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Section 124A. Sedition

Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

  • Explanation 1.—The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
  • Explanation 2.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
  • Explanation 3.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.[3]


Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for sedition. The Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, under the British Raj. Section 124A forms part of Chapter VI of the Code which deals with offences against the state. Chapter VI comprises sections from 121 to 130, wherein section 121A and 124A were introduced in 1870. The then British government in India feared that Muslim preachers on the Indian subcontinent would wage a war against the government. Particularly after the successful suppression of Wahabi/Waliullah Movement by the British, the need was felt for such law. Throughout the Raj, this section was used to suppress activists in favour of national independence, including Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, both of whom were found guilty and imprisoned.

The section kept drawing criticism in the independent India as well for being a hindrance to the right to free speech. Sedition was made a cognizable offence for the first time in history in India during the tenure of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1973, that is, arrest without a warrant was now permissible.[1][2] In 1962 the Supreme Court of India interpreted the section to apply only if there is, say, “incitement to violence” or “overthrowing a democratically elected government through violent means”.[2]

History of development

The section related to sedition initially had its place in the code, as Section 113, when Thomas Babington Macaulay drafted the Penal Code in 1837. However, for reasons unknown, it was omitted from the actual Code. It was finally added in 1870 on the suggestion of James Fitzjames Stephen, at the time handling legal issues in the colonial Government of Indian.[4] Due to increasing Wahabi activities, and fearing that Muslim preachers would incite religious war in the Indian subcontinent, the Raj introduced this section under the title “Exciting disaffection”.[5]

Stephen’s version of 1870 was amended to a large extent through IPC Amendment Act of 1898. The current section stands very much similar to this 1898’s section; however minor alterations were made at various points in India’s colonial and post-colonial history—in 1937, 1948, 1950, and by Part B States (Law) Act, 1951.[4]

A case in 1958, Ram Nandan v State, heard by the Allahabad High Court declared the sedition law void.[6] The Punjab high court had also struck down the law.[7] A Supreme Court judgement in 1962 brought back sedition into the Constitution, interpreting the section to say that it only applies if there is “incitement to violence”.[8][2]

Sedition was made cognizable for the first time during the tenure of Indira Gandhi via the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which replaced the 1898 CrPC.[1][2]

Notable cases


The first known registered case under the section was in Calcutta High Court in 1891; Queen Empress v Jogendra Chunder Bose. Bose’s article, published in his own Bengali magazine Bangobasi, criticized the Age of Consent Act, 1891. The Act was described as “forced Europeanisation” and a gag on Hindus, who were described as legally incapable and prevented from rebelling against the Act. The authorities put forth a claim that Bose had incited rebellion; in his instructions to the jury, the Chief Justice William Comer Petheram explained the meaning of “disaffection” as “a feeling contrary to affection, in other words, dislike or hatred” and linked it with disobedience towards the government.[5] Bose was nevertheless released on bail, and the case was dropped.[9][10]

The sedition trial of 1897 against Lokmanya Tilak is historically famous. Tilak, a lawyer by training, was also politically active in support of independence. He established and published two dailies—Kesari in Marathi and Mahratta in English; both being published from Pune. In 1894, Professor R. P. Karkaria presented his paper on the Maratha king Shivaji to the Royal Asiatic Society in Bombay. This turned into an annual celebration commemorating the anniversary of Shivaji’s coronation. Three years later, Tilak published reports of this celebration, as “Shivaji’s Utterances”; this essay doubled as an attack on the colonial government. Justice Arthur Strachey, who presided over Tilak’s case, widened the understanding of Section 124A. Under Strachey’s definition, the attempt to excite “feelings of enmity” against government was also a form of sedition. Tilak was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 18 months of rigorous imprisonment.[5][9] Tilak again faced charges against sedition for two Kesari articles, titled “The Country’s Misfortune” (12 May 1908) and “These Remedies Are Not Lasting” (9 June 1908). He was again found guilty under the newly drafted section 124A, and sentenced to six years of imprisonment in Burma.[9]

In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi‘s three articles for Young India resulted into his and Shankarlal Banker‘s imprisonment under the sedition section. While appearing in court, Gandhi referred to Section 124A as the “prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”.[11]


In 1951, the Punjab High Court ruled Section 124A to be unconstitutional. A similar ruling was passed in 1959 by the Allahabad High Court, which also concluded that it struck at the very root of free speech. The Government of India appealed to the Supreme Court of India, which in 1962 ruled that speeches against the government or political parties was not illegal, while upholding it as applicable to separatism by persuasion or force; this pronouncement had the effect of diluting the law.[12][13]

During the 21st century, various notable authors, creative professionals, activists and politicians have been charged with sedition under Section 124A. Cases include the then Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) general secretary Praveen Togadia (2003), Simranjit Singh Mann (2005), Binayak Sen (2007), author Arundhati Roy (2010), cartoonist Aseem Trivedi (2012),[14] student activist Rinshad Reera[15] (2019), climate activist Disha Ravi (2020).[16]


In post-independence India, Section 124A came under criticism at numerous intervals, being singled out for its curbing of free speech. When the First Amendment of the Constitution of India was passed in 1951, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposed to “get rid of it [Section 124A]” as written, and favoured handling sedition-related by other means.[13] Several opinion-makers have called for the abolishing of sedition laws in the context of the 2016 protests at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.[17][18] In 2018, the Law Commission of India published a consultation paper that asked for a possible amendment or repeal of the law.[19] During the 2019 Indian general election, the opposition Indian National Congress (INC) included a specific proposal to abolish Section 124A in their manifesto.[20] However, while the INC-led United Progressive Alliance had been in power (2004–2014), the section had remained intact and was used to file charges on various citizens; following 2012-2013 protests against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, an “astonishing number” of citizens faced trial under Section 124A: 23,000 were in temporary custody, of whom 9,000 were arrested only for sedition.[21]

Critics of the law claim that sedition is an outdated law from the colonial era and it curtails the freedom of speech and that it has no place in a modern democracy.[22] Critics further point out that the law was introduced by the colonial government in India to curtail dissent and that Britain has since abolished this law in 2009. The then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice of UK, Claire Ward said:

“The existence of these obsolete offences in this country had been used by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws which have been actively used to suppress political dissent and restrict press freedom. Abolishing these offences will allow the UK to take a lead in challenging similar laws in other countries, where they are used to suppress free speech.” [23]

The Editors Guild of India has called this a “draconian law”, and has demanded the repeal of this law and has also expressed that “this law has no space in any modern liberal democracy”. The Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) also has said:

“We have noticed, with dismay, a growing trend in India in recent times where both central and state governments have routinely slapped sedition charges on journalists for articles, tweets, Facebook posts that criticise government policies…In January 2021, IWPC founder member Mrinal Pande and some other journalists were booked for sedition for tweets relating to farmers’ protest.” [24]

The Press Club of India has condemned the use of this law by state governments against senior journalists for the coverage of the farmers protests.[25]


  1.  Chndrachud, Abhinav (2021-02-22). “The Case to Amend Sedition Law, India’s Self-Inflicted Wound”TheLeaflet. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d Utkarsh, Anand (2021-03-04). “Disagreeing with govt is not sedition, says SC”Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  3. ^ “Section 124A in The Indian Penal Code”. Indian Kanoon. Retrieved 22 May2019.
  4. Jump up to:a b c Gaur, Krishna Deo (2009). Textbook on the Indian Penal Code. Universal Law Publishing. pp. 220, 226–227. ISBN 978-8175347038.
  5. Jump up to:a b c Bhatia, Gautam (2016). Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199089529.
  6. ^ Kumar, Ayush (3 March 2021). “Section 124A: An Archaic Way to Stifle Dissent In India”Bar and Bench – Indian Legal news. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  7. ^ Bhatia, Gautam (2016-01-24). “The nine lives of the sedition law”mint. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  8. ^ Noorani, A. G. (15 January 2021). “How a Supreme Court judgment brought back the sedition law in India”Frontline. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  9. Jump up to:a b c Saxena, Namit (8 July 2018). “A Look Back At Tilak’s Sedition Trials”. Live Law. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  10. ^ “Panel Discussion on Free Speech and Sedition in a Democracy”The Hindu. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  11. ^ “Republic of dissent: Gandhi’s sedition trial”. Live Mint. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  12. ^ “Anti-sedition law needs the bin”Economic Times. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  13. Jump up to:a b Prakash, Satya. “To repeal or not: Nehruvian dilemma on sedition law”10 September 2018 (The Tribune). Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  14. ^ “5 high profile sedition cases in India”. Rediff. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  15. ^ Scroll Staff. “Kerala: Two students of Malappuram college arrested on charges of sedition” Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  16. ^ SAYEED, VIKHAR AHMED. “Disha Ravi, an environmental activist from Bengaluru, arrested by Delhi police and charged with sedition for ‘formulation and dissemination’ of a toolkit to aid protesting farmers which was shared by Greta Thunberg”Frontline. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  17. ^ “Why India’s sedition law needs to be buried”Mint. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  18. ^ “The Indian State must scrap the sedition law”Hindustan Times. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  19. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (30 August 2018). “Law Commission calls for re-think on sedition clause”The Hindu. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  20. ^ “Congress manifesto promises to do away with British-era sedition law”. India Today. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  21. ^ Biswas, Soutik (29 August 2016). “Why India needs to get rid of its sedition law”. BBC. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  22. ^ Reema Omer, Dawn com. “India’s sedition law is just another colonial hangover and has no place in a democracy” Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  23. ^ “Sedition law in UK abolished in 2009, continues in India”Hindustan Times. 2016-02-14. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  24. ^ Jun 5, TNN /; 2021; Ist, 04:23. “Editors Guild welcomes Supreme Court verdict on sedition case against Vinod Dua | India News – Times of India”The Times of India. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  25. ^ “Journalists’ Bodies Slam Sedition FIRs Against Editors, Reporters for Farmers’ Rally Coverage”The Wire. Retrieved 2021-06-11.


The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act was a controversially named landmark legislation passed by the parliament of India in 1986 to protect the rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by, or have obtained divorce from, their husbands and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act was passed by the Rajiv Gandhi government to nullify the decision in the Shah Bano case.[1][2][3] This case caused the Rajiv Gandhi government, with its absolute majority, to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which diluted the secular judgement of the Supreme Court.

It is administered by any magistrate of the first class exercising jurisdiction under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. As per the Act, a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to reasonable and fair provision and maintenance from her former husband, and this should be paid within the period of iddah.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of this Act, when a Muslim divorced woman is unable to support herself after the iddah period that she must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man, the magistrate is empowered to make an order for the payment of maintenance by her relatives who would be entitled to inherit her property on her death according to Muslim Law. But when a divorced woman has no such relatives, and does not have enough means to pay the maintenance, the magistrate would order the State Waqf Board to pay the maintenance. The ‘liability’ of husband to pay the maintenance was thus restricted to the period of the iddah only.[4][5]

Personal laws

High Courts have interpreted “just and fair provision” that a woman is entitled to during her iddat period very broadly to include amounts worth lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of rupees. More recently the Supreme Court in Danial Latifi v. Union of India read the Act with Articles 14 and 15 of the constitution which prevent discrimination on the basis of sex and held that the intention of the framers could not have been to deprive Muslim women of their rights. Further the Supreme Court construed the statutory provision in such a manner that it does not fall foul of Articles 14 and 15.

The provision in question is Section 3(1)(a) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which states that “a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance to be made and paid to her within the iddah period by her former husband”.[6] The Court held this provision means that reasonable and fair provision and maintenance is not limited for the iddah period (as evidenced by the use of word “within” and not “for”). It extends for the entire life of the divorced wife until she remarries.[7] In Shabana Bano v Imran Khan, the Supreme Court held that a Muslim divorced woman who has no means to maintain herself is entitled to get maintenance from her former husband even after the period of iddah and she can claim the same under S.125 CrPC.[8][9]

Divorced women are entitled to maintenance not only for iddat period from their former husband but also to reasonable and fair provisions for future maintenance. S.3 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act has to be given under the liberal interpretation to help divorced women. K. Zunaideen v. Ameena Begum (1998) 1 ctc 566[10]


The Act is declaratory & retrospective in its operation. Even if wife is divorced prior to the commencement of the act Husband is liable to provide reasonable & fair provision & maintenance to her. Hyder khan v. mehrunnisa(1993)1 APLJ 82 DNC (KER)[11]


  1.  “Maintenance for Muslim women”The Hindu. 7 August 2000. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015.
  2. ^ “From Shah Bano to Salma – Indian Express”.
  3. ^ “Triple Talaq: Abolishing the practice will grant Muslim men divorce with dignity”.
  4. ^ On violence: a reader 2007, p. 262-265.
  5. ^ The politics of autonomy : Indian experiences 2005, p. 60-63.
  6. ^ “Arif Mohammad Khan on Shah Bano case: ‘Najma Heptullah was key influence on Rajiv Gandhi'”.
  7. ^ Danial Lathifi Vs Union of India. supreme court judgment. 2001.
  8. ^ “Shabana Bano Vs Imran Khan”supreme court. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  9. ^ “How the Indian Left lost the plot on the uniform civil code”.
  10. ^ Muslim Women (Prot. of Rights on Div.) Act, 1986 with Rules – (Bare Act)(2015 ed.). EBC. p. 3.
  11. ^ “Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Divorce Act 1986” (2015). Eastern Book Company: 1–10.


The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA) was enacted in India in 1956 as part of the Hindu Code Bills. The other legislations enacted during this time include the Hindu Marriage Act (1955), the Hindu Succession Act (1956), and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956). All of these acts were put forth under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, and were meant to codify and standardise the current Hindu legal tradition. The Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956 dealt specifically with the legal process of adopting children by a Hindu adult, and with the legal obligations of a Hindu to provide “maintenance” to various family members including their wife or parents, and in-laws.


This act applies to Hindus and all those considered under the umbrella term of Hindus, which includes:

  • a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or development;
  • BuddhistJain or Sikh;
  • a child legitimate or illegitimate whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs;
  • a child legitimate or illegitimate one of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs and has been so brought up;
  • an abandoned child, legitimate or illegitimate of unknown parentage brought up as a Hindu, Buddhist, etc.; and
  • a convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh religion.

Persons who are MuslimsChristiansParsis or Jews are excluded from this definition.

The act does not also apply to adoptions that took place prior to the date of enactment. However, it does apply to any marriage that has taken place before or after the Act had come into force and Moreover, if the wife is not a Hindu then the husband is not bound to provide maintenance for her under this Act under modern Hindu Law.[1]


Who can adopt?

Under this act only Hindus may adopt subject to their fulfilment of certain criteria. The first of these asserts that the adopter has the legal right to (under this Act that would mean they are a Hindu). Next, they have to have the capacity to be able to provide for the adopted child. Thirdly the child must be capable of being adopted. Lastly, compliance with all other specifications (as outlined below) must be met to make the adoption valid.[2]

Men can adopt if they have the consent of their wife or of all of their wives. The only way of getting around obtaining the permission of the wife or of the wives is if she or if they are unsound, if they have died, if they have completely and finally renounced the world, and if they have ceased to be a Hindu. Men who are unmarried can adopt as well as long as they are not a minor. However, if a man were to adopt a daughter, the man must be twenty one years of age or older.[3]

Only unmarried Hindu women can legally adopt a child. A married woman can only give her consent to adoption by her husband. A married woman whose husband adopts a child is to be considered the mother.[3] If the child is adopted and there are more than one wife living in the household, then the senior wife is classified as the legal mother of the adopted child.[4]

Who can be adopted?

The adopted child can be either male or female. The adopted child must fall under the Hindu category. The adoptee also needs to be unmarried; however, if the particular custom or usage is applicable to the involved parties then the adoptee can be married. The child cannot be the age of fifteen or older, unless again it is custom or the usage is applicable to the involved parties. An adoption can only occur if there is not a child of the same sex of the adopted child still residing in the home. In particular, if a son were to be adopted then the adoptive father or mother must not have a legitimate or adopted son still living in the house.[3]

Legal implications for an adopted child

From the date of the adoption, the child is under the legal guardianship of the new adopted parent(s) and thus should enjoy all the benefits from those family ties. This also means that this child, therefore, is cut off from all legal benefits (propertyinheritance, etc.) from the family who had given him or her up for adoption.[3]


Maintenance of a wife

A Hindu wife is entitled to be provided for by her husband throughout the duration of her lifetime per Section 18 of HAMA ’56.[citation needed] Regardless of whether the marriage was formed before this Act was instated or after, the Act is still applicable. The only way the wife can null her maintenance is if she renounces being a Hindu and converts to a different religion, or if she commits adultery.[1]

The wife is allowed to live separately from her husband and still be provided for by him. This separation can be justified through a number of different reasons, including if he has another wife living, if he has converted to a different religion other than Hinduism, if he has treated her cruelly, or even has a violent case of leprosy.[1]

If the wife is widowed by her late husband, then it is the duty of the father-in-law to provide for her. This legal obligation only comes into effect if the widowed wife has no other means of providing for herself. If she has land of her own, or means of an income and can maintain herself then the father-in-law is free from obligation to her. Additionally, if the widow remarries then her late husband’s father-in-law is not legally bound by this Act anymore as well.[1]

Maintenance of a child or of aged parents

Under this Act, a child is guaranteed maintenance from his or her parents until the child ceases to be a minor. This is in effect for both legitimate and illegitimate children who are claimed by the parent or parents. Parents or infirmed daughters, on the other hand, must be maintained so long as they are unable to maintain for themselves.[1] Sections 20-22 of the Act cover the same, and provide for the maintenance of any dependents of an individual.

Amount of maintenance provided

The amount of maintenance awarded, if any, is dependent on the discretion of the courts. Particular factors included in the decision process include the position or status of the parties, the number of persons entitled to maintenance, the reasonable wants of the claimants if the claimant is living separately and if the claimant is justified in doing so, and the value of the claimant’s estate and income. If any debts are owed by the deceased, then those are to be paid before the amount of maintenance is awarded or even considered.[1]


  1.  “The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956”
  2. ^ “The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956”
  3. Jump up to:a b c d “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 5 July 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  4. ^ [1][dead link]


The Emergency in India was a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution because of the prevailing “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977. The order bestowed upon the Prime Minister the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be cancelled and civil liberties to be suspended. For much of the Emergency, most of Indira Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned and the press was censored. Several other human rights violations were reported from the time, including a mass forced sterilization campaign spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi, the Prime Minister’s son. The Emergency is one of the most controversial periods of independent India’s history.

The final decision to impose an emergency was proposed by Indira Gandhi, agreed upon by the president of India, and thereafter ratified by the cabinet and the parliament (from July to August 1975), based on the rationale that there were imminent internal and external threats to the Indian state.[1][2]

Rise of Indira Gandhi

Between 1967 and 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to obtain near-absolute control over the government and the Indian National Congress party, as well as a huge majority in Parliament. The first was achieved by concentrating the central government’s power within the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, rather than the Cabinet, whose elected members she saw as a threat and distrusted. For this, she relied on her principal secretary, P. N. Haksar, a central figure in Indira’s inner circle of advisors. Further, Haksar promoted the idea of a “committed bureaucracy” that required hitherto-impartial government officials to be “committed” to the ideology of the ruling party of the day.

Within the Congress, Indira ruthlessly outmanoeuvred her rivals, forcing the party to split in 1969—into the Congress (O) (comprising the old-guard known as the “Syndicate”) and her Congress (R). A majority of the All-India Congress Committee and Congress MPs sided with the prime minister. Indira’s party was of a different breed from the Congress of old, which had been a robust institution with traditions of internal democracy. In the Congress (R), on the other hand, members quickly realised that their progress within the ranks depended solely on their loyalty to Indira Gandhi and her family, and ostentatious displays of sycophancy became routine. In the coming years, Indira’s influence was such that she could install hand-picked loyalists as chief ministers of states, rather than their being elected by the Congress legislative party.

Indira’s ascent was backed by her charismatic appeal among the masses that was aided by her government’s near-radical leftward turns. These included the July 1969 nationalisation of several major banks and the September 1970 abolition of the privy purse; these changes were often done suddenly, via ordinance, to the shock of her opponents. She had strong support in the disadvantaged sections—the poor, Dalits, women and minorities. Indira was seen as “standing for socialism in economics and secularism in matters of religion, as being pro-poor and for the development of the nation as a whole.”[4]

In the 1971 general elections, the people rallied behind Indira’s populist slogan of Garibi Hatao! (abolish poverty!) to award her a huge majority (352 seats out of 518). “By the margin of its victory,” historian Ramachandra Guha later wrote, Congress (R) came to be known as the real Congress, “requiring no qualifying suffix.”[4] In December 1971, under her proactive war leadership, India routed arch-enemy Pakistan in a war that led to the independence of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. Awarded the Bharat Ratna the next month, she was at her greatest peak; for her biographer Inder Malhotra, “The Economist‘s description of her as the ‘Empress of India’ seemed apt.” Even opposition leaders, who routinely accused her of being a dictator and of fostering a personality cult, referred to her as Durga, a Hindu goddess.[5][6][7]

Increasing government control of the judiciary

In 1967’s Golaknath case,[8] the Supreme Court said that the Constitution could not be amended by Parliament if the changes affect basic issues such as fundamental rights. To nullify this judgement, Parliament dominated by the Indira Gandhi Congress, passed the 24th Amendment in 1971. Similarly, after the government lost a Supreme Court case for withdrawing the privy purse given to erstwhile princes, Parliament passed the 26th Amendment. This gave constitutional validity to the government’s abolition of the privy purse and nullified the Supreme Court’s order.

This judiciary–executive battle would continue in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati Case, where the 24th Amendment was called into question. With a wafer-thin majority of 7 to 6, the bench of the Supreme Court restricted Parliament’s amendment power by stating it could not be used to alter the “basic structure” of the Constitution. Subsequently, Prime Minister Gandhi made A. N. Ray—the senior-most judge amongst those in the minority in Kesavananda BharatiChief Justice of India. Ray superseded three judges more senior to him—J. M. ShelatK. S. Hegde and Grover—all members of the majority in Kesavananda Bharati. Indira Gandhi’s tendency to control the judiciary met with severe criticism, both from the press and political opponents such as Jayaprakash Narayan (“JP”).

Political unrest

This led some Congress party leaders to demand a move towards a presidential system emergency declaration with a more powerful directly elected executive. The most significant of the initial such movement was the Nav Nirman movement in Gujarat, between December 1973 and March 1974. Student unrest against the state’s education minister ultimately forced the central government to dissolve the state legislature, leading to the resignation of the chief minister, Chimanbhai Patel, and the imposition of President’s rule. Meanwhile, there were assassination attempts on public leaders as well as the assassination of the railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra by a bomb. All of these indicated a growing law and order problem in the entire country, which Mrs Gandhi’s advisors warned her of for months.

In March–April 1974, a student agitation by the Bihar Chatra Sangharsh Samiti received the support of Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, referred to as JP, against the Bihar government. In April 1974, in Patna, JP called for “total revolution,” asking students, peasants, and labour unions to non-violently transform Indian society. He also demanded the dissolution of the state government, but this was not accepted by the centre. A month later, the railway-employees union, the largest union in the country, went on a nationwide railways strike. This strike which was led by the firebrand trade union leader George Fernandes who was the President of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation. He was also the President of the Socialist Party. The strike was brutally suppressed by the Indira Gandhi government, which arrested thousands of employees and drove their families out of their quarters.[9]

Raj Narain verdict

Raj Narain, who had been defeated in the 1971 parliamentary election by Indira Gandhi, lodged cases of election fraud and use of state machinery for election purposes against her in the Allahabad High CourtShanti Bhushan fought the case for Narain. Indira Gandhi was also cross-examined in the High Court which was the first such instance for an Indian Prime Minister.[10]

On 12 June 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court found the prime minister guilty on the charge of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign. The court declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in the Lok Sabha. The court also banned her from contesting any election for an additional six years. Serious charges such as bribing voters and election malpractices were dropped and she was held responsible for misusing government machinery and found guilty on charges such as using the state police to build a dais, availing herself of the services of a government officer, Yashpal Kapoor, during the elections before he had resigned from his position, and use of electricity from the state electricity department.[11]

Because the court unseated her on comparatively frivolous charges, while she was acquitted on more serious charges, The Times described it as “firing the Prime Minister for a traffic ticket”.[citation needed] Her supporters organised mass pro-Indira demonstrations in the streets of Delhi close to the Prime Minister’s residence.[12] The persistent efforts of Narain were praised worldwide as it took over four years for Justice Sinha to pass judgement against the prime minister.[citation needed]

Indira Gandhi challenged the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, on 24 June 1975, upheld the High Court judgement and ordered all privileges Gandhi received as an MP be stopped, and that she be debarred from voting. However, she was allowed to continue as Prime Minister pending the resolution of her appeal. Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai called for daily anti-government protests. The next day, Jayaprakash Narayan organised a large rally in Delhi, where he said that a police officer must reject the orders of government if the order is immoral and unethical as this was Mahatma Gandhi‘s motto during the freedom struggle. Such a statement was taken as a sign of inciting rebellion in the country. Later that day, Indira Gandhi requested a compliant President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to proclaim a state of emergency. Within three hours, the electricity to all major newspapers was cut and the political opposition arrested. The proposal was sent without discussion with the Union Cabinet, who only learnt of it and ratified it the next morning.[13][14]

Proclamation of the Emergency

The Government cited threats to national security, as a war with Pakistan had recently been concluded. Due to the war and additional challenges of drought and the 1973 oil crisis, the economy was in poor condition. The Government claimed that the strikes and protests had paralysed the government and hurt the economy of the country greatly. In the face of massive political opposition, desertion and disorder across the country and the party, Gandhi stuck to the advice of a few loyalists and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi, whose own power had grown considerably over the last few years to become an “extra-constitutional authority”. Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, proposed to the prime minister to impose an “internal emergency”. He drafted a letter for the President to issue the proclamation based on information Indira had received that “there is an imminent danger to the security of India being threatened by internal disturbances”. He showed how democratic freedom could be suspended while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution.[15][16]

After a quick question regarding a procedural matter, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declared a state of internal emergency upon the prime minister’s advice on the night of 25 June 1975, just a few minutes before the clock struck midnight.

As the constitution requires, Mrs Gandhi advised and President Ahmed approved the continuation of Emergency over every six months until she decided to hold elections in 1977. In 1976, Parliament voted to delay elections, something it could only do with the Constitution suspended by the Emergency.[17][18]


Indira Gandhi devised a ’20-point’ economic programme to increase agricultural and industrial production, improve public services and fight poverty and illiteracy, through “the discipline of the graveyard”.[19] In addition to the official twenty points, Sanjay Gandhi declared his five-point programme promoting literacy, family planning, tree planting, the eradication of casteism and the abolition of dowry. Later during the Emergency, the two projects merged into a twenty-five-point programme.[20]


Invoking article 352 of the Indian Constitution, Gandhi granted herself extraordinary powers and launched a massive crackdown on civil rights and political opposition. The Government used police forces across the country to place thousands of protestors and strike leaders under preventive detention. Vijayaraje ScindiaJayaprakash NarayanRaj NarainMorarji DesaiCharan SinghJivatram KripalaniAtal Bihari VajpayeeLal Krishna AdvaniArun Jaitley,[21] Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Gayatri Devi, the dowager queen of Jaipur,[22] and other protest leaders were immediately arrested. Organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Jamaat-e-Islami, along with some political parties, were banned. Numerous Communist leaders[clarification needed] were arrested along with many others involved with their party. Congress leaders who dissented against the Emergency declaration and amendment to the constitution, such as Mohan Dharia and Chandra Shekhar, resigned their government and party positions and were thereafter arrested and placed under detention.[23][24]

Cases like the Baroda dynamite case and the Rajan case became exceptional examples of atrocities committed against civilians in independent India.

Laws, human rights and elections

Elections for the Parliament and state governments were postponed. Gandhi and her parliamentary majorities could rewrite the nation’s laws since her Congress party had the required mandate to do so – a two-thirds majority in the Parliament. And when she felt the existing laws were ‘too slow’, she got the President to issue ‘Ordinances’ – a law-making power in times of urgency, invoked sparingly – completely bypassing the Parliament, allowing her to rule by decree. Also, she had little trouble amending the Constitution that exonerated her from any culpability in her election-fraud case, imposing President’s Rule in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, where anti-Indira parties ruled (state legislatures were thereby dissolved and suspended indefinitely), and jailing thousands of opponents. The 42nd Amendment, which brought about extensive changes to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, is one of the lasting legacies of the Emergency. In the conclusion of his Making of India’s Constitution, Justice Khanna writes:

If the Indian constitution is our heritage bequeathed to us by our founding fathers, no less are we, the people of India, the trustees, and custodians of the values which pulsate within its provisions! A constitution is not a parchment of paper, it is a way of life and has to be lived up to. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and in the final analysis, its only keepers are the people. The imbecility of men, history teaches us, always invites the impudence of power.[25]

A fallout of the Emergency era was the Supreme Court laid down that, although the Constitution is amenable to amendments (as abused by Indira Gandhi), changes that tinker with its basic structure[26] cannot be made by the Parliament. (see Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala)[27]

In the Rajan case, P. Rajan of the Regional Engineering College, Calicut, was arrested by the police in Kerala on 1 March 1976,[28] tortured in custody until he died and then his body was disposed of and was never recovered. The facts of this incident came out owing to a habeas corpus suit filed in the Kerala High Court.[29][30]

Many cases where teens were arrested and imprisoned have come into light, one such example is of Dilip Sharma who aged 16 was arrested and imprisoned for over 11 months. He was released based on Patna High Court‘s judgment on 29 July 1976.[31]

Forced sterilisation

In September 1976, Sanjay Gandhi initiated a widespread compulsory sterilisation programme to limit population growth. The exact extent of Sanjay Gandhi’s role in the implementation of the programme is disputed, with some writers[32][33][34][35] holding Gandhi directly responsible for his authoritarianism, and other writers[36] blaming the officials who implemented the programme rather than Gandhi himself. It is clear that international pressure from the United States, United Nations, and World Bank played a role in the implementation of these population control measures.[37] Rukhsana Sultana was a socialite known for being one of Sanjay Gandhi’s close associates[38] and she gained a lot of notoriety in leading Sanjay Gandhi’s sterilisation campaign in Muslim areas of old Delhi.[39][40][41] The campaign primarily involved getting males to undergo vasectomy. Quotas were set up that enthusiastic supporters and government officials worked hard to achieve. There were allegations of coercion of unwilling candidates too.[42] In 1976–1977, the programme led to 8.3 million sterilisations, most of them forced, up from 2.7 million the previous year. The bad publicity led every government since 1977 to stress that family planning is entirely voluntary.[43]

  • Kartar, a cobbler, was taken to a Block Development Officer (BDO) by six policemen, where he was asked how many children he had. He was forcefully taken for sterilisation in a jeep. En route, the police forced a man on the bicycle into the jeep because he was not sterilised. Kartar had an infection and pain because of the procedure and could not work for months.[44]
  • Shahu Ghalake, a peasant from Barsi in Maharashtra, was taken for sterilisation. After mentioning that he was already sterilised, he was beaten. A sterilisation procedure was undertaken on him for a second time.[44]
  • Hawa Singh, a young widower, from Pipli was taken from the bus against his will and sterilised. The ensuing infection took his life.[44]
  • Harijan, a 70-year-old with no teeth and bad eyesight, was sterilised forcefully.[44]
  • Ottawa, a village 80 kilometres south of Delhi, woke up to the police loudspeakers at 03:00. Police gathered 400 men at the bus stop. In the process of finding more villagers, police broke into homes and looted. A total of 800 forced sterilisations were done.[44]
  • In Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, on 18 October 1976, police picked up 17 people, nine Hindus, and eight Muslims, of which two were over 75 and two under 18. Hundreds of people surrounded the police station demanding they free captives. The police refused to release them and used tear gas shells. The crowd retaliated by throwing stones and to control the situation, the police fired on the crowd. 30 people died as a result.[44]

Criticism of the Government

Criticism and accusations from the Emergency era may be grouped as:

  • Detention of people by police without charge or notification of families
  • Abuse and torture of detainees and political prisoners
  • Use of public and private media institutions, like the national television network Doordarshan, for government propaganda
  • During the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi asked the popular singer Kishore Kumar to sing for a Congress party rally in Bombay, but he refused.[45] As a result, Information and broadcasting minister Vidya Charan Shukla put an unofficial ban on playing Kishore Kumar songs on state broadcasters All India Radio and Doordarshan from 4 May 1976 till the end of Emergency.[46][47]
  • Forced sterilisation.
  • Destruction of the slum and low-income housing in the Turkmen Gate and Jama Masjid area of old Delhi.
  • Large-scale and illegal enactment of new laws (including modifications to the Constitution).


  1.  “Interview with Indira Gandhi”Interview relecast through India times. TV Eye. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  2. ^ “recallign the emergency”The Indian Express. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  3. ^ Guha, p. 467
  4. Jump up to:a b Guha, p. 439
  5. ^ Malhotra, p. 141
  6. ^ Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar (2013). “The Pioneers: Durga Amma, The Only Man in the Cabinet”. In Derichs, Claudia; Thompson, Mark R. (eds.). Dynasties and Female Political Leaders in Asia: Gender, Power and PedigreeISBN 978-3-643-90320-4. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  7. ^ Puri, Balraj (1993). “Indian Muslims since Partition”. Economic and Political Weekly28 (40): 2141–2149. JSTOR 4400229.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Doshi, Vidhi (9 March 2017). “Indira Jaising: “In India, you can’t even dream of equal justice. Not at all””The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  10. ^ “Justice Sinha, who set aside Indira Gandhi’s election, dies at 87”The Indian Express. 22 March 2008. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  11. ^ Kuldip Singh (11 April 1995). “OBITUARY: Morarji Desai”The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  12. ^ Katherine Frank (2001). Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi. HarperCollins. pp. 372–373. ISBN 0-00-255646-4.
  13. ^ “Indian Emergency of 1975-77”. Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  14. ^ “The Rise of Indira Gandhi”Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  15. ^ NAYAR, KULDIP (25 June 2000). Yes, Prime Minister Archived 11 February 2010 at the Wayback MachineThe Indian Express.
  16. ^ “[Explained] Why Did Indira Gandhi Impose Emergency In 1975?”. thehansindia.
  17. ^ Malhotra, Inder (4 August 2014). “The abrupt end of Emergency”The Indian Express. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  18. ^ Times, William Borders; Special to The New York (5 February 1976). “DELAY IN ELECTION IS VOTED IN INDIA”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  19. ^ Jaitely, Arun (5 November 2007) – “A tale of three Emergencies: real reason always different”The Indian Express
  20. ^ Tarlo, Emma (2001). Unsettling memories : narratives of the emergency in Delhi. University of California Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-520-23122-8. Retrieved 28 June2016.
  21. ^ Today, India. “Arun Jaitley: From Prison to Parliament”.
  22. ^ Malgonkar, Manohar (1987). The Last Maharani of Gwalior: An Autobiography By Manohar Malgonkar. pp. 233, 242–244. ISBN 9780887066597.
  23. ^ Austin, Granville (1999). Working a Democratic Constitution – A History of the Indian Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 320ISBN 019565610-5.
  24. ^ Narasimha Rao, the Best Prime Minister? by Janak Raj Jai – 1996 – Page 101
  25. ^ H. R. Khanna (2008). Making of India’s Constitution. Eastern Book Co, Lucknow, 1981. ISBN 978-81-7012-108-4.
  26. ^ V. Venkatesan, Revisiting a verdict Frontline (vol. 29 – Issue 01 :: 14–27 Jan 2012)
  27. ^ “The case that saved Indian democracy”The Hindu (24 April 2013). Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  28. ^ PUCL Archives, Oct 1981, Rajan.
  29. ^, Report dated 26 June 2000.
  30. ^ “Fresh probe in Rajan case sought “. The Hindu, 25 January 2011.
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ Vinay Lal. “Indira Gandhi”. Retrieved 1 August 2013. Sanjay Gandhi, started to run the country as though it were his fiefdom and earned the fierce hatred of many whom his policies had victimised. He ordered the removal of slum dwellings, and in an attempt to curb India’s growing population, initiated a highly resented programme of forced sterilisation.
  33. ^ Subodh Ghildiyal (29 December 2010). “Cong blames Sanjay Gandhi for Emergency ‘excesses'”The Times of India. Archived from the original on 28 August 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2013. Sanjay Gandhi’s rash promotion of sterilization and forcible clearance of slums … sparked popular anger
  34. ^ Kumkum Chadha (4 January 2011). “Sanjay’s men and women”. Retrieved 1 August 2013. The Congress, on the other hand, charges Sanjay Gandhi of “over-enthusiasm” in dealing with certain programmes and I quote yet again: “Unfortunately, in certain spheres, over-enthusiasm led to compulsion in the enforcement of certain programmes like compulsory sterilisation and clearance of slums. Sanjay Gandhi had by then emerged as a leader of great significance.”.
  35. ^ “Sanjay Gandhi worked in an authoritarian manner: Congress book”. 28 December 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  36. ^ India: The Years of Indira Gandhi. Brill Academic Pub. 1988. ISBN 9788131734650.
  37. ^ Green, Hannah Harris. “The legacy of India’s quest to sterilise millions of men”Quartz India. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  38. ^ “Tragedy at Turkman Gate: Witnesses recount horror of Emergency”.
  39. ^ “Those were the days”.
  40. ^ “Emergency Duty”.
  42. ^ Gwatkin, Davidson R. ‘Political Will and Family Planning: The Implications of India’s Emergency Experience’, in: Population and Development Review, 5/1, 29–59;
  43. ^ Carl Haub and O. P. Sharma, “India’s Population Reality: Reconciling Change and Tradition,” Population Bulletin (2006) 61#3 pp 3+. online
  44. Jump up to:a b c d e f Mehta, Vinod (1978). The Sanjay Story. Harper Collins Publishers India.


In 2011, the national census of India found the total number of child labourers, aged [5–14], to be at 10.1 million, out of the total of 259.64 million children in that age group.[2] The child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 217 million children work, many full-time.[3]

As per the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, amended in 2016 (“CLPR Act”), a “Child” is defined as any person below the age of 14, and the CLPR Act prohibits employment of a Child in any employment including as a domestic help. It is a cognizable criminal offence to employ a Child for any work. Children between age of 14 and 18 are defined as “Adolescent” and the law allows Adolescent to be employed except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and explosives related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948.[4] In 2001, an estimated 1% of all child workers, or about 1,20,000 children in India were in a hazardous job.[5] Notably, the Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24.[6] UNICEF estimates that India with its larger population, has the highest number of labourers in the world under 14 years of age, while sub-Saharan African countries have the highest percentage of children who are deployed as child labourers.[7][8][9] The International Labour Organization estimates that agriculture, at 60 percent, is the largest employer of child labour in the world,[10] while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 70% of child labour is deployed in agriculture and related activities.[11] Outside of agriculture, child labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy.[12][13][14]

Companies including Gap,[15] Primark,[16] Monsanto[17] have been criticised for child labour in their products. The companies claim they have strict policies against selling products made by underage children for their own profit, but there are many links in a supply chain making it difficult to oversee them all.[17] In 2011, after three years of Primark’s effort, BBC acknowledged that its award-winning investigative journalism report of Indian child labour use by Primark was a fake. The BBC apologised to Primark, to Indian suppliers and all its viewers.[18][19] Another company that has come under much scrutiny was Nike. Nike was under pressure to speak up about alleged sweatshops that harbored children that the company was exploiting to make their sneakers. Since then Nike has come out with a separate web page that specifically points out where they get their products from and where their products are manufactured.

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and India figured among 74 countries where a significant incidence of critical working conditions has been observed. Unlike any other country[clarification needed], 23 goods were attributed to India, the majority of which are produced by child labour in the manufacturing sector.

In addition to the constitutional prohibition of hazardous child labour, various laws in India, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.[20]

Definition of child labour

The term ‘child labour’, suggests ILO,[21] is best defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. Interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

UNICEF defines child labour differently. A child, suggests UNICEF, is involved in child labour activities if between 5 and 11 years of age, he or she did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work in a week, and in case of children between 12 and 14 years of age, he or she did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of economic activity and domestic work per week.[22] UNICEF in another report suggests, “Children’s work needs to be seen as happening along a continuum, with destructive or exploitative work at one end and beneficial work – promoting or enhancing children’s development without interfering with their schooling, recreation and rest – at the other. And between these two poles are vast areas of work that need not negatively affect a child’s development.”

India’s Census 2001 office, defines[23] child labour as participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages or profit. Such participation could be physical or mental or both. This work includes part-time help or unpaid work on the farm, family enterprise or in any other economic activity such as cultivation and milk production for sale or domestic consumption. Indian government classifies child labourers into two groups: Main workers are those who work 6 months or more per year. And marginal child workers are those who work at any time during the year but less than 6 months in a year.

Some child rights activists argue that child labour must include every child who is not in school because he or she is a hidden child worker.[24] UNICEF, however, points out that India faces major shortages of schools, classrooms and teachers particularly in rural areas where 90 percent of child labour problem is observed. About 1 in 5 primary schools have just one teacher to teach students across all grades.[25][26][27][28]

After its independence from colonial rule, India has passed a number of constitutional protections and laws on child labour. The Constitution of India in the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy prohibits child labour below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or castle or engaged in any other hazardous employment (Article 24). The constitution also envisioned that India shall, by 1960, provide infrastructure and resources for free and compulsory education to all children of the age six to 14 years. (Article 21-A and Article 45).[20][29]

India has a federal form of government, and labour being a subject in the Concurrent List, both the central and state governments can and have legislated on child labour.

Factories Act, 1948

The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.

Mines Act, 1952

The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

A “Child” is defined as any person below the age of 14 and the CLPR Act prohibits employment of a Child in any employment including as a domestic help (except helping own family in non-hazardous occupations). It is a cognizable criminal offence to employ a Child for any work. Children between age of 14 and 18 are defined as “Adolescent” and the law allows Adolescent to be employed except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and explosives related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948.[30]

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2015

This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to keep a child in bondage for the purpose of employment.

Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

The law mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This legislation also mandated that 25 per cent of seats in every private school must be allocated for children from economically disadvantaged groups (implementation gaps remain).

India formulated a National Policy on Child Labour in 1987. This Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations. It envisioned strict enforcement of Indian laws on child labour combined with development programs to address the root causes of child labour such as poverty. In 1988, this led to the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) initiative. This legal and development initiative continues, with a current central government funding of Rs. 6 billion, targeted solely to eliminate child labour in India.[31] Despite these efforts, child labour remains a major challenge for India. No, child below age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any hazardous employment.


For much of human history and across different cultures, children less than 18 years old have contributed to family welfare in a variety of ways. UNICEF suggests that poverty is the biggest cause of child labour. The report also notes that in rural and impoverished parts of developing and undeveloped parts of the world, children have no real and meaningful alternative. Schools and also teachers are unavailable. Child labour is the unnatural result.[32] A BBC report, similarly, concludes poverty and inadequate public education infrastructure are some of the causes of child labour in India.

Between boys and girls, UNICEF finds girls are two times more likely to be out of school and working in a domestic role. Parents with limited resources, claims UNICEF, have to choose whose school costs and fees they can afford when a school is available. Educating girls tends to be a lower priority across the world, including India. Girls are also harassed or bullied at schools, sidelined by prejudice or poor curricula, according to UNICEF. Solely by virtue of their gender, therefore, many girls are kept from school or drop out, then provide child labour.[32]

The international labour organisation (ILO) and Spreading Smiles Through Education Organisation (OSSE) suggests poverty is the greatest single force driving children into the workplace.[33] Income from a child’s work is felt to be crucial for his/her own survival or for that of the household. For some families, income from their children’s labour is between 25 and 40% of the household income.

According to a 2008 study by ILO,[33] among the most important factors driving children to harmful labour is the lack of availability and quality of schooling. Many communities, particularly rural areas do not possess adequate school facilities. Even when schools are sometimes available, they are too far away, difficult to reach, unaffordable or the quality of education is so poor that parents wonder if going to school is really worthwhile. In government-run primary schools, even when children show up, government-paid teachers do not show up 25% of the time.[34][35][36] The 2008 ILO study suggests that illiteracy resulting from a child going to work, rather than a quality primary and secondary school, limits the child’s ability to get a basic educational grounding which would in normal situations enable them to acquire skills and to improve their prospects for a decent adult working life.[33]

An albeit older report published by UNICEF outlines the issues summarized by the ILO report. The UNICEF report claimed that while 90% of child labour in India is in its rural areas, the availability and quality of schools is decrepit; in rural areas of India, claims the old UNICEF report, about 50% of government funded primary schools that exist do not have a building, 40% lack a blackboard, few have books, and 97% of funds for these publicly funded school have been budgeted by the government as salaries for the teacher and administrators.[37] A 2012 Wall Street Journal article, reports while the enrollment in India’s school has dramatically increased in recent years to over 96% of all children in the 6–14-year age group, the infrastructure in schools, aimed in part to reduce child labour, remains poor – over 81,000 schools do not have a blackboard and about 42,000 government schools operate without a building with makeshift arrangements during monsoons and inclement weather.[35][38]

Biggeri and Mehrotra have studied the macroeconomic factors that encourage child labour. They focus their study on five Asian nations including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. They suggest[39] that child labour is a serious problem in all five, but it is not a new problem. Macroeconomic causes encouraged widespread child labour across the world, over most of human history. They suggest that the causes for child labour include both the demand and the supply side. While poverty and unavailability of good schools explain the child labour supply side, they suggest that the growth of low paying informal economy rather than higher paying formal economy – called organised economy in India – is amongst the causes of the demand side. India has rigid labour laws and numerous regulations that prevent growth of organised sector where work protections are easier to monitor, and work more productive and higher paying.[40][41][42]

The unintended effect of Indian complex labour laws is the work has shifted to the unorganised, informal sector. As a result, after the unorganised agriculture sector which employs 60% of child labour, it is the unorganised trade, unorganised assembly and unorganised retail work that is the largest employer of child labour. If macroeconomic factors and laws prevent growth of formal sector, the family owned informal sector grows, deploying low cost, easy to hire, easy to dismiss labour in form of child labour. Even in situations where children are going to school, claim Biggeri and Mehrotra, children engage in routine after-school home-based manufacturing and economic activity.[39] Other scholars too suggest that inflexibility and structure of India’s labour market, size of informal economy, inability of industries to scale up and lack of modern manufacturing technologies are major macroeconomic factors affecting demand and acceptability of child labour.[40][42][43]

Cigno et al. suggest the government planned and implemented land redistribution programs in India, where poor families were given small plots of land with the idea of enabling economic independence, have had the unintended effect of increased child labour. They find that smallholder plots of land are labour-intensively farmed since small plots cannot productively afford expensive farming equipment. In these cases, a means to increase output from the small plot has been to apply more labour, including child labour.[44][45]

In 1953 Rajaji legalised the child labour under Modified Scheme of Elementary education 1953.

Bonded child labour in India

Bonded child labour is a system of forced, or partly forced, labour under which the child, or child’s parent enter into an agreement, oral or written, with a creditor. The child performs work as in-kind repayment of credit.[46] In the 2005 ILO report, debt-bondage in India emerged during the colonial period, as a means of obtaining reliable cheap labour, with loan and land-lease relationships implemented during that era of Indian history. These were regionally called Hali, or Halwaha, or Jeura systems; and was named by the colonial administration as the indentured labour system. These systems included bonded child labour. Over time, claims the ILO report, this traditional forms of long-duration relationships have declined.[46][47]

In 1977, India passed legislation that prohibits solicitation or use of bonded labour by anyone, of anyone including children. Evidence of continuing bonded child labour continue. A report by the Special Rapporteur to India’s National Human Rights Commission, reported the discovery of 53 child labourers in 1996 in the state of Tamil Nadu during a surprise inspection. Each child or the parent had taken an advance of Rs. 1,00,000 to 2,50,000. The children were made to work for 12 to 14 hours a day and received only Rs. 2 to 3 per day as wages.[48][49] According to an ILO report, the extent of bonded child labour is difficult to determine, but estimates from various social activist groups range up to 350,000 in 2001.[46]

Despite its legislation, prosecutors in India rarely use the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976 to prosecute those responsible. According to one report,[50] the prosecutors have no direction from the central government that if a child is found to be underpaid, the case should be prosecuted not only under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, the case should include charges under the Bonded Labour Act of India. The few enforcement actions have had some unintended effects. While there has been a decrease in children working in factories because of enforcement and community vigilance committees, the report claims poverty still compels children and poor families to work. The factory lends money to whoever needs it, puts a loom in the person’s home, and then the family with children works out of their homes, bring finished product to pay interest and get some wages. The bonded child and family labour operations were moving out of small urban factories into rural homes.[50]


  1.  Table 2.8, WDI 2005, The World Bank
  2. ^ Age Data C13 Table (India/States/UTs ), Final Population – 2011 Census of India
  3. ^ “Child Labour – ILO”. ILO, United Nations. 2011.
  4. ^ “India: Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 Of India”.
  5. ^ “Children and Work (Annual Report 2009)” (PDF). Census 2001. 2008. p. 108.
  6. ^ “Constitution of India” Government of India.
  7. ^ “India- The big picture”UNICEF. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  9. Jump up to:a b Madslien, Jorn (4 February 2004). “ILO: ‘Child labour prevents is ver”BBC NEWS. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  10. ^ “Facts on Child Labor – 2010” (PDF). ILO, Geneva. 2011.
  11. ^ “Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of child labour worldwide”. FAO, United Nations. 2006.
  12. ^ “Child Labour”. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  13. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 29 January 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  14. ^ Burra, Neera. “Child labour in rural areas with a special focus on migration, agriculture, mining and brick kilns” (PDF). National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  15. ^ “Gap Under Fire: Reports Allege Child Labor”ABC News. Retrieved 22 October2009.
  16. ^ Hawkes, Steve (17 June 2008). “Primark drops firms using child labour”The Times. London. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  17. Jump up to:a b Bahree, Megha (3 October 2008). “Child Labor”Forbes. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  18. ^ Burrell, Ian; Hickman, Martin (17 June 2011). “BBC crisis over ‘fake’ sweatshop scene in Primark documentary”The Independent. London.
  19. ^ “Primark and BBC Panorama: the true story”. Primark. 2012. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012.
  20. Jump up to:a b “National Legislation and Policies Against Child in India”. International Labour Organization – an Agency of the United Nations, Geneva. 2011. Archived from the original on 9 August 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  21. ^ “What is child labour?”. International Labour Organization. 2012.
  22. ^ “Definitions: Child Protection”. UNICEF. 2012.
  23. ^ “Figures: An Analysis of Census 2001 Child Labour Facts and Figures” (PDF). Govt of India and ILO. 2007.
  24. ^ “Abolition of Child Labour– A Brief Note” (PDF). National Advisory Council. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2012.
  25. ^ “The Children – Education”. UNICEF. 2011.
  26. ^ “Global campaign for children – More teachers needed”. UNICEF. 24 April 2006.
  27. ^ Swati Chandra (10 April 2012). “Shortage of teachers cripples right to education”The Times of India. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
  28. ^ “Uniform shortage”. India Today. 3 September 2011.
  29. ^ “Constitution of india”Ministry of Law and Justice, Govt. of India. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  30. ^ “India: Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 Of India”.
  31. ^ “Initiatives towards Elimination of Child Labour – Action Plan and Present Strategy”. Ministry of Labour, Government of India. 2011. Archived from the original on 9 September 2011.
  32. Jump up to:a b “Beyond Child Labour – Affirming Rights” (PDF). UNICEF. 2001.
  33. Jump up to:a b c “Child labour – causes”. ILO, United Nations. 2008.
  34. ^ Basu, Kaushik (29 November 2004). “Combating India’s truant teachers”BBC News.
  35. Jump up to:a b “Are Indian Schools Getting Even Worse?”. The Wall Street Journal. 20 January 2012.
  36. ^ Kremer; et al. (September 2004). “TEACHER ABSENCE IN INDIA: A SNAPSHOT” (PDF). World Bank.
  37. ^ “Child Labour and Education – Digest 28” (PDF). UNICEF. 1990.
  38. ^ “India Journal: The Basic Shortages that Plague Our Schools”. The Wall Street Journal. 3 January 2012.
  39. Jump up to:a b Biggeri, Mario; Santosh Mehrotra (2007). Asian Informal Workers: Global Risks, Local Protection. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-38275-5.
  40. Jump up to:a b Grootaert, Christiaan; Harry Anthony Patrinos (1999). The Policy Analysis of Child Labor: A Comparative Study. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0312221225.
  41. ^ Galbi, Douglas (1997). “Child Labor and the Division of Labor in the Early English Cotton Mills” (PDF). Journal of Population Economics10 (4): 357–375. doi:10.1007/s001480050048PMID 12293082S2CID 5858814.
  42. Jump up to:a b Brown, D. K.; Deardorff, A. V.; Stern, R. M. Child Labor: Theory, Evidence, and Policy (Chapter 3, International Labor Standards: History, Theory, and Policy Options) (PDF). doi:10.1002/9780470754818.ch3ISBN 9781405105552.
  43. ^ Galbi, Douglas (1997). “Child Labor and the Division of Labor in the Early English Cotton Mills” (PDF). Journal of Population Economics10 (4): 357–375. doi:10.1007/s001480050048PMID 12293082S2CID 5858814.
  44. ^ Cigno, Rosati; Cigno, Tzannatos (December 2001). “Child Labor, Nutrition and Education in Rural India: An Economic Analysis of Parental Choice and Policy Options” (PDF). Pacific Economic Review. The World Bank.
  45. ^ Cigno, A.; F. C. Rosati (2002). “Child Labour, Education and Nutrition in Rural India”. Pacific Economic Review7: 65–83. doi:10.1111/1468-0106.00150S2CID 154702771.
  46. Jump up to:a b c “Incidence and Pattern” (PDF).
  47. ^ Brass, Tom (1986). “Unfree labour and capitalist restructuring in the Agrarian sector: Peru and India”. Journal of Peasant Studies14 (1): 50–77. doi:10.1080/03066158608438319.
  48. ^ “Annual Report 1999-2000”. National Human Rights Commission, Govt of India. 2000. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  49. ^ Debt Bondage in India: An Indicative Report. Centre for Education and Communication. 2004. pp. 48–50. ISBN 8188160113OCLC 177083728.
  50. Jump up to:a b “Small Change: Bonded Labour in India” (PDF). Human Rights Watch. January 2003

Taliban treatment of women


Punishments were often carried out publicly, either as formal spectacles held in sports stadiums or town squares or spontaneous street beatings. Civilians lived in fear of harsh penalties as there was little mercy; women caught breaking decrees were often treated with extreme violence.[10] Examples:

Gender policies

From the age of eight onward, girls in Afghanistan were not allowed to be in direct contact with males other than a close “blood relative”, husband, or in-law (see mahram).[10] Other restrictions for women were:

  • Women should not appear in the streets without a blood relative or wearing a burqa.
  • Women should not wear high-heeled shoes as no man should hear a woman’s footsteps lest it excite him.
  • Women must not speak loudly in public as no stranger should hear a woman’s voice.[11]
  • All ground and first-floor residential windows should be painted over or screened to prevent women from being visible from the street.
  • Photographing, filming and displaying pictures of females in newspapers, books, shops or the home was banned.
  • The modification of any place names that included the word “women”. For example, “women’s garden” was renamed “spring garden”.[12]
  • Women were forbidden to appear on the balconies of their apartments or houses.
  • Ban on women’s presence on radio, television or at public gatherings of any kind.[13]


The Taliban rulings regarding public conduct placed severe restrictions on a woman’s freedom of movement and created difficulties for those who could not afford a burqa or did not have any mahram. These women faced virtual house arrest.[2] A woman who was badly beaten by the Taliban for walking the streets alone stated “my father was killed in battle…I have no husband, no brother, no son. How am I to live if I can’t go out alone?”[14]

A field worker for the NGO Terre des hommes witnessed the impact on female mobility at Kabul’s largest state-run orphanage, Taskia Maskan. After the female staff was relieved of their duties, the approximately 400 girls living at the institution were locked inside for a year without being allowed outside for recreation.[10]

Decrees that affected women’s mobility were:

  • Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.
  • Women were forbidden to ride in a taxi without a mahram.
  • Segregated bus services introduced to prevent males and females travelling on the same bus.[11]


The lives of rural women were less dramatically affected as they generally lived and worked within secure kin environments. A relative level of freedom was necessary for them to continue with their chores or labor. If these women travelled to a nearby town, the same urban restrictions would have applied to them.[1]


The Taliban disagreed with past Afghan statutes that allowed the employment of Afghan women in a mixed sex workplace. The claim was that this was a breach of purdah and sharia law.[3] On September 30, 1996, the Taliban decreed that all women should be banned from employment.[15] It is estimated that 25 percent of government employees were female, and when compounded by losses in other sectors, many thousands of women were affected.[10] This had a devastating impact on household incomes, especially on vulnerable or widow-headed households, which were common in Afghanistan.[citation needed]

Another loss was for those whom the employed women served. Elementary education of children, not just girls, was shut down in Kabul, where virtually all of the elementary school teachers were women. Thousands of educated families fled Kabul for Pakistan after the Taliban took the city in 1996.[2][16] Among those who remained in Afghanistan, there was an increase in mother and child destitution as the loss of vital income reduced many families to the margin of survival.[citation needed]

Taliban Supreme Leader Mohammed Omar assured female civil servants and teachers they would still receive wages of around US$5 per month, although this was a short term offering.[17] A Taliban representative stated: “The Taliban’s act of giving monthly salaries to 30,000 job-free women, now sitting comfortably at home, is a whiplash in the face of those who are defaming Taliban with reference to the rights of women. These people through baseless propaganda are trying to incite the women of Kabul against the Taliban”.[3]

The Taliban promoted the use of the extended family, or zakat system of charity to ensure women should not need to work. However, years of conflict meant that nuclear families often struggled to support themselves let alone aid additional relatives.[2] Qualification for legislation often rested on men, such as food aid which had to be collected by a male relative. The possibility that a woman may not possess any living male relatives was dismissed by Mullah Ghaus, the acting foreign minister, who said he was surprised at the degree of international attention and concern for such a small percentage of the Afghan population.[10] For rural women there was generally little change in their circumstance, as their lives were dominated by the unpaid domestic and agricultural labour necessary for subsistence.[citation needed]1

Female health professionals were exempted from the employment ban, yet they operated in much-reduced circumstances. The ordeal of physically getting to work due to the segregated bus system and widespread harassment meant some women left their jobs by choice. Of those who remained, many lived in fear of the regime and chose to reside at the hospital during the working week to minimize exposure to Taliban forces.[2] These women were vital to ensuring the continuance of gynecological, ante-natal and midwifery services, be it on a much-compromised level. Under the Rabbani regime, there had been around 200 female staff working in Kabul’s Mullalai Hospital, yet barely 50 remained under the Taliban. NGOs operating in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 found the shortage of female health professionals to be a significant obstacle to their work.[18]


The other exception to the employment ban allowed a reduced number of humanitarian workers to remain in service. The Taliban segregation codes meant women were invaluable for gaining access to vulnerable women or conducting outreach research. This exception was not sanctioned by the entire Taliban movement, so instances of female participation, or lack thereof, varied with each circumstance.[2] The city of Herat was particularly affected by Taliban adjustments to the treatment of women, as it had been one of the more cosmopolitan and outward-looking areas of Afghanistan prior to 1995. Women had previously been allowed to work in a limited range of jobs, but this was stopped by Taliban authorities. The new governor of Herat, Mullah Razzaq, issued orders for women to be forbidden to pass his office for fear of their distracting nature.[19]

The Taliban claimed to recognize their Islamic duty to offer education to both boys and girls, yet a decree was passed that banned girls above the age of 8 from receiving education. Maulvi Kalamadin insisted it was only a temporary suspension and that females would return to school and work once facilities and street security were adapted to prevent cross-gender contact. The Taliban wished to have total control of Afghanistan before calling upon an Ulema body to determine the content of a new curriculum to replace the Islamic yet unacceptable Mujahadin version.[2]

The female employment ban was felt greatly in the education system. Within Kabul alone, the ruling affected 106,256 girls, 148,223 male students, and 8,000 female university undergraduates. 7,793 female teachers were dismissed, a move that crippled the provision of education and caused 63 schools to close due to a sudden lack of educators.[10] Some women ran clandestine schools within their homes for local children, or for other women under the guise of sewing classes, such as the Golden Needle Sewing School. The learners, parents and educators were aware of the consequences should the Taliban discover their activities, but for those who felt trapped under the strict Taliban rule, such actions allowed them a sense of self-determination and hope.[14]

Health care

Prior to the Taliban taking power in Afghanistan male doctors had been allowed to treat women in hospitals, but the decree that no male doctor should be allowed to touch the body of a woman under the pretext of consultation was soon introduced.[14] With fewer female health professionals in employment, the distances many women had to travel for attention increased while the provision of ante-natal clinics declined.[2]

In Kabul, some women established informal clinics in their homes to service family and neighbours, yet as medical supplies were hard to obtain their effectiveness was limited. Many women endured prolonged suffering or a premature death due to the lack of treatment. For those families that had the means, inclination, and mahram support, medical attention could be sought in Pakistan.[14]

In October 1996, women were barred from accessing the traditional hammam, public baths, as the opportunities for socializing were ruled un-Islamic. These baths were an important facility in a nation where few possessed running water and the bar gave cause for the UN to predict a rise in scabies and vaginal infections among women denied methods of hygiene as well as access to health care.[10] Nasrine Gross, an Afghan-American author, stated in 2001 that it has been four years since many Afghan women had been able to pray to their God as “Islam prohibits women from praying without a bath after their periods”.[20] In June 1998, the Taliban banned women from attending general hospitals in the capital, whereas before they had been able to attend a women-only ward of general hospitals. This left only one hospital in Kabul at which they could seek treatment.[21]

Forced confinement

Family harmony was badly affected by mental stress, isolation and depression that often accompanied the forced confinement of women. A survey of 160 women concluded that 97 percent showed signs of serious depression and 71 percent reported a decline in their physical well-being.[10] Latifa, a Kabul resident and author, wrote:[14]

The apartment resembles a prison or a hospital. Silence weighs heavily on all of us. As none of us do much, we haven’t got much to tell each other. Incapable of sharing our emotions, we each enclose ourselves in our own fear and distress. Since everyone is in the same black pit, there isn’t much point in repeating time and again that we can’t see clearly.

The Taliban closed the country’s beauty salons.[22][23] Cosmetics such as nail varnish and make-up were prohibited.[24]

Taliban restrictions on the cultural presence of women covered several areas. Place names including the word “women” were modified so that the word was not used. Women were forbidden to laugh loudly as it was considered improper for a stranger to hear a woman’s voice. Women were prohibited from participating in sports or entering a sports club.[25] The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) dealt specifically with these issues. It was founded by Meena Keshwar Kamal, a woman who amongst other things established a bi-lingual magazine called Women’s Message in 1981. She was assassinated in 1987 at the age of 30, but is revered as a heroine among Afghan women.

  • In October 1996, a woman had the tip of her thumb cut off for wearing nail varnish.[10]
  • In December 1996, Radio Shari’a announced that 225 Kabul women had been seized and punished for violating the sharia code of dress. The sentence was handed down by a tribunal and the women were lashed on their legs and backs for their misdemeanor.[26]
  • In May 1997, five female CARE International employees with authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior to conduct research for an emergency feeding programme were forced from their vehicle by members of the religious police. The guards used a public address system to insult and harass the women before striking them with a metal and leather whip over 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet) in length.[1]

While in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban became notorious internationally for their misogyny and violence against women. Their stated motive was to create a “secure environment where the chastity and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct”,[1] reportedly based on Pashtunwali beliefs about living in purdah.[2]

A member of the Taliban’s religious police beating an Afghan woman in Kabul on August 26, 2001. The footage, filmed by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, can be seen at

Women in Afghanistan were forced to wear the burqa at all times in public, because, according to one Taliban spokesman, “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” for men not related to them.[3] In a systematic segregation sometimes referred to as gender apartheid, women were not allowed to work, they were not allowed to be educated after the age of eight, and until then were permitted only to study the Qur’an.[4]

Women seeking an education were forced to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught.[5][6] They were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone, which led to illnesses remaining untreated. They faced public flogging and execution for violations of the Taliban’s laws.[7][8] The Taliban allowed and in some cases encouraged marriage for girls under the age of 16. Amnesty International reported that 80% of Afghan marriages were forced.[9]


Public execution of a woman, known as Zarmeena, by the Taliban at the Ghazi Sports Stadium, Kabul, November 16, 1999. The mother of seven children had been found guilty of killing her husband while he slept, after allegedly being beaten by him.[27][28]
  • In 1999, a mother of seven children was executed in front of 30,000 spectators in Kabul’s Ghazi Sport stadium for murdering her husband (see right). She was imprisoned for three years and extensively tortured prior to the execution, yet she refused to plead her innocence in a bid to protect her daughter (reportedly the actual culprit).[29]
  • When a Taliban raid discovered a woman running an informal school in her apartment, they beat the children and threw the woman down a flight of stairs (breaking her leg) and then imprisoned her. They threatened to stone her family publicly if she refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Taliban and their laws.[14]
  • An Afghan girl named Bibi Aisha was promised to a new family through a tribal method of solving disputes known as baad. When she fled the violence girls often suffer under baad, her new family found her, and a Taliban commander ordered her to be punished as an example, “lest other girls in the village try to do the same thing”.[30] Her ears and nose were cut off and she was left for dead in the mountains, but survived.[30]
  • Working women are threatened into quitting their jobs. Failure to comply with the Taliban’s threats has led to women being shot and killed, as in the case of 22-year-old Hossai in July 2010.[31]
  • In 2013, an Indian author Sushmita Banerjee was shot dead by Taliban Militants for allegedly defying Taliban dictates. She was married to an Afghan businessman and had recently relocated to Afghanistan. Earlier, she had escaped two instances of execution by Taliban in 1995 and later fled to India. Her book based on her escape from Taliban was also filmed in an Indian movie.[32]

Many punishments were carried out by individual militias without the sanction of Taliban authorities, as it was against official Taliban policy to punish women in the street. A more official line was the punishment of men for instances of female misconduct: a reflection of a patriarchal society and the belief that men are duty bound to control women. Maulvi Kalamadin stated in 1997, “Since we cannot directly punish women, we try to use taxi drivers and shopkeepers as a means to pressure them” to conform.[1] Here are examples of the punishment of men:

  • If a taxi driver picked up a woman with her face uncovered or unaccompanied by a mahram, then he faced a jail sentence, and the husband would be punished.
  • If a woman was caught washing clothes in a river then she would be escorted home by Islamic authorities where her husband/mahram would be severely punished.
  • If a tailor was found taking female measurements, the tailor would face imprisonment.[1]

This Article is orginally available on Amnesty Website, or kindly click the head line of this article for a redirect to the original content.

The current conflict in Afghanistan entered its twentieth year and continued to claim large numbers of civilian casualties. Attacks by the Taliban and other armed groups deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects in violation of international humanitarian law; sites that were attacked included a maternity hospital and educational institutions. There was no accountability for these crimes as impunity persisted. Women and girls continued to face violence, harassment and intimidation. Violence against children persisted. Afghan asylum-seekers continued to be forcibly returned to Afghanistan, particularly from Iran where some had been attacked by the Iranian security forces. The Afghan Government established a Joint Commission for protection of human rights defenders and civil society activists in Afghanistan; the Commission will work under the Second Vice-President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, and the members include activists and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

In February the Afghan Taliban signed a peace agreement with the USA ahead of a proposed withdrawal of US troops. The agreement included a pledge to release “up to 5,000” Taliban fighters held in Afghan government prisons from a list initially given to the USA, in exchange for 1,000 members of the Afghan security forces held by the armed group. The Afghan government resisted releasing 400 fighters from the list, who were alleged to be responsible for serious crimes. The proposed release of certain Taliban fighters also triggered concerns from France and Australia as it included those responsible for killing their soldiers. However, under pressure from the USA they too were released; a few who were accused of killing foreign citizens were subsequently transferred to Qatar. Eventually, more than 5,000 Taliban prisoners were released, including prisoners accused of serious crimes.

The US-Taliban peace agreement deferred the question of a political settlement in Afghanistan to direct talks between representatives of the Afghan government and various mainly political groups on one side, and representatives of the Taliban on the other. The so-called “intra-Afghan talks” began in September in Doha, Qatar. There was little representation of women on the side of the Afghan government, and no representation of women in the Taliban delegation. There was also no representation of conflict victims, despite the demands of human rights groups. By December, the negotiating teams had only agreed on an internal guiding principle for the negotiation processes.

Armed conflict

Despite the peace talks, the armed conflict continued to see civilians injured and killed throughout the year and a rise in the number of people internally displaced. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 2,177 civilians were killed and 3,822 wounded between 1 January and 30 September. Although the figures represented a 30% reduction in civilian casualties compared with the same period in 2019, the number of civilian deaths remained almost the same.

UNAMA reported that the Taliban was responsible for 45% of the civilian casualties, and the armed group calling itself the Islamic State in Khorasan was responsible for 7% of the civilian casualties between 1 January and 30 September. Armed groups were collectively responsible for the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians, including teachers, health workers, humanitarian workers, judges, tribal and religious leaders, and state employees. The attacks included violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, with civilians and civilian objects deliberately targeted. In May, a maternity hospital in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood in the west of the capital, Kabul, was attacked by gunmen. They killed 24 people, including new-born babies, pregnant women and health workers. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pro-government forces were responsible for more than a quarter of all deaths and injuries between 1 January and 30 September, with 602 people killed and 1,038 injured. These included 83 people killed and 30 injured by international military forces. According to UNAMA, the number of civilian casualties attributed to the Afghan National Army had increased in comparison to the previous year, mainly from airstrikes and ground engagements. UNAMA said violence increased in the lead-up to the peace talks.

Children continued to be recruited for combat, particularly by armed groups and the Afghan security forces – pro-government militias and local police – and faced multiple abuses, including sexual abuse. Afghanistan continued to be, according to UNAMA, “one of the deadliest countries in the world for children”, with both pro-government and anti-government forces responsible for more than 700 child casualties each. In October, First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh announced ordering the arrest of an individual who reported civilian casualties in an Afghan government air strike on a school, which had killed 12 children. Later, the Takhar provincial governor’s spokesperson reported that he was removed from his position for reporting on child civilian causalities caused by the Afghan security forces.


The peace agreement between the USA and the Taliban made no mention of human rights or of women. Under the agreement, impunity was preserved for serious crimes under international law by all parties. In September, the US administration cemented this position by imposing sanctions, including asset freezes, against the Prosecutor of the ICC, who was poised to lead an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity by all parties to the conflict since 2003.

Right to health

Afghanistan’s weak health care infrastructure was overwhelmed when COVID-19 swept across the country. A total of 52,011 cases and 2,237 deaths were recorded, which almost certainly did not represent the true scale of infection in the country. In most Afghan provinces there was no possibility of receiving a COVID-19 test, and samples were transported to the capital. The government’s response – implemented with the support of international donors – was sharply criticized, with allegations of corruption, and people with the greatest need of assistance being left behind. During quarantine, there were many reported cases of poor households having not been included in lists for the distribution of bread because they were not members of the community mosque, while those who were relatively better off received bread.

Internally displaced people, who were already living in precarious conditions before the pandemic, faced particular difficulties in accessing health care and basic amenities. Across the country, the number of people living in poverty remained high, at 55% of the population, and this figure was predicted to rise because of economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Refugees and internally displaced people

Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and EU countries continued to forcibly return migrants and asylum-seekers to Afghanistan, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. These returns, which slowed for a period during the pandemic, were alarming in light of the health care situation in Afghanistan, the unabated conflict, and high levels of poverty.

The Iranian authorities forcibly returned nearly 700,000 people between 1 January and 31 October. Iranian border forces were also responsible for attacks on Afghan migrants, including cases of torture and drowning in May and an arson attack on a vehicle carrying migrants in June. The attacks were not investigated, and no action was taken against the perpetrators.

According to the International Organization for Migration, there were 4 million people internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2020, an increase from 1.2 million in 2016 and half a million in 2013. Throughout this time, internally displaced people languished on the brink of survival, in many cases living in densely populated camps and facing constant difficulties accessing clean water, health care and employment. Their situation deteriorated further as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women’s and girls’ rights

Violence against women and girls

Women and girls continued to face gender-based discrimination and violence throughout Afghanistan, especially in areas under Taliban control, where their rights were violated with impunity and violent “punishments” were meted out for perceived transgressions of the armed group’s interpretation of Islamic law.

Violence against women and girls remained chronically under-reported, with women often fearing reprisals and lacking confidence in the authorities if they came forward. According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), more than 100 cases of murder were reported during the year. Where these cases were reported, there was a persistent failure to investigate them. In some cases, victims of violence came under pressure from their communities or state officials to withdraw their complaints, or “mediation” was used to resolve complaints beyond the protection of the law. As a result, there was widespread impunity for the perpetrators of beatings, killings, torture and other ill-treatment, and corporal punishments.

Women’s participation in government

Women’s participation in government remained limited despite some key improvements in the situation of women since 2000. Women’s participation in roles in provincial and local governments remained largely restricted, particularly in the social protection and education sectors. The few women in government faced intimidation, harassment and discrimination. They were not able to access office resources on equitable terms with male colleagues and were often denied overtime work and payment. Women were further denied adequate opportunities in decision-making roles and the attacks they faced while working in government offices were rarely investigated, with impunity persisting for the perpetrators.

Children’s rights

Children continued to face harassment and sexual violence. Despite the sexual abuse of children being well-publicized, and the abusive practice of “bacha bazi” (male children being sexually abused by older men) being criminalized in 2018, the authorities made little effort to end impunity and hold perpetrators accountable.

Children lacked adequate opportunities to pursue their right to quality education. According to UNICEF, over 2 million girls remained out of school, and according to government figures about 7,000 schools in the country had no building. Large numbers of children continued to be pressed into forced labour or begging on the streets.

Freedoms of expression, association and assembly

The conditions grew more difficult for journalists, media workers, and activists to function due to increasing insecurity and the targeted killings of activists, journalists, and moderate religious scholars. Journalists raised concerns over the lack of access to information and did not enjoy adequate protection from attacks by armed groups. The government introduced a draft mass media bill, which would have imposed further restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. It was forced to withdraw the bill in the face of widespread criticism.

Discussions were ongoing in parliament over a draft bill on public gatherings, strikes and demonstrations, which if passed would significantly restrict the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

The cabinet rejected a third draft bill on NGOs after Amnesty International raised concerns that it placed unnecessary restrictions on registration processes and operational independence.

Human rights defenders

Attacks and targeted killings against activists, human rights defenders and journalists increased. Human rights defenders continued to come under attack, facing intimidation, violence and killings. In March, government officials in Helmand province physically assaulted human rights defenders who had alleged corruption. They needed hospital treatment for their injuries. In May, Mohammad Ibrahim Ebrat, a facilitator of the Civil Society Joint Working Group, was attacked and wounded by unknown gunmen in Zabul province. He subsequently died of his injuries. In June, two staff members of the AIHRC, Fatima Khalil and Jawad Folad, were killed in an attack on their car in Kabul.

In December, the Afghan government established the Joint Commission for protection of human rights defenders and civil society activists in Afghanistan. The Commission will work under the Second Vice-President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, and the members include activists and the AIHRC. It remained too early to assess the Commission’s effectiveness in protecting activists or ensuring attacks and threats are investigated and perpetrators are prosecuted.

Transfer of Prjoperty Act, 1882

Besides the mortgagor, any of the following persons may redeem, or institute a suit for redemption of, the mortgaged property, namely,-

(a) any person (other than the mortgagee of the interest sought to be redeemed) who has any interest in, or charge upon, the property mortgaged or in or upon the right to redeem the same;

(b) any surety for the payment of the mortgage-debt or any part thereof; or

(c) any creditor of the mortgagor who has in a suit for the administration of his estate obtained a decree for sale of the mortgaged property.

Section 92 in The Transfer of Property Act, 1882

92. Subrogation.—Any of the persons referred to in section 91 (other than the mortgagor) and any co-mortgagor shall, on redeeming property subject to the mortgage, have, so far as regards redemption, foreclosure or sale of such property, the same rights as the mortgagee whose mortgage he redeems may have against the mortgagor or any other mortgagee. The right conferred by this section is called the right of subrogation, and a person acquiring the same is said to be subrogated to the rights of the mortgagee whose mortgage he redeems. A person who has advanced to mortgagor money with which the mortgage has been redeemed shall be subrogated to the rights of the mortgagee whose mortgage has been redeemed, if the mortgagor has by a registered instrument agreed that such persons shall be so subrogated. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to confer a right of subrogation on any person unless the mortgage in respect of which the right is claimed has been redeemed in full.

Subrogation is the assumption by a third party (such as a second creditor or an insurance company) of another party’s legal right to collect a debt or damages. It is a legal doctrine whereby one person is entitled to enforce the subsisting or revived rights of another for one’s own benefit. A right of subrogation typically arises by operation of law, but can also arise by statute or by agreement. Subrogation is an equitable remedy, having first developed in the English Court of Chancery. It is a familiar feature of common law systems. Analogous doctrines exist in civil law jurisdictions.

Section 92 of the Transfer of the Property Act deals with the doctrine of Subrogation.

Subrogation means Substitution.It enables a person to stand in the shoes of the creditor.In other words,whena mortgage transfers his mortgaged debt,the assignee gets all the rights of the mortgagee.Unless there is redemption by the assignee, there can be no subrogation.A co-mortgagor on redeeming the property in the place of the actual mortgagor gets the rights of the first mortgagees.

The doctrine of subrogation is in essence a simple matter. It means that the substitution of  one person for another. The section deals with the rights of subrogation of two completely different categories of persons.Firstly it deals with the rights of persons who have an existing interest within the property and secondly it deals with rights of strangers who acquires an interest within the property. No doubt underneath sec.92 of the Transfer of property Act, any co-mortgagor shall on redeeming property to the creditor have up to now as regards redemption, proceeding or sale of such property, a similar rights because the mortgagee whose mortgage he redeems might have against the mortgagor or any other creditor.(Bansal) The proper is named the proper of subrogation. However the rule of subrogation doesn’t entitle the redeeming co-mortgagor to claim to be the mortgagee but it entitle him to hunt reimbursement of no matter cash he has spent before possession is wanted to be recovered from him by the co-mortgagor. The proper of redeeming co-mortgagor is simply to say the amount that was really spent before surrendering possession. For settling this, it’s not necessary that the co-mortgagor ought to be compelled to file a separate suit for redemption.The matter could be settled in final decree proceeding in the present suit itself. Sec 92 of the transfer of property act specially provides the right of subrogation shall not be conferred on any person unless the mortgage in respect of which the right is claimed has been redeemed in full.

The foundation of the right of legal subrogation, is the equitable principle of reimbursement. In the present case, what has happened in that the second mortgagee filed the suit on his mortgage without impleading the first mortgagee, obtained a decree and brought the hypothecate to sale, purchased it himself and entered part satisfaction of the decree. A sum  of money is still owing to him under the mortgage decree. When such a person pays off a prior encumbrance, the question that arises is whether he can step into the shoes of the first mortgagee. The first mortgagee’s right to enforce his mortgage has not become barred by limitation on the date when the second mortgagee redeemed his mortgage.

In Mst.Azizunnissa V. Komal singh,5 it was held that the purchaser of the mortgaged properties in execution of a mortgagee decree, acquired not only the interest of the mortgage but also the equity of redemption of the mortgagor, and that he is entitled to redeem other mortgages on the same property created by the mortgagor.

 According to Section 92,any person who has any interest in or charge upon the property mortgaged or any surety for the payment of the mortgage debt or any creditor of the mortgagor or co-mortgagor,on redemption of the mortgaged property,have the same rights as of the original mortgagee in redemption,foreclosure or sale of the propertty against the mortgagor or any other mortgagee,this right is called right of subrogation.

Conditions :

 1. There should be redemption by a person other than the mortgagor.

 2. The redemption should be with regard to the full property.

 3. By payment of the mortgage money the persons redeeming the property occupies the place of the original mortgagee.There can be no partial subrogation even though partial redemption is allowed sometimes.

Essential requisites for a valid claim for subrogation:

The essential requisites for a valid claim for subrogation are:

  • A person claiming the right must have an interest in or charge upon the property mortgaged entitling him to redeem the mortgage
  • He must redeem the mortgage or
  • A person must have advanced money to a mortgagor to redeem a mortgage with an agreement under a registered instrument that he shall be subrogated to the rights of the mortgagee whose mortgage is discharged.

The real position of law is that in addition to the two requisite conditions about the plaintiff having pre existing interest or charge on the property and abound his having redeemed the same in full, he has further to show that he was paying the amount from his own pocket and his own money for the protection of his own interest and not out of the amount retained by

him – as of the mortgagor- for that purpose under a covenant so as to be said that he acted and redeemed the property as an agent or a representative to the mortgage. That is an essential condition fulfilled before falling under paragraph 1 of section 92 of the Act. Before one can fall under sec 92 of the Act, he has to show that he was not redeeming it on amount of the mortgagor.

In accordance with sec.92 of the transfer of property Act the person entitled to subrogation is one other than the mortgagor. In view of sec-59-A the expression ‘mortgagor’ includes a person deriving title from him. A person in the position of a mortgagor cannot therefore be entitled to subrogation under sec.92.

In the case of Piarey Lal v. Dina Nath,7 the plaintiff had purchased the equity of redemption, and thus had derived his title from the mortgagor and being, a mortgagor within the meaning of sec.59-A he was held not to be entitled to the right of subrogation under sec.92.The same view was taken in Taibai vs Wasudeorao Gangadhar,8 where the money is paid by the mortgagee out of the money left in his hand by the mortgagor it a money belonging to the mortgagor and not the money belonging to the mortgagee. The test applied is as to whom the money belonged which paid. If the vendee or the mortgagee has taken the property and undertaken as a part of the sale consideration or the mortgage money to discharge a prior debt he is making the payment out of the money which really belongs to the transferor and is not paying the money which belongs to him

Types of subrogation

Subrogation is of two types: 1) legal subrogation or subrogation by operation of law, and 2) conventional subrogation.

Legal subrogation

The foundation of the right of legal subrogation is that the just principle of reimbursement. If an individual is interested in the payment of money that another person is bound by the law to pay and thus pays it he’s entitled to be compensation by the other. the personal obligation arising underneath the circumstances is embodied in sec.69 of the Indian Contract Act and also the equitable right of subrogation underneath sec.92 of transfer of Property act.

In other words it can be  explained as someone having interest within the property will avail  it and not any other person having no obligation to repay. It carries a equitable charge with it. someone having an interest within the property, like possession, might pay cash to prevent a sale and an equitable charge is formed in his favour for this amount that he ought to be paid. A puisne mortgagee redeeming prior mortgage is lawfully subrogated to the rights of the prior mortgagee regardless of any question of intention.

Mallireddi Ayyareddi v. Gopalakrishnayya,9  

It was held that the purchaser may by paying off an earlier charge, treat himself as buying it and stand in the same position as his vendor, but it would not apply if the owner of the property (by which expression is meant the purchaser) has covenanted to pay the latter mortgage debt. The judges then proceed to hold the covenant must be with the original mortgagor who was personally bound to pay the mortgage or his heir at law. The learned judges thereafter held that the stipulation that the sale was to be free of all encumbrances implied a covenant that the vendee was to be entitled to subrogation on redeeming prior mortgage from out of consideration for the sale.10

Conventional subrogation

After the amendment of Sec.92 of Transfer Property Act, a right of conventional subrogation can be claimed on condition that there is a particular contract to the effect between the mortgager or seller and also the mortgagee or the customer, respectively. Wherever there for an individual purchases property which is subject to a mortgage or takes a puisne mortgage and therefore the consideration for the sale or puisne mortgage is that the discharge of the amount due on the mortgage that he’s directed to pay off, the case falls under sec.92 of the Transfer of Property Act. It has been said that subrogation is conventional, when there’s an agreement which is specified in either of form express or implied, that the person making the payment shall exercise the rights and powers of the original creditor, and that very slight evidence is spare to determine such an agreement. However the law on conventional subrogation has been amended, sec.92 which acquires that the agreement of subrogation ought to be in writing and that the writing ought to be registered. Therefore, if even a volunteer or a mortgagor pays the mortgage money he doesn’t stand in the shoes of the creditor. Any individual who discharge a mortgage debt, is not entitled to the advantage of the protection held by the creditor. In the absence of a registered, no one merely discharging a mortgage debt, are often entitled to the benefit of mortgagee’s security.

Conditions :

Conventional Subrogation is possible only under certain conditions.

 a. There should be an agreement with the mortgagor.

 b. The agreement for subrogation should be bt maens of a registered document.Legal Subrogation can be claimed only when the person paying the debt is already having an interest in the property.Any person who has no such interest cannot claim Subrogation.

Reasons :

 1. If the person redeeming the property is not given the right of subrogation the subsequently mortgagees will gain priority to his detriment.

 2. It also benefits the first mortgagee to get his purchase money.

 3. Doctrine is based on equity and justice because it removes many hardships.

United States invasion of Afghanistan

The United States invasion of Afghanistan occurred after the September 11 attacks in late 2001[1] and was supported by close US allies which had officially began the War on Terror. The conflict is also known as the US war in Afghanistan[2] or the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Its public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda and deny it a safe base of operations in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power.[3] The United Kingdom was a key ally of the United States, offering support for military action from the start of preparations for the invasion. It followed the Afghan Civil War’s 1996–2001 phase between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance groups, although the Taliban controlled 90% of the country by 2001. The US invasion of Afghanistan became the first phase of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present).

Map of the main operations of the United States special forces from October 2001 to March 2002, including Afghan velayat borders
DateOctober 7 – December 17, 2001LocationAfghanistanResultUnited States-led victoryFall of the Taliban governmentFormation of the Afghan Interim AdministrationFormation of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)End of the 1996–2001 phase of the Afghan Civil WarStart of the Taliban insurgencyUS military presence untill 2021
 United States
 United Kingdom
 Northern Alliance
Support: India Russia Turkey Tajikistan Uzbekistan Turkmenistan Iran Saudi Arabia Pakistan
 Al-Qaeda055 Brigade Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
 East Turkistan Islamic Party
Commanders and leaders
 George W. Bush
 Tony Blair
 Jean Chrétien
 John Howard
 Burhanuddin Rabbani
 Mohammed Omar
 Osama bin Laden
 Mohammed Atef 
 Juma Namangani 
 Sufi Muhammad

US President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda; bin Laden had already been wanted by the FBI since 1998. The Taliban declined to extradite him unless given what they deemed convincing evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks,[4] and ignored demands to shut down terrorist bases and hand over other terrorist suspects apart from bin Laden. The request was dismissed by the US as a meaningless delaying tactic, and it launched Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7, 2001, with the United Kingdom. The two were later joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance troops on the ground.[5][6] The US and its allies rapidly drove the Taliban from power by December 17, 2001, and built military bases near major cities across the country. Most al-Qaeda and Taliban members were not captured, escaping to neighboring Pakistan or retreating to rural or remote mountainous regions during the Battle of Tora Bora.[citation needed]

In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to oversee military operations in the country and train Afghan National Security Forces. At the Bonn Conference in December 2001, Hamid Karzai was selected to head the Afghan Interim Administration, which after a 2002 loya jirga (grand assembly) in Kabul became the Afghan Transitional Administration. In the popular elections of 2004, Karzai was elected president of the country, now named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[7] In August 2003, NATO became involved as an alliance, taking the helm of ISAF.[8] One portion of US forces in Afghanistan operated under NATO command; the rest remained under direct US command. Taliban leader Mullah Omar reorganized the movement, and in 2002, it launched an insurgency against the government and ISAF that continues to this day.[9][10]

Origins of Afghanistan’s civil war

Afghanistan’s political order began to break down with the overthrow of King Zahir Shah by his cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan in a bloodless 1973 coup. Daoud Khan had served as prime minister since 1953 and promoted economic modernization, emancipation of women, and Pashtun nationalism. This was threatening to neighboring Pakistan, faced with its own restive Pashtun population. In the mid-1970s, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began to encourage Afghan Islamic leaders, such as Burhanuddin Rabbani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to fight against the regime. In 1978, Daoud Khan was killed in a coup by Afghan’s Communist Party, his former partner in government, known as the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). The PDPA pushed for a socialist transformation by abolishing arranged marriages, promoting mass literacy and reforming land ownership. This undermined the traditional tribal order and provoked opposition from Islamic leaders across rural areas, but it was particularly the PDPA’s crackdown that contributed to open rebellion, including Ismail Khan‘s Herat Uprising. The PDPA was beset by internal leadership differences and was weakened by an internal coup on September 11, 1979, when Hafizullah Amin ousted Nur Muhammad Taraki. The Soviet Union, sensing PDPA weakness, intervened militarily three months laterto depose Amin and install another PDPA faction led by Babrak Karmal.

Soviet troops in 1986, during the
Soviet–Afghan War

The entry of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in December 1979 prompted its Cold War rivals, the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China, to support rebels fighting against the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In contrast to the secular and socialist government, which controlled the cities, religiously motivated mujahideen held sway in much of the countryside. Beside Rabbani, Hekmatyar, and Khan, other mujahideen commanders included Jalaluddin Haqqani. The CIA worked closely with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence to funnel foreign support for the mujahideen. The war also attracted Arab volunteers, known as “Afghan Arabs“, including Osama bin Laden.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet military from Afghanistan in May 1989, the PDPA regime under Najibullah held on until 1992, when the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the regime of aid, and the defection of Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum cleared the approach to Kabul. With the political stage cleared of Afghan socialists, the remaining Islamic warlords vied for power. By then, Bin Laden had left the country. The United States’ interest in Afghanistan also diminished.

Warlord rule (1992–1996)

Main article: Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–96)

In 1992, Rabbani officially became president of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, but had to battle other warlords for control of Kabul. In late 1994, Rabbani’s defense minister, Ahmad Shah Massoud, defeated Hekmatyr in Kabul and ended ongoing bombardment of the capital.[11][12][13] Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation. Other warlords, including Ismail Khan in the west and Dostum in the north, maintained their fiefdoms.

In 1994, Mullah Omar, a Pashtun mujahideen who taught at a Pakistani madrassa, returned to Kandahar and founded the Taliban. His followers were religious students, known as the Talib, and they sought to end warlord-ism through strict adherence to Islamic law. By November 1994, the Taliban had captured all of Kandahar Province. They declined the government’s offer to join in a coalition government and marched on Kabul in 1995.[14]

Taliban Emirate vs. Northern Alliance

The Taliban’s early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of costly defeats.[15] Pakistan provided strong support to the Taliban.[16][17] Analysts such as Amin Saikal described the group as developing into a proxy force for Pakistan’s regional interests, which the Taliban denied.[16] The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995, but were driven back by Massoud.[12][18]

On September 27, 1996, the Taliban, with military support by Pakistan and financial support from Saudi Arabia, seized Kabul and founded the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.[19] They imposed their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam in areas under their control, issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.[20] According to the Pakistani expert Ahmed Rashid, “between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan” on the side of the Taliban.[21][22]

Massoud and Dostum, former arch-enemies, created a United Front against the Taliban, commonly known as the Northern Alliance.[23] In addition to Massoud’s Tajik force and Dostum’s Uzbeks, the United Front included Hazara factions and Pashtun forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq and Haji Abdul Qadir. Abdul Haq also gathered a limited number of defecting Pashtun Taliban.[24] Both agreed to work together with the exiled Afghan king Zahir Shah.[22] International officials who met with representatives of the new alliance, which the journalist Steve Coll referred to as the “grand Pashtun-Tajik alliance”, said, “It’s crazy that you have this today … Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara … They were all ready to buy in to the process … to work under the king’s banner for an ethnically balanced Afghanistan.”[25][26] The Northern Alliance received varying degrees of support from Russia, Iran, Tajikistan and India.

The Taliban captured Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 and drove Dostum into exile.

The conflict was brutal. According to the United Nations (UN), the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been “15 massacres” between 1996 and 2001. The Taliban especially targeted the Shiite Hazaras.[27][28] In retaliation for the killing of 3,000 Taliban prisoners by Uzbek general Abdul Malik Pahlawan in 1997, the Taliban killed about 4,000 civilians after taking Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998.[29][30]

Bin Laden’s so-called 055 Brigade was responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians.[31] The report by the United Nations quotes eyewitnesses in many villages describing “Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people”.[27][28]

By 2001, the Taliban controlled as much as 90% of the country, with the Northern Alliance confined to the country’s northeast corner. Fighting alongside Taliban forces were some 28,000–30,000 Pakistanis and 2,000–3,000 Al Qaeda militants.[14][31][32][33] Many of the Pakistanis were recruited from madrassas.[31] A 1998 document by the US State Department confirmed that “20–40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani.” The document said that many of the parents of those Pakistani nationals “know nothing regarding their child’s military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan”. According to the US State Department report and reports by Human Rights Watch, other Pakistani nationals fighting in Afghanistan were regular soldiers, especially from the Frontier Corps, but also from the army providing direct combat support.[17][34] The 055 Brigade had at least 500 men during the time of the invasion, at least 1,000 more Arabs were believed to have arrived in Afghanistan following the September 11 Attacks, crossing over from Pakistan and Iran, many were based at Jalalabad, Khost, Kandahar and Mazar-i Sharif. There were rumors in the weeks before the September 11 attacks that Juma Namangani, had been appointed as one of the top commanders in the 055 brigade.[35]


In August 1996, Bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan and arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He had founded al-Qaeda in the late 1980s to support the mujahideen’s war against the Soviets, but became disillusioned by infighting among warlords. He grew close to Mullah Omar and moved Al Qaeda’s operations to eastern Afghanistan.

The 9/11 Commission in the US reported found that under the Taliban, al-Qaeda was able to use Afghanistan as a place to train and indoctrinate fighters, import weapons, coordinate with other jihadists, and plot terrorist actions.[36] While al-Qaeda maintained its own camps in Afghanistan, it also supported training camps of other organizations. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 men passed through these facilities before 9/11, most of whom were sent to fight for the Taliban against the United Front. A smaller number were inducted into al-Qaeda.[37]

After the August 1998 US Embassy bombings were linked to bin Laden, President Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes on militant training camps in Afghanistan. US officials pressed the Taliban to surrender bin Laden. In 1999, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the Taliban, calling for Bin Laden to be surrendered.[38] The Taliban repeatedly rebuffed these demands, though there were reports about attempts to negotiate the delivery of Bin Laden by the Taliban.[39][40][circular reference][41]

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Activities Division paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to proceed from President Clinton. Their efforts built relationships with Afghan leaders that proved essential in the 2001 invasion.[42]

Change in US policy toward Afghanistan

During the Clinton administration, the US tended to favor Pakistan and until 1998–1999 had no clear policy toward Afghanistan. In 1997, for example, the US State Department’s Robin Raphel told Massoud to surrender to the Taliban. Massoud responded that, as long as he controlled an area the size of his hat, he would continue to defend it from the Taliban.[14] Around the same time, top foreign policy officials in the Clinton administration flew to northern Afghanistan to try to persuade the United Front not to take advantage of a chance to make crucial gains against the Taliban. They insisted it was the time for a cease-fire and an arms embargo. At the time, Pakistan began a “Berlin-like airlift to resupply and re-equip the Taliban”, financed with Saudi money.[43]

US policy toward Afghanistan changed after the 1998 US embassy bombings. Subsequently, Osama bin Laden was indicted for his involvement in the embassy bombings. In 1999 both the US and the United Nations enacted sanctions against the Taliban via United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, which demanded the Taliban surrender Osama bin Laden for trial in the US and close all terrorist bases in Afghanistan.[44] The only collaboration between Massoud and the US at the time was an effort with the CIA to trace bin Laden following the 1998 bombings.[45] The US and the European Union provided no support to Massoud for the fight against the Taliban.

By 2001 the change of policy sought by CIA officers who knew Massoud was underway.[46] CIA lawyers, working with officers in the Near East Division and Counter-terrorist Center, began to draft a formal finding for President George W. Bush‘s signature, authorizing a covert action program in Afghanistan. It would be the first in a decade to seek to influence the course of the Afghan war in favor of Massoud.[19] Richard A. Clarke, chair of the Counter-Terrorism Security Group under the Clinton administration, and later an official in the Bush administration, allegedly presented a plan to incoming Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in January 2001.

A change in US policy was effected in August 2001.[19] The Bush administration agreed on a plan to start supporting Massoud. A meeting of top national security officials agreed that the Taliban would be presented with an ultimatum to hand over bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives. If the Taliban refused, the US would provide covert military aid to anti-Taliban groups. If both those options failed, “the deputies agreed that the United States would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime through more direct action.”[47]

Northern Alliance on the eve of 9/11

Ahmad Shah Massoud was the only leader of the United Front in Afghanistan. In the areas under his control, Massoud set up democratic institutions and signed the Women’s Rights Declaration.[48] As a consequence, many civilians had fled to areas under his control.[49][50] In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban.[51]

In late 2000, Massoud officially brought together this new alliance in a meeting in Northern Afghanistan to discuss “a Loya Jirga, or a traditional council of elders, to settle political turmoil in Afghanistan”.[52] That part of the Pashtun-Tajik-Hazara-Uzbek peace plan did eventually develop. Among those in attendance was Hamid Karzai.[53][54]

In early 2001, Massoud, with other ethnic leaders, addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan.[51] He said that the Taliban and al-Qaeda had introduced “a very wrong perception of Islam” and that without the support of Pakistan and Osama bin Laden, the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for another year.[51] On this visit to Europe, he warned that his intelligence had gathered information about an imminent, large-scale attack on US soil.[55]

On September 9, 2001, Massoud was critically wounded in a suicide attack by two Arabs posing as journalists, who detonated a bomb hidden in their video camera during an interview in Khoja Bahauddin, in the Takhar Province of Afghanistan.[56][57] Massoud died in the helicopter taking him to a hospital. The funeral, held in a rural area, was attended by hundreds of thousands of mourning Afghans.

Ground Zero in New York following the attacks of September 11, 2001

On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda carried out four coordinated attacks on the United States, employing four commercial passenger jet airliners that were hijacked.[58][59] The hijackers – members of al-Qaeda’s Hamburg cell[60] – intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both buildings collapsed within two hours from fire damage related to the crashes, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C., to target the White House or the United States Capitol. No flights had survivors. In total, 2,996 people died, including the 19 hijackers, and more than 6,000 others were injured in the attacks.[61] According to the New York State Health Department, 836 first responders, including firefighters and police personnel, had died as of June 2009.[61]

On September 11, Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil “denounce[d] the terrorist attack, whoever is behind it”,[62] but Mullah Omar immediately issued a statement saying bin Laden was not responsible.[63] The following day, President Bush called the attacks more than just “acts of terror” but “acts of war”, and resolved to pursue and conquer an “enemy” that would no longer be safe in “its harbors”.[64] The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, said on September 13, 2001, that the Taliban would consider extraditing bin Laden if there was solid evidence linking him to the attacks.[65] Though Osama bin Laden eventually took responsibility for the 9/11 attacks in 2004, he denied having any involvement in a statement issued on September 17, 2001, and by an interview on September 29, 2001.[66][67]

The State Department, in a memo dated September 14, demanded that the Taliban surrender all known al-Qaeda associates in Afghanistan, provide intelligence on bin Laden and his affiliates, and expel all terrorists from Afghanistan.[68] On September 18, the director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services IntelligenceMahmud Ahmed conveyed these demands to Mullah Omar and the senior Taliban leadership, whose response was “not negative on all points”.[69] Mahmud reported that the Taliban leadership was in “deep introspection” and waiting for the recommendation of a grand council of religious clerics that was assembling to decide the matter.[69] On September 20, President Bush, in an address to Congress, demanded the Taliban deliver bin Laden and other suspected terrorists and destroy the al-Qaeda bases.[70] “These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.”[71]

On the same day, a grand council of over 1,000 Muslim clerics from across Afghanistan, which had convened to decide bin Laden’s fate, issued a fatwa expressing sadness for the deaths in the 9/11 attacks, recommending that the Islamic Emirate “persuade” bin Laden to leave their country, and calling on the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to conduct an independent investigation of “recent events to clarify the reality and prevent harassment of innocent people”.[72] The fatwa went on to warn that should the United States not agree with its decision and invade Afghanistan, “jihad becomes an order for all Muslims.”[72] However, on the same day the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan said: “We will neither surrender Osama bin Laden nor ask him to leave Afghanistan.” These maneuvers were dismissed by the US as insufficient.[73]

On September 21, Taliban representatives in Pakistan reacted to the US demands with defiance. Zaeef said the Taliban were ready, if necessary, for war with the United States. His deputy Suhail Shaheen warned that a US invasion would share in the same fate that befell Great Britain and the Soviet Union in previous centuries. He confirmed that the clerics’ decision “was only a recommendation” and bin Laden would not be asked to leave Afghanistan. But he suggested “If the Americans provide evidence, we will cooperate with them… In America, if I think you are a terrorist, is it properly justified that you should be punished without evidence?”, he asked. “This is an international principle. If you use the principle, why do you not apply it to Afghanistan?” As formulated earlier by Mullah Omar, the demand for evidence was attached to a suggestion that bin Laden be handed over for trial before an Islamic court in another Muslim country.[74] He did not address the demands to hand over other suspected terrorists or shut down training camps.

On September 24, Mahmoud told the US Ambassador to Pakistan that while the Taliban was “weak and ill-prepared to face the American onslaught”, “real victory will come through negotiations”, for if the Taliban were eliminated, Afghanistan would revert to warlord-ism.[75] On September 28, he led a delegation of eight Pakistani religious leaders to persuade Mullah Omar to accept having religious leaders from Islamic countries examine the evidence and decide bin Laden’s fate, but Mullah Omar refused.[76][77]

On September 28 Bush commented, “First, there are no negotiations [sic] with the Taliban. They heard what I said. And now they can act. And it’s not just Mr. bin Laden that we expect to see and brought [sic] to justice; it’s everybody associated with his organization that’s in Afghanistan. And not only those directly associated with Mr. bin Laden, but any terrorist that is housed and fed in Afghanistan also needs to be handed over. And finally, we expect there to be complete destruction of terrorist camps. That’s what I told them; that’s what I mean. And we expect them — we expect them to not only hear what I say but to do something about it.”[78]

On October 1, Mullah Omar agreed to a proposal by Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the head of Pakistan’s most important Islamic party, the Jamaat-i-Islami, to have bin Laden taken to Pakistan, where he would be held under house arrest in Peshawar and tried by an international tribunal within the framework of sharia law. The proposal was said to have bin Laden’s approval. Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf blocked the plan because he could not guarantee bin Laden’s safety.[79] On October 2, Zaeef appealed to the United States to negotiate, “We do not want to compound the problems of the people, the country or the region.” He pleaded, “the Afghan people need food, need aid, need shelter, not war.” However, he reiterated that bin Laden would not be turned over to anyone unless evidence was presented.[80]

A US State Department spokesman in response to a question about sharing evidence with the Taliban stated, “My response, first of all, is that strikes me as a request for delay and prevarication rather than any serious request. And second of all, they’re already overdue. They are already required by the United Nations resolutions that relate to the bombings in East Africa to turn over al-Qaeda, to turn over their leadership, and to shut down the network of operations in their country. There should be no further delay. There is no cause to ask for anything else. They are already under this international obligation, and they have to meet it.”[81] The British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on the Taliban to “surrender the terrorists or surrender power”.[82]

Nonetheless, some evidence of bin Laden’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks was shown to Pakistan’s government, whose leaders later stated that the materials they had seen “provide[d] sufficient basis for indictment in a court of law”.[83] Pakistan ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed shared information provided to him by the US with Taliban leaders.[84] On October 4 the British government publicly released a document summarizing the evidence linking bin Laden to the attacks.[85] The document stated that the Taliban had been repeatedly warned in the past about harboring bin Laden but refused to turn him over as demanded by the international community. Evidence had been supplied to the Taliban about bin Laden’s involvement in the 1998 Embassy bombings, yet they did nothing.[86]

On October 5, the Taliban offered to try bin Laden in an Afghan court, so long as the US provided what it called “solid evidence” of his guilt.[87] The US Government dismissed the request for proof as a “request for delay or prevarication”; NATO commander George Robertson said the evidence was “clear and compelling”.[82] On October 7, as the US aerial bombing campaign began, President Bush ignored questions about the Taliban’s offer and said instead, “Full warning had been given, and time is running out.”[88] The same day, the State Department gave the Pakistani Government one last message to the Taliban: Hand over all al-Qaeda leaders or “every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed.”[89]

On October 11 Bush told the Taliban “You still have a second chance. Just bring him in, and bring his leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals with him.”[90] On October 14, Abdul Kabir, the Taliban’s third ranking leader, offered to hand over bin Laden to a neutral third country if the US government provided evidence of his guilt and halted the bombing campaign. He apparently did not respond to the demand to hand over other suspected terrorists apart from bin Laden. President Bush rejected the offer as non-negotiable.[91] On October 16, Muttawakil, the Taliban foreign minister floated a compromise offer that dropped the demand for evidence.[92] However, Muttawakil was not part of the Taliban’s inner circle; he wanted the bombing to stop so that he could try to persuade Mullah Omar to adopt a compromise.[93]


The Indian agriculture Act of 2020, often referred to as the Farm Bills,[1][2] are three acts initiated by the Parliament of India in September 2020. The Lok Sabha approved the bills on 17 September 2020 and the Rajya Sabha on 20 September 2020.[3] The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent on 27 September 2020.[4] They inspired the protests against the new acts, which gained momentum in September 2020.

On 12 January 2021, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the farm laws and appointed a committee to look into farmer grievances related to the farm laws.[5][6]

The background to the farm acts

In 2017, the central government had released a number of model farming acts. The Standing Committee on Agriculture (2018–19), however, noted that several reforms suggested in the model acts had not been implemented by the states. In particular, the Committee found that the laws that regulated Indian agricultural markets (such as those related to agricultural produce market committees or APMCs) were not being implemented fairly and honestly or serving their purpose. Centralization was thought to be reducing competition and (accordingly) participation, with undue commissions, market fees, and monopoly of associations damaging the agricultural sector.[7]

A committee consisting of seven Chief Ministers was set up in July 2019 to discuss implementation.[7] The committee is yet to submit its report.[8] The center promulgated three ordinances in the first week of June 2020.[7]

The Farm acts

  1. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020[3]
    • expands the scope of trade areas of farmers’ produce from select areas to “any place of production, collection, aggregation”.
    • allows electronic trading and e-commerce of scheduled farmers’ produce.
    • prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess, or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for the trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.
  2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
    • provides a legal framework for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts with buyers including mention of pricing.
    • defines a dispute resolution mechanism.
  3. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
    • removes foodstuff such as cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, from the list of essential commodities, removing stockholding limits on agricultural items produced by Horticulture techniques except under “extraordinary circumstances”[9]
    • requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce only occur if there is a steep price rise.[7]

Government response

On 20 September 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the bills as a watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture and stated the bills will “ensure a complete transformation of the agriculture sector” and empower tens of millions of farmers.[20] In the Prime Minister’s Mann ki Baat radio address on 29 November 2020, he said that “all political parties had been making promises to the farmers but now these promises had been fulfilled.”[21][22]

Several Union Ministers urged farmers not to have misconceptions about the reforms.[23][24] Rejecting demands for the inclusion of Minimum Support Price (MSP) as a mandatory provision in the Farm Bills, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar said that, while the government was committed to MSP, it was “not a part of the law” earlier and “is not” today.[25]

Independent analysts

The Chief Economist of the International Monetary FundGita Gopinath, said the “farm bills and labor bills are very important steps in the right direction”. She also stressed that the implementation of these laws must be right.[26]

On 1 January 2021, 866 academics from several educational institutes signed an open letter, expressing their support for the three farm laws. The signatories were from “DUJNUGorakhpur UniversityRajasthan UniversityGujarat University, and others”.[27][28][29]

Kaushik Basu, former chief economist of the World Bank and Professor of Economics at Cornell University called the new farm bills are “flawed” and “detrimental to farmers”.[30] On 3 February 2021, 413 academicians from across the country and several abroad universities said in a statement that the new farm bills pose a major threat to farming communities all over India and urged the government to abandon them. The signatories to the statement were from Jawaharlal Nehru UniversityIIT KanpurIIT MadrasIISc BangaloreIndian Statistical Institute KolkataDelhi UniversityPanjab UniversityIIT BombayIIM CalcuttaLondon Film SchoolUniversity of JohannesburgUniversity of OsloUniversity of MassachusettsUniversity of Pittsburgh and others.[31]

On 4 February 2021, the US State Department expressed support for the laws stating that they would improve market efficiency and private investment while encouraging dialogue between the government and those who oppose the laws.[32]

Response from farmers and opposition parties

On 31 December 2020, the Kerala legislative assembly passed a resolution against the farm reforms and seek their withdrawal.[33][34] It was the fifth state to do so after Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and Delhi.[35] The West Bengal assembly became the sixth state on 28 January 2021.[36] The Punjab assembly passed another resolution against the central farm laws at the beginning of March 2021.[37]

The acts have faced protests from farmers in various parts of India alleging that it will hurt their earnings.[38] The main reasons for opposition are the uncertainty regarding the implementation of the reforms,[39] controversy surrounding the minimum support prices (MSPs)[40], and low bargaining power of the farmers are some of the fears that have led to the opposition to the bills.[41]

Lack of statutory support in the bills for the MSP is a major point of concern, especially for farmers from Punjab and Haryana, where 65% of wheat (2019) is procured at MSP by the Food Corporation of India and state agencies.[42]

Various opposition parties alleged that the bills were passed “unconstitutionally” in “complete disregard” of parliamentary norms and are anti-farmer and corporate-friendly.[43]

The protesters pointed out that the deregulation of the sugar industry in 1998, which paved the way for private establishments, did not result in a significant improvement in farmers’ productivity or incomes. A state-led attempt in Bihar to deregulate the APMCs in 2006 has not resulted in an increase in farmers’ income or improved infrastructure.[42]

The Shetkari Sanghatana, a farmers union in Maharashtra supported the bills and wants the market to decide the prices of agricultural commodities. It claimed that the minimum support prices have actually weakened farmers, instead of empowering them.[44][45]

The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), a farmer’s organization, has demanded that the government send the bills to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and questioned the government’s haste to get the bills passed.[46]


Several farmers’ outfits announced an intensified agitation against the acts and called for a “Bharat bandh” on September 25. This was supported by as many as 10 central trade unions and 18 political parties.[47][48][49]

On 12 January 2021 the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the farm laws.[5] The Supreme Court appointed a committee to look into the grievances related to the farm laws.[5][6] The committee has asked the public for suggestions related to the farm laws by 20 February 2021.[50]

Since the proposal of these laws, different protests have come underway in different states of India. These protests are the first large-scale farmer protests since the Narendra Modi government came into power in 2014. On 26 November 2020, farmers from Haryana were stopped from entering Delhi by Haryana police.[51][52] At the border near Ambala, protesters were struck with water cannons and tear gas shells by the police forces; protestors threw stones and tossed police barricades into the river.[53] In response, the police used water cannons. Media have reported that trenches were dug by the police on certain routes into Delhi; the Haryana government dug the National Highway connecting Haryana and Delhi. Sand-filled trucks and bulldozers were also placed on the path of the march to Delhi. Earlier, the house of Haryana’s Chief Minister was blocked by farmers.[54]

Several farmers’ outfits announced an intensified agitation against the acts and called for a “Bharat bandh” on September 25. This was supported by as many as 10 central trade unions and 18 political parties.[47][48][49]

On 12 January 2021 the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the farm laws.[5] The Supreme Court appointed a committee to look into the grievances related to the farm laws.[5][6] The committee has asked the public for suggestions related to the farm laws by 20 February 2021.[50]

Since the proposal of these laws, different protests have come underway in different states of India. These protests are the first large-scale farmer protests since the Narendra Modi government came into power in 2014. On 26 November 2020, farmers from Haryana were stopped from entering Delhi by Haryana police.[51][52] At the border near Ambala, protesters were struck with water cannons and tear gas shells by the police forces; protestors threw stones and tossed police barricades into the river.[53] In response, the police used water cannons. Media have reported that trenches were dug by the police on certain routes into Delhi; the Haryana government dug the National Highway connecting Haryana and Delhi. Sand-filled trucks and bulldozers were also placed on the path of the march to Delhi. Earlier, the house of Haryana’s Chief Minister was blocked by farmers.[54]

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence. It was brought into force by the Indian government and Ministry of Women and Child Development on 26 October 2006. The Act provides a definition of “domestic violence” for the first time in Indian law, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders, rather than criminal enforcement.


Primarily meant to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives, the law also extends its protection to women living in a household such as sisters, widows or mothers.[8] Domestic violence under the act includes actual abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic, or the threat of abuse.[1] This definition also includes harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives.[8]

Options of Aggrieved Person


Pursuant to Chapter III of the Act, the aggrieved person has the right to:[9]

  1. “Apply for a protection order, an order for monetary relief, a custody order, a residence order, and/or a compensation order;
  2. “Free legal services under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987;
  3. “File a complaint under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.”

The aggrieved person also has the right to reside in the shared home regardless of whether or not she has any title or ownership over the home.

Shelter homes

The Act recognizes the aggrieved person’s right to reside in the shared household; however, the Act also establishes the aggrieved person’s right to reside in a shelter home as a form of relief. A Protection Officer or a service provider may also request this shelter on behalf of the aggrieved person.[10] The Ministry of Women and Child Development in each State or Union Territory is required to recognize and notify of shelter homes available to aggrieved persons.

Medical Facilities

Medical Facilities are bound to provide free medical aid, even if the aggrieved woman requests aid without any prior recommendation either from the Protection Officer or the Service Provider. The obligations of the Medical Facility are independent of, and shall be fulfilled regardless of the fulfillment of, those of the Protection Officer and Service Provider.[11]


There are several gaps in the implementation of the law.[12] Lack of awareness of the law, and therefore the accessibility and awareness of services, types of relief, and legal rights, prevents proper implementation of the law.[13] Some of these implementation issues revolve around some districts, such as Odisha, giving these new regulation responsibilities to existing officers rather than employing new Protection Officers. This implementation gap results in duties pertaining to the Act being unfulfilled as PO responsibilities fall secondary to the officers’ prior duties.[14][13] Another barrier to the implementation of the law is the lack of meaningful immediate relief for survivors of domestic violence. In most districts, shelter homes are the only available form of immediate relief; survivors of domestic violence often also need “medical treatment, trauma counseling, clothes and ready cash, which are not provided in the shelter homes.”[13]

Beyond enforcement, implementation is also dependent on the slow-moving social acceptability of reporting these cases.[15]