Gautam Bhatia
Porterfolio

Gautam Bhatia

Lawyer


From Kenya, a Reminder of How Wrong India is on Criminal Defamation

There is a growing, cross-border jurisprudence that is coming to understand that arguments against criminal defamation go beyond parochialism and are applicable in any constitutional democracy that claims to value the freedom of speech and expression.

The Wire / February 2017

The Constitutional Case against India’s Blasphemy Law

If the correct test is one of incitement to lawless action, then Section 295A are far too broad. Under no interpretation can it be said that intentional insult to religion, or to religious feelings, is necessarily equivalent to ‘incitement’.

The Wire / January 2016

My way on the highway

The top court’s orders banning liquor sale on highways encroach upon the executive’s domain of policymaking

The Hindu / April 2017

Upsetting a very fine balance

Three recent instances invite disturbing questions about the transformation of the Supreme Court

The Hindu / February 2017

Two takes on democracy

This week, a divided Supreme Court placed before us two visions of the public sphere, pitting the ideal of the universal citizen against citizen-electors situated within their social contexts

The Hindu / January 2017

It’s not about just national security

‘National security’ must mark the beginning of the debate over the one-day ban on NDTV India, not the end of it. Our broadcast laws allow the government sweeping powers of censorship with negligible attendant costs

The Hindu / November 2016

The equality of entry

The Haji Ali Dargah case verdict was arrived at by hewing closely to the Constitution, to law, and to the task of defending individual rights. It is admirable for resisting the temptation of interpretive adventurism

The Hindu / September 2016

The fault in our speech

The Madras High Court must be lauded for upholding the rights of writer Perumal Murugan. But for speech to be truly free, the judiciary must stop asking literature to justify its aesthetic or its intent

The Hindu / July 2016

A case for cutting out the censor

The Cinematograph Act, its Guidelines, and the censor board, by making the government the arbiter of what films are fit or unfit for citizens to see, are fundamentally at odds with our constitutional vision

The Hindu / June 2016

A blow against free speech

The Supreme Court has always had an ambivalent relationship with the freedom of speech and expression, treating free speech more as anannoyance than a right. Its defamation law judgment continues that long, unfortunate history.

The Hindu / May 2016

Laws that make us human

Maharashtra’s new social boycott law is an important step that must be applauded. It should also inspire work on a comprehensive anti-discrimination law on the lines of the Civil Rights enactments in the U.S. and U.K.

The Hindu / April 2016

Azaadi from a colonial rule book

Sections 377 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code highlight how the British left their stamp upon India’s criminal law in a manner entirely inconsistent with a democratic, constitutional republic. Parliament must take stock of the IPC for the first time in i

The Hindu / March 2016

The case against customary exclusion

The question of whether women can be barred entry to the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala demands a solution that advances the constitutional guarantee of equality, non-discrimination and freedom of religion.

The Hindu / January 2016

Achtung! Patents Ahead

Wikileaks’ revelations of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter highlight a particularly insidious attempt by the United States to undermine India’s patent regime, thus undermining its efforts to keep medicines affordable

Outlook / October 2014

Copy This

Students have been photocopying expensive text-books all these years, and the publishing industry has thrived and prospered. Should not the Copyright Act have a liberal exception for educational books?

Outlook / September 2014

Goondagiri Of The Goonda Act

Karnataka government now is equipped to arrest you even before you commit an offence under the IT Act—even if it thinks you are planning to send a 'lascivious' photo to a WhatsApp group, or forwarding a copyrighted song...

Outlook / August 2014

The Assange Exception

June 19 marks two years that the founder of Wikileaks has spent as a political refugee within the confines of the Ecuadorean embassy in London. A time to consider our own engagement with the surveillance state.

Outlook / June 2014

Forget Kejriwal

It's not about AAP but about a law that allows a man to be put in prison because he called a politician “corrupt”. The debate about India’s criminal defamation laws is long overdue.

Outlook / May 2014

Public Stories, Private Censorship

Free speech liberals should accept Navyana’s legal right to not publish Joe D’Cruz’s book, but nonetheless condemn its actions with the same vigour as they protested Penguin's decision regarding Doniger's book

Outlook / April 2014

No Flats To Let For Muslims?

It is common practice to deny a house, otherwise generally available on rent, to a person because of their religion. Time to recall the lost radicalism of Article 15(2)

Outlook / March 2014

Untold Stories

If there was ever a time for the judiciary to redeem itself and to end the ambiguity about free speech, the time is now, when press freedoms stand at a critical crossroads.

Outlook / February 2014

Watching Big Brother Watching You...

As disturbing details about Netra become public, there are valuable lessons for India in the ongoing American debate over bulk telephone surveillance which has left two American courts to give opposing verdicts

Outlook / January 2014

The Unbearable Wrongness of Koushal vs Naz

Today's Supreme Court judgment that reverses the Delhi High Court judgment of 2009 is both constitutionally preposterous and morally egregious.

Outlook Magazine / December 2013

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