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.
In all those cases, the Court's blanket refusal to issue a stay was directly harmful to a fair adjudication of the case, as it allowed the government to permanently alter the facts on the ground. Examples - Aadhaar, J&K Reorganisation Act + many others.
Oh. Electoral Bonds.

Court won't stay laws where status quo is benefiting govt. Court will kick those cases into cold storage so that status quo continues indefinitely and continues to benefit govt.
But suddenly, here, the Court pops in, stays laws, forms committee without the courtesy of an explanation.

This is not a judicial institution. It is, however, as I said in my first tweet, an institution engaging in a particularly cynical brand of power politics.
Also, today's hearing demonstrates the worst aspects of PIL culture (btw, anyone managed to find out who exactly Mr Salve is representing, given his outsize role in arguments?).

Any talk of judicial reform has to include root and branch PIL reform, or it is eyewash.


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More from @gautambhatia88

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
10 Nov 20
Finished reading "Unclaimed Harvest: An Oral History of the Tebhaga Women's Movement", by Kavita Punjabi:…

What a wonderful and haunting book. <thread>

As the name suggests, the book is about the Tebhaga Movement (1946 - 1948), which was a peasant-led movement in Bengal, demanding 2/3 of the harvest for the tiller.…

It eventually turned into an armed insurrection and was put down with force. (2/n)
Punjabi's focus is on the (prominent) role of women in the movement, which she reconstructs through oral interviews and testimonies, taken many years after it was over.

Read 10 tweets
3 Oct 20
Finished reading @aptshadow's The Doors of Eden. Whew. It's a really good book, and you should read it. A brief thread with some of my favourite passages (no spoilers):

"But this is still made landscape. We can never return it to what it was. The land is never still, and what we've made here cannot change and grow like a land should. It is a garden, but a garden is better than a wasteland."

"He was not good. He was good. He was not bad.

There are shades of qualities that your language does not accommodate. Between us there was not love or love but love. Love is pain sometimes. Sometimes pain is good ... complicated things."

Read 7 tweets
3 Oct 20
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.

Read 7 tweets
27 Aug 20
Some thoughts on this deep dive by the @EconomicTimes into the making of the Data Protection Report (article unfortunately paywalled, but honestly, just this one alone is worth the subscription).…

@EconomicTimes When the Data Protection Report came out, many of us voiced concern about how surveillance reform was completely excluded.

Now it turns out that the same people who were drafting the Data Protection Report were also advising government on NATGRID.

@EconomicTimes And not to mention, had argued against the right to privacy in the Supreme Court.

You may have the best will in the world, but simultaneously advising the government on how to facilitate a national surveillance database, while drafting a data protection report...?

Read 8 tweets

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