Socio-Legal Review (SLR) is a bi-annual, open access, student-edited, peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal run by the students of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and published by the Eastern Book Company (EBC). With respect to our mandate, we subscribe to an expansive view on the interpretation of “law and society” in South Asia, inviting articles with a perceived link between law and social sciences. First published in 2005 with the help of a grant from the Modern Law Review, SLR has carried articles by luminaries in the legal and social fields, including Roger Cotterrell, W.T. Murphy, Werner Menski, Asghar Ali Engineer, Pratiksha Baxi and Gina Heathcote.
SLR has also been cited by the Supreme Court of India multiple times. The article ‘Identity and Identification: The Individual in the Time of Networked Governance,’ Nishant Shah, Vol. 11(2) Socio-Legal Review, (2015) has been cited in Justice Chandrachud’s dissent in Justice KS Puttaswamy and Anr v. Union of India and Ors (2018). SLR has also been cited by Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Chandrachud in their respective opinions in Joseph Shine v. Union of India (2018). The article cited is ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Adulterous: Criminal Law and Adultery in India’, Abhinav Sekri, Vol. 10(1) Socio-Legal Review, (2014).
Shruti Vidyasagar and Shruthi Naik
Dispute resolution in India involves several actors and institutions – not only courts but also various other forums for alternative means of dispute resolution. While the judiciary is the sole authority responsible for redressing rights’ violations, the problems plaguing the judicial system contribute significantly to parties opting to settle disputes out of court. In this paper, we examine the functioning of some non-court forums, with a special focus on the question of women’s rights, autonomy, and agency in dispute resolution processes. We ask whether the working of such non-court forums is in consonance with the values of the Indian Constitution, especially the rule of law. In the context of women’s rights, we ask whether these forums take a legally neutral or gendered approach, and whether they speak they give primacy to rights or prioritise community and conciliation. To find answers, we analyse data from surveys and interviews undertaken by DAKSH to review the attitudes and approaches of such noncourt forums. We argue that valorising non-court forums as ‘quick, flexible, and effective’ while disregarding their subjectivity, arbitrariness, and lack of accountability – both to the individuals who approach them and to the society in which they function – amounts to a betrayal of constitutional values. We also argue that while all citizens, women included, must have the autonomy to choose any forum to resolve their disputes, that choice must not be governed by tradition, nor be influenced by lack of awareness of rights, or worse, failure of the state in ensuring speedy and effective dispute resolution.
Depending on one’s point of view, the Hadiya case caught the national imagination for being a shocking example of “love jihad” or a horrifying instance of the growing criminalisation of desire. Since the latter view is informed by the former, this essay looks at the ways in which the nexus of patriarchy, nationalism, and sexual phobia has built up in India over the centuries, beginning with the laws promulgated under British rule. The emphasis on “personal laws” separable by religious community, the very creation of a religious community as a singular entity, the inexorable march towards a religiously-inflected nationalism, have all gone hand in hand with increasing legal and social control over women’s bodies and queer desires. A public investment in muscular masculinity requires laws and judgments to support its agenda, and the Hadiya case takes its place in a long line of such examples of legal capitulations. Even the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Kerala High Court judgment depended on gendered and nationalistic assumptions that were every bit as regressive as what was being overturned. The law in both cases seemed unable to accommodate non-heteronormative desire except in the register of terror. Desire in the Hadiya case became terrorising and anti-national because it refused to adhere by commonplace notions of how women should behave. This essay is an account of that legal attitude to women’s desire.
This article presents a close reading of several Public Interest Litigation (‘PIL’) petitions before the Indian Supreme Court since the 1980s, analysing how the figure of the worker suffering from silicosis, an occupational lung disease, has been constructed in judicial discourse. I trace the shifts in the vocabulary of law which variously constructed informal workers, exposed to dust in the workplace – first, as a community facing forced working conditions; then, as residents suffering air pollution; and finally, as victims of a human rights violation that the state was bound to compensate. This paper builds on and contributes to existing critical scholarship on PIL in India, and demonstrates how the Supreme Court has been subject to varying pressures in its decision-making, issuing a confusing range of orders as a result. I show that these cases represent an important but contested site of claim-making. Through these cases, this article emphasizes that we can discern the outlines of a broader trajectory in India – where state responsibility for informal workers has been negotiated with the identification of informal labour’s interests with the public interest. I also suggest that the route these cases have taken might offer us reason to be sceptical of the promise of the ‘public interest’ for informal workers in India.
Rangin Pallav Tripathy
The Supreme Court collegium in India, which is the determining authority for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, has often been derided for its secretive functioning and opaque practices. This paper provides an empirical assessment of the collegium’s commitment to transparency through an examination of its published resolutions. A study of all the published resolutions, over a period of more than three years, shows that the practice of information disclosure by the collegium cannot be attributed with the value of transparency. The collegium has systematically failed to disclose critical information essential to an enhanced understanding of its functioning. An overwhelming majority of its decisions are not reasoned. The resolutions fail to provide a meaningful understanding of the considerations, based on which candidates are selected or rejected. While the step taken to publish the resolutions was in the right direction, the collegium has reneged on its declared objective of promoting transparency
Board of Advisors
H. Rajan Sharma
Fiona A. Kumari Campbell
Srobona Ghosh Dastidar
Deputy Chief Editor
Arun K. Thiruvengadam
There is a small but growing tribe of legal journalists who have authored book-length works relating to aspects of the legal system in India. The book under review is authored by Sudanshu Ranjan, a veteran journalist with a career spanning several decades. This is his second book on the Indian judiciary. In this review, I provide an overview of the book and its principal themes and argument, before concluding with an assessment of its virtues and weaknesses.