I. The first piece that we have under discussion is from Deirdre N. Dlugoleski. Ms.Dlugoleski joined EarthRights as a Bertha Fellow in September 2020. Before joining EarthRights, Ms.Deirdre was a legal fellow at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, where she worked on strategic litigation before the Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Her research article is titled “Undoing historical injustice: the role of the Forest Rights Act and the Supreme Court in departing from colonial forest laws”, which is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/
The abstract states- “In terms of land tenure security, forest dwellers in India, who own and manage less than 3% of forested land nationwide, are among the worst off in the world. Vulnerable to forced eviction at any point, they stand at risk of losing their homes and means of survival with little legal redress. The Forest Rights Act of 2006, an attempt to increase their security, recognizes both individual and community land claims and mandates a uniform process for granting legal title. Greater recognition of forest rights, however, implicates the interests of powerful extractive industries also seeking control over forest land. In the Niyamgiri case, the Indian Supreme Court defended an indigenous claim against a multinational corporation by tying cultural rights to land. This reasoning pushed Indian jurisprudence closer to developing international law on indigenous land rights, particularly that of the Interamerican system, which can offer guidance for building on this precedent.”
- Ms Dlugoleski discusses her research Article here.
In his response piece, C.R. Bijoy stresses upon the importance of being familiar with the context when deciphering laws and court orders. He highlights some of the important ground realities of forest governance in India, and gives specific instances wherein the role of the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change need to be scrutinised. In doing so, he attempts to contextualise the arguments raised in Dlugoleski’s research article. You can find the response here.
- In her response piece, Shalini Iyengar focuses on some key questions and areas for future enquiry that emerge from Ms. Dlugoleski’s Paper. She highlights the linkages between public protests and environment law-making made by the Paper, and questions the role of religion and ethics in Indian environmental and human rights law. She also considers the scope of the Supreme Court’s effort to “read in” international human rights law in the Niyamgiri case. You can find the response here.
II. Zaid Deva is an LLM Candidate & Felix Scholar, SOAS University of London. He has completed his undergraduate studies from Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar. In his research article titled “Basic without Structure?: the Presidential Order of 1954 and the Indo-Jammu & Kashmir Constitutional Relationship”, he argues that the autonomous status of J&K inheres in the State by virtue of the fact that J&K CA designed the State’s constitutional relationship with the Union. He looks at the role of the 1954 Order in this constitutional relationship by relying on the CA debates (which interestingly treat it as part of the state’s constitution) and argues why it could not have been superseded by following the processes of Article 370. The research article is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/24730580.2020.1791520.
The abstract of the article reads as follows:
“In August 2019, India revoked unilaterally the autonomous position of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. This came in the backdrop of multiple petitions before its Supreme Court challenging this autonomous status, particularly Article 35A of the Presidential Order of 1954 (Basic Order) on the ground that its “incorporation” in the “Indian Constitution” amounted to an “amendment” and the same was unconstitutional for violating the basic structure. The Indian union’s decision to supersede the Basic Order by employing the mechanism of Article 370 and the constitutional challenge against Article 35A raise a deeper question on the nature of J&K’s accession to India, the resultant Indo-J&K constitutional relationship, and the place of the Basic Order in the constitutional scheme. Without first situating the Basic Order in the constitutional scheme, the question of basic structure violation by Article 35A and the (un)constitutionality of the August decision cannot be fully appreciated.”
- Mr. Zaid Deva introduces his article here.