ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Curbs on Public Interest Litigation-UF Government s Evil Designs

Curbs on Public Interest Litigation UF Government's Evil Designs S P Sathe The reasons advanced for the UF government's proposed move to curb public interest litigation are altogether unconvincing. The real reason is the government's anxiety to reassure members of the Congress Party and the Janata Dal that the government will put an end to judicial activism which has been causing many of them much embarrassment. It is not the courts which will be the poorer if they are divested of the power to entertain public interest litigation, but the people of India.

Law and Women

Law and Women S P Sathe Subversive Sites: Feminist Engagements with Law in India by Ratna Kapur and Brenda Cossman; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1996; pp 352, Rs 200.

Human Rights Gender Dimension

S P Sathe Gender within the Human Rights Discourse by Veen Poonacha; RCWS Gender Series, SNDT Women's University. 1995: pp 184, Rs 65 or $ 6. THIS small monograph examines the relevance of the Human Rights Discourse to the non-European and particularly Indian experience and tries to put forward a paradigm of human rights which would be more universal.

Uniform Civil Code-Implications of Supreme Court Intervention

Implications of Supreme Court Intervention Different ethnic, religious and linguistic groups have different traditions and cultures and they are entitled to preserve them. Their personal laws are based on these traditions and cultures and therefore cannot be obliterated just for the sake of uniformity. A uniform law will have to accommodate such ritualistic diversities.

Notions of Justice

S P Sathe Law, Power and Justice by Vasudha Dhagamwar; Sage Publications, New DHAGAMWARs book recreates the environment of the early colonial period and the efforts of the colonial government to stabilise its rule over India. She gives a graphic description of how utilitarians like James Mill and Macaulay who accepted adult franchise in principle were opposed to a representative government for India; how they opposed colonisation in principle but justified Company rule in India. Mill was in favour of universal adult male suffrage (for men above 40) and against votes for women; on the other hand, Macaulay favoured votes for women but was against universal adult male suffrage (p 47). He favoured property qualifications. The author brings out the contradictions in the men who made law for British India during the initial years of colonial rule This book on legal history is unlike other books on this subject by Indian authors. Instead of giving a chronology of events or of the Governors-General, it lays bare, very subtly, the interaction between the English lawmakers and the Indian society and the English people's perception of India. What was good for England was not necessarily considered good for India and vice versa. Dhagamwar's book tells the story of how law was made essentially to subserve power resulting in the denial of justice to the disadvantaged Indians such as the staves, the lower castes and the women.

Religion - Politics Separation - Some Thoughts on Proposed Legislation

The two bills purporting to prevent abuse of religion for electoral purposes need not be rejected on the grounds on which they are being assailed by the BJP: However, the proposed constitutional amendment is superfluous and should be withdrawn. The amendments to the Representation of the People Act deserve support, subject to two changes.

Democracy and Judicial Review

S P Sathe Judicial and Constitutional Democracy in India by T R Andhyarujina, N M Tripathi, 1992; Rs 65. LEGITIMACY of judicial review in democratic polity has always been debated. Judicial review means power of the courts to decide the legality of the actions of the other organs of government. In England, where parliament is supreme, the courts have to be content with judicial review of the executive action whereas in the US and in India, where there are written constitutions, the courts have to undertake scrutiny of the legislative actions also. Judicial review is doubtless a counter-majoritarian device. It is justified on the ground that the courts exercising such power are enforcing the will of the permanent majority as against the temporary majority in the legislature. The permanent majority is supposed to have made the constitution. In fact, such counter-majoritarianism is implicit in a written constitution and more so if it contains guarantees of certain fundamental rights. Freedom of speech and expression is essentially a right to dissent and is an anti-majoritarian right. Therefore justice Jackson of the US Supreme Court had remarked that such rights do not depend upon any vote.' Andhyarujina in this lucid monograph observes that the Indian Supreme Court has transcended the legitimate bounds of such counter majoritarianism and has usurped power which ought to vest in the sovereign legislature. He has in mind the decision of the supreme court in Keshava- nand Bharati case2 where the court has held that the power of constitutional amendment given to parliament by Article 168 of the constitution could not extend 10 the destruction of its basic structure. Since what was the basic structure was not mentioned in the constitution, it became an inarticulate premise of the apex court. This decision, according to the author, vests in the court a power which is totally "inconsistent with constitutional democracy" (p 10).

Towards an Effective Human Rights Commission

Rights Commission S P Sathe A human rights commission will be of some consequence only if the government institutes much-needed reforms in the system of justice and administration. Without such reforms it will be a cosmetic outfit useful to the government for obtaining a favourable testimonial on human rights.

Supreme Court on Right to Education

Education S P Sathe While the Supreme Court, in its recent judgment in the Mohini Jain v Karnataka case, may be faulted on both doctrinal and practical grounds for its use of article 21 of the Constitution for articulating the right to education, its indictment of the capitation fee system has not come a day too soon.

Article 370 Constitutional Obligations and Compulsions

and Compulsions S P Sathe The prime minister has done well to assure the house that the government would not repeal Article 370. This is not, however, merely a matter of the goodwill of any government in power The Constitution of India does not allow any government to unilaterally abrogate Article 370. Such a move requires the concurrence of the state government.

Elusive Pursuit of Equality

Elusive Pursuit of Equality S P Sathe Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India by Marc Galanter; Oxford University Press, MARC GALANTER's "Competing Equalities'' is a treatise overseeing our efforts to improve the lot of the most handicapped groups, untouchables and tribals, through the policy of compensatory discrimination. This book is the result of his long painstaking research conducted over almost two decades. In India, we have been using a unique method for ameliorating the lot of our most depressed sections with a view to enabling them to compete with others. India could not have provided equality in an essentially unequal society except by discriminating in favour of those who had been the victims of social structure. This is sought to be achieved by using a three-pronged strategy: (1) by providing extra facilities such as freeships or scholarships for education, relaxation from age restrictions in respect of employment, interest-free or low interest loans, cheap housing, etc; (2) providing reservation of seats in legislatures and educational institutions or of jobs in government service; and (3) provisions for special protection against practices such as un- touchability, bonded labour or transfers of lands by tribals due to ignorance and poverty. Galanter's book mainly deals with the second of these three approaches.

HUMAN RIGHTS-Electric Shocks to Prisoners

Electric Shocks to Prisoners S P Sathe ON March 29, information was received by advocate Ajay Adhiya from some undertrial prisoners that some prison inmates were being subjected to electric shocks by way of torture by the Yeravada Central Jail authorities, Pune. These prisoners were picked up for alleged and imaginary acts of disobedience and admitted to Ward No 2 of the Hospital Yard within the precincts of the jail itself. They were then taken into a room next to the jail doctors' room in the hospital yard where a machine used for that purpose was kept. They were forcibly injected with some drug and then subjected to high voltage electricity current passed through a band affixed around the forehead and the temple, These convicts screamed for mercy. On falling unconscious they were taken to Ward No 2 of the Hospital Yard, They were subjected to such torture repeatedly.

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