List of abstracts

Panelist: Jhuma Sen, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

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Panelist: Jhuma Sen, University of California, Berkeley School of Law


Title: All the World’s a Stage: Media and Kasab in the Playground of Justice


Abstract: Against the backdrop of a world committed to clean up the rubbles of capital punishment ‘almost’  unanimously agreed by two-thirds of the countries  as a degrading form of punishment, media hulabaloo about the death sentence of a captured ‘terrorist’ is somewhat a crude reality check in a retentionist country like India. While the debate around capital punishment flares up and continues to burn for some time when a high profile accused gets a capital sentence as in the case of Kasab or Dhananjay or Afzal Guru, the more crucial part is to understand and pick up the threads of complete theatrical monologues that the media caters to the people turned consumers in an increasingly consumerist society. The question therefore, this paper will pose is — Is ‘justice’ increasingly becoming a saleable good in an era of TRP frenzy media? The paper will primarily try to understand the saleability of capital punishment in the theatres of justice conjured by the media by taking the case of Ajmal Kasab as a point of reference.

Panelist: Sonal Makhija, Freelance Consultant and Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS) and Daksh, Bangalore 

Title: Social Media Activism and the Rhetoric of Rights

Abstract: The use of social media to fight human rights violations, like domestic violence, sexual violence, rape and corruption, is on the increase. The creation of ‘cause communities’, in social networking sites like Facebook, to campaign, lobby and enforce rights is what I am interested in investigating in this paper. The paper does not seek to critique social media activism, but only seeks to explore and understand the nature of such communities, and the effects it has on definitions of ‘public’, ‘rights’ and ‘justice’, as understood in law.

These virtual communities which support various causes are governed by their own rules, regulations and sovereignty. How do these virtual communities traverse jurisdiction and territoriality in supporting public causes? How is the formation of virtual ‘communities’ redefining what constitutes public and public interest? Many of the cause communities or media justice communities are formed to remedy or rectify a wrong, enforce rights or garner support. In the process of enforcing rights, how are these communities framing and contributing to the human rights debate? How do their interventions help us rethink what constitutes ‘rights’, ‘victim’ and ‘justice’? Are these campaigns creating a new vocabulary of ‘cause activism’? How are they influencing efforts of advocacy and law reform? And how do they challenge the ‘victim’ centered human rights rhetoric? What are the modes of interventions to enforce violated rights and what kind of rhetoric is employed to achieve justice?

I would particularly like to study the social media activism from the lens of the Pink Chaddi campaign, and similar campaigns where participants or members are litigants, ‘victims’ and adjudicators. The paper will study a few cause communities and their functioning in social networking sites like Facebook.

6.6 Title: Framing Constitutionalism

Chair: Rajeev Bhargava
Panelist: Prabhakar Singh, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School

Title: How should the Third World see Constitutionalism in International Law?

Abstract: A survey of international law scholarship throws up three kinds of approaches: constitutional, pluralistic and global administrative law (GAL). What is there for the Third World to choose? Both international law and constitutional law are colonial gifts. India in particular and the Third World in general are both slightly obsessed with a constitutional imagery as seen in the India-Quantitative Restriction Case at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Therefore, it depends; Chimni approaches GAL from a Third World approach to international law (TWAIL) whereas Koskenniemi prefers constitutionalism. Constitutional vocabularies are often used to address the United Nations (UN) Charter, the WTO, and the European Union (EU). The diversity of legal regimes presents a problem of harmonisation within the monism-dualism ideology of international law. With the increasing assertion of the EU as a strong dualist normative laboratory, new scholarship is replacing constitutionalism by pluralism as the preferred but defensive ideology – the definition of constitutionalism stands upside down now. After the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Kadi judgement, pluralism and constitutionalism stand in opposite camps. This paper attempts to address this confusion of international constitutionalism. The issues involved defy conclusion and constitutionalism as an ideology remains, as is often the case, an inconclusive question for an eternally observing Third World. 

Panelist: Smriti Upadhyay, Independent Researcher 

Title: Transformative Constitutionalism in Nepal 

Abstract: My paper examines Nepal’s current engagement with transformative constitutionalism and emphasizes in particular the temporal dimensions of this project of social change that is rooted in the law.  I define temporality as the interactions between the past, present, and future spaces of time experienced during different phases of legal and insurgent transformation.  I identify both the longue durée of the monarchy and the recent past of the Maoist insurgency as two definitive time periods that shape Nepal’s project of transformative constitutionalism.  In order to reify notions of time and temporality and root my exploration in the lived experiences of the Nepali people, I invoke a discourse on memory in the context of the law.  This discourse is applied to historical experiences of the monarchy and ethnographic studies of the Maoist movement for the purpose of examining the interconnected aspects of ethnicity, power, and violence within social and legal structures in Nepal.  At times such recollections recall a past of repression and violent exclusion sanctioned by the law of the kingdom.  Other memories capture resistance and the eventual dismantling of petrified social and legal structures through the enactment of revolutionary violence.  Thus, the experience of violence emerges as a narrative that remains constant in the memories of both the temporalities of the monarchy and the People’s War.  Furthermore, violence and ethnicity become intimately linked in the Maoist rhetoric that legitimizes the armed insurgency and promises ethnic autonomy for Nepal’s subaltern groups.  It is my contention that widespread memories of violence have the potential to complicate or even paralyze any transformative aspirations for the new constitution.  As a point of further discussion, I consider the constitution of an indigenous multiculturalism rooted in the Nepali experience as a project of this newest episode of transformative constitutionalism.

Panelist: Jaivir Singh, Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance , JNU

Title: The Multifarious Constitution: Searching for an Analytic of Activism

Abstract: This paper suggests an analytic of activism – manifest not only as judicial activism but activism emanating from other branches of the government as well. The paper traces structural and functional approaches to the doctrine of separation of powers and thereby seeks to delineate a sufficient description of the branches of the government. This description is used then to suggest a definition of activism – a definition that aspires to normatively value practices of activism. While the paper draws centrally from some notions of ‘institutional economics’ the paper should be viewed as an attempt at interdisciplinary practice.

Panelist: Durgambini Patel, Associate Professor, Department of Law University of Pune, India

Title: New Global Economic Constitutionalism: International Trade and Gender

Abstract: The South Asian countries became sovereign entities and transformed into new form as a result of Independence in the 20th century.  The colonial legacy did not disappear but reflects in several spheres of its governance system. In India the framing of the constitution did enshrine a quest for new social order but the colonial legal structure left behind by the British Empire and the Laws made by the British Parliament survived and left behind prominent foot prints in the current legal system. However, the postcolonial Constitutionalism did transform eventually through judicial process and constitutional amendments to address to the aspirations of the modern India and has gone long way in establishing its own unique identity. In spite of having divergent historical background and contrast nature of legal system Europe has set up a fine example of unity in diversity in the present global system. The modern constitutions are by product of the European and American constitutionalism however, they are inadequate to address large many issues of the south Asian society which share different social, cultural and traditional environment.

Therefore, the experience of the postcolonial transformative constitutions have definitely altered the universal narrative at present and global issues need to be made ‘south Asian centric’ so that the constitutionalism is able to enhance and empower to exercise the Rights for the delivery of justice and humanizing the lives of people. Universality of cotemporary constitutional theories of rights and human rights discourse is an ideal theoretical concept but its enforcement needs different approaches depending upon the history and cultural ethos of each society.

Against this background the paper intends to deal with the issues that constrain the ability of women in south Asia to participate fully in as an economic agent in the global trading system. Women’s work is often concentrated in the informal and unorganized sectors where they are exposed to long working hours, low wages and uncertainty of tenure. Lack of access to resources constrains the ability of women to enter the market economy, inadequate safety nets and support for child care limits women’s flexibility in terms of time allocation among economic activities, including housework. Without adequate education and training women are less competitive in growing sectors of the global economy. (WTO forum) The study of various International organizations reveals that the global trade system though aware of these facts does not incorporate these issues for policy and rule formation. The new global economic order thus has become a tool to highjack the rights of women conferred upon her by the constitution, posing a new challenge that requires to be addressed strategically, efficiently and at the earliest.

The paper will be divides into four parts: - 1) The south Asiatic women and their economic right (absence of universal character) in light of the global economy.2) role of international organizations in dealing with gender issues in global trade.3) post colonial transformation of the constitutions and the myths and realities of the eco-legal women’s rights.4) The last part will deal with evolving some suitable strategy to deal with this issues. On and above the theme of the abstract stated above will be carefully disentangled and elaborated upon.

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