The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution

Oxford University Press
Free sample

The Indian Constitution is one of the world's longest and most important political texts. Its birth, over six decades ago, signalled the arrival of the first major post-colonial constitution and the world's largest and arguably most daring democratic experiment. Apart from greater domestic focus on the Constitution and the institutional role of the Supreme Court within India's democratic framework, recent years have also witnessed enormous comparative interest in India's constitutional experiment. The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution is a wide-ranging, analytical reflection on the major themes and debates that surround India's Constitution. The Handbook provides a comprehensive account of the developments and doctrinal features of India's Constitution, as well as articulating frameworks and methodological approaches through which studies of Indian constitutionalism, and constitutionalism more generally, might proceed. Its contributions range from rigorous, legal studies of provisions within the text to reflections upon historical trends and social practices. As such the Handbook is an essential reference point not merely for Indian and comparative constitutional scholars, but for students of Indian democracy more generally.
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About the author

Sujit Choudhry is Dean and I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law. His books include The Migration of Constitutional Ideas (Cambridge, 2006) and Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation (Oxford, 2008). Madhav Khosla is a PhD candidate at the Department of Government, Harvard University. His books include The Indian Constitution (Oxford, 2012), Letters for a Nation: From Jawaharlal Nehru to His Chief Ministers (Penguin, 2014) and Unstable Constitutionalism: Law and Politics in South Asia (with Mark Tushnet, Cambridge, 2015). Pratap Bhanu Mehta is President and Chief Executive of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. His books include The Burden of Democracy (Penguin, 2003), Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design (with Devesh Kapur, Oxford, 2005), and The Oxford Companion to Politics in India (with Niraja Gopal Jayal, Oxford, 2010).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
May 12, 2016
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Pages
1050
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ISBN
9780191058615
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Comparative
Law / Constitutional
Political Science / Constitutions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Constitutional law provides the legal framework for the Australian political and legal systems, and thus touches almost every aspect of Australian life. The Handbook offers a critical analysis of some of the most significant aspects of Australian constitutional arrangements, setting them against the historical, legal, political, and social contexts in which Australia's constitutional system has developed. It takes care to highlight the distinctive features of the Australian constitutional system by placing the Australian system, where possible, in global perspective. The chapters of the Handbook are arranged in seven thematically-grouped parts. The first, 'Foundations', deals with aspects of Australian history which have influenced constitutional arrangements. The second, 'Constitutional Domain', addresses the interaction between the constitution and other relevant legal systems and orders, including the common law, international law, and state constitutions. The third, 'Themes', identifies themes of special constitutional significance, including the legitimacy of the constitution, citizenship, and republicanism. The fourth, 'Practice and Process', deals with practical issues relevant to constitutional litigation, including the processes, techniques, and authority of the High Court of Australia. The final three parts deal with the structural building blocks of the Australian Constitutional system: 'Separation of Powers', 'Federalism', and the 'Protection of Rights.' Written by a team of experts drawn from academia and practice, the Handbook provides Australian and international readers alike with a reliable source of knowledge, understanding, and insight into the Australian Constitution.
In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it.

We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius.

Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president.

From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans.

We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election.

Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
How should constitutional design respond to the opportunities and challenges raised by ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural differences, and do so in ways that promote democracy, social justice, peace and stability? This is one of the most difficult questions facing societies in the world today. There are two schools of thought on how to answer this question. Under the heading of accommodation, some have argued for the need to recognize, institutionalize and empower differences. There are a range of constitutional instruments available to achieve this goal, such as multinational federalism and administrative decentralization, legal pluralism (e.g. religious personal law), other forms of non-territorial minority rights (e.g. minority language and religious education rights), consociationalism, affirmative action, legislative quotas, etc. But others have countered that such practices may entrench, perpetuate and exacerbate the very divisions they are designed to manage. They propose a range of alternative strategies that fall under the rubric of integration that will blur, transcend and cross-cut differences. Such strategies include bills of rights enshrining universal human rights enforced by judicial review, policies of disestablishment (religious and ethnocultural), federalism and electoral systems designed specifically to include members of different groups within the same political unit and to disperse members of the same group across different units, are some examples. In this volume, leading scholars of constitutional law, comparative politics and political theory address the debate at a conceptual level, as well as through numerous country case-studies, through an interdisciplinary lens, but with a legal and institutional focus.
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