Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

05.02.: 17th HIP Workshop: "South Asia's Legal Landscapes"


HIP brings together Berlin’s academic
competence on South Asia

Feb 05, 2016
Department of South Asian Studies
Institute of Asian and African Studies
Invalidenstr. 118, Room 217 (2nd Floor)
2:00 pm (sharp)


17th HIP Workshop
South Asia's Legal Landscapes
Legislation, Litigation and Social Realities



2:00-4:30 pm
Maxim Bönnemann, Law Faculty Humboldt University Berlin:
Legal Enclaves: India’s Special Economic Zones

Thomas Krutak, Religionswiss. Institut, University of Leipzig:
To Ensure a Proper Religious Conversion? Juridical Aspects, Historical


Jean-Philippe Dequen, Max Planck Institut for European Legal History, Frankfurt:

A failed attempt of English legal transfer in India: 

Admiralty Courts in Bombay and Madras, 1684-1704


4:30-5:00 pm
Coffee/Tea Break

5:00-6:40 pm
Tanja Herklotz, Law Faculty, Humboldt University Berlin:
"Dead Letters": Two Perspectives on the Uniform Civil Code for India


Sarah Holz, BGMCS, Freie Universität, Berlin:
Constructing an Islamic Republic through Law and Justice Mechanisms


6:40 onwards Drinks and Snacks




17th HIP Workshop, 5th February 2016, IAAW, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

South Asia's Legal Landscapes: Legislation, Litigation and Social Realities


Südasienstudien, IAAW in collaboration with Öffentliches Recht und Rechtsvergleichung, Juristische Fakultät





Maxim Bönnemann

Legal Enclaves: India’s Special Economic Zones

This PhD project tackles the law and governance of India’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ). It argues that SEZ represent an idea of “modern” law which is opposed to forms of “defective” law. By this means, Economic Zones can be understood as a tool to incorporate islands of modernity into countries of the Global South. Law plays a crucial role in this enterprise: Economic Zones either suspend or redesign certain areas of the law. The sole yardstick of these legal enclaves is the interest of a central figure of colonial and post-colonial global capitalism: the private investor.

Maxim Bönnemann (HU) is a researcher at Humboldt University Berlin. He is associated to the chair for public and comparative law and has been a visiting scholar at National Law University Delhi (NLUD) in spring 2015.


Thomas Krutak

To Ensure a Proper Religious Conversion? Juridical Aspects, Historical Background and Social Impacts of the Conversion Legislation in India

In December 2014 a case of forced conversion in Agra came into the limelight of Indian national politics and caused an uproar in the Indian Parliament. Subsequently, several Union ministers demanded a law for all of India which would restrict conversion but was bluntly rejected by the opposition parties. Indeed, conversion has long been a hotly disputed topic in India, though, in the 21st century several new laws have been introduced in some Indian states. In my talk I will explain why it is assumed that conversion legislation serves to check religious minorities and especially Christians. For that I will discuss some characteristics of the Freedom of Religion Acts within the wider legal framework and then give a brief glimpse of its historical background. This will serve to deepen an understanding of how these laws effect the people involved in conversion and how they deal with it by navigating through the politics of belonging.

Thomas Krutak is a research assistant of the Religionswissenschaftliches Institut at the University of Leipzig. He studied philosophy, political science, cultural studies and religious studies. His PhD thesis is focused on the impact of the Freedom of Religion Acts on the Christian Community in East Central India.


Jean-Philippe Dequen 

A failed attempt of English legal transfer in India: Admiralty Courts in Bombay and Madras, 1684-1704

Jean-Philippe Dequen works mostly in the areas of South Asian colonial legal history and its impact on the contemporary Indian legal order. His previous work focused on the influence of Common law in shaping India’s personal legal system, with a particular emphasis on the evolution of Islamic law in the Subcontinent and its subsequent transformation into Anglo-Muhammadan law. His current research revolves around the history of English legal transfers in colonial India, with a special interest as to their legal justification and within the field of contract law.

Jean Philippe Dequen read law at Université Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne alongside philosophy, where he then pursued a postgraduate research degree in legal anthropology. In parallel, Dequen obtained a research degree in Islamology at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE, Paris), and followed courses in Persian and Arabic at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO, Paris), before moving to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London) for his doctoral studies. He was awarded his PhD in 2015 for his thesis entitled: ‘Evolution of the place of Islamic law within the Indian legal order, 1600-2014’.


Tanja Herklotz

"Dead Letters": Two Perspectives on the Uniform Civil Code for India

The area of Indian family law is governed by a system of legal pluralism (usually referred to as “Personal Law System”) according to which the different religious groups (Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Parsis) are each governed by their respective provisions. Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, a non-justiciable directive principle of state policy, urges the State to introduce a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in order to unify the plurality of laws - a measure that until today has not been realised. This paper juxtaposes the discourse and rhetoric regarding Article 44 of two different actors: the Indian women's movement (for whom the UCC has long promised gender equality) and the Indian Supreme Court (for whom the code has promised national integration, secularism and modernity).

Tanja Herklotz is a research assistant and PhD candidate at the chair for public and comparative law at Humboldt University Berlin. She pursued her studies at the Universities of Heidelberg, Bologna, Münster and SOAS, University of London. Her PhD thesis deals with social movements and the Supreme Court in India. She is affiliated with several women’s rights organisations in India.

Sarah Holz

Constructing an Islamic Republic Through Law and Justice Mechanisms

A distinctive feature of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the constitutional requirement that all laws have to conform to the Injunctions of Islam (Art.227). The Federal Shariat Court and the Council of Islamic Ideology were created to monitor the observance of this condition. Looking at the institutional practice of both bodies, I would like to discuss how this constitutional provision is practiced in law-making, law review and legal practice in Pakistan today.
By reviewing laws to determine their accordance with the Injunctions of Islam or admitting petitions challenging the conformity of laws with these Injunctions, the decisions of the Federal Shariat Court and the Council of Islamic Ideology are not confined to the legal realm but also function as social commentary and norm-setting. Both bodies are nodes between the legal, the social and the political of the state and therefore ideal starting points to examine how the Islamic Republic is practiced today.

Sarah Holz is a PhD Fellow at the Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin. Her project is entitled “Organised Religion in Pakistan: Dynamics and Change in Religious Institutions of the State”.