A quick note on phone tapping. It is, unfortunately, something that is left to the arbitrary discretion of the government, and at the root of this situation (unsurprisingly) is a bad Supreme Court judgment:


In PUCL v Union (1997), it was argued that, given the serious privacy issues involved, phone tapping cannot take place without judicial authorisation. Unfortunately, the Court did not agree, and instead laid down some guidelines, for bureaucratic authorisation.

To be honest, given the way magistrates mechanically allow remand applications and higher courts deny bail where fundamental issues of liberty are involved, I'm no longer confident that that would have made any difference, but that's another debate.

When Srikrishna Committee on Data Protection was constituted a couple of years ago, people specifically made the point that data protection is pointless without surveillance reform, and that the Committee would end up indirectly legitimising surveillance through omission (4/n).
For reasons that I do not need to spell out, the Committee completely ignored these points, and that's one of the (many) reasons why the so-called Personal Data Protection Bill is an absolute eyewash. (5/n)
So what might genuine surveillance reform look like? An effort was made by a civil society initiative, culminating in the Indian Privacy Code, which set out detailed safeguards to prevent government from abusing surveillance powers:


For more on these issues, follow @internetfreedom.


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More from @gautambhatia88

17 Feb
Important part of the #PriyaRamani judgment: the Court affirms that an honest error of fact will not lead to liability for defamation, as long as reasonable efforts were made to ensure veracity (in the context of Akbar's resignation as Minister).
Other important findings:

- the length of time between the incident of sexual harassment and making it public is irrelevant (pg. 90)

- the absence or failure of institutional mechanisms means that survivors are entitled to use other media to speak up. (pg. 90)
- speaking up on public platforms is a form of self-defence (pg. 90)

- sexual harassment undermines both dignity (Article 21) and equality (Articles 14 and 15) because of its gendered nature; these rights override the right to reputation (pg 90)
Read 5 tweets
14 Feb
Devastated to learn about the passing of Mourid Barghouti.

"I Saw Ramallah" is one of the most beautiful pieces of prose that I have ever read in my life.

Ave atque vale.
"Memory is not a geometric shape drawn with instruments, mathematical decisions and a calculator, an area of glorious joy next to an area of pain."
"... through its form, poetry can resist the content of authoritarian discourse. By resorting to understatement, concrete and physical language, a poet contends against abstraction, generalization, hyperbole and the heroic language of hot-headed generals and bogus lovers alike."
Read 6 tweets
26 Jan
With Hugo Noms open, will try to highlight, over the next few days, some of the work I read in 2020, with the caveat that I'm sure there is a lot of amazing work I couldn't read.

By fellow-Indians: @lavanya_ln's Analogue/Virtual for best novel:

And in best SFF short story: @prashatsa's Seven Dreams of a Valley --

Back to the novel category, I would commend for your consideration @EssaHansen's Nophek Gloss, Seth Dickinson's The Tyrant Baru Cormorant, and @aptshadow's The Children of Time.
Read 5 tweets
12 Jan
This is such absolutely cynical stuff from the Supreme Court that it's hard to know where to begin.
The Court act as if it can "suspend" laws of its own sweet will. It can't.

For the Court to stay a law, it has to find that it is prima facie unconstitutional, and issue a reasoned order saying so. This is *not* optional.

For obvious reasons, it has not done so here.
It is cynical for another reason. A host of laws have been challenged before the Supreme Court in recent times, where arguments were *actually* made for prima facie unconstitutionality. The Court refused to stay any of these laws, and refused to even engage with the arguments.
Read 7 tweets
17 Dec 20
Let's be very clear that what Salve wants to do here is to effectively kill the right to protest by firing from the court's shoulder. It's the easiest thing for State agents to infiltrate a peaceful protest, cause violence, and then leave the "organiser" to bear the brunt.
In fact that's what the UP government has been up to with its ordinances. Make sure nobody ever calls a (peaceful) protest, because even if somebody totally random causes violence, the state can swoop down, confiscate your property, and put you in jail.
Read 4 tweets
20 Nov 20
One full thread of the most up-to-date jurisprudence on "personal liberty":

Guardians of "personal liberty" having a very normal one today.

The relentless pursuit of "personal liberty" by the courts brings a lump to every throat and a tear to every eye.

Read 18 tweets

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