Do tobacco control laws in India have any real impact on tobacco consumption and consumer behaviour? To what extent can the state be held responsible for increased tobacco consumption? The Indian state has tried to address both these questions by decreeing on choice and restricting consumption. However, one can’t be sure if it has had any tangible impact on production or consumption. Moreover, most of these laws affect and proscribe small retailers, utterly negligent of the big players that promote tobacco implicitly. In such a scenario, Harshita Jain questions if tobacco control laws in India are capable enough to be effective?
While necessary for access to law, personal laws in India simultaneously present a challenge to fundamental rights, often leading to injustice. Especially in cases where the right of one minority is pitted against the other. Kumar Aditya revisits the Constituent Assembly Debates and their conundrum over Uniform Civil Code and personal laws in India. Kumar follows from international conventions and treaties and presents a strong case for codifying personal laws in a way that’s voluntary and harmless to any religion.
Section 295A, a variant of blasphemy law in India, has been subjected to criticism for its vague definition. Moreover, its use in recent years has been more political than religious, often curbing freedom for artists and content creators. Now this abuse and its colonial shadow have extended to digital space. Sahil Panchal argues against Section 295A, reasoning how it’s a version of Blasphemy law in India. He also argues that the Section limits artistic freedom and is often dictated by political impulses.
Despite how consistent and common marital rape in India is, the idea of gender equality falls flat on its face when marital rape is given a subtle nudge from law, society and customs. The immunity to marital rape, too, like many other parts of the Indian code, is a British legacy, which can be traced back to the Jurist Mathew Hale, who laid the grounds for ‘marital immunity’. Aeshita Singh understands the recent Kerala High Court Judgment, which treats marital rape as a ground for divorce and then traces back to laws and social morality.
‘Tera Naam’, ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Ranjhana’ are a few examples of glorification of harassment in Bollywood movies. Most of these movies and their perspectives are marked by a patriarchal mindset and masculine lens, often romanticising the victim’s trauma as an act of ‘falling in love’. Tejaswi Shetty studies such performances of stalking and harassment potent in contributing to crime against women. She also understands the role of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and how they could be effective.
The legality of live-in relationships in India is quite muzzled. While there’s no legislation defining live-in relationships in India, the judiciary hasn’t been averse to the idea. So even though it’s pretty common now, no legal protections are extended to couples as the state does not legally recognise the relationship. The subject offers a conundrum for the couple and often act as an impediment to access social security. Alekhya Sattigeri writes about the legal status of live-in relationships in India, detailing the judiciary’s stance on the same.
Indian colonial and post-colonial legislation and society together tried to push sex workers in India outside the domain of the ‘normal’. Even after independence, the shadow of moral chastity reflected on the drafting and interpreting laws that continued to create exclusionary spaces for sex workers in India by further invisibilising them. From criminalisation to victimisation, Shivangi Banerjee describes the derogation of sex workers in India.
Recently, a series of tweets and Instagram stories made headlines as they alleged instances of sexual abuse in Chennai’s well-known school. These allegations raised several crucial questions, including how schools serve as breeding grounds for child sexual harassment and how teachers are often complicit as abusers by making sexual advances at students. Detailing the instances that followed an uproar on social media, Surabhi KC explains the sequence of events adding to the larger narrative of child sexual abuse in schools.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Words like misogyny, patriarchy, male dominance, sexism and many more are synonymous with gender inequality. No matter their weight, these words can never be exhaustive of a women’s experience with discrimination. The language of subordination is often controlled by masculine figures. In its place, we bring to you the language of resistance narrated by women in the courtrooms. In a survey conducted by Lawctopus and Academike, several women voiced their interactions with the law and society. By Sanya Arora and Sonali Chugh.
The recent pronouncement by the Supreme Court in Union of India v. K.A. Najeeb is being touted as a ray of justice for several accused arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Shivangi Banerjee analyses the judgement and highlights the implications it might have for future cases. She further elucidates the timeline of UAPA and narrates the story of its permanence.
State of North Carolina V. Marcus Robinson brought to light the impending racism within the process of Jury selection. Gaurav Puri and Raina Mahapatra analyse the role of the Racial Justice Act in Robinson’s hearing and how the effective legislation soon died down.
By Prerna Murarka, fourth-year law student, ILS Law College, Pune.