The Establishment of the Centre for Regulatory Studies, Governance and Public Policy
The Centre for Regulatory Studies, Governance and Public Policy at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences was created in the year 2015 with the vision of promoting research and studies of public policies and governance. The Centre has been since thriving under the aegis of the Government of West Bengal and as an initiative of the Department of Higher Education (University Branch) to promote interdisciplinary research to explore, build and advance critical perspectives on the role of the state, para-statal organizations and civil society in designing regulatory institutions and evaluating policies for reducing pervasive socio-economic deprivation, entrenched vulnerabilities and empowering Scheduled Castes , Scheduled Tribes, women and minorities. The Centre encourages original interdisciplinary research on the dynamics of law and society, indulges in public debates and academic discussions in the social sciences and law and intends to assist law and policy makers in the preparation and critical evaluation of legislations and policies pertaining to the socially excluded communities.
There are various schemes and developmental policies initiated for the betterment of numerous targeted social groups in the Centre and the State level. Considering the quantum of resources in the nature of funds, manpower and expertise that have been committed and/or expended in pursuance to these laws and policies, it is expedient to assess and evaluate their success, study and learn from their short-comings which can be worked upon and identify areas which are yet to fall within the ambit of governmental largesse. A Centre for research in the National Law University of the State skilled in assessing such policy implementations, its efficacy and limitations and analysing the decisions of the government would go a long way in assisting the State Government in the system of progress, and in turn help in creating a better perception about the government among the populace of the state.
However, to ensure an effective implementation of these well-intentioned policies and schemes, it is mandatory that a rigorous analysis be taken up by policy experts and trained researchers. A Centre that acts as a think-tank to aid and advice the government in adopting and executing policies that can address varied concerns of citizens in real time are the need of the hour. One that would function as a watch-dog to monitor and regulate the activities of the government; and analyse whether the objectives of legal instruments are being met properly, and assess whether the executive wing of the government faces problems in the implementation of these legal instruments. In doing so, the Centre will devise solutions of policy issues, and find out ways in which identified loopholes can be addressed.
Sometimes it can so ensue that inspite of effective implementation of a good law there aren't enough steps taken to formulate and initiate changes as per the law which leaves the legislative intention unfulfilled. It is prudent to carry out studies to gauge if the enacted law is serving the ends of justice and/or what are the roadblocks. Other important issues like evaluation of the sufficiency of budget allocated for a policy, and evaluation of government initiative in emancipation of the economically depressed or vulnerable sections of the society, will require a Centre to undertake research and come up with an informed report based on data, after having employed proper methodology and scientific tools.
CRSGPP strives to create awareness and knowledge about socio-legal and governance related issues, make analytical assessment of public policies, provide research based suggestions and synergize interaction to government bodies.
a) To encourage original interdisciplinary research on the dynamics of law and society and contribute to public debates and academic discussions in the social sciences and law.
b) To assist law and policy makers in the preparation and analytical evaluation of legislations and policies pertaining to the socially excluded communities.
c) To provide training, research and advisory services to government, non-government and other agencies, both national and international, in policy formulation and implementation.
d) To organize workshops and conferences that provide a forum for legislators, bureaucrats and judges to interact with scholars, activists, film-makers, journalists, and other members of civil society so as to reflect collectively on issues related to law, society and governance.
e) To undertake research into the working of the constitutional and statutory safeguards for caste based minorities, tribal communities, religious minorities and other marginalised sections of the society and suggest means for their effective implementation.
g) To build a database of print, digital and visual texts on issues pertaining to law, society and governance exclusion, especially as it relates to the realms of law and state policy.
h) To publish journals, books, research papers and reports on issues pertaining to law society and governance and strengthen critical public discourses in India.
i) Build ties with social movements, organizations and agencies committed to strengthening democratic ideals and building an inclusive and just society.
IV. A Brief Overview of the Ongoing Activities of the CRSGPP, NUJS
The Centre has worked on formulating a few research proposals with the intention of carrying out policy evaluation in the state of West Bengal. A policy proposal on evaluation of the Kanyashree Scheme and Recognition of Domestic Work was duly drafted. Researchers at the Centre prepared and presented papers on "Groundwater Law &Policy: West Bengal's Legal Framework in Development Context", "Legal Schemes for Compensation for Victims of Communal Violence", "Right to Information Act: Socio-Legal Perspective" and "The Judiciary on Disability Law in India".
The Centre upon the directions of the State Government, initiated research on the functioning of Executive Magistrates in the state, their role in matters of law and order, preventive action, police accountability and administration of prosecution mechanism. The government required the Centre to indulge in doctrinal inter-state comparisons in this context, as to how Executive Magistrates have been functioning in other states in India to compare the situation in West Bengal. The Centre commenced this work with extensive doctrinal research on the subject; it later carried out a study in one subdivision of three districts: Bidhannagar in Kolkata, Kharagpore in Paschim Mednipore and Bolpur in Birbhum to trace and study the trend on the "Changing Role of Executive Magistrate in West Bengal" in terms of cases filed with the Sub divisional Executive Magistrates.
In pursuance of this study, the Centre is organising a workshop on the role of Executive Magistrates in West Bengal on 12th of March. Participants for this event include: retired judges, serving sub-divisional magistrates, police personnel, advocates and academicians. The Centre intends to come out with an elaborate report on the present functioning and modus operandi of the office of Executive Magistrate in West Bengal through the findings of doctrinal research based on the studies carried out in the districts, and the interactions of participants in the above mentioned workshop.
The Centre has organised a workshop on the Right to Information Act, 2005 on the 23rd February, 2016. This workshop aimed at enabling the common man, (i.e. those not skilled in law) with the power of navigating through the legislation and the modalities. Participants included persons from various background: NGO workers, government officials in the sales tax department, official from the airline industry and bank, to students of English (Hons), Sociology, Psychology, Architecture and Social Work. The workshop saw an overwhelming response, owing to the potential of the RTI Act which in itself can be wielded for different purposes. Resource persons for the workshop included noteworthy persons like, Ms. Gargi Ghosh, Associate Professor (Natural Disaster Management, Administrative Training Institute, Kolkata), Mr. Nandan Roy (Ex-Secretary Information Commissioner); Mr. Sujit Sarkar (Ex-State Chief Information Commissioner); Dr. Sairam Bhat (Associate Professor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore); and Mr. Saurabh Bhattacharya (Assistant Professor of Law, WBNUJS, Kolkata).
The Centre is also organizing another upcoming event on "Social Security Schemes in India" scheduled to be held on the 22nd of March, 2016. In this event, officials from the Labour Commission, Employees Provident Fund, and Employees State Insurance Scheme and other prominent academicians and researchers will be presenting their views and research papers pertaining to social security in the Indian context. Additionally the Centre has invited abstracts for paper presentations, and will be hosting close to 70 (seventy) participants at the Seminar.