Shah Bano, Narendra Modi and Reality Checks About Global Understandings of Indian Law

Nirma University Law Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, July 2011

20 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2018

See all articles by Werner Menski

Werner Menski

University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), School of Law

Date Written: July 01, 2011

Abstract

This article highlights the deeply contested nature of various conceptualizations of law and illustrates primarily the usefulness of pluralist methodology in legal analysis today. Highly politicized views infect much recent writing about Indian law, often represented today as examples of abuses of power and deeply deficient statehood. Both Shah Bano and Narendra Modi are used globally as iconic symbols to misrepresent and hide significant Indian legal developments. Many observers refuse to accept that Indian law is simply different from so-called Western, purportedly global prototypes. However, Indian law will continue to develop differently from Western models simply because law is of necessity culture-specific. The personal law system of India, in particular, despite some evidence of gradual harmonization, retains critical elements of structural and functional difference in legal management that global legal scholarship must account for in analyzing Indian laws and searching for ‘the right law’. To argue against Indian personal laws today thus comes close to violating basic human rights, as Indians, too, deserve a right to culture. While many Indian lawyers fail to understand their own legal system, in theory and often in practice, confusions are multiplied when Gujarati NRIs as a long-established migrant group with multiple cross-jurisdictional links are embroiled in complicated intercultural cases litigated in English courts. The article advises basically more focused attention on intercultural conflicts of laws as an underdeveloped field within private international law.

Keywords: Shah Bano, Reality Check, Global Understanding, Indian Law

Suggested Citation

Menski, Werner, Shah Bano, Narendra Modi and Reality Checks About Global Understandings of Indian Law (July 01, 2011). Nirma University Law Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, July 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3109531

Werner Menski (Contact Author)

University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), School of Law ( email )

Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square: College Buildings 541
London, WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

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