Between Law and Internet.

The first and foremost work was to look into the intersectionality between law and internet. It was also an attempt to develop an understanding into the same because of growing pervasiveness of the ‘internet’ in our lives. Somewhere down the line I was able to draw a conclusion for myself that all of us now have two kinds of identities; physical & virtual, the virtual identity gradually taking a lead over the physical one. For this I looked into many articles but primarily Lawrence Lessig’s book ‘Code’ helped me develop my perspective on it. Still reading and shaping. Also, finding judgments delivered by the Indian courts in the context of internet but mainly where they seek to draw an analogy between internet & other mass media like television, radio etc. The notion of ‘power’ centered around the internet would be an area which I would want to explore further and delve into deeper.

During the entire period of internship apart from the above there were several other areas in which I researched and developed an understanding.

In one of the case involving the election of a transgender person, I looked into the role of Election Commission and State Election Commission during panchayat election. It also gave an opportunity to study ‘The Rights of Transgender Persons Act, 2014’ which is the first private bill that has been passed by the Parliament in last 40 years. Though, it still has to become a law but nevertheless, a good head-start for the rights of transgender persons in India.

With the rising incidents of Bengaluru Police booking jaywalkers I was asked to find the law under which the jaywalkers were being booked. I was able to get my hands on the Law Commission of India’s Consultation Paper on ‘Legal Reforms to Combat Road Accidents’, Vienna Convention of Road Traffic and a document ‘Cities for All: Proposals and Experiences towards Right to the City’ which can be further used for advocacy on rights of pedestrians. But importantly, in my opinion the issue of jaywalking has a lot in common with the issue of street vendors because it is more of a conflict of perspectives regarding utilization of ‘space’ in an urban city. In simple words, how we look at space from different perspectives, that is, caste, class, religion, gender and age.  

There is not much of a struggle involved when one has to find cases on the ‘accountability’ of Police. Under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution, ‘Police’ falls in the State List of the 7th Schedule and hence, it is in the domain of the state governments to makes laws in relation to the police. In Prakash Singh V. Union of India, which is the landmark case on this subject, the Supreme Court dealt with three aspects of police organization; autonomy, efficiency and accountability. But unlike the South African constitution, there are no clear cut guidelines and articles which shed a light on the issue of ‘accountability’ of police personnel in the Indian constitution. Although there are various check on the impunity of police but still a long way to go.

One area which still confounds me is the maternity law in India and its applicability in private sector. This has been the grey area of this internship. Still looking and trying to find an answer.

It was quite an enlightening experience attending sessions on Law and Literature. It’s a huge block of knowledge which I’m taking from my time at ALF. Though couldn’t be counted as ‘work’ but something more than ‘work’.

The Madras High Court raised many eyebrows, or may be more than that, when it delivered a judgment giving interim bail to a person who has been convicted of offence of ‘rape’ so that he can out negotiating a peace settlement with the victim by using the plank of Alternative Disputes Redressal. In Gian Singh v State of Punjab, it was held by the Supreme Court, although in the context of compounding of cognizable offences, that no heinous crimes can be compounded, crimes which are against the society at large. The same was reiterated in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Deepak and that even if parties arrive at a settlement, it can’t be quashed because the crime is against the society and not any individual. This judgment takes us back to the ‘Mathura’ days though instead of blaming the victim, the court is trying to fix or arrange a marriage and again creating that zone where women always get victimized and justice always remain an illusion.

Siddharth Satija, ALF Intern