Ishani Mookherjee

Matric Year: 2022 – Subject: DPhil in Law (Indira Gandhi Scholarship 2023)

I aim to pursue a career in research and academia, specialising in the field of constitutional law, human rights, and jurisprudence. Most recently, I completed the BCL at the University of Oxford as a Cornelia Sorabji Scholar at the OICSD. Across my courses, I deployed a critical approach to understand the philosophy and ramifications of constitutional and statutory rights.

Through courses like Constitutional Law, Women’s Movement in India, and Jurisprudence, I gained a nuanced understanding of the rights to life, privacy, and dignity, and the State’s extensive control over intimate aspects of women’s lives. Simultaneously, I undertook various fact-finding projects during my internship at Human Rights Law Network and as a Board Member of the Legal Aid Clinic at Jindal Global Law School. These exposed me to the structural deficiencies in the legal framework that limited State accountability on the State’s failure to fulfil its obligations. This made me question whether the ‘rights’ captured in books ever materialise for women in action.

My consequent interest in exploring the rights-based framework through feminist and critical legal scholarship drove me to publish articles scrutinizing the law in India through these approaches. For instance, I published a paper analysing the judicial interpretation of the right to privacy in India and on its implications on women. I undertook extensive comparative study of the right to privacy, bodily autonomy and dignity, while working on a research project on criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation across jurisdictions. As a Teaching Assistant for the Jurisprudence course, I explored MacKinnon’s works on feminist jurisprudence and its synergies with the constitutional and statutory rights-based regime in India.

During the BCL, I wish to undertake comparative and inter-disciplinary study of human rights and corresponding State obligations, and meaningfully contribute towards the growing scholarship on feminist constitutionalism. I am looking forward to the curriculum and the research opportunities at Oxford. I am grateful to the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development and Somerville College for awarding me the Cornelia Sorabji Scholarship to enable me to pursue this crucial opportunity.

Where Next?