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What’s law got to do with justice?

By Oishik Sircar & Saptarshi Mandal

There are two perceptions of law and justice: One is of law delivering justice, the other is law as justice. The state, in legislative overdrive, wants us to believe that more laws equals more rights equals more justice. In fact, there are widening fissures between law and justice. Identifying these fissures could help us mend them for better access to and delivery of justice

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The new avatar of the judiciary

By Rakesh Shukla

Public interest litigation started out as a way to make justice and fundamental rights accessible to the exploited and oppressed. There was a time when the higher judiciary would provide relief from the arbitrary actions of the executive, such as slum demolitions. Now the tables have turned and it is the courts that are ordering slum demolitions!

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Inequality before the law

By Garga Chatterjee

In a tribal state, and at a police station set up to redress atrocities against scheduled castes and tribes, a glimpse of the indifference, brutality and convenient roadblocks encountered by the marginalised looking for a modicum of justice

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Invisibilising mass violence in Gujarat

By Anita Abraham

International law mandates the prosecution and punishment of all perpetrators of mass crimes, including heads of state and other leaders. But India has not defined state criminality in mass atrocities in its jurisprudence, making it difficult to address situations such as Gujarat in 2002

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Citizen power or media power?

By Maya Indira Ganesh & Gayatri Ganesh

TV news media campaigns such as those for Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo appear to be shaping and giving voice to public opinion. But is this democracy in action or a sensationalist, manipulative drama to raise ratings? Is it more about media power than citizen power?

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Accessing justice in times of terror

By Mayur Suresh

Knowing the law is different from experiencing it. Experience tells you that sometimes the problem is not that people have no access to justice, but that ‘justice’ has too much access to them. These people include tribals accused of waging war against the state, Muslims accused of sedition, and slum-dwellers who have encroached on public lands

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Impunity in the name of war against terror

By Manisha Sethi

When and how did the purveyors of illegal execution gain the respectable title of ‘encounter specialists’? Terrorism is redefining our criminal justice system. It produces a sense of emergency, calling for the loosening of ethical compunctions, weakening established conventions of legal procedure, and fetishising encounters as legitimate means of disbursing justice

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Afzal Guru case: Justice ended up the loser

By Saurav Datta

In the Afzal Guru case the legal community, swayed by misconceived perceptions of patriotism, demonstrated its abject failure to adhere to its core ethics. The judiciary was carried away by bloodlust. And the state, paranoid about ‘terrorism’, was cavalier in its interpretation of effective legal aid to the accused. Did Afzal Guru have any meaningful access to justice?

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Multiplicity of human rights institutions

By Swagata Raha

The proliferation of HRIs to inquire into human rights, women and child rights, minority rights and SC/ST rights has not translated into better protection of human rights as the state machinery remains largely indifferent to them. Is it time to look at the possibility of a merged institution?

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How to file a PIL

By Shambo Nandy

PILs have become a powerful tool of empowerment and access to justice for the common man, and a major grievance redressal mechanism for many unheard voices in the country. When and how should a PIL be filed?

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Meeting the law halfway

By Abha Singhal Joshi

Most people dismiss the law as tangled, futile, expensive and biased. But legal literacy trainings can help citizens negotiate the legal system and restore their faith in justice

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Is this reformatory justice?

By Geeta Sajjanshetty

The Juvenile Justice Act requires a child-friendly approach in investigating and adjudicating cases of children in conflict with the law. The idea is to give these children access to reformative and restorative justice. This article reveals what juvenile offenders and their families really come up against

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Undermining the domestic violence law

By Jayna Kothari

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 aims to provide women with quick decisions on protection, residence, maintenance and child custody. This is an account of how the best intentions of the law are thwarted in the process of implementation

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Maintenance as an entitlement

By Pooja Badarinath

The right to ‘maintenance’ acknowledges the woman’s non-economic contribution to the family. In patriarchal India, however, this right ends up being linked to the real or perceived ‘sexual purity’ of a woman. Also, it is usually available only to middle class and elite women. How can this civil right be made meaningful for all women?

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The supportive role of women’s organisations

By Rukmini Sen

In most situations, in spite of legal provisions being in place, women cannot access the courts by themselves. They need the help of support groups. Women’s organisations become that support, helping the victim become a survivor

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Commissions of compromise

By Sonal Makhija

Women’s commissions were set up at central and state levels to monitor violations against women, recommend policies and legislation and take up cases related to collective justice. But in Karnataka at least, the commission seems to be handling marital and other private disputes

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Disabled women and sexual violence

By Shampa Sengupta & Saptarshi Mandal

What difficulties do disabled women face in accessing the legal system and navigating the trial process? And what are the consequences for them of making sexual assault gender-neutral for perpetrator and victim?

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Policing hijras

By Siddharth Narrain

In the wake of several positive developments for transgender communities in Karnataka came 36A, a startling amendment to the state Police Act aimed at controlling the ‘objectionable activities’ of ‘eunuchs’. The new rule relegates hijras to second-class citizens, vulnerable to police harassment and surveillance

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