Law, Justice and Human Rights in India: Short Reflections
Kalpana Kannabiran
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Law, Justice and Human Rights in India is a collection of short essays on a range of contemporary issues—prisoners’ rights, campus violence, women’s rights, state impunity, judicial accountability, citizen engagement in law-making, and questions of discrimination against Dalits, Adivasis, persons with disabilities, and sexual and religious minorities.

Framed by the Constitution of India, the chapters provide a sense of the times we are living through, with each essay addressing an urgent debate that has arisen at a particular moment in India’s contemporary history. Kalpana Kannabiran brings her formal training in law, sociology and gender studies, and her work as a feminist socio-legal counsellor with a women’s collective, into her essays, allowing them to open up alternative spaces for dialogue and public discourse on dissent. Reflecting upon issues of social justice and human rights, she offers insights into the Constitution and law, moving these out of the sacred, unreachable precincts of constitutional courts and into the realities of everyday life.

This volume presents an account of the making and unmaking of laws through resistance struggles and movements, encouraging readers to engage with the language, protocols and practices of legislations.

The continuing relevance of the concerns raised in this collection and its level critique of power and dominance will interest anyone who wishes to trace the development of human rights debates in India over the past two decades.

Kalpana Kannabiran is an independent researcher with a specialisation in critical gender studies, law and society, and sociology. She is co-founder of Asmita Resource Centre for Women, Hyderabad. She was Professor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, and Regional Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad.

Foreword by Anand Teltumbde

Part A—Understanding Discrimination
ONE The Adivasi Experience
1. Adivasis and Gujarat 2002
2. The Burden of Criminal Neglect
3. Constitutional Conversations on Adivasi Rights
4. Without Land or Recourse

TWO Blocked by Caste
5. Caste, the Academy and Dalit Women
6. Reservation and the Creamy Layer
7. Chunduru: On the Road to Justice
8. Roadmap for Reservation in Higher Education
9. Atrocities That No Longer Shock
10. Scope of Constitutional Morality
11. The Annihilation by Caste
12. Post-truths about Rohith Vemula

THREE Disability Rights
13. Creating Enabling Environments
14. The Rights of Prisoners with Disabilities
15. Between the Divine and the Diabolical: Disability Rights over the Edge
16. Right to Privacy as Right to Life

FOUR Minority Rights
17. An Apology to Mohammed Akhlaq
18. Kashmir and Una Define a New Practice of Politics
19. Babri Masjid Revisited
20. We Shall Not Be Silenced, nor Shall We Ever Forget

FIVE Queer Rights
21. From ‘Perversion’ to Right to Life with Dignity
22. It’s Time to Scrap the Eunuchs Act

SIX Women’s Rights
23. Rethinking the Law on Sexual Assault
24. Girl Punk, Interrupted
25. A Moment of Triumph for Women
26. Lessons from Badaun and Beyond
27. Article 17 is at the Heart of the Matter
28. Graded Patriarchies and Graded Inequality: Sabarimala
29. Judicial Opacity on Women’s Entry in Sabarimala

Part B—Civil Liberties, Human Rights and Law
SEVEN Civil Liberties

30. On Human Rights and Radical Evil
31. The Abolition of the Death Penalty
32. Something is Rotten in the States of …
33. And We Must Say It Again … Again Yet Again
34. Democratic Futures in Peril: An Assault on the Right to Privacy
35. Constitutional Justice is Non-negotiable

EIGHT Free Speech
36. Free Speech is the Cornerstone of Constitution
37. ‘Hard Words Break No Bones’: Sedition, Free Speech, Academic Freedoms and Sovereignty in India
38. Mourning the Loss of Gauri Lankesh
39. Taking Aim at the Messenger
40. No Rollback on the Right to Dissent
41. Kancha Ilaiah: For Lives Lived in Labour
42. ‘They Cannot Stop Me from Teaching Marx and Ambedkar’: A Conversation with K. Satyanarayana
43. Hate Speech and the Barbarity of ‘False Equivalence’

NINE Professions and Civil Rights
44. Of Lawyers and the Law
45. Lawyer, Judge and Aam Aadmi
46. When Professional Associations Start Promoting Narrow Sectarian Agendas

TEN Judges are Equal Citizens
47. Parables of Justice and Women Therein
48. Privacy, Sequestered Courts and the Place of Dissent
49. The Court is not above the Constitution
50. Redeeming the Constitution
51. Juridical Viralities, Courts and the Question of Justice

ELEVEN ‘Freedom to Be’ in Universities
52. Education, Campuses and Violence
53. Disrupting Caste in Class
54. A Call to Resurrect the Constitution, or What is a University?
55. Urgent Notes from a University in Crisis
56. The University is not a Feudal Village
57. A Year after Rohith Vemula’s Death …
58. ‘I Don’t See What is Happening within Universities as Separate from What is Happening in the Political Arena’

TWELVE Human Rights Cultures
59. Development, Justice and the Constitution
60. Regulating Cultures through Food Policing
61. Paresh Rawal Must Be Asked to Forfeit His Seat

THIRTEEN Futures of Citizenship
62. Of Law, Resurrection and a Future
63. Constitution, Hostile Environments and ‘Atrocious’ Interpretation: A Sign of Our Times
64. Through the Clouds of Protest, Sightings of Hope
65. Retrieving the Idea of Citizenship
66. Safoora Zargar and the Search for India’s Soul
67. Governance by Annihilation and by Hate

1. Book review | Published in the Economic & Political Weekly, New Delhi, 8 July 2023.
2. Book review | Published in the Journal of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association, April 2022.
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