Menaka Guruswamy

Henry J. Steiner Visiting Professor in Human Rights Practice

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Biography

Dr. Menaka Guruswamy is the Henry Steiner Visiting Professor of Human Rights Law.

She is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India where she litigates mostly large constitutional rights cases. Through her constitutional litigation practice, she has successfully sought reform of the bureaucracy in the country through fixed tenure (TSR Subramanian v Union of India), defended central government legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children (Right to Education case), and overturned section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised same-sex relations (Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India). Guruswamy is presently litigating the case for marriage-equality in India.

In her private law practice she also litigates in the areas of commercial law, white collar crime and technology-law.

She has also consulted with many agencies of the United Nations, including UNDP, and UNICEF on issues implicating international =human rights law, and also constitution-making. Guruswamy has also supported constitution-making in Nepal. Early on in her career she practiced law in New York as an associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell. She is admitted to the New York Bar, and is a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association, India.

Guruswamy has a Doctorate from Oxford University (D.Phil.), a Masters in Law (LL.M) Harvard Law School and a basic law degree from the National Law School of India, Bangalore. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and a Gammon Fellow at Harvard Law.

She has been visiting faculty at Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, Columbia Law School, Brown University and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. In 2016-2017, she was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskoelleg zu Berlin (Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin)

Guruswamy was on Foreign Policy magazine’s list 100 most influential Global Thinkers for 2019 and with Arundhati Katju on Times Magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people for their work on the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India.

She has been published in a variety of publications including; The New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the American Journal of International Law, and the Indian Express.

Guruswamy is the co-editor of Founding Moments of Constitutionalism (Hart Publications), 2019.

Along with Arundhati Katju, Guruswamy have been interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on CNN on their work on decriminalising homosexuality.

She has widely discussed India’s new regulatory regime for social media companies.

Recently, the New York Review of Books interviewed her on being a litigator.

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