Lawyers’ Contribution: From Right to Equality to Government Policy

Lawyers have conquered and ruled the world of politics

Lawyers' Contribution: From Right to Equality to Government Policy

Preparing for CLAT? Would you want to know the kind of roles lawyers can play in policy making; constitutional amendments or the ones to Acts meant for regulators or corporations also require legal counsel?

Lawyers, whether in India or abroad, have conquered and ruled the world of politics. This holds true not just for India but has been noticed across the world.

Indian Context:

India’s first Law Minister, Dr. B R Ambedkar, was a part of the Drafting Committee for the Constitution of India. The six fundamental rights granted to the citizens of India and other articles determine the powers of Governance systems and citizens in the country. Citizens are granted rights that those living in countries like China, Egypt, Libya, Iran or Pakistan are never guaranteed or those are meant to be only on paper.

In the Indian context, there is no dearth of names when it comes to lawyers who have been significant contributors to policymaking. Read, How Lawyers make a difference in society? Invariably, it is the economists or lawyers who occupy a place of prominence in banking sector, policy making, and politics. The most famous names in the current Government with a legal background are Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad. Read, Politician cum Lawyer Arun Jaitley. The earlier UPA Government had a number of practicing lawyers. Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi are the two lawyers often seen on TV trying to ensure that public opinion never went against the Congress.

Arun Jaitley, having dealt with corporate law, comes with clarity on policies that will work for the corporate sector in the country. Whether it is industry specific policies or international tax disputes, he understands what is to be done for the industry to give the economy a push.

India carrying a tag of the world’s fastest growing economy, termed as the one-eyed king by Raghuram Rajan, still needs reforms that can bring in technical know-how into the country even in fields such as multi-brand retail. Read, Rockstar Rajan career Story. Policy rules the roots and forms the basis for progress but where it comes from is the question being dealt with. Niti Aayog, Economic Advisory Council, and advisors for the Government build the policy base but investors also seek a channel for arbitration. This is where lawyers come into the picture.

Constitutional Amendments:

Goods & Services Tax and General Anti-Avoidance Rule amendments required constitutional amendments and established new legal norms that came about through a process wherein lawyers contributed significantly. International arbitration on the usual tax matters such as transfer pricing is done through international appellate tribunals. These lawyers who are specialists in their fields are the ones who present India’s case in international and Indian courts. It may drag on for years but policy is set by and these cases also reflect the changes the Government is contemplating in order to make the environment more conducive for investment.

Some of these lawyers occupy the seat of power as the Law Minister. These include Mr. A K Antony and Ravi Shankar Prasad. P C Chidambaram was also a lawyer with corporate expertise. These are the ones who decided on the spectrum policy for the country and also matters relating to auction of natural resources. This is at the Central Government level. At the state Government level too, bureaucrats and lawyers call the shots. Important Government positions are earmarked for lawyers. These are the ones representing the Government in courts, even against the Central Government but policy initiatives are driven by both the Government, bureaucracy and the associated team of lawyers.

Instances from abroad:

Barack Obama happens to be the most prominent instance of this. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School. His wife too has studied and practiced law. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party’s candidate for the upcoming elections in November 2016 also practiced as a lawyer before she joined politics. Considering what the story talks about, it won’t be a digression from the topic to state that she became a Governor before Bill Clinton became a household name in US and abroad. His charismatic personality had people vowing for attention when he visited more than a decade ago. Her running mate for the post of VP is also a lawyer who started practice in Honduras. These names have also been associated with framing policies and charity work that acts as an enabler rather than it being a party playing to the gallery and only offering doles.