Rights-Based Legislation in Practice: A View from Southern Orissa

Part of the Rethinking International Development series book series (RID)


In recent years, rights-based legislation has emerged as a critical site of contestation for communities struggling against dispossession and claiming their rights to land and forests (see Nielsen and Nilsen 2014; Kumar and Kerr 2012). In response to the increasing violation of the legal rights of the rural poor by powerful actors, the judicialisation of politics—that is, the increasing reliance on the courts and judicial means for addressing questions of livelihood and fundamental rights—has emerged as a significant phenomenon (see Randeria 2007). Comaroff and Comaroff (2006: 26) rightly argue that with the emergence of this new form of mobilisation, “politics itself is migrating to the courts”. This new terrain of engagement has variously been labelled “lawfare” (Sundar 2009: 3) or “law struggles” (Sundar 2011: 188), and involves contention over law and the attempts of ordinary people to define the rule of law, and ensure that the laws are observed. In doing so, the rural communities often operate according to the logics of what O’Brien and Li (2006) have called “rightful resistance”—that is, a form of contentious politics that operates near the boundary of authorised channels and appeals to elites’ commitment to laws and policies.


Rural Community Mining Company Land Acquisition Local Villager Mining Project 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New DelhiIndia

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