Seminar: The Struggle for Constitutional Rights and Accountability in Asia

On 12 October I will be giving a seminar at Windsor Faculty of Law, Ontario, Canada. My paper is on: “The Struggle for Constitutional Rights and Accountability in Asia.

“Abstract: The courts are often a key site of the struggle for rights and administrative accountability. In this article, I highlight an important yet understudied avenue for both the historical and contemporary study of comparative administrative law: the constitutional writs. I demonstrate that the constitutional writs are an example of a British colonial legal transplant that originated from the common law and then took on a new life in constitutions across former British colonies from the 1940s to 1980s, particularly across South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, as well as parts of Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean. I illustrate the history and development of this model, transforming from the common law remedies of England to a significant constitutional means of reviewing administrative decisions. I offer a comparative view of the politics of administrative law in Myanmar, illustrated by a within country comparison. The study of the constitutional writs demonstrates the interconnection of constitutional and administrative law, and the symbolic nature of administrative review. I argue that the field of comparative administrative law needs to reconsider the history of transnational borrowing and innovation in former British colonies, and go beyond a statutory focus on administrative law to account for the constitutional entrenchment of administrative remedies.