Deliberative democracy in crisis: Lessons from India

The process of deliberative democracy is structured in two ways, namely, in law-making (through dissent and deliberation) and judicial decisions (as a counter to majoritarian decision making). Our paper posits that this notion of democracy is under challenge in India from both the majoritarian government and an independent judiciary. This is discerned through our analysis of two incidents. The first incident relates to the enactment and subsequent repeal of three farm laws by the Indian government in 2021 in violation of legal and political constitutionalism. While the second one concerns the recent decision of the Supreme Court in NIA v. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali that it is not permissible for courts to question prosecution cases while deciding bail in anti-terror cases, which in turn has resulted in high incarceration rates. We argue that these incidents are causing a crisis of deliberative democratic norms in India and propitiating hegemonic discourses of majoritarianism in India.