. He laid the context of how economic progress and Rule of law is interconnected and the former is only possible with the support of the later. He gave the example of how Singapore, Japan, Korea became prosperous in the last century. The speaker emphasizes that rule of law is a prerequisite for economic growth in any country. The speaker pointed out numerous incidents in which we encounter absence of rule of law.

Prof. Rajasekhar supported Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan’s point regarding the need to find optimistic, pragmatic, and practical solutions, and the need to focus on the practical aspect as the impossible best is often the enemy of the possible good that can be done. 

Professor Chhatre started by congratulating Indian Democracy at Work for creating a common platform which will host more than 60 distinguished speakers over a period of week on the theme of 'Rule of Law' in India. He also stated that despite the conference being held virtually, it didn’t hold us back in terms of energy and enthusiasm to participate in this conference. He also extended thanks to all the panels and participants.

Sunday, February 21, 2021 - 13:15

IDAW Conference Schedule

DAY 1: 20 February 2021 Saturday  
Inaugural Ceremony and Keynote Address 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Livestream Shri Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, Former Chief Justice of India

Dr. Duvvuri Subbarao, Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, General Secretary, Foundation for Democratic Reforms

Prof. B. Raja Shekhar, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad

Prof. Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, Indian School of Business

Session 1A: Addressing Challenges of Modern Policing
1. Enhancing the strength of police force and quality of police recruitment and training
2. Reducing the burden on police force and improving professionalism through specialization of functions
3. Institutionalizing community policing
11:00 AM - 1:30 PM Chair - Shri K. Padmanabhaiah, Chairman, Administrative Staff College of India

Shri Kamal Kumar, Former Director, SVP National Police Academy

Mr. Raj S. Kohli, Chief Superintendent, Metropolitan Police, London

Smt. Maja Daruwala, Sr. Advisor, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Shri Jacob Punnoose, IPS (Retd.)

Shri Vibhuti Narain Rai, IPS (Retd.)

Session 1B: Addressing Challenges of Modern Policing
1. Improving forensic infrastructure for crime investigation
2. Strengthening police mobility, communications and enhancing computerization in policing functions
3. Minimizing the use of force in crowd control
5:00 PM - 7:30 PM Chair - Smt. Aruna Bahuguna, Former Director, SVP National Police Academy

Dr. Vipul Mudgal, Director, Common Cause

Shri Mohit Rao, Journalist

Dr. Gandhi P.C. Kaza, Founder Chairman, Truth Labs

Shri M. Mahender Reddy, Director General of Police, Telangana

DAY 2: 21 February 2021 Sunday  
Session 2: Strengthening Investigation and Prosecution
1. Strengthening crime investigation - Separating investigation of crimes above a threshold from law and order functions
2. Empowering prosecution to drive the investigation - Increasing the number of prosecutors, establishing independence and competence of prosecution
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Chair - Justice B.S. Chauhan, Chairman, 21st Law Commission of India

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, General Secretary, Foundation for Democratic Reforms

Shri C. Anjaneya Reddy, IPS (Retd.)

Shri D. R. Karthikeyan, Former Director, Central Bureau of Investigation

Shri Justice M.L. Tahaliyani, Former Judge, Bombay High Court

Session 3: Criminal Procedural Reforms
1. Implementing recommendations of the ‘Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System’ (Malimath Committee)
2. Removing procedural constraints on investigating officers
3. Reforming prisons - processing of under trial prisoners and enhancing prison infrastructure
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Chair - Shri P. S. Ramamohan Rao, IPS (Retd.), Former Governor, Tamil Nadu

Shri G. Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Government of India

Dr. Ranbir Singh, Founder and former Vice-Chancellor, NALSAR Hyderabad and NLU Delhi

Dr. MR Ahmed, Former Inspector General of Prisons, Andhra Pradesh

Day 3: 22 February 2021 Monday  
Conversation on Extraordinary Law 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Chair - Prof Kham Khan Suan Hausing, Professor, University of Hyderabad

Prof. Ujjwal Kumar Singh, University of Delhi

Shri Karnam Aravinda Rao, IPS (Retd.)

Day 4: 23 February 2021 Tuesday  
Conversation on - Weaponization of Fake News: A Big Threat to Democracy? 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Moderator - Mr. Abhinandan Sekhri, Co-founder,

Smt. Rema Rajeshwari, IPS

Mr. Carlos Hernández-Echevarría Head of Public Policy & Institutional Development,

Day 5: 24 February 2021 Wednesday  
Conversation on Women's Safety 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM To be finalised
Day 6: 25 February 2021 Thursday  
Conversation on Setting up Systems to deal with Cybercrime 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM To be finalised
Day 7: 26 February 2021 Friday  
Rule of Law & Economic Growth 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM Chair - Shri R.N. Bhaskar, Senior Business Journalist

Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India

Dr. Arvind Virmani, Chairman, Foundation for Economic Growth and Welfare

Shri Pradeep S. Mehta, Founder Secretary General, Consumer Unity & Trust Society

Day 8: 27 February 2021 Saturday  
Session 4: Civil Procedural Reforms
1. Institutionalizing case management in civil courts
2. Mitigating challenges in the functioning of Commercial Courts
3. Updating pecuniary jurisdictions of civil courts
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Chair - Shri N. L. Rajah, Senior Advocate, Madras High Court

Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU, Bengaluru

Smt. Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi,
Former Judge, Bombay High Court

Mr. Hiram E. Chodosh, President, Claremont McKenna College, USA

Session 5: Speedy Justice in Trial Courts
1. Establishing local courts in rural and urban areas
2. Building capacity - Increasing the judge to population ratio and strengthening use of technology and court administration
Clearing arrears in trial courts
4. Reinforcing the authority of the trial courts - contempt of court and perjury provisions
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Chair - Justice G. Raghuram, Director, National Judicial Academy

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, General Secretary, Foundation for Democratic Reforms

Shri Justice R. C. Chavan, Vice Chairman, E-Committee of Supreme Court

Shri Atul Kaushik, Chief of Party, Asia Foundation

Day 9: 28 February 2021 Sunday  
Session 6: Strengthening the Role of Constitutional Courts
1. Clearing pendency in the High Courts
2. Establishing permanent Constitutional Benches
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Chair - Shri Justice Madan B. Lokur, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Shri V. Sudhish Pai, Advocate and Author

Shri Alok Prassana Kumar, Co-Founder, Vidhi Legal Policy, Karnataka

Ms. Cathy Catterson, Former Clerk of Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, USA

Session 7: Judicial Standards and Accountability
1. Creating an All-India Judicial Service
2. Utilising Article 235 effectively to ensure quality of the subordinate judiciary
3. Outlining national judicial standards and accountability mechanisms for the higher judiciary
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Chair - Shri Justice B. N. Srikrishna, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Shri Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Dr. G. Mohan Gopal, Former Director, National Judicial Academy

Shri Harish Narasappa, Co-founder Daksh

Rule of Law for the 21st Century
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Chair - Shri Justice Kurian Joseph, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, General Secretary, Foundation for Democratic Reforms

Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Former Chief Minister, Maharashtra

Prof. K.C. Suri, Professor, University of Hyderabad

Prof. Ashwini Chhatre, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Indian School of Business

Sunday, February 21, 2021 - 13:09


The following is the text of the Note issued by FDR/Loksatta founder Dr Jayaprakash Narayan along with Shri P.S Rammohan Rao, IPS (Retd.), former Governor of Tamilnadu, Prof. K.C Suri, University of Hyderabad, K. Sumedha, Shweta Chander, Vriti Bansal, Sruti Paturi and Keshav Reddy of FDR at the  PRESS MEET conducted on 16th February 2021 (Tuesday) at Somajiguda Press Club, Hyderabad to announce the details and release of 'Rule of Law for 21st Century', a comprhensive paper for the upcoming 'Indian Democracy at Work' 2nd National Conference jointly organized by FDR, University of Hyderabad and Indian School of Business on "Rule of Law"..





Rule of law is the bedrock of constitutional governance and democratic society. Maintenance of public order while preserving constitutional liberties is at the heart of a harmonious society and democratic system. Fair, speedy and efficient settlement of disputes at an affordable cost is critical for mutual trust and economic growth. In a rapidly urbanizing society, control of crime and maintenance of public order are critical. The social controls that regulated human behavior in small rural communities become weak and ineffective in urban communities with impersonal lives. Increasing urbanization will inevitably lead to more civil disputes and crime. If might becomes right and crime and a “grammar of anarchy” dominate, economic activity and wealth creation will be undermined. Protection of individual property rights, fair and equitable contract enforcement, creation and enforcement of just labour laws and provision of access to opportunity for all sections of society, creates a culture where commerce and business can flourish and grow. Rule of law and economic growth are strongly interrelated and mutually reinforcing.

While we have normative rule of law in India, in practice there are serious, and often crippling distortions. Independent, accountable and efficient crime investigation unaffected by partisan pressures and populist impulses is a critical requirement in ensuring justice. Strong, independent and efficient prosecution driving investigation and securing just punishment of wrongdoers is vital for the criminal justice system to act as a deterrent. Speedy, accessible, efficient trials in courts – both civil and criminal – are the foundations of rule of law.  In all these critical areas, our institutions of rule of law are deficient in a variety of ways.

The police forces have multifarious duties and are stretched to the limit. The number of policemen per unit population remains low by global standards despite rapid urbanisation and rise in crime. Political control of police personnel undermines credibility of crime investigation and erodes public trust. The high degree of centralization of functions in a single police force is a serious impediment to the efficient discharge of their duties. Public pressure and political control sometimes compel the police to resort to unwholesome methods like third degree and extra-judicial punishments to produce short term results to appease the public sentiment.

The brutal torture and murder of a father and son in Tamil Nadu by the police for violating the lockdown restrictions a few months ago is a horrific example of the arbitrary use of force and torture by the police forces in India.  Given the poor delivery of services at the cutting edge level in government and the polarized and contentious public discourse, often the governance and political failures are converted into law and order problems imposing enormous burden on the police. Those in power relish the power over the police forces and often use it for partisan ends.  Police are perceived often as tools of those in power, rather than the instrument of law enforcement.

Delays have compounded the challenges to rule of law. When heinous crimes occur, public pressure and political diktats are making police resort to extra judicial killings of the suspects. This culture of mob justice needs to be countered by an efficient and credible system of crime investigation, prosecution and trial in a court of law. Or else, there is a danger that we will degenerate into a society in which might is right.

Alarmingly, there are fewer prosecutors in India than judges. This clearly reflects the fact that despite the separation of prosecution from the police, the prosecution wing is still unable to drive the investigation. This, coupled with the many inadequacies of functioning of the police and courts has undermined the credibility of our rule of law institutions.

As Nani Palkhiwala observed once, the progress of a civil suit in our courts of law is the closest thing to eternity we can experience. An independent and impartial judiciary, and a speedy and efficient justice system are the very essence of civilization. However, our judiciary, by its very nature, has become ponderous, excruciatingly slow and inefficient. The only sanction to ensure good conduct and to prevent bad behavior in society is swift punishment. In the absence of the state’s capacity to enforce law and to mete out justice, rule of law has all but collapsed.

Our laws and their interpretation and adjudication led to enormous misery for the litigants and forced people to look for extra-legal alternatives, in the process, giving rise to a private industry for administering rough and ready justice. Local hoodlums using strong-arm tactics to achieve the desired goals in almost all of our cities and towns have been increasingly gaining political legitimacy. In addition, the courts have tended to condone delays and encourage litigation and a spate of appeals even on relatively minor matters. Delays, procedural complexity, and use of English as the language of the courts escalate the costs of litigation enormously for most people, deterring them from seeking intervention of courts. Largely, there is a lack of trust in the efficacy of the judicial system in delivering justice.

As a result of the enormous delays in courts, the prisons are overcrowded, with more than half of the prisoners being poor people incarcerated as under trial prisoners. Basic liberty being denied to the poor due to inefficiencies within the justice system is a fundamental failing of our democratic polity.

This disconcerting situation calls for speedy remedial measures. These measures should be practical and effective while they are in consonance with the basic features of the Constitution. Reports of the Law Commission, Police Commission and Administrative Reforms Commission have eloquently made out a case for many specific and practical reforms to strengthen rule of lawHowever, little effort has been made to implement these recommendations. The second edition of the Indian Democracy at Work conference aims to delve deep into the challenges plaguing our judicial system with the hope of converting meaningful conversations into definitive action.

A centralized and partisan police force, a feeble and inadequate prosecution, a slow and inefficient judiciary, and archaic and complex procedural laws that have collectively led to the failure of the Indian justice system will be the central themes to deliberate on in the conference.

Central Themes:


1.      Separation of crime investigation from political interference

2.      Improvements in technology - mobility, communications, computerization, and forensics and training

3.      Recruitment and capacity building

a.       Improving morale, competence and public image of police

4.      Community policing



1.      Capacity enhancement of prosecution

2.      Independence of prosecution with competence

3.      Empowering the prosecution to drive investigation


1.      Establishment of local courts to reduce the burden of trial courts

2.      Capacity enhancement

a.       Strength of judges

b.      Physical infrastructure and technology

c.       Court administration - support staff, case management system

3.      Clearing Pendency

4.      Indian Judicial Service

5.      National Judicial Standards and Accountability for higher judiciary

6.      Permanent Constitutional Benches



1. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

2. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

3. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 07:19