ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Defecting from the Law

The impunity with which legislators in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have ignored the anti-defection law points to certain weaknesses in the processes and norms laid down in it. What is required to remedy this, however, is not just a minor tweak, but a complete overhaul of the way the law works to adequately address the problem of defections by sitting legislators before it overwhelms India’s democracy.

The Crisis in the Judiciary

Having sentenced JusticeC S Karnan to imprisonment for criminal contempt of court, the Supreme Court cannot afford to drift back into complacency about the judiciary’s troubles. The systemic problems with judicial appointment and accountability become obvious when we examine other instances of misbehaviour by judges thathave wrecked damage to the judiciary’s credibility.

Are People Losing Faith inthe Courts?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no litigation explosion. The data from the courts themselves suggests that fewer civil cases are being filed while criminal cases have been steadily increasing. This suggests that litigants are approaching the courts in fewer numbers, and may be resortingto other methods to resolve disputes. It may also be possible that the increase in criminal litigation could be attributed to the use of criminal law to resolve civil disputes.

‘Right to be Forgotten’ in Indian Law

courts have yet not recognised the “right to be forgotten” under Indian law. However, there are good reasons to have one’s name dissociated from public records in the interests of privacy and similar concerns, as has been done in the context of victims of sexual assault. It is not an overarching right that should necessarily be available to all irrespective of context. In the absence of any privacy legislation, it is more likely to be a judicially developed remedy in specifi c cases.

Surrogacy and the Laws on Maternity Benefits

Five high courts across India have uniformly held that women employees who have children through surrogacy would be entitled to maternity benefits in accordance with the rules. How they have arrived at this conclusion is quite different in each case, and each judgment presents different approaches to address this legal question. Beyond the legal question, the approaches must also be closely examined for class biases and paternalistic assumptions about motherhood.

Debating Contempt of Court

By issuing a contempt notice to Justice Markandey Katju for his over-the-top criticism of its judgment, in the manner that it did, the Supreme Court has only diminished its institutional dignity. While Katju’s behaviour post retirement is not in keeping with the nature of the office he held, the contempt jurisdiction was not meant to be used like this.

Revisiting the Rationale for Reservations

The demand for reservations in jobs and education being made by agitating "middle castes" overturns the logic of affirmative action on its head. Instead of addressing historic discrimination, it is articulated as a means to "capture" public employment and education to maintain caste hierarchies. Accepting these demands, as the high courts have held, would be unconstitutional, but that will not stop governments from trying.

Supreme Court's Schizophrenic Approach to Land Acquisition

The Supreme Court's judgment in the Singur land acquisition case reflects two parallel strands of thinking that have informed its land acquisition jurisprudence: the state's model of "development" versus farmers' livelihoods. It has not been able to properly weave the two into a coherent jurisprudence on eminent domain. The same dichotomy is written into the latest land acquisition laws as well, but procedural protections may mean fewer Singur-like situations in the future.

Goods and Services Tax

While the union government repeatedly emphasises its commitment to “cooperative federalism,” its role in the destabilisation of, and interference in, opposition-ruled governments in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi suggests otherwise. Apart from these specific instances, the structure of the recently approved Goods and Services Tax Council, far from promoting cooperative federalism, also seems to create the institutional basis for further control of state governments by the union, especially in matters relating to states’ fiscal policies.

Securing Women's Right to Free Speech on Social Media

Given the abusive behaviour, harassment and stalking women face from men on the internet, there is a need to take appropriate measures to address this. While the laws criminalise such behaviour, there is a need to put in place adequate mechanisms to ensure that women's concerns are addressed quickly and effectively. The proposed "cyber cell," though very limited at the moment, can become an effective tool if envisioned with a focus on enforcement.

Uniform Civil Code: A Heedless Quest?

The necessity or otherwise of a uniform civil code cannot be debated in the absence of a coherent conception of what the UCC will be and what it will do. Although it has urged the government to enact one, the Supreme Court's own judgments reveal the hollowness in its understanding of the UCC. Perhaps, uniformity itself is no answer to the myriad problems of religion-based personal laws.

Social Boycott Act

The Maharashtra law prohibiting social boycotts is a progressive one, protecting people from social hierarchies that are trying to punish them for transgressing regressive social mores. Since an earlier law outlawing excommunication was struck down by the Supreme Court for infringing the right of religious denominations to manage their own affairs, the constitutional validity of the social boycott law raises questions which this article tries to answer.

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