CNL203 | Constitutional Law I

Course Information

  • 2023-24
  • CNL203
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
  • II
  • July 2023
  • Core Course

Constitutional Law I is a foundational course aimed at introducing undergraduate law students to the theory, doctrine, and practice of constitutional law in India. This is the first of two core courses on constitutional law that the B.A. LL.B (Hons.) cohort is required to complete by the applicable regulations. This course first provides a brief introduction to constitutions and constitutional theory, as well as the making of India’s Constitution, before focusing on the structures of constitutional governance envisaged by the Indian Constitution. Through the concept of Separation of Powers, we will focus on the horizontal division of institutional power between the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, and Fourth Branch institutions. Thereafter, through the concepts of Federalism and Decentralisation, the course will focus on the vertical division of institutional power between the Centre, the States and local government institutions.  

A subsequent course – Constitutional Law II – will cover the provisions relating to Citizenship (Part II), Fundamental Rights (Part III), Directive Principles (Part IV), Fundamental Duties (Part IVA), as well as the role of the judiciary, among other topics.  

Constitutional Law I provides a critical look at the development of constitutional law, and the bearing that these developments have on some of the biggest political questions of our times. Recognizing that constitutional developments are not inevitable but contingent and context driven, the course seeks to understand what constitutional choices were available to constitutional decision-makers, what choices were made and why, which choices were discarded (and why), with what effect, and how these choices impacted the distribution of power: who benefits, who is empowered, who is disempowered, by the particular formulation of constitutional text and doctrine. The course thus adopts a ‘law and society/contextual’ approach to legal issues, broadly speaking.  This will include a focus on factors internal to the law, such as the text of the Constitution and statutes as well as case law generated by the courts, but will aim to also explore factors beyond which influence these legal developments. The course will also emphasise the importance of history, dating back to the colonial era and the way these concepts and institutions have evolved over time across post-colonial India’s landscape.

 Through these explorations, students will come to understand that the constitution of deeply divided societies like India is always a ‘work in progress’ and its dynamism is its main driving force. The Constitution is also incomplete in another sense: instead of going for permanent solutions on all issues, the framers either left a few issues in transition or kept them in abeyance to be tackled by posterity. Carrying forward the task of filling these gaps in the Constitution requires lawmakers, judges, lawyers, and citizens alike to understand and engage with the founding principles and bases for our constitutional design. This is the central aim of the course. 


Dr. Arun K. Thiruvengadam

Professor of Law

Aparna Chandra
Dr. Aparna Chandra

Associate Professor of Law

Dr. Sanjay Jain

Professor of Law