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.

Preserving Wellness and Personhood: A Psychosocial Approach to the Child

Preserving wellness and personhood: A psychosocial approach to the child
ShekharP.Seshadri and KaveriI.Haritas

Do you hear

the plaintive cry

for personhood, for wholeness?

Be strong, dear system

and look with clear eye

upon these little beings

Broken in body

and equally in spirit…

An identity


by the desires

and callousness

of the adult world.

Be compassionate, dear system

for it is

only you

who can be the bridge

between their entitlement

and its thwarting

on a stormy night…

(Shekhar P. Seshadri)

In the legal framework, where adulthood is the minimum essential to be heard, where childhood is conceptualised conflictingly in terms of protection, invisibility and punishment, and where childhood means lack of a voice and the right to be taken seriously, children find themselves as the most vulnerable and marginalised group, lacking the power to bargain ...

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