DISL1044 | Discrimination Law: Trends & Comparative Lessons

Course Information

  • 2020-21
  • DISL1044
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
  • V
  • Jul 2020
  • Seminar Course

Both in India and the world, issues of discrimination penetrate our daily lives but also frequently attract the ire of society. While we continue to struggle with these identities hoping for a more structural transformation, changes ushered in by the top courts sometimes rankle feathers in the community and are soon whittled away. Issues of discrimination law are pervasive yet difficult to address. Solutions that appear straightforward pose issues of evidence, morality and even societal balancing. Drawing upon the learnings of students from constitutional law and a little bit from criminal law and the law of evidence, this course is both a lens into the concepts of discrimination law as also an attempt to think a little more critically about it.

Approach to the course:

Unlike a traditional course on Constitutional law which may look at provisions, drafting/legal history and then the cases, this course seeks to focus more on issues and think about how to solve them. Therefore, the first part of this course, which is more foundational, has focussed on a landmark case or an explanatory reading. Starting with Session 4 though, the course picks on a tricky case or an analytical reading that may push students to think differently about issues.

For instance, Session 2 will look at James v Eastleigh B.C. to flesh out the meaning of discrimination in the UK.

In Session 9 though, we will see if Vijay Lakshmi v Punjab University perpetuated a stereotype. Pedagogical Style:

This course will look at learning through a seminar style discussion. In every class, one or two students may be asked to present on an essential case or secondary work prescribed for that day. Building on the presentation, each class will hone in on three or four central questions that will be fleshed out through discussions. Some classes may even look to answer some of the controversial fact situations facing India in the years to come.

Course Structure:

The course starts with a focus on objectives and concepts. Therefore, the first part of the course will look at the purpose of discrimination and its evolution in comparative jurisdictions. The second part of the course looks to critically study Indian law, drawing upon learnings from philosophy and other nations. The course will then move onto three specific areas of Indian discrimination law — affirmative action, sex discrimination and religious discrimination. The course concludes with a discussion of some of the landmark developments in the last few years in comparative discrimination law.

Division of Sessions:

In the second half of the course, i.e. from Seminars 7-10, one hour each in seminars 7-9 and two hours in seminar 10 will be set aside for prelim presentations.


Dhruva Gandhi

Visiting Faculty | Term II