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Is prior sanction always required to prosecute army officers under AFSPA?

May 4th, 2012RohitLeave a commentGo to comments The Supreme Court passed its judgment in General Officer Commanding (Army) vs. CBI on May 01, 2012. The case addressed the issue of need for sanction to prosecute Army officers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The case dealt with two instances of alleged fake encounters. Five people were killed by the Army in Assam in a counter insurgency operation in 1994. Another five people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir in March, 2000 in an encounter. In both cases, it was alleged that the Army officers had staged fake encounters. In both instances, the CBI was directed to investigate the matter. CBI claimed that the people who were killed were indeed victims of fake encounters. The CBI moved the court to initiate prosecution against the accused Army officers. The officers claimed that they could only be prosecuted with the prior sanction (permission) of the central government. The officers relied on provisions of the AFSPA,1958 and the Armed Forces J & K (Special Powers) Act, 1990 to support their claim. (See Notes for the relevant clauses) These provide that legal proceedings cannot be instituted against an officer unless sanction is granted by the central government. It must be noted that Army officers can be tried either before criminal courts or through court-martial (as prescribed under Sections 125 of the Army Act, 1950). The Army officers had appealed that both procedures require prior sanction of the government. The judgment touches upon various issues. Some of these have been discussed in more detail below: Is prior sanction required to prosecute Army officers for any act committed in the line of duty? At what stage is sanction required? Is sanction required for court-martial? Is prior sanction required to prosecute army officers for any act committed in the line of duty? The judgment reiterated an earlier ruling. It held that sanction would not be required in all cases to prosecute an official. The officer only enjoys immunity from prosecution in cases when he has acted in exercise of powers conferred under the Act. There should be reasonable nexus between the action and the duties of the official. The Court cited the following example to highlight this point: If in a raid, an officer is attacked and he retaliates, his actions can be linked to a lawful discharge of duty. Even if there were some miscalculations in the retaliation, his actions cannot be labeled to have some personal motive. The Court held that the AFSPA, or the Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, empowers the central government to ascertain if an action is reasonably connected with the discharge of official duty and is not a misuse of authority. The courts have no jurisdiction in the matter. In making a decision, the government must make an objective assessment of the exigencies leading to the officers actions. At what stage is sanction required? The Court ruled that under the AFSPA, or the Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, sanction is mandatory. But, the need to seek sanction would only arise at the time of cognizance of the offence. Cognizance is the stage when the prosecution begins. Sanction is therefore not required during investigation. Is sanction required for court-martial? The Court ruled that there is no requirement of sanction under the Army Act, 1950. Hence, if the Army chooses, it can prosecute the accused through court-martial instead of going through the criminal court. The Court noted that the case had been delayed for over a decade and prescribed a time bound course of action. It asked the Army to decide on either of the two options court martial or criminal court within the next eight weeks. If the Army decides on proceedings before the criminal court, the government will have three months to determine to grant or withhold sanction. Section 6 of the AFSPA, 1958: 6. Protection to persons acting under Act No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act. Section 7 of the Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, 1990:

7. Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act. No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act. 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 Rules on blocking of content on the internet to be discussed May 11th, 2012HarsimranLeave a commentGo to comments In April last year the government had notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 (IT Rules) under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The IT Rules are listed for discussion in Rajya Sabha today in pursuance of a motion moved by Mr. P. Rajeeve [CPI(M)]. The motion seeks to annul these Rules and recommends that Lok Sabha also concur with the motion. The IT Rules require intermediaries (internet service providers, blogging sites like Blogger and WordPress, and cyber cafs) to take certain action. Intermediaries are required to enter into agreements with their users prohibiting publication of certain content. Content that cannot be published includes anything that is harmful to minors in any way, blasphemous, encouraging money laundering etc. This raises three issues. Some of the categories of content prohibited for publication are ambiguous and undefined. For instance, grossly harmful and blasphemous content are not defined. Publication of certain content prohibited under the IT Rules, is currently not an offences under other laws. Their publication is in fact allowed in other forms of media, such as newspapers. Newspapers are bound by Press Council Norms. These Norms do not prohibit publication of all the content specified under the IT Rules. For instance, while these Norms require newspapers to show respect to all religions and their gods, they do not prohibit publication of blasphemy. However, under the IT Rules blasphemy is prohibited. This might lead to a situation, where articles that may be published in newspapers legally, may not be reproduced on the internet for example in the e-paper or on the newspapers website. Prohibition of publication of certain content under the IT Rules may also violate the right to freedom of speech. Under Article 19(2) of the Constitution restrictions on the right to freedom of speech may be imposed in the interest of the States sovereignty, integrity, security and friendly relations with other States, public order, morality, decency, contempt of court, and for protection against defamation. The content prohibited under the IT Rules may not meet the requirement of Article 19(2). This may impinge on the right to freedom of speech and expression. Further, anyone can complain against such content to the intermediary. The intermediary is required to remove content if it falls within the description specified in the IT Rules. In the event the intermediary decides not to remove the content, it may be held liable. This could lead to a situation where, in order to minimise the risk of liability, the intermediary may block more content than it is required. This may imply adverse consequences for freedom of expression on the internet. 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888Cabinet clears four Bills piloted by the Ministry of HRD May 15th, 2012KaushikiLeave a commentGo to comments According to news reports (see here and here), the Cabinet approved four Bills for discussion in Parliament. The Bills cleared for consideration and passing are: the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 and the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010. It cleared the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012 for introduction in Parliament. In this post, we discuss the key provisions of the Bills and the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD). The Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010 The Bill was introduced on April 19, 2010 in the Rajya Sabha and referred to the Standing Committee on HRD, which tabled its report on November 23, 2010. The government had attempted to pass it in the Winter session twice. However, the Opposition raised the issue of conflict of interest. The Rules of the Ethics Committee state that a MP has to declare his personal or pecuniary interest in a matter, which is under discussion in the Rajya Sabha. The MPs contended that the HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal, could not pilot the Bill without declaring his

interest. They argued that his son was the lawyer for a music company which is party to a legal dispute with TV broadcasters to which the amendment would apply (see here for debate on the issue in Parliament). The Copyright Act, 1957 defines the rights of authors of creative works such as books, plays, music, and films. Two key amendments proposed in the Bill are: Copyright in a film currently rests with the producer for 60 years. The Bill vests copyright in a director as well. The Bill makes special provisions for those whose work is used in films or sound recordings (e.g. lyricists or composers). Rights to royalties from such works, when used in media other than films or sound recordings, shall rest with the creator of the work. (See here for PRS analysis of the Bill) Key recommendations of the Standing Committee: (a) Drop the provision that makes the principal director the author of a film along with the producer; and (b) Keep the provisions for compulsory licensing in line with the terms of international agreements. (See here for PRS Standing Committee Report summary) The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 The Bill was introduced on May 3, 2010 in the Lok Sabha and referred to the Standing Committee on HRD, which tabled its report on August 12, 2011. This Bill is part of the governments attempt to reform the higher education sector. The key objective is to provide an effective means of quality assurance in higher education. Presently, accreditation is voluntary. Higher educational institutions are accredited by two autonomous bodies set up by the University Grants Commission and the All India Council of Technical Education. The Bill makes it mandatory for each institution and every programme to get accredited by an accreditation agency. The agencies have to be registered with the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority. Only non-profit, government controlled bodies are eligible to register as accreditation agencies. (See here for PRS analysis of the Bill) The Standing Committee made some recommendations: (a) assessment for accreditation should start after two batches of students have passed out of the institution; (b) there should be specific provisions for medical education; and (c) registration to accreditation agencies should initially be granted for five years (could be extended to 10 years). (See here for PRS Standing Committee Report summary) The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010 The Bill was introduced on December 7, 2010 in the Lok Sabha and referred to the Standing Committee on HRD, which tabled its report on December 8, 2011. The Indian Penal Code covers criminal acts that outrage or insult the modesty of women. It does not cover situations which could create a hostile or difficult environment for women at the work place. The Supreme Court in 1997 (Vishaka judgment) laid down guidelines to protect women from sexual harassment. This Bill defines sexual harassment and provides a mechanism for redressing complaints. The protection against sexual harassment is applicable to all women at the workplace. However, the Bill does not cover domestic workers working at home. (See here for PRS analysis of the Bill) The Standing Committee recommendations addressed issues of gender neutrality, inclusion of domestic workers and the modified definition of sexual harassment. (See here for PRS Standing Committee Report summary) The Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012 The Bill was cleared by the Cabinet and is likely to be introduced in Parliament this session. It seeks to provide for the establishment and incorporation of Universities for Research and Innovation. These universities shall be hubs of education, research and innovation. Although an official copy of the Bill is not yet available, newspaper reports suggest that this is an omnibus law under which innovation universities (focused on specific research areas such as environment, astrophysics and urban planning) shall be established. In India, a university can only be set up through an Act of Parliament or state legislature. The Planning Commissions Working Group on Higher Education report stated that these universities

could be funded by the private sector as well. The government aims to create 14 innovation universities, which would be world class. 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 TRAIs recommendations on auction of spectrum April 27th, 2012HarsimranLeave a commentGo to comments TRAI released its recommendations on auction of spectrum on April 23, 2012. The recommendations are in pursuance of the Supreme Court order cancelling 122 telecom licences. The cancellation was ordered on grounds of procedural irregularities and arbitrariness in the first-cum-first-serve policy for allocation of spectrum. The recommendations, if adopted by the Department of Telecommunications, would change various aspects of the present telecom policy, including (a) relationship between a telecom licence and spectrum; (b) procedure for allocation of spectrum; (c) pricing of spectrum; (d) limits on spectrum allocation; and (e) use of spectrum. Relationship between telecom licences and spectrum Previously, under the Telecom Policy 1994 (updated in 1999), spectrum was tied in with telecom licences. Since 2003, licence conditions provided for award of two blocks of 6.2 MHz of spectrum for GSM technology and two blocks of 5 MHz for CDMA technology. As per the governments decision of January 17, 2008 (as explained in TRAIs consultation paper, see page 3 paragraph 7) additional spectrum would be awarded on the basis of increment in the number of subscribers. Service providers had to pay a licence fee (on obtaining the licence), an annual licence fee and a spectrum usage charge determined on the basis of their adjusted gross revenue. TRAI has recommended that telecom licences and spectrum should be de-linked. The service provider would thus pay separately for the value of the licence and the spectrum. With this formulation an entity that does not hold a licence, but is eligible to secure one, may also procure spectrum. This would help in avoiding situations where licence holders have to wait to secure spectrum or offer wire line services in the absence of spectrum. Procedure for allocation of spectrum TRAI has recommended that spectrum be auctioned by means of a simultaneous multiple round ascending auction (SMRA). This means that the service providers would bid for spectrum in different blocks simultaneously. In the first round of auction a reserve price (base price) set by the government is used. Reserve price for auction and payment mechanism A reserve price indicates the minimum amount the bidder must pay to win the object. In case it is too low, it may reduce the gains made by the seller and lead to a sub-optimal sale. If it is too high, it may reduce the number of bidders and the probability of the good not being sold. Various countries have adopted a reserve price of 0.5 times the final price. TRAI has recommended that the reserve price should be 0.8 times the expected winning bid. It has also recommended that telecom companies pay 67% to 75% of the final price in installments over 10 years, depending on the spectrum band. TRAI has reasoned that a higher price would reduce the possibility of further sales upon bidders securing spectrum. However, this may lead to fewer bidders and ultimately fewer service providers. It is argued in news reports that this may increase investments to be made by the service providers and eventually an increase in tariffs. Spectrum blocks and caps TRAI has recommended that the spectrum cap should be determined on the basis of market share. A service provider can now secure a maximum of 50% of spectrum assigned in each band in each service area. However, a service provider cannot hold more than 25% of the total spectrum assigned in all the bands across the country. As per the January 2008 decision, additional spectrum could be awarded to telecom companies when they reached incremental slabs of subscribers. This could extend to two blocks of 1 MHz for GSM technology, and two blocks of 1.25 MHz for CDMA, for each slab of subscribers. TRAI has recommended that spectrum should be auctioned in blocks of 1.25 MHz. Each auction would at least offer 5 MHz of spectrum at a time. Smaller blocks would ensure that service providers who are nearing the spectrum cap may secure spectrum without exceeding the cap. However, experts have argued that 1.25 MHz block may be too limited for launching services. Also, TRAI in the recommendation has noted that a minimum of 5 MHz of contiguous spectrum is required to launch efficient services with new technologies. Use of spectrum

TRAI has recommended that the use of spectrum should be liberalised. This implies that spectrum should be technology neutral. Telecom companies would now be free to launch services with any technology of their choice. 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 The Piracy Bill, 2012 April 27th, 2012RohitLeave a commentGo to comments The Piracy Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on April 24, 2012. According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, there has been a significant increase in attacks by pirates, particularly in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. This has affected security of maritime traffic and personnel plying between Asia, Europe and Africa. Moreover, enhanced naval presence in the Gulf of Aden is now causing pirates to shift operations close to Indias Exclusive Economic Zone. As a result, a number of Somali pirates are presently in the custody of Indian police authorities. However, since piracy as a crime is not included in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), this has led to problems in prosecution. The Piracy Bill intends to fill this gap and provide clarity in the law. The Bill, if passed by Parliament, would extend to the entire Exclusive Economic Zone of India (EEZ). Under international law, EEZ is a seazone over which a country has special rights for exploration and use of marine resources. It stretches outward from the coast, up to 200 nautical miles into the sea. The Bill defines piracy as any illegal act of violence or detention for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft on high seas or at a place outside the jurisdiction of any State. This definition is akin to the definition of piracy laid down under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Bill seeks to punish piracy with imprisonment for life. In cases where piracy leads to death, it may be punished with death. It also provides that if arms, ammunition are recovered from the possession of the accused, or if there is evidence of threat of violence, the burden of proof for proving innocence would shift to the accused. The Bill empowers the government to set up designated courts for speedy trial of offences and authorizes the court to prosecute the accused regardless of his/ her nationality. It also provides for extradition. 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 Supreme Court upholds 25% reservation in private schools April 14th, 2012KaushikiLeave a commentGo to comments In a landmark judgment on April 12, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the provision in the Right to Education Act, 2009 that makes it mandatory for all schools (government and private) except private, unaided minority schools to reserve 25% of their seats for children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group. The verdict was given by a three-judge bench namely Justice S.H. Kapadia (CJI), Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan. However, the judgment was not unanimous. Justice Radhakrishnan gave a dissenting view to the majority judgment. According to news reports (here and here), some school associations are planning to file review petitions against the Supreme Court order (under Article 137 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court may review any judgment or order made by it. A review petition may be filed if there is (a) discovery of new evidence, (b) an error apparent on the face of the record, or (c) any other sufficient reason). In this post, we summarise the views of the judges. Background of the petition th The 86 (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2002 added Article 21A to the Constitution which makes it mandatory for the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years (fundamental right). The Parliament enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 to give effect to this amendment. The Act provides that children between the ages of six and 14 years have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school. It also lays down the minimum norms that each school has to follow in order to get legal recognition. The Act required government schools to provide free and compulsory education to all admitted children. Similarly, aided schools have to provide free and compulsory education proportionate to the funding received, subject to a minimum of 25%. However, controversy erupted over Section 12(1)(c) and (2) of the Act, which required private, unaided schools to admit at least 25% of students from SCs, STs, low-income and other disadvantaged or weaker groups. The Act

stated that these schools shall be reimbursed for either their tuition charge or the per-student expenditure in government schools, whichever is lower. After the Act was notified on April 1, 2010, the Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan filed a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of this provision on the ground that it impinged on their right to run educational institutions without government interference. Summary of the judgment Majority The Act is constitutionally valid and shall apply to (a) government controlled schools, (b) aided schools (including minority administered schools), and (c) unaided, non-minority schools. The reasons are given below: First, Article 21A makes it obligatory on the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14 years of age. However, the manner in which the obligation shall be discharged is left to the State to determine by law. Therefore, the State has the freedom to decide whether it shall fulfill its obligation through its own schools, aided schools or unaided schools. The 2009 Act is child centric and not institution centric. The main question was whether the Act violates Article 19(1)(g) which gives every citizen the right to practice a profession or carry out any occupation, trade or business. However, the Constitution provides that Article 19(1)(g) may be circumscribed by Article 19(6), which allow reasonable restriction over this right in the interest of the general public. The Court stated that since education is recognized as a charitable activity *see TMA Pai Foundation vs State of Karnataka (2002) 8 SCC 481] reasonable restriction may apply. Second, the Act places a burden on the State as well as parents/guardians to ensure that every child has the right to education. Thus, the right to education envisages a reciprocal agreement between the State and the parents and it places an affirmative burden on all stakeholders in our civil society. The private, unaided schools supplement the primary obligation of the State to provide for free and compulsory education to the specified category of students. Third, TMA Pai and P.A. Inamdar judgments hold that the right to establish and administer educational institutions fall within Article 19(1)(g). It includes right to admit students and set up reasonable fee structure. However, these principles were applied in the context of professional/higher education where merit and excellence have to be given due weightage. This does not apply to a child seeking admission in Class I. Also, Section 12(1)(c) of the Act seeks to remove financial obstacle. Therefore, the 2009 Act should be read with Article 19(6) which provides for reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(g). However, the government should clarify the position with regard to boarding schools and orphanages. The Court also ruled that the 2009 Act shall not apply to unaided, minority schools since they are protected by Article 30(1) (all minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice). This right of the minorities is not circumscribed by reasonable restriction as is the case under Article 19(1)(g). Dissenting judgment Article 21A casts an obligation on the State to provide free and compulsory education to children of the age of 6 to 14 years. The obligation is not on unaided non-minority and minority educational institutions. Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act can be operationalised only on the principles of voluntariness, autonomy and consensus for unaided schools and not on compulsion or threat of non-recognition. The reasons for such a judgment are given below: First, Article 21A says that the State shall provide not provide for. Therefore, the constitutional obligation is on the State and not on non-state actors to provide free and compulsory education to a specified category of children. Also, under Article 51A(k) of the Constitution, parents or guardians have a duty to provide opportunities for education to their children but not a constitutional obligation. Second, each citizen has the fundamental right to establish and run an educational institution investing his own capital under Article 19(1)(g). This right can be curtailed in the interest of the general public by imposing reasonable restrictions. Citizens do not have any constitutional obligation to start an educational institution. Therefore, according to judgments of TMA Pai and PA Inamdar, they do not have any constitutional obligation to share seats with the State or adhere to a fee structure determined by the State. Compelling them to do so would amount to nationalization of seats and would constitute serious infringement on the autonomy of the institutions. Rights guaranteed to the unaided non-minority and minority educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g) and Article 30(1) can only be curtailed through a constitutional amendment (for example, insertion of Article 15(5) that allows reservation of seats in private educational institutions).

Third, no distinction can be drawn between unaided minority and non-minority schools with regard to appropriation of quota by the State. Other issues related to the 2009 Act Apart from the issue of reservation, the RTE Act raises other issues such as lack of accountability of government schools and lack of focus on learning outcomes even though a number of studies have pointed to low levels of learning among school children. (For a detailed analysis, please see PRS Brief on the Bill).

Cabinet clears four Bills piloted by the Ministry of HRD


May 15th, 2012KaushikiLeave a commentGo to comments

According to news reports (see here and here), the Cabinet approved four Bills for discussion in Parliament. The Bills cleared for consideration and passing are: the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 and the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010. It cleared the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012 for introduction in Parliament. In this post, we discuss the key provisions of the Bills and the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD). The Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010 The Bill was introduced on April 19, 2010 in the Rajya Sabha and referred to the Standing Committee on HRD, which tabled its report on November 23, 2010. The government had attempted to pass it in the Winter session twice. However, the Opposition raised the issue of conflict of interest. The Rules of the Ethics Committee state that a MP has to declare his personal or pecuniary interest in a matter, which is under discussion in the Rajya Sabha. The MPs contended that the HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal, could not pilot the Bill without declaring his interest. They argued that his son was the lawyer for a music company which is party to a legal dispute with TV broadcasters to which the amendment would apply (see here for debate on the issue in Parliament). The Copyright Act, 1957 defines the rights of authors of creative works such as books, plays, music, and films. Two key amendments proposed in the Bill are: Copyright in a film currently rests with the producer for 60 years. The Bill vests copyright in a director as well. The Bill makes special provisions for those whose work is used in films or sound recordings (e.g. lyricists or composers). Rights to royalties from such works, when used in media other than films or sound recordings, shall rest with the creator of the work. (See here for PRS analysis of the Bill) Key recommendations of the Standing Committee: (a) Drop the provision that makes the principal director the author of a film along with the producer; and (b) Keep the provisions for compulsory licensing in line with the terms of international agreements. (See here for PRS Standing Committee Report summary) The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 The Bill was introduced on May 3, 2010 in the Lok Sabha and referred to the Standing Committee on HRD, which tabled its report on August 12, 2011. This Bill is part of the governments attempt to reform the higher education sector. The key objective is to provide an effective means of quality assurance in higher education. Presently, accreditation is voluntary. Higher educational institutions are accredited by two autonomous bodies set up by the University Grants Commission and the All India Council of Technical Education. The Bill makes it mandatory for each institution and every programme to get accredited by an accreditation agency. The agencies have to be registered with the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority. Only non-profit, government controlled bodies are eligible to register as accreditation agencies.

(See here for PRS analysis of the Bill) The Standing Committee made some recommendations: (a) assessment for accreditation should start after two batches of students have passed out of the institution; (b) there should be specific provisions for medical education; and (c) registration to accreditation agencies should initially be granted for five years (could be extended to 10 years). (See here for PRS Standing Committee Report summary) The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010 The Bill was introduced on December 7, 2010 in the Lok Sabha and referred to the Standing Committee on HRD, which tabled its report on December 8, 2011. The Indian Penal Code covers criminal acts that outrage or insult the modesty of women. It does not cover situations which could create a hostile or difficult environment for women at the work place. The Supreme Court in 1997 (Vishaka judgment) laid down guidelines to protect women from sexual harassment. This Bill defines sexual harassment and provides a mechanism for redressing complaints. The protection against sexual harassment is applicable to all women at the workplace. However, the Bill does not cover domestic workers working at home. (See here for PRS analysis of the Bill) The Standing Committee recommendations addressed issues of gender neutrality, inclusion of domestic workers and the modified definition of sexual harassment. (See here for PRS Standing Committee Report summary) The Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012 The Bill was cleared by the Cabinet and is likely to be introduced in Parliament this session. It seeks to provide for the establishment and incorporation of Universities for Research and Innovation. These universities shall be hubs of education, research and innovation. Although an official copy of the Bill is not yet available, newspaper reports suggest that this is an omnibus law under which innovation universities (focused on specific research areas such as environment, astrophysics and urban planning) shall be established. In India, a university can only be set up through an Act of Parliament or state legislature. The Planning Commissions Working Group on Higher Education report stated that these universities could be funded by the private sector as well. The government aims to create 14 innovation universities, which would be world class.