by Arundhati Satkalmi, Reference and Documents Research Librarian - St. John's University, Rittenberg Law Library
The recent advances in communication and information exchange technology have manifested themselves in globalization. This phenomenon has encouraged many businesses from the United States to take advantage of the skilled workforce and low costs of doing business in other parts of the world. India is one such country, where businesses are either shifting part of their operations or starting new operations. However, before deciding to outsource, prudence demands a thorough analysis of political and legal structure of that part of the world. Even after making the decision to outsource, continuous monitoring of the events in India becomes imperative to ensure survival and success of the endeavor. IndLaw, which started in 1997, is a unique resource for this purpose as it integrates case law, legislation, regulations, and news in a single product. Accessible at www.indlaw.com, IndLaw prides itself on providing up-to-date information about legal and political events and their repercussions as reflected through the media. Just a click on the URL takes users to a screen where IndLaw Updates occupy the center of the screen and provide updates about Judgments; Acts and Rules; Notifications, Circulars and Trade Notices; and Reports. Features such as IndLaw Modules, which facilitates searching by legal topics; Search by Category, which facilitates searching by type of the document; IndLaw Resources, Industry Updates, Policy Updates, and login and password appear in peripheral positions. This brief article, therefore, will describe the heading and categories at the center of the screen first, then continue by describing the heading at the 2 o'clock position, and then proceed clockwise along the periphery and describe other prominent aspects of this unique tool.
This heading at the center of the screen is divided into four categories. Judgments, which is the first category, offers information about a couple of recent decisions of the courts and tribunals along with an option to retrieve more decisions simply by clicking on "more". The decisions are listed in reverse chronological sequence. Within the reverse chronological sequence, decisions of the Supreme Court of India, if available, top the list and are followed by the decisions of High Courts and tribunals. Besides the names of the parties, and dates of the decisions, the information includes name of the court, legal issue, and applicable law. Subscribers can access full text while non subscribers have an option to purchase the decision(s) of their interest. The full text of a decision contains -- among other elements -- comparative citations (parallel cites), cases referred to with hyperlinks to the full texts of the decisions, cases followed up (recent cases referring to the retrieved case), case numbers, names of the lawyers, and names of the judges. Judges' names are hyperlinked, which brings biographical information on the judges within easy reach of researchers.
The Acts and Rules category shows a combined list of approximately four recent legislations or rules. The list begins with the most recent Act or Rule. The reverse chronological sequence of the listed items become apparent after clicking on "more" as the list displays additional acts or rules and dates. Full texts of these items appear to be accessible to non subscribers as well.
Similarly, Notifications, Circulars & Trade Notices display four most recent items. Each item displays a line or two of description and relevant documentation numbers, along with the date on which the document was issued. A click on "more" brings up a list of additional documents, and enhances the utility of the information by dividing it into categories such as Income Tax, Corporate Law, Customs, Excise, Sales Tax, Environment, RBI (Reserve Bank of India), FEMA, SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), Director General of Foreign Trade, Service Tax, and Consumer. Non subscribers can also retrieve these documents in their entirety.
Reports, which is the last of the four categories, lists the titles and dates of a couple of recent reports. And as was the case in the preceding categories, "more" reports are just a click away. At the time of writing this article, Consultation Paper on Issues pertaining to Next Generation Networks and Consultation Paper on Differential Tariffs for On-Network Calls were the two reports listed and both were published in January of 2006. Full texts of these reports were accessible to non subscribers also.
All four categories of IndLaw Updates provide a hyperlink at the bottom of the list retrieved by requesting "more" documents and facilitate searching within the relevant category. The basic searching template offers Boolean and phrase searching capability and an option to perform an advance search is available.
This heading appears just above the IndLaw Updates heading and offers the capability to research more than 15 topics of law such as Arbitration, Articles & Reviews, Banking Law, Company Law Online, Consumer Protection, Crimes, Employment Law, Human Rights, Income Tax, India Laws, Indirect Tax, Intellectual Property, SC (Supreme Court), Judgments, Sales Tax, and Trade Law Online. These categories follow a general pattern and provide recent news, judgments, acts and rules, notifications, and reports in the stated sequence. However, some deviation from this pattern is observed. For example, the Consumer Law topic provides an additional category of Practice Directions and Forms while the Human Rights topic enables searching for reports relating to a few prominent human rights treaties. Other deviations from this general pattern are the absence of updates on Acts and Rules under the topic of SC Judgments and the absence of updates about Judgments under the topic of India Law.
SEARCH BY CATEGORY
This heading appears in a column with a grey background on the right-hand side of IndLaw Updates and IndLaw Modules. It facilitates searching by offering close to 20 types of documents: Case Law, Legislations, Rules, Bills & Ordinances, Notifications, Circulars, Trade Notices, Press Notes, Treaties, Practice Directions, Forms, Reports & Policies, IndLaw Articles, Press Releases, News, Citation, Industry/Sector, Law, and State. As a librarian working in the United States, I found searching three types of documents particularly useful. First, Forms, which provides the capability to search, retrieve, and download various kinds of forms. For example, one can search for court forms, tax forms, and license forms and download the results in PDF format with ease. Secondly, Treaties, which provides the ability to search treaties between India and other nations where the United States may not be a party. Non subscribers can search and retrieve titles of the treaties while the subscribers can access the texts of these treaties. Lastly, Practice Directions, offers helpful guidelines for legal professionals and acquaints them with the proper rules and procedures. Moreover, IndLaw offers Combination Search capability which allows the searcher to combine any of the aforementioned types of documents searches.
This heading appears in a column with a pinkish background on the left side of IndLaw Updates and IndLaw Modules. FAQs on Law is a good resource for anyone who is unfamiliar with Indian law. It is divided into two categories: Business and General. The category of Business informs about various company issues, Foreign Direct Investment, Intellectual Property Laws, and Trade Laws. Information about Criminal Law, Family Law, and other miscellaneous laws is available under the General category. This category also offers a good overview of the Indian legal landscape under the subcategory of The Legal System. It educates the user about the qualifications, duties and responsibilities of an Advocate as well as the place of the 18 High Courts within the consitutional system of the country. This subcategory also talks about the availability and criteria for receiving legal aid. Furthermore, it provides information about the composition and functioning of the Ministry of Law and Justice and also about the Public Interest Litigation. In addition, it provides a good overview of the sources of Indian law and presents an informative portrait of the history and workings of the Supreme Court.
IndLaw Resources also provides links to valuable resources such as the Court Calendar, and Court Lists of the Supreme Court as well as High Courts. The information can be viewed for any specific day or week or can be accessed by case number, court, name of the judge or lawyer, or by the name of either party. Links to other resources such as the Budget of the Nation for the current and a few previous years; Foreign Trade Policy of India; Economic Survey for approximately five recent years; the recent Export Import Policy, and Monetary Policy play a valuable role in presenting a well-rounded and comprehensive product. In addition, IndLaw allows the subscribers as well as non subscribers to request a free electronic copy of their Newsletter which provides valuable updates. You can customize the delivery of the Newsletter on daily, weekly, or monthly basis and the contents can be tailored to incorporate your area(s) of interest.
This heading, which appears just below IndLaw Resources, offers a solution for accessing information relevant to a particular industry. Potential outsourcers can assess the legal, political, and business environment for their line of operation. Information available through IndLaw can be divided into more than 45 lines of business. The retrieved information follows the usual pattern of news, Judgments, Act and Rules, Notifications and Circulars, and reports. However, all categories may not be present in each industry type. Of course, the capability to perform basic and advanced searches is available within each industry.
More than 20 policy groups are recognized under this heading which appears just below the Industry Updates heading. Again, the information follows the same basic pattern of information described previously and, as in any other category, customized searches can be conducted within each policy group.
The Subscriber Login window is located in the top left hand corner. However, a guest login is sufficient to navigate and understand IndLaw. If you find a document that you want to purchase, it is possible to do so without subscription by paying a reasonable per document charge. For those who want to experiment with the "real product", IndLaw offers a trial password.
I obtained a trial password through NELLCO (New England Law Library Consortium) for the purpose of writing this article. IndLaw offers several affordable subscription plans and the website can provide pertinent details. It will definitely make a good addition to your foreign law resources.