ALF JUDICIAL 90s Workshop

The Alternative Law Forum and Christ College of Law, Bangalore
Invite you to a Workshop on*The Judicial Nineties*May 10th & 11th, 2008 at the Christ College of Law, Christ CollegeCampus, Hosur Road, Bangalore 560029There has been a sense that the judiciary has increasingly narrowed thefield on issues of socio economic rights and distributive justice.Often, this is referred to as the Court's 'conservative turn', but thereis little that is said beyond this, except to imply its direct linkageto the post-liberalization period in Indian history. One of theimportant tasks of the contemporary is to provide an account of thisshift within a larger political economy narrative that seeks to locatethe precise manners in which these changes are taking place via theemergence of a judicial sovereignty that does not merely adjudicate anylonger but actively produces the context and conditions for afree-market friendly environment. Ranging from questions ofrehabilitation to the violent reordering of urban space, the judiciaryhas played an active role in redefining ideas of access and entitlement.While the eighties were marked by the emergence of 'social actionlitigation' that sought to radically redefine ideas of entitlement andequality, by the mid-nineties, most social movements who relied on usingthe courts as spaces of social justice were repeatedly disappointed bythe complicity of the courts with the neo liberal project.All the extremely violent developments and transitions that are takingplace in this period are unfolding very much within the law, backed bynew regimes of property, and often in the name of the law. Thus theviolent reordering of cities in India has seen encroachers removed torestore the land to the legal owners, and water privatized after lawfulagreements are entered into between the government and private parties.
The Court has proactively determined socio-economic policy and in doingso has re-written the idea of the social.In older formulations like Partha Chatterjee's idea of the politicalthere was an acknowledgement of the porous spaces between thelegal/illegal that allowed people to participate in democratic politics.This is effectively being destroyed by the judiciary and along with itthe compact of political society. There is a newfound romance of theidea of the legal and with it, new forms of illegality andsubjectivities that are being produced by the Court. In this space thereis very little room for the kind of negotiations that characterized theways in which large sections of the population accessed basic services.Perhaps talking of the complicity of the courts with the neo liberalproject is too generous a reading, and instead we should say that thelaw and judiciary are the neo liberal project. If this is so then isthere a need to re-evaluate the relationship between social movementsand the judicial process – do we now abandon the site of legal intervention?Registration: If you are interested in attending the Workshop, please send an email to Aarti Mundkur at aarti@altlawforum.