Institute for Social and Economic Change

Established in 1972 by Professor V K R V Rao, ISEC is an All-India Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and Training in the Social Sciences

Panel 6 – isec

Panel 6

Panel 6

Association of Academic for Social Justice

Conference on

Intergroup Inequality in Indian Society: Magnitude, Nature, Sources, Policies, and the Movement

Organized by

Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru

Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), Delhi

Association of Academic for Social Justice (AASJ), Delhi

Dates of conference:
August 23-25, 2023
ISEC, Bengaluru
Panel 6: Law and Constitution
Law as a phenomenon is not merely concerned with regulating social behavior. As a system of social regulation, it has been used both as an instrument of social oppression, and of social change. Therefore, law is not just about what it is but is also defined by the processes through which it has come. Furthermore, law has been historically used as an instrument of exclusion. Customs and social practices, which have the effect of law, subjugated several communities to oppression and discrimination. It is therefore necessary to question how law has been used as a system of exclusion. Equally important is to understand how the constitutional notion of law was envisaged to counter the exclusionary conception of law. Ambedkar made efforts to utilize this constitutional conception of law to make social discrimination a criminal act. It is significant to analyze to what extent the constitutional or egalitarian conception of law has been able to undo the effects of social exclusion. This is because constitutional frameworks face a challenge from societal norms of caste and inequality every day. In this context of contradiction between the laws and actual practice, the role of egalitarian economic and social structure needs to be recognized.
In summary, three main questions appear: 1) How has law been used as an instrument of exclusion? 2) How did the constitutional conception of law challenge the social systems of caste and discrimination? 3) What are limitations of legal solution? and (4) How will an egalitarian economic and social structure facilitate the access of civil, political and economic rights to the depressed classes? .
The sub-themes chosen under this main theme will address the following questions:
  1. A set of papers will discuss the laws or legal framework related to the institution of caste and untouchability, and women’s rights laid down by Hindu shastras and how discriminatory they have been in terms of denial of rights to the Scheduled castes and women resulting in massive inter-caste and gender inequalities between the SCs and high castes.
  2. Why has the impact of the Untouchability Act, 1955 (renamed Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1979), and Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 been limited among the laws which were developed as part of constitutional conception of law?
  3. What are the other conditions necessary for effective outcomes from anti-discriminatory laws? How is the egalitarian economic structure and the social normative structure supportive of provision of equality and freedom necessary for structural change in caste and gender discrimination?
  4. How did the administration, dominated by high castes, enforce the laws in a manner such that it preserved their interests and cause loss of less rights? In other words how the caste character of judiciary and the legal administration act in bias manner?
  5. Has the caste bias crept into delivery of social justice by the judges and the lawyers? The panelists will also deliberate on the limitations of laws against discrimination in educational institutions.
This theme will also be taken up on all the three days through parallel sessions. The organisers expect to have about 12 parallel sessions, and about three Keynote addresses and special lectures on this theme.

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