Comparative Law: South Asian Constitutionalism

B748 is taught by S. Shah

South Asian countries share much in common with one another apart from geography, but their experiences with constitutionalism and democracy have not been uniform. Most of them have struggled in maintaining institutional structures which promote constitutional stability, partly due to their failure to sufficiently account for social, cultural and political realities unique to each country. This would explain that while design experimentations such as unitary national governments, confederations, different varieties of federalism, and multiparty democratic systems have been significant they have not overcome constitutional instability, which is still largely prevalent in the region.

This course will comparatively study constitutional developments within South Asia by largely following a historical trajectory. Both specific and general reasons for and responses to constitutional instability will be examined along with a discussion of how civil-military imbalances, religion, foreign relations, identity and demographics have impacted the relationship between politics and law in each country. The complexity of such interactions makes it hard to develop one standard approach for understanding South Asian Constitutionalism, and in attempting to understand the region as a whole an important objective of the course would be to specially focus on the constitutional developments unique to each country. Overall, the constitutional frameworks of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal will be extensively critiqued, where a discussion of the constitutional history and the role played by constitutional design will also be engaged in. Constitutionalism within Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives will also be examined.

Students grades will be based on class participation and a long research paper on a topic of their choice.