Tarun Khaitan is the Professor of Public Law and Legal Theory at Wadham College (Oxford) and a Vice Dean at the Faculty of Law (Oxford). He is also a Professor & Future Fellow at Melbourne Law School, working on a project on the resilience of democratic constitutions, with a focus on South Asia. He specialises in legal theory, constitutional law and discrimination law.
He is the founding General Editor of the Indian Law Review, founder and Chief Advisor of the Junior Faculty Forum for Indian Law Teachers, and an Affiliate of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and an Associate of the Oxford Human Rights Hub. 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 Wadham, he was the Penningtons Student (Fellow) in Law at Christ Church. He has also been a Global Visiting Professor of Law at NYU Law School.
His monograph entitled A Theory of Discrimination Law (OUP 2015 hbk, South Asia edition and Oxford Scholarship Online, 2016 pbk) has been cited by the European Court of Human Rights and 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.
He helped draft the Indian Anti-Discrimination and Equality Bill 2017. His research on discrimination law has been quoted and relied upon by the Indian Supreme Court and the Canadian Supreme Court. He writes regularly for newspapers and blogs: links to his columns are 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 for his work on the anti-discrimination bill in India. 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”. He is currently 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’.
As Vice Dean (Teaching and Recruitment) Tarun is responsible for:
- Academic appointments: will represent the Faculty on selection panels for joint appointments, and chair the committees where the University is the sole or main employer; will select other faculty representatives for panels; and takes reports on appointments to the Law Faculty Personnel Committee for approval.
- Teaching needs: will conduct a regular review of academic personnel, and of teaching needs in consultation with Teaching Group Convenors
- Academic leave: will consider sabbatical and other leave applications for academic post holders (other than those in statutory chairs)
- Buyouts: will consider all requests for buyouts, and will liaise with the Associate Dean for Research on requests for externally-funded buyouts.
- Additional Teaching: will consider all applications for Additional Teaching, and will liaise with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students, or Postgraduate Taught Students, as applicable.
Jointly with Helen Scott (Vice Dean - Personnel):
- Review the annual teaching return (with the Dean) and advise on matters related to stint.
- Represent the Faculty on committees and ad hoc working parties in and beyond the Division.
- Co-chair the Personnel Committee