Journalist Siddique Kappan case recently reignited after his video asserting his belief in the Indian Constitution and Judiciary went viral. Siddiquie Kappan got arrested while he was on his way to report the Hathras rape case in Uttar Pradesh. He is among many small and independent journalists who are wrongfully incarcerated under draconian laws like the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act and sedition. The latter is, in fact, a colonial leftover.
Both these laws reverse the burden of proof and are worded to warrant human rights violations. Shubhra Agarwal, a Lawctopus Writers Club member, breaks down the case with its timeline. She also explains how the case defies legal protections, abusing excessive state power to silence voices of dissent.
Bhasha Singh, in her book, writes a telling account of manual scavenging in India, and it stands relevant even today. She details the stories from across India and is writing with deep anguish and pain. Her words are moving, and so are the real-life narratives of manual scavengers. Although her book was published in 2014, a lot from it still stands true. Singh’s book also exposes the government’s unwillingness and the court’s casteist streak. Dhruv Soni reviews the book, highlighting the best aspects and drawing some of its limitations.
On June 7, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court wrote a progressive judgment, setting new precedents for all cases that deal with LGBTQIA+ persons’ rights. The judgment is deemed exceptional for several reasons, but one of the many is his attempt to understand the processes he seeks to undo. Justice N. Venkatesh, through his actions, attempts to fully realise what it means to be queer in a heteronormative society. Vershika Sharma explains how Justice N. Venkatesh made an effort to overcome his biases to understand same-sex relationships. She argues that the same shifts how we see transformative constitutionalism. She argues that this movement is a progression from Navtej Johar judgment in implying the concept of ‘transformative constitutionalism’.
In the past two months, the electoral violence in West Bengal stepped beyond its usual timeline. The expanse of such violence is considered commonplace in West Bengal. The history of violence in West Bengal had far-reaching implications on the politics of the State. Once justified in the name of revolution and upheaval, the violence has acquired a looming permanence in the State. Jaibatruka Mohanta presents a nuanced reading of the incidents of violence that followed election results in West Bengal, meeting it halfway with an analysis of the historical events that lead to the present scenario.
Custodial deaths in India saw a surge in 2020, even when most of India was under a lockdown. These deaths cannot be seen linearly without drawing back to the sites of injustice. The increase shows that an inquiry is needed to understand how the protector of the state trespasses the bounds of the law, destroying the last bit of human rights. Such overstepping is often celebrated in commercial movies, and therefore often abuse of power becomes an acceptable norm in reality. Lavanya Gupta and Teesha write about the state of custodial deaths in India. Speaking from the two cases that got some media coverage owing to their brutality, they explain how impunity works for the police in India. And how legal documents like FIR, case files, chargesheet and memos expose the state’s criminalisation.
From 2001 to Pride month 2021, it’s only unfortunate that we bring you an article on ‘conversion therapy’, a brutal practice that continues to be in force in the country and worldwide. Deepanshi Mehrotra uncovers the history of conversion therapy and its abuses on LGBTQIA+ persons. Needless to say, the only thing abnormal about homosexuality is its unacceptance in Indian society.
Since its inclusion, first, under rule 49-o of Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, and again as a symbolic implementation in 2013, NOTA was idealised as a powerful tool to exercise the right to reject. Overestimating its potential, the Supreme Court in its NOTA judgment became too short-sighted. While the top Court included NOTA as a working option, it simultaneously made NOTA vote incompetent. Disha Pathak details the inefficacy of NOTA and its limited potential to bring any real transformation.
Recently, the Supreme Court struck down the claim to Maratha reservation, citing that the reservation ceiling in a state cannot exceed 50 per cent. The Apex Court stated that neither there were extraordinary circumstances to grant Maratha reservation nor the states had the power to decide Socially and Educationally Backward Classes. Aeshita Singh explains the nitty-gritty of the Maratha reservation judgment, citing its faultlines and implications.
Ambedkar invoked the phrase ‘constitutional morality’ during the Constitutional Assembly Debates to express his doubts regarding the legislature. His concerns were hinged upon a moment of transition, wherein India was still recuperating from partition and the colonial ideas of subordination. Years after his invocation, the Supreme Court in 2014 once again mentioned the principle of constitutional morality. Since then, the principle has only developed as the innate voice of the constitution, one that is different from popular or social morality. Nishant Mishra details the history and significance of constitutional morality, highlighting some concerns regarding the irregularity in its implementation.
The increased incidents of violence against healthcare professionals pose extreme consequences upon the overall healthcare system. Though violence against doctors and medical staff is not exclusive to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has only garnered media now. The government, for the longest time, didn’t promulgate focus laws to deal with such violence. But the Epidemic Diseases Act amended last year provides for some respite, although it is draconian in its own way. Gunjan Bahety analyses existing judicial pronouncements and legislation, suggesting adequate changes. She also presses for a balanced law that protects healthcare professionals without impinging on other’s right to legal recourse.
The right to be forgotten is often assumed to infringe upon the freedom of expression. As far as its interpretation goes, the courts have been subjective and often inconsistent in their decision making. The Google Spain case (2014) is touted as one reason why the tiff between the two rights intensified. Chandreyee Maitra analyses the Google Spain case, explaining why it created tension between freedom of expression and the right to be forgotten in the first place. Maitra shows how the Google Spain case affected European jurisprudence vis-a-vis the right to be forgotten.
Article 13 reserve and preserve the fundamental rights of the citizen, protecting from laws that may otherwise infringe upon our freedom. Article 13 requires that all amendments and laws passed by the Parliament are tested based on their validity under the Indian Constitution. Highlighting the transformative character of the Constitution, Anamika Mishra decodes Article 13, peeling it Clause by Clause. The underlying theme of the article also reflects on judicial review and its effect on interpreting Article 13.
There is an undeniable synergy between media, democratic ideals, and the judiciary. Although media is assumed to restore democracy, in reality, it is far from doing its job. In the article, Mayannk Sharma explains the linkages between a well-functioning democracy and vigilant media. He highlights how media has failed to do its job since it’s too obsessed with improving television ratings. The same has led to media trials, which have further cast a shadow on the ‘actual’ trial.
While the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 garnered praise, abortion in India is still a question of morality concerning many religions. Even though India promulgated the Medical Termination Act in 1971, it was fraught with issues that were left unaddressed. Is the amendment successful in undoing the fallacies of the principal Act? What has been the role of the Indian Judiciary in this respect? Rujuta Joshi writes about the history of legalising abortion in India. She moves from the making of the MTP Act 1971 to the promulgation of MTP (Amendment) ACT 2021.
She also discusses the role of the Indian Judiciary, society and several administrative issues, which kept India from realising a woman’s choice and agency over her own body.
On November 4, 2020, the Government had promulgated the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance. Earlier this year in March it repealed the ordinance and replaced the same with Arbitration Conciliation Act’21. It is discerned in the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ of the Amendment that these changes are made to eradicate corruption. Rajrishi Ramaswamy decodes the 2021 amendment and compares their need in light of the Arbitration Act and previous amendments.
At the onset of May, the Supreme Court ordered the release of prisoners due to the second wave of COVID-19. Only last year the court had order states to establish a High Powered Committee to ensure decongestion of prisons. But with a slump in cases, many high courts across India ordered prisoners to surrender and return. Despite the surge in cases, the infirm condition of Indian prisons such as overcrowding and poor medical facilities continues to be a norm. Can the latest order by the Apex Court bring about any substantial change in prisons?
Earlier in April this year, the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet passaged Indian waters, accusing India of ‘excessive maritime claims’. Despite the presence of UNCLOS, the United States tends to present itself as the high cop. Ankita Ravikumar dives deep into the conflict, the role of UNCLOS and the reasons for repeated interventions by the U.S.
Three staples for constructing detention centres in India include law, state and ‘illegal migrants’. These, along with bricks, cement and mortar, build suffocated cubicles, cramped by many who fail to prove their citizenship. In trying to establish their linkages with the state and in prooving bloodlines on paper, many succumbed to legal and administrative machinery.
Deepanshi Mehrotra tells the story of violations and confinement and an increasing number of detention centres in India despite COVID-19.
During the second wave of COVID-19 in India, we are witnessing more than just the government’s failure. We are witnessing apathy; we are witnessing black marketing and hoarding of essential medical supplies. Despite the urgent demand for oxygen and life-saving drugs, India is choking under the weight of bureaucracy and sluggish governance. Jaibatruka Mohanta details the despair of the desperate and the pitiful state of India.
Even after Section 377 was decriminalised in India, homosexuality continues to be a taboo subject. And the LGBTQIA+ community continues to face social ostracization, one that is offered from within and outside the family. The present commentary by Disha Pathak briefly discusses society’s obsolete lens on homosexuality and the judiciaries’ own flaws in realising the 2018 Judgement.