Today’s Telegraph carries a column by Rajeev Dhavan on the aforementioned topic. I am convinced that Dhavan is one of the most under-appreciated legal scholars in
In recent weeks, I have had occasion to revisit his academic writings, and they are awe-inspiring. His 1977 work, 'The Supreme Court of India: A Socio-legal Critique of its Juristic Techniques (NM Tripathi: 1977)', remains, two decades later, one of the most definitive studies of the Indian Supreme Court, its judges, and the body of jurisprudence it has created. Based on his PhD dissertation submitted to the
Dhavan has also closely followed the development of Indian legal research and scholarship over time. His masterly introduction to Marc Galanter’s ‘Law and Modern Society in India (OUP: 1989)’ provides a historical survey of works on Indian law dating from the colonial era till the late 1980s, and analyses how legal thought in India changed over different periods of time(The thirty-page endnotes section contains a comprehensive listing of the most significant scholarship on various aspects of Indian law). He comments acidly on the hold of the ‘black letter law’ tradition over Indian legal writing (as displayed in judgments and academic scholarship), and offers succinct, devestating summations of the attitudes of Indian judges, lawyers, politicians and law teachers towards the law. He also analyses the contributions of other Indian academics, as well as of those foreign scholars who have written on Indian law. His journal articles on the Indian Law Institute (with which he has been involved for a very long period of time) and the traffic of ideas from
Reverting to the article in today’s Telegraph, one finds some typical signs of Dhavan’s approach, where he analyses a specific contemporary issue by putting it into historical context and by locating it within a larger sphere of intellectual thought. Here is an extract from the article:
A lot of constitutions fail — either partly or wholly. In fact, in the last 60 years, very few constitutions have remained unscathed. But this does not mean that constitutionalism fails. There are three possible results. The first is that constitutional failure signifies a revolutionary change and creates a void to start afresh. This void theory was supported by
But all these approaches create a “usurpers’ jurisprudence”. In the case of
In a talk to the Nepalese Bar Association on
I hope Dr. Dhavan will continue to engage with contemporary legal issues in public fora, allowing us to have the benefit of his vast learning and astute insights.