Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Menaka Guruswamy

Meera and Vikram Gandhi Fellow (Spring 2020)
BR Ambedkar Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law, Columbia Law School
OP Jindal Distinguished Lecturer

Dr. Menaka Guruswamy is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. 

Through her litigation practice, she has successfully sought reform of the bureaucracy in the country through fixed tenure, defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children, and most recently overturned section 377 the colonial-era law that criminalises consensual same-sex relations. Dr Guruswamy is amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court in a case concerning 1528 alleged extra-judicial killings by security personnel. In her private law practice she litigates in the areas of  civil law, commercial law and white collar crime. 

She was on Foreign Policy magazine’s list 100 most influential Global Thinkers for 2019 and along with Arundhati Katju on Times Magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people. In 2017, her portrait was unveiled at Rhodes House in Oxford University. 

Dr. Guruswamy has also advised the United Nations Development Fund, New York and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), New York and UNICEF South Sudan on International Human Rights Law and has also supported the constitution-making process in Nepal.

Dr. Guruswamy’s most recent publications include, a co-edited volume of essays on Founding Moments in Constitutionalism (Hart/Bloomsbury, 2019), an  essay on Constitution-Making in South Asia, in the Handbook on Constitution-Making (Edward Elgar, 2019). She has written widely for publications including the New York Times, the Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Mint and Scroll.in.

Dr. Guruswamy was educated at Oxford University, Harvard Law School and the National Law School of India. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and a Gammon Fellow at Harvard. She has been visiting faculty at Yale Law School, New York University School of Law and University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She was the B.R Ambedkar Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School from 2017-2019, where she taught constitutional design in post conflict democracies.