MLG101 | Comparitive Public Law and Governance

Course Information

  • 2023-24
  • MLG101
  • LL.M.
  • I
  • July 2023
  • Core Course

Comparative Public Law and Governance is a mandatory course for all students enrolled in the LL.M Programme at NLSIU.

This course aims to provide an in-depth exploration of comparative methods in general, and the use of such methods in the study of public law and governance in particular. While using legal materials from other jurisdictions is common, both in legal studies and in the drafting and interpretation of our laws, we seldom query why and whether we should compare, what we should compare, and how we should go about engaging in the comparison. These questions, applied to the domain of public law and governance, form the crux of this course. Central to this inquiry is also an acknowledgment of our location as a post-colony situated in the Global South, and we will repeatedly query whether this location should shape, and how, our evaluation of comparative methods. The ultimate aim of the course is to gain a better understanding of comparative methods in law, as well as insights into public law and governance in India, through a comparative inquiry.

The course will proceed through a reading of scholarship on comparative methods in legal studies generally, and the application of such methods to the study of public law and governance, especially to constitutional law. This is a reading intensive course. A detailed and extensive reading list has been supplied along with this outline. Do not feel intimidated by the size of the readings! The expectation is that students will ‘skim-read’ the texts to understand (a) what are the core issues being addressed in the paper? (b) how does the author respond to these issues? (c) what is the (implicit or explicit) method employed by the author in raising and responding to these issues (d) how do these issues relate to Indian constitutional law, practice and politics.

A methodological approach that will guide our endeavours is that comparisons in law requires an understanding of the context in which legal rules from the ‘foreign’ jurisdiction operate. To give us an introductory, and necessarily brief, insight into such contexts, I will be inviting guest speakers from various jurisdictions to give us an overview of their constitutional system.

Since this course is a masters level offering, classroom discussions will focus on collectively relating the assigned material and relating them to issues and concerns in Indian public law and governance. Starting from Week 2, each student will be required to write response papers for two sessions (sign up details will be provided in the introductory session). Classroom discussions will proceed through a seminar style engagement rather than through lectures. I will assume that you have read the material and will conduct the class and design the evaluation accordingly.

Course Objectives

1. An understanding of the methods, debates, and concerns in the academic discipline, practice, and politics of comparative law.

2. An understanding of the methods, debates, and concerns in the academic discipline, practice, and politics of comparative public law and governance, with a special focus on constitutional law.

3. Insights into the theory and practice of constitutional law and governance in India, through a comparative inquiry.

Introduction to the constitutional system of select jurisdictions.


Dr. Kamala Sankaran

Professor of Law, Ford Foundation Chair in Public Interest Law