Socio-Legal Review (SLR) is a bi-annual, open access, student-edited, peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal run by the students of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and published by the Eastern Book Company (EBC). With respect to our mandate, we subscribe to an expansive view on the interpretation of “law and society” in South Asia, inviting articles with a perceived link between law and social sciences. First published in 2005 with the help of a grant from the Modern Law Review, SLR has carried articles by luminaries in the legal and social fields, including Roger Cotterrell, W.T. Murphy, Werner Menski, Asghar Ali Engineer, Pratiksha Baxi and Gina Heathcote.

SLR has also been cited by the Supreme Court of India multiple times. The article ‘Identity and Identification: The Individual in the Time of Networked Governance,’ Nishant Shah, Vol. 11(2) Socio-Legal Review, (2015) has been cited in Justice Chandrachud’s opinion in Justice KS Puttaswamy and Anr v. Union of India and Ors (2018). SLR has also been cited by Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Chandrachud in their respective opinions in Joseph Shine v. Union of India (2018). The article cited is ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Adulterous: Criminal Law and Adultery in India’, Abhinav Sekri, Vol. 10(1) Socio-Legal Review, (2014).

Current Issue: Volume 17, Issue 2 (2022)



Criminalisation Without an Object: Critical Reflections on the Muslim Women (Protection of rights on Marriage) Act, 2019
Shraddha Chaudhary

The invalidation of triple talaq by the Supreme Court of India triggered the enactment of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. The paper demonstrates the superfluous and arbitrary nature of the Act in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to strip triple talaq of its power to repudiate a marriage. Drawing from the rich and varied theories of criminal law in Anglo-American legal discourse, the paper argues that the criminalisation of triple talaq lacks theoretical foundation and is wholly unjustified. Finally, the paper sets the criminalisation of triple talaq within the context of the social and material vulnerabilities of Muslim women, and the political dominance of the right-wing Hindutva in India, arguing that it is likely to cause significant harm by exposing India’s Muslim minority further to the State’s coercive powers. For these reasons, the criminalisation of triple talaq requires urgent reconsideration.


Privacy and Reproductive Health: Curtailing Rights and Choices
Ambika Tandon

Digital identification (ID) and data-driven systems have become central to the delivery of welfare and health services in the global South. These policies are designed to monitor and control developmental indicators, with some negative repercussions for women. They also impact the exercise of reproductive rights and access to health and welfare, in addition to informational privacy. This paper aims to understand the various axes along which digitalisation and data collection systems impact the exercise of the right to privacy, including reproductive rights. It focuses on two specific services that have been a target of digital and analog monitoring over the past decade – conditional cash transfers tied to maternal health, and abortion services. Through interviews with women patients, their families, and health providers in New Delhi, it found that monitoring systems can restrict women’s access to critical services. Extensive procedural requirements introduced for better targeting of welfare schemes, such as Aadhaar linked bank accounts and income and caste certifications acted as significant barriers to access. These requirements particularly impacted women who carry stigma when accessing abortion services, including poor and unmarried women, and adolescents. Health providers were forced to prioritise data collection over inclusive delivery of services. Data collection for Aadhaar-linked databases without informed consent was rampant, with repercussions for women’s informational privacy. Reproductive rights and various dimensions of privacy, including informational privacy and decisional autonomy are thus intrinsically linked. Future research on digital health needs to further probe these interlinkages and broaden the definition of the right to privacy.


Statelessness And The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019: The Case Of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees
Urvi Pathak

For decades since the Sri Lankan civil war, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees have lived as stateless persons in India. However, India does not recognise “refugees” and “stateless persons” as legally separate categories, and treats them in a common immigration system with “ foreigners”. This conflation of citizenship law with the immigration regime is a result of the introduction of the category of “illegal migrant” as a determinative tool of Indian citizenship. This paper explores recent shifts in Indian citizenship laws, which have been embroiled in the tension between jus soli and jus sanguinis bases of citizenship, particularly with the category of “illegal migrant” and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and their impact on Sri Lankan Tamil refugees’ citizenship. This paper finds that despite the influence of international human rights, formal citizenship continues to be the clinching factor in Sri Lankan Tamil refugees’ quality and security of life in India today – an echo of Hannah Arendt’s conception of the “right to have rights”, by which she meant that the right to citizenship is a gateway for an individual to access all other rights. Against this backdrop, this paper suggests interim solutions for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to secure formal citizenship in India, and in particular, the role of courts in crafting jurisprudence that would support the alleviation of their statelessness. In the same breath, this paper strongly argues in favour of, first, the need for a forward-looking reconceptualization of Indian citizenship laws based on the jus soli principle; and second, a recognition of India’s burden under the UN Conventions on statelessness to reduce and prevent statelessness, particularly through eliminating documentation-heavy citizenship determinations.


​Article 15 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act – A Thought Experiment ​
John Sebastian

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (‘CAA’) has been the subject of many constitutional challenges and intense legal debate. Despite this, there has not been sufficient debate on the question of the applicability of Article 15(1)’s non-discrimination clause to the CAA. Article 15(1) of the Constitution prohibits the State from discriminating, inter alia, on the grounds of religion. Since the CAA covers those who are not currently citizens, and Article 15(1) mentions a citizen as its subject, many have argued that Article 15 cannot apply despite the CAA explicitly being grounded on religion. I contest this, and argue that due to the nature of the CAA as a law which determines the conditions of entry into the community of citizens, it must be subject to Article 15(1) (through the ‘conditions of entry’ principle). First, recent Supreme Court jurisprudence has shown that entry conditions cannot be ignored when discussing Article 15(1). Second, I conduct a thought experiment through a hypothetical citizenship law. Through this thought experiment, I demonstrate that to not extend Article 15(1) to the CAA would be illogical and allow the legislature to accomplish indirectly what is impermissible directly. It could deprive that great non-discrimination clause of its vitality through an act of subterfuge. I defend my thought experiment by addressing various arguments on the grounds and subjects of discrimination, the question of numbers, and anti-subordination, and demonstrate that my claim is consistent with the text of Article 15(1). Hence, the CAA should be subject to the rigorous scrutiny of Article 15(1).

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