Surabhi Shukla is a DPhil (law) student. Her DPhil tests the limits of religious and cultural claims in fundamental rights litigation. Using India as a case study, it provides a judicial framework built on constitutional law and theory to analyse these claims. While the freedom of religion is a guaranteed fundamental right in the country, and several other aspects of civic life are regulated by religious or cultural laws, there is an arena of personal life decisions that is neither protected by the freedom of religion nor religiously or culturally regulated by law; examples include surrogacy, abortion, same sex relations, sex work, euthanasia etc. However, litigation on these issues demonstrates that religious and cultural claims are being used to regulate these personal decisions. While the litigants employ such claims to persuade the court to expand or contract individual autonomy over personal life choices, courts adopt religion and culture based reasoning in arriving at their decisions. Her DPhil studies this phenomenon, its implications, and provides normative answers to the appropriate role of such arguments in constitutional litigation, in democratic, secular, constitutional States.
She completed her B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in 2011 and her LL.M. from the UCLA School of Law in 2012. She was awarded the Dean's Tuition Fellowship and the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation Scholarship to attend UCLA. She has worked at the ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles, the Williams Institute at UCLA, the Supreme Court of India, and taught as an Assistant Professor of Law at the O. P. Jindal Global University, India, before starting her DPhil at Oxford.
In 2014, she was awarded an IASSCS Emerging Scholars' International Research Fellowship. Through this fellowship, she conducted a study on the experiences on queer students during their school life in India. The study is hosted here:http://genderdiversityandschools.in/. This project has since won the Jack Collins Social Action Bursary of the Oriel College, Oxford, in 2017.
She is admitted to the Bar in India and New York. She blogs on sexual orientation and gender identity cases in Indian courts, at: https://lawandsexuality.com/