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Vol 24 No 8 Aug/Sept 2019

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Cover of Fisher and Lightwood's Law of Mortgage

Fisher and Lightwood's Law of Mortgage

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From the Colonial to the Contemporary: Images, Iconography, Memories, and Performances of Law in India's High Courts


ISBN13: 9781509930654
To be Published: December 2019
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: India
Format: Hardback
Price: £70.00



From the Colonial to the Contemporary explores the representation of law, images and justice in the first three colonial high courts of India at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It is based upon ethnographic research work and data collected from interviews with judges, lawyers, court staff, press reporters and other persons associated with the courts.

Observing the courts through the in vivo, in trial and practice, the book asks questions in different registers, ranging from the impact of the architecture of the courts, the contestation around the renaming of the high courts, the debate over the use of English versus regional languages, forms of addressing the court, the dress worn by different court actors, rules on photography, video recording, live telecasting of court proceedings, use of CCTVs and the alternative of courtroom sketching and the ceremony and ritual that existed in daily court proceedings.

The three colonial high courts studied in this book share a recurring historical tension between the Indian and British notions of justice. This tension is apparent in the semiotics of the legal spaces of these three high courts and is transmitted through oral history as narrated by the judges, lawyers and court staff who are interviewed. The contemporary understandings of these court personnel are therefore seen to have deep historical roots. In this context, the architecture and judicial iconography of the high courts helps to constitute, preserve and reinforce the ambivalent relationship that the court shares with its own contested image.