Academic Programmes

5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)



  • BA (History), Presidency College—2009.
  • MA (History), University of Calcutta—2011.
  • MPhil (Modern Legal History), Jawaharlal Nehru University—2014.
  • PhD (Modern Legal History) Jawaharlal Nehru University—2020.


Sukhalata is a historian of Modern South Asia with focus on legal history in India. She is interested in exploring the dynamics between social norms that govern our behaviour and the law which claims a certain universal, standardised behaviour. This curiosity led her to study a history of distrust as an important mediation between the claims of the people and that of the law.

Her first foray into this approach was her MPhil thesis which was based upon a material object, Calcutta Weekly Notes. In this project, She traced the history of ‘precedents’ from a disputed artefact in both British and Indian jurisprudence to a sin qua non of legal practice and of legal pedagogical texts. In her PhD thesis, she analysed forged/counterfeit money between 1835-1931 to embrace a history of financial capitalism and its uneasy relationship with law. This project revealed that disobedience to law shaped the character of both criminal laws and financial capitalism. She received the History Project Grant for research for her dissertation, jointly awarded by Harvard University and University of Cambridge. She was also invited for a talk by the Oriental Numismatic Society at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford on this subject. At present, She is drafting a monograph which seeks to expand the project of counterfeiting across its global networks vis-a-vis the loose structure of the Indian Penal Code in other parts of the empire. Her monograph seeks to elucidate that law is but a social construct, slippery and elusive at every turn which cushions its coercive blow.

She has been a Teaching Fellow at Ashoka University from 2020-2022 with a primary focus in teaching history through books, important personalities and showing how historical context changed the understanding of society and the framing of its laws. She also helped develop a MOOC course on Modern Indian History (1757-1977) with Ashoka University slated for a late 2022 release on Coursera.

Research Interests

  • History of criminal law in India
  • History of legal profession in India
  • History of precedents
  • History of fraud, forgery and counterfeiting
  • History of the Indian Penal Code
  • Material lives of legal objects
  • History of legal markets