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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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