Title : Technology and the Constitution: Emerging challenges
Speaker : Justice Gautam Shirish Patel, Honorable Judge, Bombay High Court
Abstract: Modern technologies, and not just in communication, pose significant challenges -- some may even say threats -- to established Constitutional principles. These technologies are stressors when they push against normative Constitutionally assured liberties. The liberties of free speech and personal liberty are the ones most under pressure. This is an assault on a deeply rooted vision, the idea of India. Latter day statutes pretend to sanctify the use of these technologies (the Information Technology Act being the most prominent), but no decision has yet attempted a broader re-statement of the principles. Do our new technologies expand the boundaries of what is Constitutionally permissible? Or must they be constrained by those principles? We look at some statutes governing technology, but we also look not just at modern concerns but the chosen manner of their expression and the responses to this 'choice of voice'. Specifically we look at the limits -- if there are any -- on free speech on current platforms and social media, e-commerce and retailing technologies, censorship and questions of national and personal security. Is our Constitution sufficiently robust to absorb these shocks to the system? Or must we now move to a different standard?
About the speaker: Born in Mumbai on 26th April 1962, Justice G. S. Patel is a graduate of St. Xavier's College and Government Law College. He started practice in 1987 in Mumbai, working on commercial, corporate and civil litigations and also appearing in a large number of environmental public interest litigations including those relating to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, protection of mangroves, town and country planning issues, Melghat National Park, the Mill Lands, protection of open spaces, etc.
In 1994-1995, Justice Patel received the First international Fellowship at Pacific Energy & Resources Center, Sausalito, California in environmental law. This included course work at the University of Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law and an internship with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.
He served as the Honorary Secretary of the Bombay Bar Association for two three-year terms from 1999 to 2005 and served on the Association's Standing Committee till his appointment as a High Court judge.
From 2008-2011 he was a part-time lecturer in Administrative Law, Constitutional Law and Environmental Law at Government Law College.
Justice Patel wrote a weekly newspaper column in the Mumbai Mirror for three years. He has also contributed articles and reviews to the Economic & Political Weekly, TimeOut Mumbai, the Mumbai Reader, etc. Justice Patel has previously served as a trustee on several public charitable trusts and foundations in the fields of education, environment and the hearing-impaired.