COVID-19 Vaccines in India: Judicial Blind Spots in upholding the Right to Health
- Kajal Bhardwaj and Veena Johari
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the intrinsic link between health and human rights and exposed the conflict between public health measures and individual rights and liberties. These conflicts are apparent in the context of COVID-19 vaccines as well. Vaccines were fast-tracked, given emergency approval and produced and distributed by a few manufacturers with the help of the government and multiple agencies, to control the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the lack of transparency in regulation, the formulation of arbitrary policies, unfair pricing, unequal procurement, restricted and discriminatory distribution, lack of informed consent and lack of accountability for adverse events following immunization (AEFI) also created conflicts and controversies, exacerbated inequities and violated the right to life and health. As people turned to the courts, the judiciary received appreciation for reiterating the recognition of the constitutional right to health and nudging the government’s vaccine policy in the right direction. However, a closer look at various aspects and questions before the courts reveals certain blind spots on the part of the judiciary in fully upholding the right to health. The article relies on key elements of the right to health, in particular the availability,
Socio-spatial Consequences of Disturbed Areas Act 1991 on Urbanizing Spaces in Gujarat
- Devansh Shrivastava
Segregation on ethnic lines has often manifested in various forms of exclusion and group in equality. The spatial manifestations of violence in globalizing spaces of ‘divided cities’ also exhibit rigid patterns of community based ‘self-sorting’. The communalization of public and private housing with regard to demography has been a significantly pronounced exclusionary crisis in Indian divided cities. This paper, an abridged version of my MPhil thesis, concerns such a unique case. It assesses the impact of Disturbed Areas Act 1991 (‘The Act’) on ghettoisation in Ahmedabad city against the background of mass violence. The paper thus concerns the dynamics of spatial segregation in cities of Gujarat around residential and commercial property disputes. It conducts a socio-legal examination of ten case laws (2002–2021) by responding to the literature on divided cities. It argues that informal zoning practices of community led self-sorting behavior at the ground level, coupled with the Act’s operation (and the demand for its extension as legal protection), disparately impact existing group inequalities pertaining to housing access, afford ability and individual residential mobility in urbanizing spaces.
Gender Data Gaps in Agriculture and Land Ownership: Uncovering the Blind Side of Policymaking
- Mahiya Shah and Soumya S
With the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, world leaders have pledged to gender equality by mainstreaming gender into national statistical strategies and prioritising data collection. This makes it evident that the role of data in society is enormous, despite its effects being seemingly invisible in plain sight. In a country like India, where more than half the population engages in the agricultural sector, most of whom are women, accurate data on gender inequality in land ownership is vital for gauging progress on women’s economic empowerment. Despite this, a glaring gender-data gap is visible concerning women in agriculture. Studies have not been able to assess the full extent of this gap, primarily because the current estimates based on national-level data sets can be limited or severely misleading. The limitations of currently available data are reflected in inconsistent datasets and policies that neglect the contribution of women on farms and deprive them of land rights, which in effect, ignores their unique position in society and the economy. This paper, while exploring the intersections of gender and religion, discusses the importance of bridging the gender-data gap in policymaking and the ill effects of the same not being done by examining the plight of the invisible female farmers in India. It also briefly looks into the missing data on land owned by women whilst exploring the complexities caused due to personal laws, which deprive them of basic rights meant to be available to titleholders.
Mandatory reporting is used as a tool for early identification of child abuse by countries around the world. However, there is variation in terms of the legislative models followed. The two models most commonly followed are universal mandatory reporting and stakeholder specific mandatory reporting. India and China joined the bandwagon and introduced legislation on mandatory reporting over a decade ago. While India has adopted the ambitious model of universal mandatory reporting, China has taken a more incremental and experimental approach with stakeholder-specific mandatory reporting. The paper aims to differentiate the legislative approaches taken by the two countries for introducing mandatory reporting for child abuse, by delving into the legislative history, legislative provisions, and implementation challenges for mandatory reporting in both jurisdictions. The paper does not comment on the sanctity of mandatory reporting, but is limited to a comparative analysis of the legislative strategies taken by India and China.
Stakeholder training has been considered essential to tackle the problem of poor engagement with child sexual abuse (‘CSA’) victims in the pre-trial and trial stages of the criminal process. Be it stakeholder attitudes and behaviour towards the CSA victims and the accused involved in CSA cases or stakeholders’ procedural practices, more and improved training has been repeatedly emphasised. It is, therefore, pivotal to investigate what kind of special training is imparted to stakeholders under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (‘POCSO’) Act, 2012, as well as the challenges and limitations to such training. Also important is to analyse and discuss what, if any, implications such training has on stakeholder engagement with child victims and on CSA cases. This article answers these questions by employing a qualitative empirical method and a new set of data – in-depth face-to-face interviews with 17 judicial officers (Judicial Magistrates & POCSO Special Judges) on their perceptions and experiences of special training to deal with POCSO cases, along with court observations, conducted during six months’ fieldwork (2019-2020) in India. The findings suggest that around half of these respondents received training on POCSO matters. Such training resulted in stakeholders, though not all, implementing the special POCSO procedures during pre-trial and trial stages. Through these findings, the article showcases that there are limitations to special training and to the law itself in its present form, given the infrastructural challenges that exist for these stakeholders and the socio-economic inequalities capturing both victims and accused in registered POCSO cases. Consequently, it aims to contribute to thinking through new ways on effective stakeholder training and of future directions of research, and argues that despite several limitations, the law remains a site of possibility to deliver improved experiences with the justice system to both CSA victims and accused.
Through this paper, I aim to understand how the notion of surveillance as it functions in state welfare contributes to the construction of transgender identity. By looking critically at welfare mechanisms not only as failures in proper implementation but also as inscribing technologies of security on bodies through surveillance techniques, I try to question the value of state legibility by focusing largely on its relation to the security apparatus. This security apparatus does not simply function through the law but through a host of institutions, particularly psychology and medicine, which allow the state to regulate and employ dominant understandings of gender and transgender selves in the governing processes. In doing so, I rely on transgender narratives of engagement with these fields. I reflect on how the state has dealt with the question of transgender persons more recently through an analysis of the third gender category in NALSA v Union of India, and its transposition to Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.