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Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon semester 2019
Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Anushka Singh
Email of course coordinator:email@example.com
Aim: This is a Major Course for student of B.A. in Law and Politics and would serve as their first formal introduction to the intersection of law and politics through a detailed study of the Indian Constitution- history, its design and working. An understanding of the constitution, the constitutional discourse and a critical engagement with the same is imperative for any student pursuing a degree in Law and Politics. This course aims to provide students the opportunity to develop that understating which in turn would serve as a building block for other specialized courses that follow.
On the successful completion of the course students would be able to
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
The attempt of this course is to combine a legal perspective on constitutional democracy in India with political history and practice. This implies relating the textual provisions of the constitution with the socio-political contexts of their origin and looking at how the constitutional history and practice have been informed by the politics and vice versa. The course begins with a discussion on the birth of the constitution with an intricate co-existence of colonial antecedents and transformative visions. The course then focusses on two aspects of the constitution- (i) the three institutions of constitutional governance- legislature, executive and judiciary; (ii) the notion of rights and obligations emerging from the texts. The latter half of the course focuses on constitutional confrontations that are essentially a result of the structural design but their manifestations are conditioned by the political context. While the focus of the course remains on the foundational moment, that is, the structure and design of the themes taken up in the course and analysed through a study of Constituent Assembly debates and the textual provisions of the Constitution, the course persistently brings in the political context to give meaning to the legal texts. Each module also tries to briefly look at the post-independence evolution of the constitutional themes- institutions, rights, structures- to subject the foundational moment to the scrutiny of practice.
Module 1- Antecedents of the Constitution, the legal and the political
Keeping the centrality of the claim intact that the adoption of the Constitution ushered in a new socio-political order typifying the foundational moment of democracy in India, this module engages with the politico-legal developments of the colonial times that found their way into the text of the democratic constitution. The module discusses the colonial legislations and charters that marked the beginning of constitutionalism in India with particular emphasis on the Government of India Acts and the Indian Independence Act as well as the early attempts at constitution making within the anti-colonial discourse such as the Motilal Nehru Draft Constitution and the Sapru Committee Report. The attempt of the module is to engage with the notions of colonial continuities and departures that defined the political moment of transformation at the dawn of independence.
Module 2- Constituent Assembly Debates: Philosophy and the Politics
The Constituent Assembly Debates have been a matter of diverse interests and form a central problematic for an array of themes such as transformation, post-colonial imagination, deliberation, representation, besides being a subject of study for various approaches on textual analysis and interpretation. Drawing upon these themes, this module would engage with the questions concerning the larger constitutional philosophy, constitutional goals and the notion of the political being envisaged in the text of the constitution.Specific debates regarding various provisions of the constitution are part of the other modules.
Module 3- Institutions of Constitutional Governance
This module focuses on the institutionsentrusted with the role of constitutional governance in India namely the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary while looking at the rationales that emerged in the CAD informing the structures of these institutions. The preference towards a Westminster form of government with modifications, the power of judiciary to be the guardian of the constitution without opting for the American style of judicial review, the changing role of Parliament, etc. are all questions concerning the formal design of these institutions, the constitutional provisions sanctifying them as well as the political role assigned to them. These questions with reflection in the module.
Module 4- Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
Part III and Part IV of the Indian Constitution providing for the charter of rights, duties of the citizens and obligations of the state are believed to embody the substance of the constitution. Much of the constitutional aspirations and the transformative intentions of the constitution makers find expression in these parts. Besides these reflections much of the contest around the identity and the ideology of the Indian constitution are particularly located around the debates on fundamental rights whether that relates to the tussle between the liberal intentions and the socialist visions or the harmonization of secular claims with minority rights, among others. This module focuses on the above with a detailed study of textual provisions read together with the history of their crafting in CAD alongside some reflections on how these provisions were employed, interpreted, innovated upon, by the institutions of governance.
Additional readings to be introduced through class lectures:
Module 5- Centre-state Relations and Asymmetrical Federalism
This module takes up one of the most dominant constitutional themes that may be regarded as an innovation as well as a persisting constitutional tension- federalism and its unique expression within the Indian Constitution. The module would focus on the constitutional provisions related to federalism and how the federal structure in India has changed alongside legal and political developments. The module emphasizes on asymmetry as the specific attribute of Indian federalism particularly reflected in the provisions related to special constitutional status to Jammu and Kashmir, autonomous powers to tribal and hilly areas, etc.
Module 6- Democracy and Constitution: Preventive Detention, Emergency and Extra-ordinary Laws
Assessment Details with weights:
Provided above with module descriptions