Tarunabh Khaitan

Professor of Public Law and Legal Theory, and Head of Research in the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights

Biography

Tarun Khaitan is the Head of Research at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford, the Professor of Public Law and Legal Theory at the Faculty of Law at Oxford, a Fellow at Mansfield College, and an Honorary Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School. He specialises in legal theory, constitutional studies, and discrimination law. He is the founding General Editor of the Indian Law Review and founder & advisor of the Junior Faculty Forum for Indian Law Teachers. He sits on the advisory board of the International Journal of Comparative Law, is a member of the European University Institute's Research Council, and is a trustee of the Equal Rights Trust.

He completed his undergraduate studies (BA LLB Hons) at the National Law School (Bangalore) in 2004 as the 'Best All Round Graduating Student'. He then came to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and completed his postgraduate studies (BCL with distinction, MPhil with distinction, DPhil) at Exeter College. Before joining Bonavero Institute, he was the Penningtons Student (Fellow) in Law at Christ Church and then a Tutorial Fellow in Law (with tenure) at Wadham College. Previously, he has also been the Vice Dean of the Oxford Law Faculty, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Melbourne Law School, a Global Visiting Professor of Law at NYU Law School, and the Walter V. Schaefer Visiting Professor of Law at Chicago Law School.

His research has been cited by the Indian Supreme Court (in four separate cases: 1, 2, 3, and 4), the Canadian Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Madras High Court (in two separate cases: 1 and 2). His monograph entitled A Theory of Discrimination Law (OUP 2015 hbk, South Asia edition and Oxford Scholarship Online, 2016 pbk) has been reviewed very positively in leading journals, including in Law and Philosophy, where Sophia Moreau said "In this magnificent and wide-ranging book ... Khaitan attempts what very few others have tried." In Ethics, Deborah Hellman said that its 'ambitious scope and the careful argumentation it contains make it one of the best in the field’.  In his review in the Modern Law Review, Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen claimed that "Khaitan's account is sophisticated, extensive and among the best normative accounts of discrimination law available." Colm O'Cinneide's review in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies says that "Khaitan’s quest shows up the inadequacies of previous attempts to track down this Holy Grail, and the path he has laid down will encourage others to follow in his footsteps." The book won the Woodward Medal (with a cash prize of 10,000 Australian dollars) in 2019 for making ‘a significant contribution to knowledge in a field of humanities and social sciences.’ A full list of reviews is available here.

Prof Khaitan was awarded the 2018 Letten Prize, a 2 Million Norwegian Kroner award given biennially to a young researcher under the age of 45 conducting excellent research of great social relevance. He is using a part of the award towards setting up the Indian Equality Law Programme, aimed at capacity-building for early-career scholars. In 2020, he was awarded the Excellence in Engagement award by the University of Melbourne. Prof Pratap Mehta said in the context of this award that “No discussion of the rights of minorities in India is now conceivable without engaging with his conceptual and legal arguments”. At Oxford, he received the Oxford Policy Engagement Fellowship Award in 2020 and a special mention by the O2RB Excellence in Impact Award in 2021. He helped draft the Indian Anti-Discrimination and Equality Bill 2017. He writes regularly for newspapers and blogs: links to his columns are available here. His podcast course on Indian constitutionalism (in Hindi), संविधान संवाद, can be downloaded here. He has served on the advisory board of the United Nation’s Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner’s effort to draft ‘A Practical Guide to Developing Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation’.