Judges should be guided by economic principles in making decisions, say experts at national conference on ‘Economic Dimensions in Judicial Decisions’

ANI, April 27, 2021

OP Jindal Global University (JGU) and CUTS International come together to bring to you a National Virtual Conference on the theme ‘Economic Dimensions in Judicial Decisions’ on April 27 and 28.

In this two-day virtual conference, thought leaders will come together to address the importance of Economic Dimensions in Judicial Decisions and it will bring together over 45 thought leaders including judges, legal practitioners, experts from the government and regulatory bodies, representatives from the private sector, academicians and scholars, representatives from media and the civil society including consumer protection groups, environmental advocacy groups & trade unions. These leaders from across various spheres will come together across eight thematic sessions and two plenary sessions, including four keynote addresses, a book discussion and a special Judges’ Colloquium.

“Today there is a lot of emphasis on collaboration between economists and lawyers to cross apply theories, particularly in the application of quantitative and empirical methodologies most commonly used in the area of economics, to make legal systems more efficient and more effective. The judiciary needs to evolve a robust set of principles on the basis of which, on its own, it can differentiate interventions in matters which are not relating to law but are policy questions. Secondly, the Judiciary is vested with the obligation to ensure that all the wings of the government follow constitutional norms,” said Professor (Dr) C Raj Kumar, Founding Vice-Chancellor, OP Jindal Global University, while opening the inaugural ceremony of the conference a few moments ago.

“Our courts have intervened in many matters which appear to be substantive matters of public policy as opposed to the law. In such matters, the judiciary interprets such matters from the standpoint of upholding rights and values of justice. The judiciary must recognise there are inherent limitations to the exercise of judicial powers when it comes to its policy questions. Thirdly, the judiciary must show more restraint when asked to decide upon questions of policy. A decision of the Supreme Court is the law of the land. When courts decide what policy should be legally mandated, it will need revision judgments to change those policies. Hence judicial calibration of policies must be re-examined in its current status,” added Professor (Dr) C Raj Kumar.

“The debate addresses the complex issue of balancing lives and livelihoods. As we face the second wave of the pandemic, there is a greater and newer realisation for the need of better governance, frameworks, policy issues and better management of supply and distribution and the need for a balanced, resilient and equitable world. It is at the intersection of law and economics that these concerns find their roots. Although both have been seen as tools to be used by policymakers, there has been a growing discourse that judges should be guided by economic principles when adjudicating matters. Every order of the Judiciary is likely to have an economic impact, big or small.

One way forward is to appoint expert committees to examine the issue in depth, analyse its enforceability and then action,” said Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, adding to the overall vision of this conference.

“The doctrine of separation of powers is well enshrined in the Constitution of India. The crucial issue is the scope and extent to which the judiciary can dictate decisions that have an economic implication. Also important is the extent of expertise and competencies required by the judges for this. As the process of globalisation took its root in India, it led to judicial recognition in India and the Supreme Court accepted the legal and economic changes. With changes that are bound to occur in society, the Judiciary must also keep abreast of these changes. In the world of globalisation, competition and the doctrine of level playing field is an important one and now courts are increasingly receptive to economic arguments. The economic analysis of law has expanded into many areas from its original scope to include family law, intellectual property laws, health and safety, discrimination in employment and beyond,” said Professor (Dr) A Francis Julian, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India delivered the Inaugural Address.

“Law and economics are based on a basic assumption that every individual is setting out to rationally maximise their utility. The principal value is efficiency but what about equity and fairness? The critics of the economic analysis of law point that the legal system’s role is to do justice and that entails issues of equity and fairness and not simply economic efficiency. Regarding the judiciary’s role, it needs to be mindful of the economic consequences of its decisions and not overlook procedure while making decisions. We need to be careful that we do not mix up law and economics as a discipline that is taught in universities that makes economics the basis for legal decisions. Judges should be mindful that they do not take liberties with procedure and that the Judiciary does not trespass into the jurisdiction of Legislature and the Executive,” said Professor R Sudarshan, Dean, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, JGU, while delivering a Keynote Address at the Inaugural Ceremony.

“The discipline of economics has a lot to contribute to law, public policy and judicial decision making. The esteemed speakers touched on the historical analysis of economic consideration in law and explained how the current system of subsidies on vaccines to earlier taxes on fat taxes on sugary drinks, fast food, taxes on tobacco, alcohol etc are all examples of Pigovian taxes which is a tax based on activity which has an adverse side effect for society. I thank the respected speakers for their insight and contribution,” said Professor (Dr) Ashish Bharadwaj, Dean, Jindal School of Banking and Finance, JGU, concluding the Inaugural Ceremony.

During this two-day virtual event, keynote addresses will be delivered by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate and Member of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Manish Tewari, Member of the Parliament, Lok Sabha, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India and the Valedictory Address will be delivered by 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. There will also be a special Judges’ Colloquium including Hon’ble Justice (retd.) Swatanter Kumar, Hon’ble Justice (retd.) BN Srikrishna, and Hon’ble Justice (retd.) Madan Lokur.

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