Monday, August 08, 2011

Land Disputes, Gender and Legal History

I just wanted to flag a number of new articles that raise interesting questions that are directly relevant to our discussions on Law and Other Things.

Nivedita Menon, in the recent issue of the EPW, critically reviews the legal, political, ethical and social science debates over the Ayodhya judgment. Menon's discussion engages with several points raised on this blog by me, Tarunabh Khaitan, Arun Thiruvengadam, Aparna Chandra and through a guest post by Vikramitjit Banaji. Moreover, she incorporates the critique put forward by archeologists and historians on the use of historical evidence in a lawsuit.

Tehelka has an extensive discussion over the proposed Land Acquisition Bill that is likely to be introduced in the current session of parliament. A draft version of the Bill is here and the Rural Development Ministry is inviting comments from the public. Amongst the radical shifts in policy, it ties questions of land acquisition with resettlement and rehabilitation, defines rights of sharecroppers and makes attempts to make irrigated multi crop land immune from acquisition unless required for defence, national security of natural calamities.

Jeff Redding has a new working paper out on SSRN which engages with the Pakistani Supreme Court jurisprudence on the rights of transgendered individuals. Redding's project is interesting in part because of its subject, but also because of his methodology and the questions he asks. Like discussions on the blog, he raises questions about progressive legal judgments that emerge through a certain middle class benevolence and use of questionable categories, in this case, identifying transgenderism as a 'gender disorder'. He also attempts to provide an ethnography of a particular case, to trace how concepts and claims evolve through the course of a single litigation.

Prabha Kotiswaran exciting new book, Dangerous Sex, Invisible Labor: Sex Work and the Law in India, has been published recently. Kotiswaran challenges discourses of shame and criminalization surrounding sex work, and seeks to understand it through the lens of labour law. Methodologically, based on detailed ethnographies of the political economy of sex work in Sonagachi and Tirupathi, her work is an exciting break from a conventional theorization over crime, criminality and regulation.

Finally, a PIL filed by former intelligence bureau official and represented by Bangalore based lawyer Aditya Sondhi challenges the legality of the Intelligence Bureau itself. The Intelligence Bureau is set up on the basis of an administrative order dating back to 1887 and has not been reconstituted by a statute or recognized by the Constitution. Given that is occupies an amorphous space the PIL raises questions about its transparency, accountability and impact on rights of citizens (hat tip Prashant Reddy)
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