invites you to the



Professor of Anthropology, and
Formerly, Director of the Law and Society Program
New York University


Measuring the World
Indicators, Human Rights, and Global Governance


Prof. T.C.A. Anant
Chief Statistician of India
in the chair



13 AUGUST 2010, TIME: 5.30 p.m.

Please join us for tea after the Lecture.



Legal Subjection – conversations on law, power and govermentality
JULY 22, 2010, Thursday
Conference Room, Top Floor, Centre for Policy Research, Dharam Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110021, Tel: 91-11-26115273-76 (4 Lines)
Instructions for Speakers: Each Presentation will not be longer than 20 minutes, and discussant’s comments will not be longer than 10 minutes. Please circulate papers in advance.

RSVP: president_cpr@vsnl.com
Session 1: Postcolonial Legalities/Illegalities
10 -10:15 a.m. Tea
10.15 a.m. – 12:15 a.m.
Chair/Discussant: Upendra Baxi
 Nandini Sundar, The Rule of Law and Citizenship in Central India: post-colonial dilemmas
 Ruchi Chaturvedi, Justice for None: Political Violence and Criminal Courts in North Kerala
 Usha Ramanathan, Surveillance, Tracking, Profiling: In the Name of Welfare
 Jinee Lokaneeta, Being Civilized Keeps us at the Mercy of the Beast: Torture in Liberal

12:15-12:30: Tea
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Session 2: Law, Governance and Identity
Chair/Discussant: Amit Prakash
 Roger Begrich, Thirsty for Sobriety: Governing the adivasi subject in Jharkhand
 Aysel Madra , Secularism and Religious Politics in Turkey and India: A Comparative Analysis with a Focus on Court Decisions

Lunch: 1.30 p.m. - 2.30 p.m.
2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Session 3: Sociality, Legality and Affect
Chair/Discussant: Shalini Randeria
 Rupal Oza, Security, Border enforcement, and policing at the boundaries of neo- liberalism
 Srila Roy, Feminist politics in neoliberal india
 Ajay Gudavarthy, Beyond Global human rights
 Oishik Sircar, Two Histories of Desire: Who Speaks for 'Indian' Sexualities?


The deadline for submissions of abstracts for papers and panels for the Second Law and Social Sciences Research Network (LASSnet) Conference to be held in Pune from December 27th - 30th, 2010 has been extended to July 31st, 2010. Please send in your abstracts to Siddharth or Sruti at lassnet2010@gmail.com.
There wont be further extensions. Please help us bring a closure to this process by sending in your abstracts in time.


LASSnet Conference 2010, CfP

LASSnet 2010: Siting Law
Second Conference of the Law and Social Sciences Research Network (LASSnet)
DECEMBER 27-30, 2010
Venue: Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME), Pune

The Law and Social Science Research Network (LASSnet) was established in 2007 to bring together scholars, lawyers and doctoral researchers engaged in the research and teaching of issues connected with the law in different social sciences in contemporary South Asian contexts. The idea was to create a common forum for the exchange of ideas, work, materials, pedagogies and aspirations from a range of different institutional locations and theoretical frameworks. Given how much of our understanding of the law in South Asia has been shaped by the experience of social movements, we also hoped to provide a space in which activists, legal practitioners, and academics of all stripes could get together to share experiences and reflections. The creative tensions that emerged from such conversations, we felt, might lead to new agendas for both research and practice in the future.
The inaugural LASS conference was held at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawarharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in January 2009. In the inaugural conference of LASSnet, we saw a number of conversations across disciplines among legal scholars, practitioners, activists, anthropologists, historians, philosophers, social theorists, political scientists, economists and science and technology scholars. For the second edition of the LASSnet conference we have chosen to continue with such inter-disciplinary excavations, and to venture further afield.
By focussing on the multiple sites of law we seek to open out ways of thinking about the social life of law and legality and its relation to questions of violence and injustice in South Asia. We recognize that the project of modern law emerged through the universalizing of a particular form of rationality and established itself in a large part of the world through the violent history of colonialism. The project of law and the project of modernity often became synonymous, and legal scholarship also tended to reproduce this relationship.
We are therefore interested in enquiries that critique monolithic forms of legal rationality. If the project of critiquing is to have any relevance, it is in its ability to conjure possibilities and alternatives that have remained unimagined. Thus another way of thinking about the relationship between law and the social sciences would be through the metaphor of ‘sighting law’, which invites us to look at a range of social practices which have either been marginalized as custom or dismissed as affect and hence deemed irrelevant to legal theory.
To be attentive to the multiple sites of law is also to be attentive to the role played by the social sciences - particularly anthropology and history- in opening out the way we think of law as a cultural and not merely as a legal process. LASSnet seeks to extend the ways in which the law can be ‘cited’ in other disciplines, and we hope that the sub themes of this edition of the conference allows us to collectively explore the diversity of forms that may exist, both within the formal legal structure as well as outside it.
The routes which social scientists and legal scholars took to the sites of law, and the methodologies that they developed have traditionally been accounted for in terms of their differences. We wish to see this difference as being precisely the common ground on which we stand, and as the basis on which we can cite scholarship about legal experience differently.

While the Steering Committee will make its selection from as wide a basis as possible, we would particularly welcome presentations that address the following themes, which we see as especially interesting to consider in the contemporary South Asian context. Please note that the sub-themes are merely illustrative of the goals of the conference and are not exhaustive.

1. Law’s Publics: Counter legalities and Counter Publics
The law often claims to have an unmediated access to the public, for instance in Public Interest Litigation or in the determination of what counts as legitimate public purpose. Struggles for the recognition of socio-economic rights and dignity have often been premised on the claimants being recognized as legitimate public actors. What role is played by the law in the constitution of a public, and what role is played by the notion of a public in thinking about the legitimacy of the law? Conversely, what role is played by the law in the constitution of the hybrid realm of public-private entities which facilitate the flows of a globalised capital? Is the valorized language of illegality the only means of expressing resistance to law, or can political struggles, marked by their inability to be properly constituted in the sphere of liberal legality, resurface as counter publics who nevertheless stake a claim to legitimacy? In a time of ever more inventive forms of neo-liberal violence, how can counter-publics avoid capture by a legal apparatus intent on re-territorialising the terrain of the political?
2. Law like Love: Law and Affect
The ‘affective turn’ in the social sciences is beginning to speak to legal debates. How do we begin to undertake a genealogy of the affective life of law in which reason and unreason intermingle? To explore the affective life of law is to understand the ‘body of law’ not merely as an archive of legal judgments, but to engage seriously with ideas of corporeality in law, and to acknowledge that the power of law emanates as much from its affective force as its symbolic power. How does the law deal with this messy world of affect and emotion, and what are the ways through which inter disciplinary scholarship can redress the historic disavowal of affect in legal scholarship?

3. The Careers of Constitutionalism in South Asia
Constitutions as a genre have deep roots within the histories of European universalism. The emergence and experience of postcolonial transformative constitutions, marked by a different relation to questions of justice, time and memory, have significantly altered this universal narrative. How do we account for the various histories of this transformative, and even insurgent constitutionalism? At the same time there seems to be a tension between the constitution as a text of governance and text of rights. How do we critically uncover other histories and sites through which we can understand the careers of constitutionalism in South Asia? Finally, how does contemporary constitutional theory respond to the challenges posed by the emergence of the new global economic constitutionalism?
4. Theatres of Justice
Living as we do in an age saturated by hyper-science and hyper-media, we have a plurality of places in which legal norms are produced. The blurring of the lines between media, science and culture makes it imperative for us to explore the new and emerging sites of legal meaning. There is sometimes even a blurring of these spaces, as evidenced in various reality TV shows that mimic the structure of the courts. How for instance do ideas of expertise move from the laboratory to the court and back? How do images of legality produced in a studio serve as the basis of a new legal imagination? How are we to understand these multiple scenes of the law, in which the formal judicial process appears as one of the many competing actors in the theatres of justice?

In keeping with the eclectic spirit of LASSnet, we welcome submissions that address concerns of the LASSnet broadly, including papers, panels, and presentations on the four sub-themes detailed above. We welcome proposals for panels as well as for individual paper presentations.
Panel proposals: Panel coordinators should submit a panel description of 300 words as well as a proposed list of panelists (ideally no more than four per panel). The panel description should be accompanied by individual paper proposals for each panelist, following the instructions below. Coordinators may also choose to propose a chair or discussant for the panel as a whole.
Individual papers: Paper abstracts (300 words) should be submitted to Siddharth Narrain and Sruti Chaganti at lassnet2010@gmail.com. Abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order: author(s), affiliation, email address, title of abstract, body of abstract. Abstracts should be submitted no later than July 1, 2010.
We will get back to you within eight weeks of receiving an abstract. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted to the conference secretariat by November 15, 2010 and distributed to the discussant and fellow panel members no later than December 01, 2010. In the case of pre-formed panels, this will be the responsibility of the Panel Coordinator.
The maximum duration of individual presentations within each panel will be 20 minutes.
Further announcements about registration, funding and venue related details will be made available at www.lassnet.blogspot.com and (in due course) www.lassnet.org. Please contact Siddharth Narrain or Sruti Chaganti (lassnet2010@gmail.com) for additional information.

Lawrence Liang (lawrence@altlawforum.org), Alternative Law Forum (ALF) (www.altlawforum.org)
Siddharth Narrain (siddharth.narrain@gmail.com), ALF
Sitharamam Kakarala (ram@cscs.res.in), Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS) (www.cscsarchive.org)
Sruti Chaganti (sruti@cscs.res.in), CSCS
Maya Dodd (mayadodd@gmail.com), Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME), Pune (www.flame.edu.in)
Pratiksha Baxi [LASSnet anchor] (Pratiksha.Baxi@gmail.com), Centre for the Study of Law and Governance (CSLG), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
Shrimoyee Ghosh (shrimoyee@gmail.com), CSLG, JNU
Stewart Motha (S.Motha@kent.ac.uk), Kent Law School, UK
Arudra Burra (arudraburra@yahoo.co.in), Princeton University, US
Brenna Bhandar (brenna.bhandar@gmail.com), Kent Law School, UK
Anuj Bhuwania (anujbhuwania@gmail.com), Columbia University, US


Eesvan Krishnan's bio

I am a graduate student in law studying land acquisition in India and I'd be very interested in being in touch with other researchers of whatever discipline who are working on the same or similar issues, or more generally on Indian legal history.

My specific subject is the history of the law governing land acquisition for companies in India, from 1857 to 2007. This study is for a doctorate in law at the University of Oxford. For the calendar year 2010, I am based at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, as a visiting fellow.

Prior to this year, I read for a BCL and an MPhil in law at Oxford. Prior to that, I completed a conjoint law and commerce degree at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and clerked at the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

My email address is eesvan.krishnan@merton.ox.ac.uk


Supreme Court's Loss - How it can be remedied?

Cross-posted from Law and Other Things.

I draw readers' attention to Salil Tripathi's interesting piece on Justice A.P.Shah's non-elevation to the Supreme Court in Livemint. I especially liked his view that Justice Shah contributed to nyaya rather than niti.

I am sure our political class wants such a Judge in the Supreme Court. But is the President helpless in the context of Proviso to Article 124 which mandates that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted? Here are my tips on how the President can get around this problem, if she is really keen that Justice Shah must be appointed as a Supreme Court Judge.

1. There is a grey area in both the Second and Third Judges Cases as far as how the President must consult the CJI. If you read Article 124 and the judgments in these two cases carefully, you would notice that the Supreme Court did not set aside Article 124 (2)which says that the President shall consult with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as she may deem necessary for the purpose. It is surprising that the President never exercised this responsibility at all since 1993 when the Second Judges Case was decided. Even prior to 1993, the President (that is, in aid and advice of the Council of Ministers) appears to have consulted only the CJI, and not other Judges.

No doubt, the judgments in the Second and Third Judges Cases explain how the consultation with the CJI must be held, that is, through the Collegium, and that consultation must be effective (not concurrence) But it could not have been the intention of the Supreme Court that the Proviso to Article 124 would leave the Article itself redundant. Therefore, having consulted the CJI through the Collegium, to satisfy the Proviso, the President could still appoint Justice Shah on the basis of her consultation with other Judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court, who might have favoured his appointment.

In the Third Judges Case, the Supreme Court confuses Article 124(2) with how the CJI ought to form his view in consultation with other senior Judges. Article 124(2) refers to President's privilege to consult any Judge whom she deems fit. This privilege cannot be compromised with that of the duty of the CJI to consult his colleagues to form his view.

2. The above interpretation is valid because the judgment in the Third Judges Case throws light on when a Collegium's recommendation may not be binding on the President, that is, in the area of non-appointment of a Judge for cogent reasons.
As the media reports reveal, Justice Shah's name was not favoured by only one member of the Collegium. All the remaining members including the CJI favoured him. Therefore, even if the President appoints Justice Shah, it will be in conformity with the view of the CJI, thus satisfying the requirement of the judgment in Third Judges Case.

There is nothing in the Third Judges Case judgment which says that the CJI can recommend an appointee only if there is a consensus within the collegium. The Court saw consensus as an ideal, but clearly said a recommendation could be sent, if there is majority support including that of CJI within the Collegium. That is, it does not envisage a veto by any member of the Collegium except by the CJI, who has primacy. Therefore, if the Collegium had not sent the recommendation on Justice Shah because of the opposition of one member, then it is certainly not in conformity with the judgment in the Third Judges Case, and therefore, not binding on the President.

3.In fact, Collegium's views on every eligible Judge in terms of seniority must be sent to the President with a recommendation to appoint or not appoint. That is why the Third Judges Case judgment says if the CJI's view is opposed by other senior Judges of the Collegium, then the President is not bound to appoint. Here, the inference is that in that situation, the CJI would have been in minority within the Collegium. But Justice Shah's case is different. The CJI and all members of the Collegium except one favoured him. Since the dissenter was in a minority in the Collegium, there was every reason for the President to appoint Justice Shah.

4. It appears that the President requested the Collegium to reconsider its non-recommendation of Justice Shah, and still the recommendation to appoint Justice Shah was not forthcoming. Here, the question of Collegium reiterating its non-recommendation in order to make it binding on the President does not arise. Reiteration is binding on the Government only in the context of recommendation to appoint, not recommendation to not appoint or failure to recommend an eligible appointee. Here is the December 2008 CNN-IBN report on the Collegium's refusal to reconsider its non-recommendation of Justice Shah.

5.The Third Judges judgment only says the Collegium need not give strong and cogent reasons for not recommending a person. But the Government can certainly ask for the Collegium's views if it considered and discussed a possible appointee. The Government, then can well decide on the basis of the minutes of the meeting- in the absence of a recommendation from the Collegium - whether the non-recommendation was in conformity with the Third Judges judgment, and whether a Judge other than the CJI illegally vetoed a possible recommendation to appoint.

6. The system of appointing Judges on the basis of recommendations from the Collegium, no doubt, was laid down in the Second and Third Judges judgments. But these judgments do not abrogate Article 124(2) and the President's privilege to consult the CJI and other Judges independently of the Collegium's recommendation, to consider appointments of eligible persons, whom the Collegium may have overlooked.


LASSnet Auhor: UC JHA Book Announcement

Wg Cdr (Dr) U C Jha (Retd)

1. The Military Justice System in India: An Analysis, Published by LexisNexis, 2009.

2. The Armed Forces Trbunal, Published by Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2010.

Post from Manjira Datta

Pls look up http://www.magiclanternfoundation.org/Events/pr2010/pr10_schedule.html

My films are being screened on 25th Feb at 11:45 am in Audi 1 and Audi
2 and also 5 films of mine are being screened in RETROSPECTIVE
On 26th at 5 pm or thereabouts-LIFE OF THE LAW is being screened . A
film on Village Dispute Resolution.Hope LASSNET will post this on their
site or pass this message to others.
Hope to see u.
Warm wishes
Manjira Datta


The Case of Sexual Abuse

The Ruchika case led to much discussion in the media and expression of disgust with the system. However, I sometimes felt that too many issues were collapsed together and there was insufficient attention paid to the question of how one might name this kind of abuse.
It seemed to me that the most important issue here was systematic abuse of authority to terrorize the girl and her family. The main issue is not simply that of molestation - I am not condoning molestation but I imagine that if this had been, say, a young boy of of 16 or 17 years of age, living in the neighborhood who had molested a girl of fourteen - there could be many ways in which she could have imagined protecting herself from him, including reporting to his parents or taking neighborhood action. It is the fact of a man who is so much older and in a position of authority that might have signaled to her that he could call her to his office when he wished, that no one could stand up to him and that every effort to protect herself would unleash further violence. this is what is at stake - it has to be named and punished by broadening the terms of the inquiry against Rathore and everyone who collaborated with him. I feel we need to distinguish between acts of molestation that are done by those in authority such as workplace superiors, teachers, representatives of the state such as policemen or administrative officers, as well as those within the family or kinship group who not only molest a girl but also use their superior authority to create a continuous regime of intimidation and fear. Further, since Ruchika was only fourteen years old, she should have come under some kind of law relating to child protective services. It seems to me that distinguishing the types of crime here would be very useful for purposes of criminal proceedings. Legislating that punishment for molestation should be equal to the punishment for rape does not seem to be the right direction - instead of child abuse should be named as such and made punishable reflecting the severity of what abuse of authority can do to a child.
Second, the media's attention and the intensity it generated was useful to the extent that it provided support to the family and her friend whose courage is to be admired in pursing the case . However, intensity of emotions will wax and wane - what is needed now is surely some watchdog body from the media and civil society representatives that the case will be pursued expeditiously and fairly. The law cannot produce punishment independent of evidence and surely the pressure should be on the investigating agencies to produce meticulous evidence. Unfortunately, forensic procedures are routinely compromised, evidence collection in which time is of the essence is allowed to lapse, and thus as some of us pointed out in a Lancet article last year - violence against women goes routinely unpunished because the grounds for prosecution are not assembled carefully. Yet, appeals to how rotten the system is should not be allowed to come in the way of justice for this case. A cool, dispassionate oversight on the case to see that investigating authorities do not get away with complete incompetence or worse, is required. I wonder if any such support groups have been, in fact been formed. and if LASSNET can set up a web site and on the ground support.



Ethnographies of Law

Conference Room, Top Floor, Centre for Policy Research, Dharam Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110021, Tel: 91-11-26115273-76 (4 Lines)
RSVP: president_cpr@vsnl.com

Session 1: 10.00 -11.30 noon

Chair/Discussant: Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Shalini Randeria, the (un)making of rights: urban development, forced displacement and the cunning state

Mathew John, Why does Ethnography have to be Wary of Norms?

11:30-12:00 – TEA

Session 2: 12:00-2:00 pm

Chair/Discussant: Uma Chakravarti

Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, Magic Bits of Paper

Mayur Suresh, Law Like Love

Pratiksha Baxi, Rape as “Atrocity”

2:00-3:00 Lunch

Session 3: 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Kamala Sankaran

Shomi Brian, A Brief Ethnographic Account of the Tangkhul Naga Customary Court: TNL Kalangshim

Chubatila Ozukum, The Normalization of Wartime Vocabulary in the Everyday Legal Discourse: Cases of Indefinite Detention, Torture and Custodial Deaths in Nagaland

Anu Sharma, Doing Ethnography of Judicial Reform in India: Special Courts in Tihar Jail

Organised by LASSnet anchored at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, JNU and Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi


11 Jan. 2010