| Reading Ambedkar on Caste and Law

Course Information

  • 2023-24
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M.
  • III, IV, V
  • Mar 2024
  • Elective Course

How does this course relate to the programme curriculum: Does it develop on a prior course in the programme or is it a foundational or standalone course?

This course develops on prior courses generally. This course includes various legal themes such as Constitutional Law, International Law, Family Law etc. and some important but ignored laws or legal aspects therein that address caste. Even if such laws are taught in the classroom, they are usually devoid of the radicalness that the thinkers behind these laws embodied, leading to an incomplete reading of such laws. The social context behind these laws, as articulated by Dr. Ambedkar mainly is thus the focus in this course.

Describe how you have approached the course. What have you included/excluded and why? What is your choice of materials?

The course approaches caste as a legal conception since ancient India and how the law has mitigated the rigours of caste in modern times. The focus of this course is on lesser known and discussed topics related to anti-caste laws and thoughts such as Mahad satyagraha injunction cases. Largely, Dr. Ambedkar’s works are referred to as basic materials. Discussions on equality, reservation, discrimination (as in article 15) have been left out as these form a substantial part of Constitutional law courses.

Describe your pedagogical method: lectures, Socratic discussion, seminar style discussion, response papers or group work, field work etc.

The pedagogy involves a mix of lectures and dialogic method. It also involves team work where before every session where students must read together and come up with one or two questions related to the topic. Question formulation is thus an important part of this course. Reflecting on these questions and trying to answer them is the next step.

My inspiration for pedagogy may be found in this article – https://www.epw.in/journal/2010/44-45/special-articles/education-trutiya-ratna-towards-phule-ambedkarite-feminist.

Course Objectives

  • To understand law and caste contextually, particularly the historical contexts

  • To appreciate law and caste in relation to anti-caste thinkers without whom such laws may not have been challenged or may not have existed

  • To discover the various methods employed by anti-caste thinkers in the context of law and caste (there isn’t much scholarship on this, hence using the word ‘discover’)

  • To embody certain values such as fraternity & equanimity as part of one’s research methods


Dr. Ashna Singh

Assistant Professor of Law