Dr. Debrati Haldar (Interview)

Dr. Debrati Haldar (Interview)

Interview by

Amol Shetty (Intern)


About Interviewee


Dr. Debarati Halder

Ph. D. (Law) (National Law School of India University, Bangalore), M.L., LL.B


She is presently the Professor of Legal Studies, Head of the Centre for Research on Law and Policy, United World School of Law, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, India. She is an advocate, legal scholar and cyber victim counsellor working on Women\'s rights, Cyber laws, International laws and Therapeutic Jurisprudence. She holds a PhD degree in Law from the National Law School of India University, (NLSIU) Bangalore, India.


Amol Shetty :- How important is socio-legal research in the field of legal education?

Dr. Debarati :- Law is not a secluded subject. It shapes the social behavior and societal structures influence the inherent nature of law. Hence to understand the effectiveness of law or failure of a particular law or the legal lacuna for a particular problem, it is extremely important to do socio-legal research.


Amol Shetty :- Madam would you like to share any socio-legal research conducted by your students and the impact of it?

Dr. Debarati :- Yes, a socio legal research was conducted by me to understand how POCSO Act may impact on the society especially in Gujarat. I had evolved an applied theory on it and it promises to be beneficial for the children who may be victims of bad touch or graver sexual victimization. Even though I have done numerous socio-legal researches earlier, with my students at United World School of Law, I have also conducted research on cyber stalking among college students and the results are fascinating. Further, my latest research was on motor vehicle offences and penology which looked into the socio-legal ‘motivations’ to violate traffic rules in India. This research paper has been selected for publication in a journal under Arizona Law Summit Journals. I believe such researches may help the researchers understand why a law fails to be effective, whether a law is overboard and anti-therapeutic etc. 



Amol Shetty : How do you encourage your students to indulge into research?

Dr. Debarati : It is indeed difficult to motivate students to indulge in research especially legal research since I have seen majority of the students feel legal research or even law study is nothing but case law analysis. In reality this is not so. While case law analysis may reveal judicial understanding, activism and maturity over an issue, an in depth study on law is incomplete without theoretical research. The reward is obviously publication in noted journals or edited book volumes and acknowledgement of the scholarly work from the legal-academia fraternity. I try to motivate students on this very basis. 


Amol Shetty :- Would you like to share a message to our readers regarding any socio legal cause on the based upon your passed research experience.

Dr. Debarati :- Yes. Two of my researches are noteworthy in this regard: 1. Regarding property rights of Hindu women which is cited by Harvard Law students and 2. My extensive research series on cyber crimes and laws relating to women. These are worldwide acknowledged 


Amol Shetty :- What are the challenges faced by women seeking any recourse for any online crime or offenses against them?

Dr. Debarati :- Firstly, it is a social taboo. When a woman faces any kind of online harassment or crime, before going to the police station, she is usually told that the media could target her or her family if she went to the police. It becomes a social taboo to go to the police station to complain about any cyber crime. This is number one. Number two is victim blaming. Even if a woman has enough courage to go to the police station and report the crime, then there could be some officers (or head constables in the absence of the inspector or sub-inspector) who will not understand the nature of the crime. For example, if it is stalking, Indian Penal Code recognizes stalking or cyber stalking as an offence now. Traditionally trained police officers may not be able to understand it especially those who may be senior in age or experience. In that case, they blame the victim saying ‘Why did you do that. Because of you, this has happened.’ There can also be threats from intimate partners. For example, the woman gets afraid to go to the police if she is targeted by her ex-boyfriend, ex-husband or colleague with some fake profile or revenge pornography. If she goes to the police, the harasser then comes up with another kind of crime. It is this escalation of victimization that makes her avoid going to the police station again. When it is from an intimate partner, it becomes blackmailing. In case of offences that are not recognized by the law, nothing happens after the police take the FIR. And finally there’s also the liability of the website. They may not cooperate with the police. The police may not know how to deal with the website to get the data. These are the things that generally come up as challenge


Amol Shetty :- What are the policy level changes that have happened overtime with respect to cyber crime against women?

Dr. Debarati :- With respect to policy level changes, I would say that the Ministry has become more sensitive. Even the Ministry of Women and Child Development has its own Facebook page where they are accepting details regarding any such offences. They have assured that NGOs and the stakeholders can partner with them for some help. I have been a resource person for National Commission for Women. We have had several meetings regarding what should be done. If we are not able to help the victim as such, there is a network where we refer cases to the ministry so that the ministry tries to do something about it. These are some of the policy level changes happening but I’m still doubtful about the positive results.


Amol Shetty : Any message to our initiative Pro Bono India.

Dr. Debarati :- A very nice and innovative initiative keep it up. India needs such initiative.