04:15 PM

Terror and Technicalities: Looking for life in Delhi's Courts - Dr. Mayur Suresh (SOAS University of London)

Departmental Colloquium Winter Semester 2023-24 - History Department | Session 3: 09.11.2023

Dr. Mayur Suresh (SOAS University of London)

In this presentation, Mayur Suresh speaks about his recent book Terror Trials: Life and Law in Delhi’s Courts (Fordham University Press 2023), where he studies the lives of people accused of terrorism offences, in Delhi’s Tis Hazari courts. The book shows that the everyday life of terrorism trials in India are not only marked by ideas of the ‘state of exception’, the expansion of the security state, or nationalism, but also by legal technicalities. Amidst the grinding terror trials – which are replete with stories of torture, illegal detention and fabricated charges – the book shows how terror-accused schooled themselves in legal procedures, became adept petition writers, had friendships with police officials, cultivated cautious faith in the courts and expressed a deep sense of betrayal when this trust was belied. The book shows that though seemingly mundane, legal technicalities are fraught and highly contested, and acquire urgent ethical qualities in the life of a trial: legal language becomes a question of a form of life, the file becomes a space in which the world can be made or unmade, the petition a way of imagining a future, and investigative and courtroom procedures enable the unexpected formation of close relationships between police and terror-accused. The book argues that in attending to the ways in which legal technicalities are made to work – through legal language, through files and the everyday interactions among lawyers, judges, accused terrorists, and police – we are offered a way of understanding how human expressiveness, creativity and vulnerability emerge through the law.



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