CONL101 | Constitutional Law I

Course Information

  • 2019-20
  • CONL101
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
  • I
  • Mar 2020
  • Core Course

Constitutional Law is a mandatory subject prescribed by the Bar Council of India for the BA LLB programme. NLSIU has a significant intellectual tradition in the teaching of constitutional law. The  subject has been taught across three trimesters: beginning with the Preamble and ending with the Schedules. While I am tempted to tinker with this structure and division, I will not do so this year.

Constitutional Law I introduces students to the Constitution of India 1950 (hereafter ‘COI 1950’). We begin by outlining the ways in which constitutional law is different from other ordinary law. Then we explore how the COI 1950 was made and the circumstances under which it may be amended. These preliminary inquiries will clarify how constitutional law studies inextricably binds law, political theory and politics.

Next we read the Preamble. In 2019 reading the Preamble has become a talismanic practice. We ask whether the content or legal status of the Preamble gives it such symbolic power. The first part of the COI 1950 clarifies national identity and citizenship. In ordinary times most courses in constitutional law would blithely ignore these parts of the constitution. In this course we will dive right in and unpack the legal foundations for the current controversies.

Constitutions identify citizens and structure State power. State power is divided both horizontally and vertically. The second half of the course turns to the vertical division of State power between territorial units. We examine the extent to which COI 1950 adopts the federal and subsidiarity principles. We conclude with a focus on the asymmetric federal arrangements in the COI 1950: especially Kashmir and NCT Delhi.


Sudhir Krishnaswamy
Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy