The Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in collaboration with its partnered Indian and American universities is organising a series of workshops on U.S.- India Comparative Constitutional law in October and November 2021. Four Indian law universities have been paired with U.S. law universities for an interactive session. These workshops are supported by the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai.
On the 12 and 13 November, CLPR conducted the third virtual workshop of the series. This time it around, it was in partnership with the Tamil Nadu National Law University, Trichy (TNNLU). The workshop was attended by over 50 students from various Universities (including TNNLU; St. Joseph’s College of Law, Bangalore; School of Law, Christ University, Bangalore; Karnataka State Law University, Symbiosis International University, Hyderabad and National Law University, Delhi) and 10 others including faculty members, U.S. Consulate staff and the CLPR team.
The workshop was designed to be rigorous and focused on critical constitutional law issues such as personal liberty, freedom of choice, reproductive rights and personal autonomy with a U.S. - India comparative framework. The third workshop was divided into four distinct sessions.
The first session, ‘Constitutional Founding’ covered the constitution making process in U.S. and India with focus on ‘due process’ in both countries. Students participated in two activities that helped further their understanding of the two constitution-making processes. At the end of the session, Dr. Amal Sethi (Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Hamburg) delivered a special lecture. Dr. Sethi decided to view the U.S. and Indian Constitutions through the lens of endurance and highlighted that apart from anything else the most important commonality between the two Constitutions is that they survived the test of time. He then engaged in a conversation around the factors that lead to the failure of Constitutions.
The second session was on personal liberty and freedom of choice in U.S. and India. Students engaged with constitutional and legal provisions on liberty in both U.S. and India. Their dialogue invoked these provisions to discuss the right to choice and right to marry. Students deliberated on the idea of restrictions on liberty in U.S. and India and participated in activities that helped them use the constitutional framework to understand laws on religious conversions and interracial marriages. Sr. Adv. Jayna Kothari (Executive Director, Centre for Law and Policy Research) concluded the session with her remarks. She gave a detailed analysis of the courts’ reasoning in Loving v. Virginia, 1967 (U.S.) and Shafin Jahan v. Ashokan, 2018 (India). She also tied in the concept of equality within the framework of personal liberty and freedom of choice.
In the third session, we discussed the reproductive rights and personal autonomy, legal framework on abortion and case laws in U.S. and India. Students also participated in an activity which required them to determine if certain provisions of the Medical Termination of Preganancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 (India) and the Texas Abortion Law- SB8, 2021 would stand the test of constitutionality in the two countries. The activity encouraged students to reflect on the rationale for restricting personal autonomy and the different approaches to balancing personal choice and state interests in U.S. and India.
The final session on 14 November 2021 began with a summary of the discussions and reading material used in the first three sessions. It was followed by an essay competition where students were given one hour to write an essay reflecting on the reading material and discussions. The top 2 essayists will be invited to attend the grand finale in December 2021. Prof (Dr.) Vishnu Prasad, (Professor at TNNLU) concluded the session with his remarks.
Students participated in workshop sessions with enthusiasm and have expressed interest to engage further with U.S. – India comparative constitutional law themes.
Recordings: To be added.