Explained: The Big Legal Questions Of 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, BOOM recaps important legal developments through explainers that expound on the issues.

Is it illegal to cheer for a rival cricket team? What is sedition? What should you know about the surveillance laws in India? What is defamation? Can the police check your WhatsApp messages?

These were some of the questions on our minds this year. As the year 2021 draws to a close, BOOM recaps the important legal developments through explainers.

1) What Is AFSPA, And Why Are Northeast States Asking For Its Repeal

Days after the army shot 11 civilians in a case of 'mistaken identity' on December 4, chief ministers from the country's north-eastern states called upon the Centre to repeal AFSPA with Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio observing that the "law has blackened the image of the country". Critics claim AFSPA has failed its primary aim to contain terrorism and restore normalcy in disturbed areas.

Also Read: Nagaland Civilian Killings Case Of Mistaken Identity: Amit Shah To Parliament

2) Is It Illegal To Cheer For A Rival Cricket Team? We Asked Legal Experts

Following the Indian cricket team's resounding defeat against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, the Uttar Pradesh government announced that it would invoke charges of sedition against those who cheered for the rival team Pakistan. The state's reaction raised an important query—is it illegal to cheer for a rival sports team?

Also Read: Manipur Sees Sharpest Rise To Top The 2020 List In Sedition Cases

3) India Today Versus Newslaundry: What is Defamation?

News broadcaster India Today filed a Rs. 2 crore defamation suit against digital news portal Newslaundry, the third it is facing. Times Now and Sakal Times have filed similar but different suits in the recent past. High-profile defamation suits put the focus on what the law is, and what it means for free speech.

4) Explained: India's Refugee Policy, Will It Help Displaced Afghans?

Disturbing visuals of Afghan and foreign nationals fleeing Afghanistan hours after the Taliban took control of the government on August 15 raised concerns about a burgeoning refugee crisis and how it would impact its largest neighbour—India.

5) Explained: What is the Uniform Civil Code?

The Allahabad High Court on November 18 joined the chorus of high courts who have recommended the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). What is the uniform civil code and how will it affect a multi-ethnic, secular country like India where religion has shaped personal laws.

Also Read: Explained: Who Is Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay Ex BJP Spokesperson

6) Explained: The Debate Surrounding the Laws On Marital Rape In India

In a significant development that will boost women's autonomy, the Gujarat High Court said it would decide on the constitutional validity of whether the exception to Marital Rape under rape laws violates fundamental rights. "It is high time that a writ court undertakes the exercise of considering, whether the Exception 2 of Section 375 of the India Penal Code, 1860 could be termed as manifestly arbitrary and makes a woman's fundamental right to sexual autonomy subject to the whims of her husband," the Court said while issuing notice.

Also Read: Marital Rape Is Cruelty, Good Ground For Divorce: Kerala HC

7) Explained: What Is Sedition And Why The SC Wants It Dropped

In July, the Supreme Court expressed concern over the abuse of the sedition law and lack of Executive accountability for the same. Authorities have enormous potential to misuse it, and this poses a threat to the functioning of democracy, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had said issuing notice on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the colonial-era law.

Also Read: "Do We Need The Sedition Law After 75 Years?": Supreme Court To Centre

8) Explained: 7 Things To Know About Surveillance Laws In India

Disclosures from the Pegasus project, a leaked list of potential targets for illegal surveillance, have thrown democracies across the world in a tizzy. Revelations that spyware sold by Israel-backed NSO group was used to target opposition leaders, civil rights' defenders, union ministers, businessmen, and in India's case even Supreme Court judges have sparked outrage in sections of the society prompting the need to know more about the surveillance laws in India.

Also Read: SC Appoints Expert Committee To Probe Allegations Of Pegasus Snooping

9) Explained: The Places Of Worship Act And Pleas Around It

Supreme Court's notice on the plea challenging the Places of Worship Act, 1991 re-ignites the debate on the 30-year-old law. the plea filed by Wasif Hasan, a mosque custodian, claimed the PWA, 1991 is a mischievous one that aims at isolating the Muslim community as a separate category from other major religious communities in India.

Also Read: Why Varanasi Court Order On Kashi-Vishwanath Land Dispute Is Problematic

10) Explained: Can WhatsApp Chats Be Produced In A Court As Evidence?

This year, there was an intense focus on Whatsapp chats as evidence in several high-profile cases. Chats accessed from Aryan Khan's phone during his incarceration following a drugs bust; purported messages between Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta; among others have put the spotlight on the importance of privacy of private communications and which part of that interaction can be constituted as evidence.

Also Read: Karnataka HC Issues Guidelines For Search/Seizure of Electronic Device

Updated On: 2021-12-31T18:27:41+05:30
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