Over the past three decades human rights movements in India have persistently interrogated systems of criminal justice in the country. The concerns have ranged from addressing the problem of arbitrary detention during the emergency to constructing entire communities as criminal thereby justifying forced dispossession and/or mass violence. While overt violence by state actors and their complicity in violence by dominant private actors has been a major concern, there has also been the problem of the abdication by the state with respect to provision of the means for bare life to a majority of the people, the denial of the right to bare life compounding their vulnerability to a repressive rule of law. There is a widespread acceptance of the fact that the law is unequal especially in terms of access to and delivery of justice, inequality of process negating the fundamental guarantee of equality.

This collection of essays re-examines the field of criminology through an interdisciplinary lens, challenging in the process unproblematic assumptions of the rule of law and opening out avenues for a renewed and radical restatement of the contexts of criminal law in India. This collection is a significant step towards mapping the ways in which interdisciplinary research and human rights activism might inform legal praxis more effectively and holistically. The contributors are a diverse group – widely respected activists, bureaucrats, scholars, and professionals – who share concerns on criminal justice systems and the need to entrench human rights in the Indian polity.

Khap Panchayats in Haryana: Sites of Legal Pluralism

Khap Panchayats in Haryana: Sites of legal pluralism


The Khap1 Panchayat, like the caste system and joint family systems, is a traditional institution engaged primarily in dispute resolution and in regulating the behaviour of individuals or groups in rural North India. While the smaller issues are taken up by the village panchayats, the Khap Panchayats resolve disputes of wider concern within their operative territory. Sometimes active in the political sphere, they have mainly been confined to social issues. Historically speaking, the Khap Panchayats are very old. But they attracted the attention of scholars only when the electronic media highlighted certain of their decisions which violated the human rights of individuals. These decisions were mainly related to marriages which ...

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