SALDG Event: MT18 Wk 4: Introduction to 'Transformative Constitution'

Convener: Mariyam Kamil

Speaker: Gautam Bhatia is a DPhil candidate in law at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford, he practiced law for four years in India.

Abstract: In this introductory chapter of his upcoming book, Gautam Bhatia lays the foundation for a transformative understanding of the Indian Constitution. Based on the idea that the Indian Constitution was intended to transform and repudiate pre-existing “legacies of injustice”, Bhatia makes a compelling case for the view that the Indian Constitution was a profoundly transformative document in two principal senses. It transformed the relationship between the State and the individual. More radically, though, it recognised that the State had never been the only locus of concentrated power in Indian society. In the rest of the book, he operationalises this idea through nine judgments that go against the grain of constitutional cannon in India: High Court judgments that were reversed by the Supreme Court, dissenting opinions, and Supreme Court judgments that remain good law, but are rarely relied upon, or even cited by the contemporary Court.

Primary Discussant 1: Leo Boonzaier is a DPhil student in legal philosophy at the University of Oxford. Before that he worked at the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Primary Discussant 2: Ndjodi Ndeunyema is currently pursuing a DPhil in law at the University of Oxford as a Daube Law Scholar. At present, he is Research Director for the Oxford Human Rights Hub and serves as a founding Editor of the University of Oxford Human Rights Hub Journal. In the past, Ndjodi has served as a Legal Intern at the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in Tanzania, as Legal Officer with the Law Reform and Development Commission of Namibia, and completed a brief clerkship at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. 

Blogger: Rahul Bajaj is a lawyer from India who is currently pursuing the BCL at Oxford on the Rhodes Scholarship. His areas of interest include constitutional law, intellectual property law and disability law. He is particularly interested in studying the factors that help explain the differences in the methods of constitutional interpretation adopted by judges in the Common Law world.

The chapter is accessible here:

More information on the talk and on our participants is available here:

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