Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Managing Trustee

Sudhir is a co-founder and trustee of CLPR. He is currently the Vice-Chancellor of National Law School of India University(NLSIU), Bengaluru. Previously he was a professor at the Azim Premji University. He was also the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Visiting Professor of Indian Constitutional Law at Columbia Law School.

He graduated from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore (B.A. LL.B). He read the BCL and obtained a D.Phil. from Oxford University. He has been a Teaching Fellow in Law at the Pembroke College at Oxford University, an Assistant Professor at NLSIU and a Professor at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.

In the past, Sudhir has also worked in the Prime Minister’s Committee on Infrastructure and the Kasturirangan Committee on Governance of Bangalore. He has authored a book titled ‘Democracy and Constitutionalism in India’ which was published by the Oxford University Press in 2009.

His main areas of interest are constitutional law, legal education, legal theory, intellectual property law and administrative law.



Commercial Courts In India: Three Puzzles For Legal System Reform

September 2, 2020

In this paper published by the Journal of Indian Law and Society, Dr Sudhir Krishnaswamy…

Go to link Open PDF

Is the Indian Constitution Liberal?

July 3, 2019

In this essay, Prof. Sudhir Krishnaswamy asks if liberalism is a key value embedded in India’s Constitution. He shows that it was not keenly discussed in the constitution making process or integrated in Supreme Court decisions. Moreover, a brief summary of debates in comparative constitutional design confirms that liberalism is rarely expressly embedded in a constitutional text.

Open PDF

ThePrint asks: CJI Gogoi’s no leave formula for judges: Fighting backlog in courts or mere rhetoric?

October 12, 2018

Sudhir Krishnaswamy argues that the no leave policy for judges is a partial and incomplete way to understand delay and congestion in the court system. He puts forth three ways in which this problem could be tackled.

Go to link

Manufacturing electoral choice

May 16, 2018

Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Managing Trustee at CLPR, writes LiveMint on the Karnataka Elections 2018. He analyzes two elements of the campaign strategy. Firstly, he argues that Congress’s choice of Kannada linguistic nationalism as a campaign frame did not fare well against the cultural and religious national sentiment. Secondly the double-layered campaign structure of the BJP helped them secure the highest seats – leaders from centre and state and the grassroots political workers carried out a well designed campaign strategy.

Go to link

Rights in Review | The Supreme Court in 2017

April 14, 2018

“Rights in Review″ is an annual review of Indian Supreme Court decisions on constitutional fundamental rights cases in the year past. 

In 2017 we surveyed all reported decisions of the Supreme Court adjudicating fundamental rights challenges from Dec 15, 2016 to Dec 15, 2017. Once again we select cases which extend or modify existing legal doctrine, apply the law to new factual circumstances or otherwise have a significant impact on public policy or public affairs. We have identified 11 cases this year based on these criteria.

Open PDF

Dalits see the apex court’s order on SC/ST Act as a dog whistle to destroy the law

April 10, 2018

Sudhir Krishnaswamy writes for The Print on the judgement in Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs. The State of Maharashtra. Sudhir reviewed and assessed the judgment and public reaction to it. He argues that this case is bad in law and does not meet the standards of judicial decision making.

Go to link

Briefing Note – Who should plan the city? Master Plan for Bengaluru

February 27, 2018

As the High Court of Karnataka adjudicates whether the BDA or the MPC should have the power to make the Master Plan, this CLPR Briefing Note authored by Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Mathew Idiculla examines the constitutional and legal framework for urban planning and clarifies the roles of the MPC, the BDA and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in planning for Bengaluru. It argues that as per the 74th Constitutional Amendment, it is the elected urban local body like the BBMP which is primarily vested with the task of urban planning while the MPC is tasked with responsibility to prepare a metropolitan-level development plan which integrates the plans prepared by the various elected local bodies in the metropolitan area.

Open PDF

Draft RMP-2031 for Bengaluru: Institutional gaps and flawed outcomes

January 10, 2018

In the second article on the Draft Revised Master Plan 2031, published in The Hindu, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Champaka Rajagopalan and Matthew Idiculla highlight the lack of ownership (of the Plan) felt at the local level. They attribute this lack of engagement to the outsourcing of the plan to a private entity (this was done for the previous plan as well) which might have brought in expertise lacking in the BDA, but also led to a disregard for the diversity and local history of Bengaluru. Further complicating the possibility of a successful outcome – the implementation of a plan that creates an economically, socially and environmentally friendly urban living space – is the estrangement of the BDA from the communities it is restructuring. They note that the proposal put forward by the BBMP Restructuring Committee 2017 has unfortunately not been evaluated in the context of moving away from the supply-based planning that is currently being followed.

Go to link

BDA’s master plan goes from ‘compact’ to ‘urban sprawl’

January 4, 2018

Can 21st century Bengaluru reject the principles of new urbanism with dense, mixed neighbourhoods that promote public transport and walkability to reduce environmental and resource costs and yet be a liveable, affordable and ecologically smart city? The question that Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Mathew Idiculla and Champaka Rajagopal have about Bangalore Development Authority’s (BDA) draft Revised Master Plan 2031 (RMP 2031).

The Vision Plan, 1 of the 6 documents that make up the draft RMP 2031, outlines a strategy to accommodate a projected population of 24.7 million that, the authors posit, is bound to encourage urban sprawl. The restriction of development in the city core combined with intensive development at the periphery is the antithetic to creating an urban environment that is economically, socially and ecologically progressive.

Go to link

Judicial Appointments: A Breakthrough?

February 11, 2017

On February 6 the Supreme Court collegium recommended 9 High Court judges be appointed as Chief Justices of various High Courts. It appears that this recommendation follows an earlier collegium recommendation to appoint 5 High Court judges to the Supreme Court made the previous week. Taken together, these moves have been hailed as a breakthrough in the ongoing impasse between the judiciary and the executive. Arguably till the Executive confirms these appointments, the only breakthrough is that the collegium has recommended names to the Supreme Court for the first time since December 2015!

Go to link

The People’s Court

November 24, 2016

Sudhir Krishnaswamy suggests that the Court needs to formulate a strategy of transparency in the appointments process to win over public opinion and perception. A failure to do so could result in an unacceptable loss of autonomy and erode the power that the Court has to keep a check on the executive and the legislature.

Go to link

A Critique of the Draft Equality Bill

August 3, 2016

This article is a comment on the Draft Equality Bill, 2016 drafted by Tarunabh Khaitan. It focuses on two central issues. The first is the very concept of equality the Bill propounds and its conflict with other rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The other, is the standard of judicial review envisaged under the bill. It casts doubt on the premise that a court centric model of achieving equality is the best way to achieve equality in a country where millions do not have access to justice.

Go to link

Mr. Modi, Don’t Patent Cow Urine

June 16, 2016

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is famously obsessed with the cow, which is venerated in Hindu cosmology. Most Indian states have now banned cow slaughter. The government of Punjab wants to tax alcohol to pay for shelters for stray cattle. Last year, after a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh was lynched by a mob for eating beef, a cabinet minister from the B.J.P. demanded to know who else was “involved in the crime” — meaning the beef eating, not the man’s killing.

Go to link

Patently, a missed opportunity

May 25, 2016

India’s National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, released in mid-May, is a bewildering document. There are two ways to read this policy. The first is as a gigantic exercise in dissimulation, with a terse declaration — India is not changing its IPR laws — tucked inside a mountain of hot air to keep the U.S. and the European Union warm and happy. The other way to read it is as a serious attempt to make policy of tremendous national significance. A serious reading, however, reveals critical problems.

The National IPR Policy is keenly concerned with generating “awareness” of intellectual property (IP) in the country. (So much so that the word “awareness” appears at least 20 times in the policy.) The policy calls for nothing less than a new gold rush towards IP — roping in everyone from university professors to people in “rural and remote areas”.

Go to link

Rights in Review | The Supreme Court in 2015

January 1, 2016

Rights in Review is a CLPR publication which analyses 15 key judgments ruled by the Supreme Court in 2015. This publication seeks to acquaint the reader with various aspects of fundamental rights protection and their relevance and impact.

The year 2015 saw the Supreme Court extend its scope of protection of fundamental rights to the internet in the case of Shreya Singhal v Union of India. This case struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000.

The report also elaborates on the stand taken by the Court in issues such as life, privacy, the death penalty, the reservation policy and the environment. The Court in 2015 paved the way to legislative and executive action in constitutional protection cases by triggering judicial review in the Article 14 equal protection cases and reservation policy case with respect to the Jat community.

Open PDF

Crisis in Karnataka Lokaayukta

August 15, 2015

Sudhir Krishnasway’s piece on the current crisis in the Karnataka Lokaayukta appeared in The Hindu on August 15, 2015. In the article, he delved into the the root of the Karnataka Lokayukta crisis: the process of appointment and removal of the Lokayukta.

Go to link

Rights in Review | The Supreme Court in 2014

December 31, 2014

Rights in Review is a CLPR publication which analyses 15 key judgements ruled by the Supreme Courtin 2014. This publication is aimed at acquainting the reader with various aspects of fundamental rights protection and the relevance and impact of the decisions in public life.

Open PDF

S Krishnaswamy, The Shifting Scales of Justice: The Supreme Court in Neo-liberal India, (2014)

June 11, 2014

“The Shifting Scales of Justice: The Supreme Court in Neo-Liberal India” is a Volume of 8 essays that explain the trajectory of the Supreme Court in the last quarter of the 20th century. A major theme running through several of the essays is the “conservative turn” that the Supreme Court apparently takes from the 1980’s to the 1990’s.
Sudhir and Madhav Khosla’s essay, “Social Justice and the Supreme Court” draws attention to the protection conferred on socio-economic rights, and questions whether the Supreme Court indeed grew less progressive in the 90’s. They offer a test to evaluate a shift in the Supreme Court’s position. The test requires that there is reliable evidence to suggest that a claim made before the 1990’s Supreme Court would have a less chance of succeeding than if it had, under similar facts and circumstances, been framed in the 1980s.

Go to link

Legal Accountability of the Police in India

June 4, 2014

This report argues for the introduction of a judicial remedy in the form of a cause of action against police officers in their individual capacity for violations of constitutional rights. This recommendation was made in light of the government’s failure to implement the reforms mandated by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006) 8 SCC 1

Open PDF

Restoring legitimacy to PILs

May 3, 2014

The authors argue that courts have become a forum for politically partisan disputes by allowing over-representation of the interests of individuals and groups who are already deeply embedded in political and legal institutions. The article points to the absence of any ‘publicly articulated rationale’ for the courts to take suo motu cognizance of any matter as PIL to have rather ‘atrophied and morphed’ PIL from a counter-majoritarian instrument to a counter-democratic one.

Go to link

Telangana: No Constitutional Barriers

January 4, 2014

The following article argues for the Union’s power to redraw state boundaries unfettered by constitutional restraints, as imposed by the Parliament or the Supreme Court under Article 3 and critically examines how the absence of the State Assembly resolution in the case of creation of the state of Telangana is not a constitutional barrier. The creation of state-nation arrangements, according to the author, sustains Indian Federalism and political unity.

Go to link

Recasting the Appointments Debate

December 13, 2013

This article discusses the draft amendment for the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 that sought to reform the appointment of judges with a Judicial Appointments Commission. It takes a critical look at the appointment of such a commission, the issues with the draft amendment, and reform for this bill by using examples from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Go to link

Naz Foundation: Reading Down the Supreme Court

December 13, 2013

Sudhir Krishnaswamy proposes a reading down of the Supreme Court judgment in Suresh Kaushal v. Naz Foundation so that it would have the effect of encouraging prosecutors not to target consensual homosexual activity.

Go to link

The Unique Identification Number and the National Population Register

August 6, 2013

This essay (published in the book “In the Wake of Aadhaar: The Digital Ecosystem of Governance in India”) investigates the present legal status of both the UIDAI and the National Population Register in terms of their constitutional status. Often presented in opposition to each other, the author argues that, constitutionally speaking, they have to be viewed together, not only because of the similarities that the two posses despite their alleged differences, but because both – along with other initiatives – pose significant challenges to concerns about citizen privacy and the special conditions under which States can waive privacy concerns in the national interest.

Go to link

Why Novartis Case will help innovation

April 15, 2013

The Novartis case was a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court on the question of the evergreening of patents. This article examines the judgment and notes that the Supreme Court had taken a vital step in ensuring that life saving medication is freely and cheaply available to the public.

Go to link

The Supreme Court on 2G: Signal and Noise

April 11, 2013

This article considers the role of the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum case. It argues that the Supreme Court has overstepped its mandate in deciding this issue directly and has done so only to maintain its status as a corruption buster.

Go to link

Poke Me: Why the Supreme Court is not the Bulwark of the Constitution it is made out to be

January 3, 2013

Sudhir Krishnaswamy from CLPR and Abhayraj Naik from the Law, Governance and Development Initiative of the Azim Premji University, jointly authored the article “Poke Me: Why the Supreme Court is not the Bulwark of the Constitution it is made out to be” published as a part of the “Poke Me” series by the Economic Times on January 3, 2013.

The article seeks to reassess the character of the Supreme Court of India by examining three propositions highlighted by Nick Robinson’s working paper titled “The Indian Supreme Court by the Numbers” which analyzes the Supreme Court’s case records during the period between 1993 and 2011.

Go to link

Healthcare Law in the US and the RTE in India

September 1, 2012

Sudhir Krishnaswamy analyzes attempts by the India and the US to clarify the relationship between the state and private sector, and their respective roles and responsibilities to secure social welfare. He focuses on India’s Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 and the United States’ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010.

Go to link

RTE must be extended to minority schools also

April 29, 2012

In an Op-Ed in Sunday’s Deccan Chronicle, Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Varsha Iyengar commented on the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on the Constitutionality of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. The piece discusses the Constitutional law reasoning of the majority decision in upholding the obligation of private unaided schools to provide free and compulsory education to children from weaker and disadvantaged groups. While it supports this holding, it questions the exclusion of minority unaided schools from the purview of the entire Act and prefers the dissenting opinion’s recognition of equal obligation of minority and non-minority schools under the Act.

Go to link

Access to Knowledge in India: New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development in India‘

October 15, 2011

CLPR’s Sudhir Krishnaswamy contributed a chapter to the book ‘Access to Knowledge in India: New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development in India‘ published by Bloomsbury. The book explores the issue of access to knowledge in different fields such as human rights, development, agriculture, health, etc.

A variety of authors from different sectors have contributed to the book. Sudhir Krishnaswamy authored the chapter on “Access to Knowledge and Traditional Knowledge Protection: The Indian Experience”. The chapter discusses the issue of access with respect to traditional knowledge. It also discusses the possibility of a legislation to deal with the protection and use of traditional knowledge.

Go to link

‘Inside Our Supreme Court’ – A Book Review

August 20, 2011

Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Madhav Khosla published a review of  Judges of the Supreme Court of India: 1950-1989 by George H. Gadbois (New Delhi: Oxford University Press) titled ‘Inside Our Supreme Court’ in the 20th August 2011 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly

Go to link

Democracy and Constitutionalism in India: A Study of the Basic Structure Doctrine

March 18, 2011

In this book, Sudhir Krishnaswamy revisits and explores the doctrine of basic structure and its effect on the Constitution of India and the judiciary’s role in the Indian democracy.

Go to link

Note on the Working Draft of the PWD Act, 2010 and its Mandate

March 17, 2011

CLPR collaborated with the Centre for Internet and Society and Inclusive Planet to assess the Working Draft on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2010 (the 1 December, 2010 version) and examine the extent to which the Drafting Committee had exceeded its mandate.

Go to link

Note on the Authorities under the Working Draft of PWD Act, 2011

March 16, 2011

CLPR, the Centre for Internet and Society and Inclusive Planet prepared a Note on the working of the various authorities under the Working Draft of the PWD Act, 2011

Go to link

Democracy and Constitutionalism in India: A Study of the basic Structure Doctrine.

August 6, 2009

The book examines the basic structure doctrine that was first articulated by the Indian Supreme court in 1973. This doctrine that the Constitution has some provisions that cannot be altered, or removed through amendments. It assesses the legitimacy of the basic structure doctrine in legal, moral, and sociological terms and argues that much of the criticism against the doctrine emerges from the failure to adequately map the contours of constitutional judicial review.

Go to link

The Philosophy and Law of Information Regulation in India | Call for Papers

August 17, 2020

We invite multi-disciplinary submissions from fields of law, history of science, science and technology studies, informatics and information sciences, political and economic philosophy, design studies, and other related fields to reflect on the relationship between law, technology and information, with specific reference to the institutions of public law in India.

Read more

CADIndia website

July 1, 2015

The Constitutional and Civic Citizenship Project seeks to enhance public awareness and critical engagement with…

Read more

Prof. Moog’s Talk on Consumer Courts and Access to Justice

June 13, 2013

On 5th of June, 2013, Robert Moog  presented a paper titled “India’s Consumer Forums: Access and Justice for…

Read more
Load more