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Newsletter on Indian and International Legal Affairs An initiative of RMN Foundation humanitarian organization  VOL. II | ISSUE 2 | February 2019   

Legal Directions Law Simplified  By Rakesh Raman 

Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro. Photo: UNODC 

 

Main Stories in This Issue - Supreme Court Directs to Form Lokpal  - Online Course on Environmental Law   - Role of English in the Legal Profession  - Free eCourts Services in India  - Artificial Intelligence in Justice System 

 

- Sextortion in the Judiciary - DNA Technology Regulation Bill  - Van Jones to Lead REFORM Alliance  - Debates on Supreme Court Judgments  - Criminal Court to Release Laurent Gbagbo 


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No Debates on Supreme Court Judgments in Parliament As per Article 105, Houses of Parliament are masters of their powers and privileges.  India’s  Minister  of  State  for  Parliamentary  Affairs,  Vijay  Goel,  stated  in  Rajya Sabha in January  that  no debate will take place in the Parliament about the judges and court ​judgments​. Goel was  giving a written reply to a question on debates in Parliament on judgments of Supreme Court. 

The Minister  said  as  per  Article 121 of the Constitution of India, "No discussion shall take place  in  Parliament  with  respect  to  the  conduct  of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court  in  the  discharge  of  their duties except upon a motion for presenting an address to the President  praying for the removal of the Judge.”  He  further  stated  that  as  per  Article  118  of  the  Constitution,  each  House  of  Parliament  may  make  rules  regulating,  subject  to  the  provisions  of  the  Constitution,  its  procedure and conduct  of its Business.  Discussions  in  Rajya  Sabha  are  governed  by  Rules  of  Procedure  and  conduct  of  Business  in  the  Council  of  States  and  Directions  by  the  Chairman,  Rajya  Sabha  under  the  Rules  of  Procedure  and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha.  As  per Article 105, Houses of Parliament are masters of their powers and privileges. As such this  question  relates  to  the  proceedings  of  the  Parliament  and  inadmissible  under  rule  47(2),  (viii),  (xviii),  and  (xx).  However,  as per record of this Ministry no discussion on such subject has taken  place during the last three years, Goel added.

Exposing and Preventing Sextortion in the Judiciary The  main  barrier  to  the  effective  fight  against  sextortion  is  the  victims'  fear  of  exposing  perpetrators.  By Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro. Courtesy: UNODC  Sextortion,  as  defined  by the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), is the abuse of  power  to  obtain  a  sexual  benefit  or  advantage.  As  such,  it  is  a  form  of  ​corruption in which sex,  rather than money, is the currency of the bribe. 

It is  not  limited  to  certain countries or sectors, and can be found wherever those entrusted with  power  lack  integrity  and  try  to  sexually  exploit  those  who  are  vulnerable  and  dependent  on  their power. 


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The IAWJ  has  succinctly  explained  the  principle  underlying  sextortion  as  follows:  what  distinguishes sextortion from other types of sexually abusive conduct is that it has both a sexual  component and a corruption component. 

Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro. Photo: UNODC  The  sexual  component  of  sextortion  arises  from  a  request  -  whether  implicit  or  explicit  -  to  engage  in  any  kind  of  unwanted  sexual  activity,  ranging  from  sexual  intercourse  to  exposing  private body parts.  The  corruption  component  stems  from  the  person  demanding  the  sexual  favor  occupying  a  position  of  authority,  which  they  abuse  by  seeking  to  exact,  or  by  accepting,  a  sexual  favor  in  exchange  for  exercising  the  power  entrusted  to  them.  In  other words, the perpetrator exercises  their authority for their own gain.  It  is  important  to  recognize  that  sextortion  violates  fundamental  ethical  standards,  because  even  if  an  act  may  not  technically  constitute  a  violation  of  a  penal  law,  people  in  authority  should  still  not  misuse  their  power  by  seducing  subordinates  and  individuals  over  whom  they  exercise authority, or by enticing them to grant them sexual favors. 


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The main  barrier  to  the  effective  fight  against  sextortion  is  the  victims'  fear  of  exposing  perpetrators,  fearing  possible  reprisals  which  could  include  a  demotion,  the  withholding  of  benefits, or even the loss of their job.  Moreover,  lawyers  may  refuse  to  represent  the  victims  of  judges  for  similar  reasons,  fearing  it  may adversely affect their practice of law before the courts.  Raising  awareness  by  introducing  the  term  into  public  dialogue,  and  by  holding  perpetrators  accountable, will help us on the path to ending sextortion in the judiciary.  You can​ click here​ to read the full article.  Chief  Justice  Teresita  Leonardo  de  Castro  served  as  the  first  female  Chief  Justice  for  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  Philippines  and  is  the  former  President  of  the  International  Association  of  Women  Judges. 

Supreme Court Directs Indian Govt to Form Anti-Corruption Body Lokpal  The  Lokpal  Act  envisages  establishment  of  Lokpal  at  the  Centre  and  Lokayuktas  in  states  to  investigate cases of corruption against public servants.  India’s  Ministry  of  Personnel,  Public  Grievances  &  Pensions  said  on  January  30  that  the  first  meeting  of  the  search  committee  for  recommending  a  panel  of  names  for  appointment  as  Chairperson  and  Members  of  the  Lokpal  was  held  on  29th  January,  2019.  It  was  stated  that  all  the members of the committee were present during the meeting.  According  to  the  government  statement,  the  committee  decided  to  invite  applications  /  nominations  from  eligible  persons  to  be  considered  for  the  position  of  Chairperson  and  Members  of  Lokpal  through  an  advertisement  at  the  earliest.  The  committee  will  meet  again  within a fortnight to carry on further deliberations.  While  the  government  had  been  delaying  the  constitution  of  Lokpal,  the  meeting  was  held  because  the  Supreme  Court  of  India  has  set  up  a  February-end  deadline  for  shortlisting  the  candidates  for  the  appointment  as  Chairperson  and  Members  of Lokpal by Prime Minister (PM)  Narendra Modi-led selection committee.  The  eight-member  search  committee  formed  to  select  members  of  the  anti-corruption  ombudsman (Lokpal) is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai.  The  Lokpal Act, which envisages establishment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states  to investigate ​cases of corruption​ against public servants, was passed in 2013. 


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While Congress  leader  Mallikarjun  Kharge  was  taken  as  a  “special  invitee”  in  the  selection  committee,  he  has  been  repeatedly  boycotting  the  meeting  with  the  demand  that  he should be  made a formal member of the committee.  Kharge  has  urged  the government to amend the Lokpal Act through an ordinance to include the  leader  of  the  single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha in the selection committee. According  to  the  Lokpal  and  Lokayukta  Act,  only  the  leader  of  the  opposition  (LoP)  in  the  ​Lok  Sabha  is  a 

member of  the  selection  committee  and  since  Kharge does not have that status, he is not a part  of the panel.  A  party should have at least 55 seats or 10 percent of the strength of the Lok Sabha for its leader  to  get  the  LoP  status.  Congress  is  the  single  largest  opposition  party  in  the  Lok  Sabha  but  its  leader  could  not  be  given  the  LoP status as it does not have the requisite number of seats to get  that status.  The  other  members  in  the  Lokpal  selection  committee  -  headed  by  the  PM  –  are  Lok  Sabha  speaker,  leader  of  the  opposition  (LoP),  the  chief  justice  of  India  or  a  judge  nominated  by  the  chief  justice,  and  a jurist nominated by the President or any other member. President Ram Nath  Kovind  had nominated Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General of India as the jurist member of  the committee. 

Role of English in the Legal Profession A  research  paper  highlights  the  risks  of  language  limitations  in  the Indian judiciary and argues  that the Indian courts are not yet ready to work in English language.  As  the  English  language  used  in  Indian  courts  is  mostly incorrect, the onus is on law schools to  properly educate the students so they could survive in the communications-driven world.  A  research  paper  highlights  the  risks  of  language  limitations  in  the  Indian judiciary and argues  that the Indian courts are not yet ready to work in English language.   With  the  help  of  various  examples,  the  paper  reveals  that  the  language used in Indian courts is  so  bad  that  it  is  not  possible  to  make  heads  or  tails  of  the  text  written  in the court documents,  including petitions and orders.    The  language  flaws  include  grammatical  errors,  convoluted  sentences,  semantic  problems,  wrong connotations, ambiguous phrases, and gender bias. 


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The paper  also  suggests  a  number  of  solutions  to  overcome the language problems. It says that  at  present the Indian law colleges and universities are not properly equipped to teach English to  students.  However,  these  institutes  must  start  dedicated  English  academic  centers to teach the  language systematically. 

The  courts  should  set  up  dedicated  content  management  departments  to  ensure  language  correctness  and  consistency  in  legal  documents.  Similarly,  courts  should  make  proper  arrangements to impart English training to judges and court staff. 


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Technology can  also  be  helpful  in  future,  as  the  courts and legal professionals can use artificial  intelligence  to  create  legal  documents.  The  paper  further  suggests  that  the  whole  language  reformation must start with the creation of style guides to produce content-grade English.  You can ​click here​ to download the consultative paper. 

DNA Regulation Bill Will Violate Right to Privacy: Congress Government  says  that the Bill will add value in empowering the criminal justice delivery system  by enabling the application of DNA evidence.  According  to  the  Government  of  India,  the  Lok  Sabha  passed  “The  DNA  Technology  (Use  and  Application) Regulation Bill - 2019” on January 8.  The  Bill  has  been  formulated  recognizing  the  need  for  regulation  of  the  use  and  application  of  Deoxyribonucleic  Acid  (DNA)  ​technology  for  establishing  identity  of  missing  persons,  victims,  offenders, undertrials, and unknown deceased persons. 

However, the  opposition  party  ​Congress  has  condemned  the  Bill  saying  that  it  will  violate  the 

citizens’ right  to  privacy.  “The  DNA  Regulation  Bill  passed  by  the  BJP  government violates our  Fundamental  Right  to  Privacy  by  failing  to  provide  safeguards  for  the  protection  of  citizens'  data,” Congress said.  According  to  the  government,  the  purpose  of  this  Bill  is  to  expand  the  application  of  DNA-based  forensic  technologies  to  support  and  strengthen  the  justice  delivery  system  of  the  country.  The  government  argues  that  the  utility  of  DNA  based  technologies  for solving crimes,  and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world.  By  providing  for  the  mandatory  accreditation  and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks  to  ensure  that  with  the  proposed  expanded  use  of  this  ​technology  in  the  country,  there  is  also 

the assurance  that  the  DNA  test  results  are  reliable,  and  the  data  remains  protected  from  misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of citizens.  The  key  components  of  this  Bill  include:  establishment  of  a  DNA  Regulatory  Board;  accreditation  of  DNA  laboratories  undertaking  DNA  testing,  analysing,  etc.,  and  the  establishment  of  the National and Regional DNA Data Banks, as envisaged in the Bill, will assist  in forensic investigations. 


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This will  aid  in  scientific  upgradation  and  streamlining  of  the  DNA  testing  activities  in  the  country  with  appropriate  inputs  from  the  DNA  Regulatory  Board  which  would  be set up for the  purpose, the government said. 

The  government  statement  adds  that  the  Bill  will  add  value in empowering the criminal justice  delivery  system  by  enabling  the  application  of  DNA  evidence,  which  is  considered  the  gold  standard in crime investigations.   


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LLM in Environmental Law Offered Online It  will  include  courses  on  Climate  Change,  Energy  Law,  Environmental  Law,  Wildlife  Law,  and  Public Lands.   Lewis  &  Clark  Law  School  is  offering  its  Environmental,  Natural  Resources,  and  Energy  Law  LLM via distance-learning, and is now accepting applications for the Fall 2019 Cohort.   The online course builds on the law school's post-JD (Juris Doctor  degree)  environmental  law  Master's  program,  which  is  designed  for  attorneys  interested  in  increasing  their  knowledge,  and  who  want  to  more  effectively  practice  in  today's  global  legal  environment.   Lewis  &  Clark's  LLM  will  include  courses  on  Climate  Change,  Energy  Law,  Environmental  Law,  Wildlife  Law,  and  Public  Lands.  The  ​courses  will  integrate 

advanced online  learning  methods,  such as self-paced and interactive video lectures and virtual  online  office  hours  each  week  with  faculty,  with  the  ability  for  students  to  discuss  and  collaborate online.   Download and Read RMN Publications  TechWise Today 

The Integrity Bulletin

Clean Climate

Legal Directions

Young Learner

Real Voter

Criminal Court to Release Former President Laurent Gbagbo Mr  Gbagbo  and  Mr  Blé  Goudé  were  facing  charges  of  crimes  against  humanity  allegedly  committed in Côte d'Ivoire.   Trial  Chamber  I  of  the  International Criminal Court (ICC), by majority, Judge Herrera Carbuccia  dissenting,  found  on  16  January  2019  that  there  were  no  exceptional circumstances preventing  the  release  of  Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé from ICC detention  following their  acquittal  on  15  January.  The  ICC  Prosecutor  may  appeal  this  decision. It would be then for the  Appeals  Chamber  to  decide  whether  or  not  to  maintain  Mr  Gbagbo  and  Mr  Blé  Goudé  in  ICC  custody.  The  Chamber  directed  the  ICC  Registrar  to  obtain  the  necessary  assurances  from  Mr  Gbagbo  and  Mr  Blé  Goudé  and  their  respective  lead counsel in ensuring the return of Mr Gbagbo and/or  Mr Blé Goudé, if and when their presence at the seat of the Court is requested.  


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The ICC  Registrar  will  make  the  necessary  logistical,  organizational,  and  diplomatic  arrangements  for  the  ​release  of  Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé; the location of their release shall  depend on their observations and on the agreement of the concerned State(s). 

Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé in Courtroom I at the seat of the International  Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands on 15 January 2019 Photo: ICC-CPI  Mr  Gbagbo  and  Mr  Blé  Goudé  were  facing  charges  of  crimes  against  humanity  allegedly  committed in Côte d'Ivoire in 2010 and 2011.  

Write for Legal Directions Newsletter

RMN  Foundation  publishes  ​Legal  Directions  which  is  a  monthly  newsletter  on  Indian  and 

international legal  affairs.  Currently,  the  newsletter  project  is  being  managed  by  Mr.  Rakesh  Raman who is a national award-winning journalist and founder of RMN Foundation.     Legal Directions i​ nvites legal professionals, advocates, teachers, and students to contribute their  editorial  articles  for  the  newsletter.  You  may  please  submit  the  articles  with  your  brief  profile  to  Mr.  Rakesh  Raman  (Email:  contact@rmnfoundation.org).  Students from all across the world  are also invited to ​participate​ as volunteers in this project.   


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Download Previous Issues of Legal Directions September 2018 

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

Criminal Justice Reform: Van Jones to Lead REFORM Alliance Jones  will  continue to appear occasionally on CNN and host his bimonthly weekend program on  CNN, The Van Jones Show.  The  REFORM  Alliance  announced  on  January 23 that renowned activist and TV personality Van  Jones will serve as the organization's Chief Executive Officer (CEO).   The  REFORM  Alliance  is  a  newly  established  organization  that  is  committed  to  advancing  criminal  justice  reform  and  eliminating  outdated  laws  that  perpetuate  injustice,  starting  with  probation and parole.  In  his  role  with  the  REFORM  Alliance,  Jones  will  oversee  the  implementation  of  the  organization's  mission  to  drastically  reduce  the  number  of  people  who  are  under  control  of  the  criminal  justice  system  while  keeping  communities  safe  by  changing laws and public opinion.  "This  is  the  opportunity  of  a  lifetime," Jones said. "I have spent  my  entire  adult  life  preparing  myself  to  help  lead  an  initiative  of  this  magnitude.  I'm  looking  forward  to  working  with  this  powerful  group  of  founders  to  disrupt  the  status  quo  and  shift  the criminal justice system landscape for generations to come."  REFORM  is  backed  by  a  bi-partisan  and  diverse  group  of  sports,  entertainment,  and  business  leaders.   A  Yale-educated  attorney,  Jones  has  spent  nearly  25  years  laboring  on  social  change  causes,  with  a  recurring  focus  on  criminal  justice  issues.  Jones  will  continue  to  appear  occasionally  on  CNN and host his bimonthly weekend program on CNN, The Van Jones Show. 


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Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Justice System Research  shows  that digital algorithms are poised to bring more knowledge and transparency to  the justice system.  Although  the  use  of  Artificial  Intelligence  (AI)  in  the  legal  ecosystem  is  in  its  infancy,  AI  has  myriad applications in the legal domain.  In  order  to  remove  the  human  subjectivity  and  incompetence 

from

the judicial  systems, 

computer scientists  are  increasingly  using  advanced  information  ​technology  (IT)  tools  in  the legal profession. 

Artificial Intelligence  (​AI​)  and  its  use  with  Machine 

Learning

(ML) are  among  the 

contemporary technologies  that  have  proved  their utility in the emerging justice system.  The  application  of  AI has already produced robot  lawyers  and  chatbots  that  interact  with  humans  to  help  them  present  their  cases  in traditional  courts.  But  now  research  shows  that  digital  algorithms  are  poised  to  bring  more  knowledge  and  transparency  to  the  justice  system,  as  the conventional court judgments given by judges will be  supported by the dedicated AI expert systems.  Recently,  the  European  Commission  for  the  Efficiency  of  Justice  (CEPEJ)  and  the  Courts  Administration  of  the  Latvia  organized  a  ​conference  on “Artificial Intelligence at the Service of  the Judiciary” in Riga (Latvia). 

The conference  brought  together  representatives  of  the  academic  world,  justice  professionals,  judicial  institutions  from different European countries to explore how AI can be used to support  the work of legal professionals and courts and ensure a better quality of justice.   Now,  the  Council  of  Europe  has  adopted  the  first  European  Ethical  Charter  on  the  use  of  AI  in  judicial systems.   


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Appeal for Donations RMN  Foundation  -  the  publisher  of  ​Legal  Directions  newsletter  -  is  a  humanitarian  organization  that  was  formed  in  May  2015  as  an  educational  and  public  charitable  Trust  for 

the benefit  of  humanity  at  large.  It  is  registered  with  the  Government  of  National  Capital  Territory of Delhi at New Delhi, India.  Currently,  all  the  activities  of  RMN  Foundation  are  being  managed  single-handedly (without  any  support)  by  RMN  Foundation  founder  Rakesh  Raman who had left his job a few years ago  to run this charity.  As  RMN  Foundation  has  embarked  upon  some  major  humanitarian  projects  during  the  past  over  3  years,  now  it  needs  a  significant  amount  of  funds  in  the  form  of  ​donations  to  expand  the scope of its activities. 

Individual Indian  donors  can  help  RMN  Foundation  with  their  contributions  using  the  following bank details:  Bank Name: ICICI Bank  Bank Branch: HL Square, Plot No. 6, Sector 5 (MLU), Dwarka, New Delhi 110 075  Account Number: 025005004368  Account Name: RMN Foundation  Type of Account: Current  IFSC Code: ICIC0000250 

Common Service Centres to Deliver Free eCourts Services India’s  Department  of  Justice  has  decided  to  deliver  free  eCourts  services  through  Common  Service Centres.  Court  case information such as judicial proceedings, decisions, case registration, cause list, case  status,  daily  orders,  and  final  judgments  of  all  computerized  district  and  subordinate  courts  of  the country will now be available across all Common Service Centres (CSCs) in the country.  The  Government  of  India  had  initiated  the  second  phase  of  the  eCourts  project  as  one  of  the  National  e-Governance  projects,  in  August,  2015  with  an  outlay  of  Rs.  1670  crores.  India’s 


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Ministry of  Law  &  Justice  said  on  January  24  that  16845  district  and  subordinate  courts  have  been IT-enabled. 

PM Narendra Modi addressing at the event marking the introduction of digital filing as a step  toward paperless Supreme Court, in New Delhi on May 10, 2017 (file photo)  The  eCourts  project  works  under  the guidance of the e-Committee of Supreme Court of India in  computerizing  district  and  subordinate  courts  of  the  country  through  installation  of  case  information software, hardware, and local area network in courts.  They  are  also  being  connected  on  Wide  Area  Network  through  a  dedicated  network  offering  bandwidth  of  up  to  100  Mbps.  According  to  the  Ministry  of  Law  &  Justice, the eCourts services  have  now  been  rolled  out  through  SMS,  email,  web,  mobile  app,  etc.  benefiting  millions  of  litigants and advocates.  In order to provide efficient and time-bound access to the Courts services to litigant public, who  are  on  the  other  side  of  the  digital  divide  and  don’t  have  access  to  internet, the Department of  Justice has decided to deliver eCourts services to them through around 2 lakh (200,000) CSCs.  The  rural  reach  of  the  CSC's  is  extensive,  envisaging  a  minimum  of  one  CSC  in  each  Gram  Panchayat, thus enabling eCourts services to reach all corners of the country. 


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The collaboration  between  Department  of  Justice  and  CSCs  would  thus  mean  that litigants can  access  easily  and  readily  the  case  status  information  available  on  eCourts  database  from  any  CSC.   The  eCourts  database  contains  case  information  of  over  10  crore  (100  million)  cases  and  more  than 7 crore (70 million) orders / judgments.  To  ensure  affordability,  the  Department  of  Justice  has  decided  not  to  charge  any  fee  from  the  customers for eCourts-related services delivered through CSCs.   However,  CSCs  have  been  authorized  to  charge  Rs.  5  for  any  of  the  23  services  available  on  Courts portal. Printing charges will be Rs. 5 per page, if it is more than one page. 

Meet the Editor   

The editor  of  ​Legal  Directions  newsletter ​Rakesh Raman is a national award-winning  journalist and social activist.     Besides  working  at  senior  editorial  positions  with  leading  media  companies,  he  was  writing an  exclusive  edit-page  column  regularly  for  The  Financial  Express  (a  daily  business  newspaper  of  The Indian Express Group).  Nowadays,  for  the  past  about  8  years,  he  has  been  running  his  own  global  news  services  on  different  subjects.  He  also  has  formed  a  free  Education  and  Career  Counselling  Center  for  deserving  children  at  a  poor  J.J.  Colony  in  Dwarka,  New  Delhi  under  his  ​NGO  –  RMN  Foundation. 

He runs  an  exclusive  community-driven  anti-corruption  social  service  “​Clean  House​”  to  help  the suffering residents of Delhi raise their voice against the growing corruption and injustice.  He  also  creates  and  distributes  a  number  of  ​digital  publications  that  cover  areas  such  as  technology, law, environment, education, corruption and transparency. 

He has  created  a  comprehensive  online  information service to educate the Indian voters for the  upcoming ​Lok Sabha election​ scheduled to happen in 2019.  Earlier,  he  had  been  associated  with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial  Development  Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology  for brand marketing and business development. 


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Collaboration with Legal Directions Project The  ​Legal  Directions  newsletter  is  being  published  by  RMN  Foundation.  It  is  being circulated  among  the  top  UN  agencies,  legal  professionals,  law  colleges / universities, law-enforcement  agencies, civil society organizations, social activists, and others in India and abroad.     RMN  Foundation  is  looking  for  sponsors  and  collaborators  across  the  world  who  can  help us  expand the legal content activity around ​Legal Directions​.    Contact   

 

Rakesh Raman  Founder  RMN Foundation    463, DPS Apts., Plot No. 16, Sector 4, Dwarka, Phase I  New Delhi 110 078, INDIA    Contact by email 

Profile for R Raman

Legal Directions February 2019  

Legal Directions is a monthly newsletter on Indian and international legal affairs. It carries news, opinion articles, book reviews, intervi...

Legal Directions February 2019  

Legal Directions is a monthly newsletter on Indian and international legal affairs. It carries news, opinion articles, book reviews, intervi...

Profile for rrtwork
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