THE UNFULFILLED PROMISE OF A LIBERAL DEMOCRACY: THE CASE OF BANGLADESH

When Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation on December 16, 1971, the founding fathers sought to establish a liberal democracy that would uphold the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of individuals. However, this paper will demonstrate that after almost 50 years of independence, the promise of a liberal democracy has remained elusive in Bangladesh. The current government of the Bangladesh Awami League has resorted to one draconian measure after another to suppress any threat to its aspiration of perpetuating power, as is evident from the fact that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not shied away from resorting to: a) the draconian Digital Security Act, 2018 for persecuting critics of its mismanaged response to the pandemic; and b) heinous tools, such as extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance, to put down adversaries. Thus, this paper will put forward recommendations for ensuring the realisation of the elusive promise on which the nation was founded.

EXPERIENCES OF INDIA’S MIGRANT WORKERS DURING THE PANDEMIC – A PAINFUL CONTRADICTION IN INDIA’S CONSTITUTIONAL NATIONHOOD

“We the People” remains an abstraction enshrined within India’s constitutional ethos. It commits to a universal adult franchise and free and fair elections. However, if the experience of our migrant workers tells us anything, it is this: the attainment of universal adult franchise and the presence of seventy years of electoral democracy has had little bearing on actually transforming the labouring masses into “We the People.” This contradiction has been exacerbated during the pandemic, with millions of migrant workers missing from the country's official data deprived of access to state's social security schemes, thus denying them their basic human rights. Drawing from these incidents, this paper will examine the crisis of political legitimacy in India. The paper will outline what it means to be democratic in India’s constitutional nationhood, and will argue that federal and state governments have violated this ethos due to their actions and inactions regarding internal migrants.

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATIONS FOR THE PANDEMIC: THE INDIAN HIGH COURTS ON THE COVID-19 CRISIS

The High Courts in India enjoy concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Court with regard to Public Interest Litigations (PILs), but studies in PILs usually focus upon the Supreme Court itself. This paper aims to study the pattern of invocation of the PILs jurisdiction at the regional level before the High Courts. It surveys the variety of pleas and consequent actions or inaction under the PIL jurisdiction of different High Courts in India relating to COVID crisis and consequential matters. To that end, this paper undertakes a survey of High Court orders or judgments from April to July 2020. It seeks to understand the extent of demands made before the courts through PILs and the consequent response from the courts, and ask if the directions and level of response was homogenous or varied. It argues that the High Courts need to take greater cognisance of their orders inter-se, especially in PILs matters, as human rights protection through PILs cannot have contradictory voices.