This paper titled- ‘Navigating through the emerging and evolving domains in the realm of law’ aims to present a comprehensive manoeuvre to explore the various emerging laws and the adaptations and evolutions involved to make these laws pertinent to the dynamic civilization of the human race. Through this exploration, we delve into the various regulations and policy frameworks which have been constructive and proficient in guiding the numerous facets of the domestic and international arena. The paper is centered around the various laws which have been enacted to cater to the needs of a large populace, usually involving Individual rights, Healthcare, Energy and subjects of either common interests or concerns. For instance- Telemedicine laws, energy laws and agricultural laws relating to rights of farmers and plant breeders. Certain other laws cater to the requisites of commercial transactions and the business or corporate world. Such as competition laws, IPR, insolvency, bankruptcy and/or merger and acquisitions. These laws shape the functioning of the specific domains; they are enacted for and the various occurrences surrounding the enacted domain. Through this paper we examine the various legislations and policy frameworks which have already been brought and alongside the proposals which are yet to be enacted. The laws are also subject to reforms and evolutions in accordance to the dynamic legal landscape. Like the Media and Entertainment Laws for which legislations have existed since the early times of 1857 but new legislations and amendments have been sought to make these laws better apt for the changing milieu.
Emerging laws- space laws- anti trust laws-competition laws- geographical indication-alternate dispute resolution-energy laws-insolvency and bankruptcy-media and entertainment laws-telemedicine-farmer rights and plant varieties-mergers and acquisitions
“Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations”
Laws play a crucial role in governing society and ensuring the effective operation of the state and its various elements. It is of utmost importance that both existing and forthcoming laws are designed to meet the evolving needs of the society in their respective times. The ultimate goal of laws is to facilitate efficient governance and prevent conflicts in crucial aspects of human life and the communities they create. Laws are however, alongside instrumental to ensure fairness in the society and guarantee all the citizens or people in its jurisdiction, certain Rights and privileges. The creation of new laws is necessary when there are deficiencies in the current legal framework for a specific area or when a domain is entirely new and lacks prior regulation. With the continuous advancement of human civilization and the remarkable progress made in fields such as aerospace, digital technology, cyber domains, as well as commerce and business transactions, there is an undeniable need for laws to govern and oversee the functioning of these domains. Some laws find relevance to the entire population at large and are meant to protect the rights and interests of the people of the nation at large. However some other laws aim to regulate some specific areas of the society and may extend to international affairs. Laws like the energy, aerospace laws and farmers’ rights laws have emerged as new legislations but on the other hand some laws as in the domain of Media and Entertainment have evolved over time. Commercial laws being a prime area where well- defined legislations are most sought due to the enormous monetary amounts and the interests of the society they bear. Laws like competition laws, mergers, acquisition prove constructive as to cater a sustainable environment for flourishing of businesses to serve the needs of the society
Several research papers have been referred to for the purpose of writing this paper. The literature referred also includes several blog posts , journals and articles.
The paper is based on doctrinal research methodology combined with discourse analysis. The doctrinal analysis involves the analysis of existing laws, precedents, and international trends. The research is accomplished through study of various research papers, journals, case commentaries, articles and textbooks. The discourse analysis, on similar lines involves the interpretation of the texts and literature. The primary step involves the gathering of information relevant to the theme and the topic. And then analyzing such gathered information and scrutinizing the information in a coherent pattern with further addition of conclusions and reviews. This paper entails the background of the laws around the world and principles involved in the framing of laws for which several journals, articles and research papers have been referred to and the analysis of these texts has been carried out to present the a comprehensive set of information.
EMERGING & EVOLVING AREAS OF LAW
India being the third largest producer and simultaneous consumer of electricity, it becomes inherently essential to lay down a well devised and structured legal framework to address the dynamic and myriad challenges. Since energy has surfaced to gain a basic necessity in the lives of people in the 21st century, regulations in this field are required to ensure a stable, reliable and sustainable production, transmission and ultimately supply of energy. However, within this process , rules and guidelines are also required to regulate the pricing of the energy markets and further monitor competition among the entities, to prevent unfair and monopolistic practices. Energy laws would serve as means to slash down the disparities and improve the standard of living in the country. Energy laws have existed from as early as 1887, with the most recent being The Electricity Act, 2003 which highlighted and encouraged the de-licensing and captive energy generation. The Electricity Amendment Act, 2020 in addition to previous statutes, initiated the scope for cross border trade of electricity. With Renewable sources emerging as a prominent area of focus, cognizance has been paid to promote power generation and growth of renewable energies. Although one does not find many specific statutes governing Renewable energy sources, The Director general of Hydrocarbons (DGH) and The petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006 provide some norms for this field.
Advancements in the field of aerospace is a consequence of the curiosity of mankind to explore the unknown. Since in addition to being vast and unexplored, space exploration is also linked to the origin of the life and the universe, it has ignited the quest for determination of our position in the cosmos and if, the simultaneous co-existence of extra-terrestrial life. Since the space is not confined to one nation or say one organization therefore the laws and regulations for activities related to the state are much coherent to International Law comprising of several treaties, conventions, agreements and resolutions like that of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)resolutions. Conventions like ‘The liability Convention’ mean for the damages caused due to objects of space and ‘The Registration Convention’, for the registration of objects which are launched into the outer space. Agreements like ‘The moon Agreement’ which monitors the activities of nations on the celestial bodies including the moon and ‘The Rescue Agreement’ which governs the rescue and return of Astronauts and objects launched into outer space. The COPUOS –Committee on the peaceful uses of outer space along with‘The outer space treaty’, 1967– are considered as the foundation stones for emergence of International Space laws for the 108 signatory nations. However, in the current times several states / nations are rising to devise their own set of regulations in the form of legislations to govern the activities of the state. Nations like The United States which has a comprehensive arrangement for space laws including The Outer space treaty Implementation Act, the National Aeronautics and space Act. On the similar lines, Canada has enacted legislation like the Canadian Space Agency Act, 1990 and the Remote sensing space systems Act, 2006. At the current stage India Lacks substantial legislations, however certain regulatory policy frameworks have been brought into existence like the IRSO Act, 1969 and NRSC-National Remote Sensing Centre Guidelines, 2011.
The onset of the pandemic of COVID-19 has enhanced the field of Telemedicine. The prevalent socio-economic conditions brought out and highlighted the disparities even in the access to healthcare. With scarce number of health care infrastructures and the remoteness of a fraction of a population to effective medical services, the need for technology in the medical field was felt. Telemedicine is the versatile amalgamation of technology and health care. It enabled the physicians to follow-up and monitor the most vulnerable and high- risk populations through technology like remote monitoring, diagnosis through AI, research and video conference consultations. Several nations have brought telemedicine legislations and guidelines during or post pandemic. Telemedicine has risen to gain a permanency in the lives of people primarily due to its potential to reach every corner of the world and the efficiency it has imparted to health care. As per a research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it has been found that 75% of the healthcare facilities which deployed AI were at an edge in management of ailments. And 80% claimed it to be significantly productive in reduction of worker fatigue and simultaneously aiding in better maintenance of records and databases. Leading nations of the world like the US, UK, and Europe have brought complex and heavily regulated arrangements. In India, structured guidelines have been prepared by the BoG (Board of Governors) of the Medical council of India in consultance and concurrence of the planning and policy making body- NITI Aayog which made amendments to the Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and ethics)Regulations 2002. And the guidelines have been successful in filling in the loopholes in the existing telemedicine practice. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 of the US seeks to ensure data protection and privacy for medical databases. In the UK, certain regulations like Care Quality Commission, 2019 guidelines of the General Pharmaceutical council and the guidelines presented by the British Medical Association on the virtual conduct of patient consultations, govern the telemedicine regulation. In Europe, telemedicine is considered under the heads of both healthcare and digital information service. Digital health has been proactively addressed by Germany keeping in view its constantly developing and adapting laws like- DiGA Fast Track, 2019 established under the Digital Health Care Act. France similarly brought a new legislation under the ambit of Government’s health care strategy, which aims to extend and deepen the emphasis on nation’s E-health.
PLANT VARIETIES AND FARMERS’ RIGHTS
The recognition of the rights of the farmers and their contributions towards the development and maintenance of plant varieties is vital for the growth of the Agricultural front of the nation. The development of new plant varieties breeds and seeds has been considered as an Intellectual Property rights as to protect the originality of these contributions. Following the Trade- related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement,(TRIPS)1994 to which India is a signatory, the need for legislations in this field was realized as the same was also mandated as per Article 27(b) of this agreement. Thus, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 was enacted, which is in consonance with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). Under the ambit of this Act, the contributions of farmers in conservation, improvisation and maintenance of genetic resources for the growth and evolution of new plant varieties was duly recognized and the farmers are eligible to obtain rewards for their innovations. Till date, 138 farmers/agricultural entities have been felicitated with Plant Genome Saviour Awards. The rights prescribed under this act pertained to primarily farmers’ rights and alongside Breeders’ rights and Researchers’ rights. This act guaranteed exclusive rights of production, sale, import/export and distribution of the variety to the breeders and farmers. In case of infringement of rights the distressed farmer/breeder is also entitled to approach the court of law to seek remedy by means of a civil action. Even when the protected variety does not perform, a provision of the said act- Section 39(2) entitles the farmer compensation. The president of India inaugurated the nation’s first ‘Global Symposium on Farmer’s rights’ which was conducted and organized by the Secretariat, ITPGRFA inSeptember, 2023.
DATA PROTECTION LAWS
Data is the driver of the today’s world as everything happening around us revolves around data. This makes certain data more sensitive than rest and demands a higher degree of confidentiality so as to ensure that the disclosure of such data does not detrimentally affect the person/subject concerned.The landmark case of K.S Puttaswamy and Anr. V Union of India and Ors established Right to Privacy as a fundamental right. This judgment was followed by the 2018 draft which was later revised through the Data Protection Bill,2019 but was however withdrawn by the government in 2022. It was finally in August,2023 when the Digital Personal Data Protection Act,2023 was passed by the Indian parliament. The law is not merely confined to the territory of India, rather extends to extra- territorial application if a specific subject/data is found to have nexus with the Indian subjects. This unfolding concern has been likewise recognized by several other nations and organizations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which sought to unify data protection laws across the countries of the EU.The US has similarly enacted the California consumer Privacy Act(CCPA) and the California Privacy Rights Act(CPRA) which aim to protect personal and sensitive data of citizens and empowers the Californian citizens/consumers to possess better control over their data collected by the companies.
Commercial laws or business laws encompass a wide range of regulations and statutes that guide business, trade and trade relations. Such laws pertain to new domains like Intellectual Property law (IPR), Competition laws, laws regulating mergers and acquisitions and on similar lines , insolvency and bankruptcy. In this exploration we will delve into the insights of these laws and their significance in fostering fair and ethical commercial relations.
In India, the competition laws are defined by the Competition Act, 2002. The objective of competition laws is to monitor the commercial practices and dealings to ensure fair competition and intercept anti- competitive practices and protect consumer interests. The Competition Commission of , a statutory body established in 2003, aims to prohibit Anti- competitive agreements entailing bid- rigging, cartels and several other practices which limit or control competition. The act further extends it’s applicability in restricting powerful entities in the domain from abusing their position in the market by virtue of which, they encourage practices like predatory pricing and further penalizing such entities if found to be engaged in such practices.
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS-
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) direct towards the strategies through which companies and big trading bodies combine their operations and functioning. Mergers entail the formation of a single entity through the combination of two more companies. Acquisitions, however occur when one commercial entity or say a company is absorbed or taken over by another company. Laws and regulations in this domain are essential to ensure transparency, in order to protect the interests of shareholders and stakeholders. Further M&A can have repercussions on the prevailing market and employment conditions which can be resolved through statutory laws. The laws governing this domain are of the Companies Act,2013. Although the companies Act,1956 contained certain provisions regarding M&A , there were merely four provisions, which were inadequate to address the need in this arrangement. Further the Companies Compromise Arrangements and Amalgamation Rules, 2016 provide a thorough framework and procedural guide for commercial entities involved in such arrangements as mergers and acquisitions. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), a quasi-judicial authority as per Section 231, the Companies Act,2013 is vested with the power to accept, modify or reject a proposal for arrangements and amalgamations. As mergers involve the transfer of Intellectual Property Rights along with other assets , the tribunal also ensures the protection , transfer and licensing of these assets.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWS-
Innovation initiates growth rate. Innovation through inventions and creations pave way for development and lasting progress. When an individual or entity creates/invents something, certain legal rights are granted to them to protect the authenticity and originality of their work or creation. These rights are termed as Intellectual Property Rights which entail copyright, patents, trademarks, trade secrets and industrial designs. An emerging and prominent area of IPR is ‘Geographical Indications’, governed by The Geographical Indication of Goods Act,2000 – which recognize the indigenous products from a specific geographical area. Such products possess distinct identity owing to their quality, special and unique characteristic. The first product to have obtained a GI tag is Darjeeling Tea, in 2004-05.i
INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY –
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy code, 2016 aims to resolve issues related to insolvency and bankruptcy in a time bound resolution and to maximize the distressed assets value. It provides a detailed framework for the sale of businesses declared insolvent. This code aims to ensure that the due shares and assets are provided to the creditors as recovery. The adjudicating authority holding jurisdiction over companies, in regard to these regulations is the NCLT. And in regards to individuals and partnerships, the Debt Recovery Tribunal acts as the adjudicating authority.
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT LAW-
“The change in Media Laws will reflect a society that entertains freedom of expression and the right to acquire information. It will also reveal corruption and malpractices.”
– Hind Hilmi, Asst. Professor of Mass Communication
In India, The domain of media and entertainment presents an amalgamation of various fields like Intellectual Property Law, Corporate laws and Information Technology or IT law as per The Information Technology Act, 2000. Legislations and provisions in regard to this field have been in existence in India since as early as 1867, with the Press and Registration Books Act, 1867. With the rapid proliferation of this industry, the laws have also evolved fresh legislations have been brought to enhance control over language, protect copyrights, trademarks and media freedom. The most recent legislation is the Right to Information Act, 2005 which has been instrumental in expanding the freedom of media and speech. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has presented the draft guidelines for exhibition of Public Service Awareness films, with the objective of increasing awareness regarding current affairs/events. Mergers in large media entities like the Sony-Zee enterprises have been in the limelight due to the hurdles presented in their merger. The mergers are overseen by the NCLT, SEBI and the Securities Appellate Tribunal. The growing influence of law in the field of media is also evident from the recent judgment of RDB and Co, HUF vs. Harper Collins Publishers India, where the Delhi High Court elucidated the expansive interpretation of the Copyright Act, 1957 , thereby expanding the scope of rights of an assignee to reproduce a literary work, only when the assignment has been performed by the true owner of the copyright,
For the purpose of accomplishment of this research paper, several articles, short write ups and research papers of several authors and organizations have been utilized. Some of the referred pieces of information are:
- A research article by Dr.Ganesh Dubey underlines the various constitutional provisions and the role of the parliament and other constitutional bodies in building up of a legislative framework through- substantive and procedural laws which entail civil and commercial laws for disputes arising in the Energy sector. The paper also brings out a discussion based on the various regulatory commissions like CER and SERC which supervise the functioning of this domain. The Electricity Act,2003 and the subsequent Electricity Amendment Act, 2020 have been highlighted and the objectives of these enactments have been discussed in the paper.
- The SCC ONLINE Blog Post- The Regulation of Telemedicine : A global comparative Analysis by Bhumika Indulia has delineated the circumstances under the pandemic which led to the wide-spread acceptance of telemedicine or ‘Tech- empowered- healthcare’ and how this initiative has led to reforms and the triumph of the medical field in tackling such a pervasive outbreak.
- The information presented in the work of Nirali Jain and Anurag Mishra in ‘The Legal Implications Emerging in telemedicine and tele-health’ by the Indore Institute of Laws gives a comprehensive resource on the rising importance of telemedicine and the pivotal role played by IT in combating the outbreak of the pandemic and the legislations which were applied to regulate this field like the Indian Medical Act and the IT Act.
- A blog by Author Britt de Roy, on https://www.dashplus.be/ presents a wide outlook on the milestones in the health and in specific Tele- health care sector in the European countries. Nations like France, Germany , Estonia and the UK have been discussed in regard to the various provisions framed for healthcare and the gradual incorporation of technology in healthcare. Special reference has been made to the development of tele-medicine laws in the France. As per the blog, the development of these laws began , in France since 2018 and were based on 4 principles including video consultations and open accessibility to patients and health-care professionals.
Through the extended study of several legislations of not just India but of several leading nations of the world, the observation made are as that several factors influence the emergence of laws and legislative provisions or guidelines. The major factors influencing the emergence of laws can be attributed to Social changes, Technological advancements and changes in the sphere of commerce. Rising concerns pertaining to security threats or unauthorized data disclosure have led to increased emphasis to data privacy and protection of the rights of the true owner of Intellectual properties. Thus laws are accurately viewed as mechanisms which not just shape the social demography rather is also shaped or molded to adapt to the changing realms of the society surrounding us.
REVIEW & SUGGESTIONS
While we acknowledge the current accomplishments of the legislative bodies in bringing various legislations and provisions for adapting the legal framework to the dynamic society, we are also of the view that several areas which demand legislations have been still left unaddressed. The most fundamental example of the same can be attributed to Civil Wrongs which remain uncodified till date. Even though the Indian Civil Wrongs Bill was drafted by the Sir Fredrick Pollock, during the Fourth Law commission of Pre-Independence period, the bill has never been passed and the judgments and decisions in civil cases remain subject to the discretion of the adjudicating authority. Similarly, at the current standing we do not have specialized laws for tele- medicine and certain other fields like even Space Laws. The development of AI, to an extent where it can flawlessly morph images and videos , where it becomes a cause of concern. The recently surfacing DeepFake Software , which is successful in morphing videos and images to an extent that the viewer would never be able to detect a fake or a real video and this is being misused to create objectionable content without the consent of the subject and is further used to blackmail or harass the victim. While China has already brought legislations to regulate Generative AI and Europe seeks to bring such regulations, India has not brought any legislations to regulate this concerning domain.
WRITTEN BY: INSHA PANI
UNIVERSITY- NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY ODISHA
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