Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru addresses the crowd in Delhi on the occasion of India’s 14th Independence Day on 17 August 1960. Above him flies the national flag of India. Image source: Link
October, 2019 – November, 2019
A constitution is a political document, framing the aspirations of a people. Far from being a record of the already-achieved, it is effectively a charter of aims and desires, of what a nation strives to be. From 2016 to 2018, IIT Bombay had hosted a series of talks on the Indian Constitution by some of India’s most eminent jurists. Five talks have been chosen for this issue that reflects both general constitutional questions as well as specific concerns – an overview of constitutional issues, gender justice, constitutionality and the death penalty, critical judgments on fundamental and human rights and challenges posed to constitutional freedoms by new technologies. The original audio recordings of all the five talks can be accessed from this page.
Foreword BY Rowena Robinson
A general introduction to the Constitution-themed issue by our guest editor Prof. Rowena Robinson.
An Overview of our Constitution BY BN Srikrishna
In the inaugural lecture of the Institute Lecture Series on the Indian Constitution (12 March 2016), Justice BN Srikrishna addressed the issue of Constitutionality itself, of why modern democratic nations have Constitutions and brought out the key features of the Indian Constitution including such aspects as separation of powers, federalism, the protection of the liberties of individuals and the promotion of national goals — fundamental rights and directive principles.
Technology and Constitution: Emerging Challenges BY Gautam Patel
Modern technologies pose significant challenges — some may even say threats — to established Constitutional principles. This fifth lecture of the “Institute Lecture Series on the Indian Constitution” (March 25, 2017) examines statutes governing technology. Specifically, it looks at the limits, if there are any, on free speech on current platforms and social media, e-commerce and retailing technologies, censorship and questions of national and personal security. Is our Constitution sufficiently robust to absorb these shocks to the system? Or must we now move to a different standard?
Death penalty: From the perspective of the constitution, police, courts and executive BY Yug Mohit Chaudhry
The sixth lecture of the “Institute Lecture Series on the Indian Constitution” (September 26, 2017) revolves around Article 14. The Indian Constitution promises citizens equality before the law and protection from arbitrariness and Article 21 of the Constitution says that ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law’. In this lecture, apart from Constitutional concerns, capital punishment cases are traced through three major institutional frameworks to analyze the cumulative weaknesses from which they suffer: the evidence machinery of the Police; the adjudication and sentencing machinery of the Courts; and the Executive which has to deal with mercy petitions.
Gender Justice and Constitutional Law BY Ruma Pal
The lecture delivered on September 18, 2018 is a brief account of the context of gender justice under the Constitution in lay person’s terms. India has international legal obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which the country ratified in 1993. Is it possible for the courts to become harbingers of change and strike down laws that are contrary to the constitutional rights of individuals irrespective of gender? For instance, while basic fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution should be available to all, personal laws are deeply entrenched in patriarchal attitudes and gender discrimination. Gender justice may involve maintaining religious diversity while ensuring uniformity of base values.
Recent Human Right Controversies in the Supreme Court BY Colin Gonsalves
Delivered on January 13, 2018, the talk covers a spectrum of political and civil rights as well as economic rights in an effort to promote a discussion on the struggle for human rights taking place in India, and the role of students in building a more humane society and country. The lecture looks at particular issues such as the death penalty, personal law, Maoism, secularism, development and the environment to explore the role of the Supreme Court and constitutional law in protecting and expanding the rights of India’s most marginalized and vulnerable citizens.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words BY Arun Inamdar
An artistic representation of the Indian Constitution by our regular cartoonist.