Majority of 2011 paper co-authored by criminal law committee member is plagiarised

11 July 2021

Several sections of a paper co-authored by Balraj Chauhan—a member of the home ministry’s Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws—are plagiarised. The paper, titled “Good Governance: Search for Accountability Mechanism,” was published in the Indian Journal of Public Administration in October 2011.

Chauhan was the vice chancellor of Dharmashastra National Law University in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur until mid-June this year. Chauhan’s co-author, Mridul Srivastava, is an assistant registrar at the Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University in Lucknow. The IJPA is a peer-reviewed journal of the Indian Institute of Public Administration, which describes itself as an autonomous academic institution. Chauhan and Srivastava’s paper is a little over 4,500 words long. Of these, at least 3,500 words had previously appeared in other publications, written by other authors, and only about a little over nine hundred words appear to be original.

The CRCL is a committee that the ministry of home affairs has constituted to review India’s criminal laws. On its website, the committee says that it “endeavours to recommend reforms” to India’s criminal laws “in a principled, effective, and efficient manner.” However, lawyers, activists and academics criticised the constitution of the committee for not being representative of the country, and not including members who are Dalits, Adivasis or from other marginalised communities.

Chauhan’s paper reproduces large sections of a 1999 paper by Ngaire Woods, an academic who was at the time a lecturer in international relations at Oxford University. Woods is presently the dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford. Her paper, titled “Good Governance in International Organizations,” was published in volume 5 of the journal “Global Governance” in its January–March 1999 issue. Chauhan’s paper uses entire sections from Woods’ paper without citing or crediting it.

In fact, Chauhan’s paper does not contain any citations in the body of the paper. However, Chauhan’s paper has a list at the end titled “A Select Reading,” which mentions another paper by Woods. Chauhan’s paper says: “The paper here draws on research completed for the Group of Twenty Four and published as Ngaire Woods, Governance in International Organizations: The Case for Reform in the Bretton Woods Institutions· in UNCTAD/Group of Twenty-Four, International Monetary and Financial Issues for the 1990s. Volume IX (Geneva; United Nations, 1998).” This sentence also appears to be copied exactly from a citation at the end of Woods’ 1999 paper, which referred to her own past work.

Amrita Singh is an editorial fellow at The Caravan.

Keywords: academia home ministry academics Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws