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The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy hosted its 6th Annual Lecture on 2nd December — a celebration of its founding day.  Each year, this lecture focuses on a contemporary policy issue of relevance to all of us.

This year, Dr. Bibek Debroy, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India, spoke on ‘Decolonising India’s Legal System’ at 6:30 PM at the Multipurpose Hall, India International Centre.

Vidhi’s Briefing Book, ‘From Rule By Law to Rule of Law: 25 Reforms to Decolonise India’s Legal System,’ was also launched by Dr. Bibek Debroy and Dr. Dhvani Mehta, Co-Founder and Lead, Health, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Dr. Arghya Sengupta, Founder and Research Director of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.


75 years after independence, the Indian legal system continues to bear the weight of colonial vestiges. To decolonise the system, three levels of changes need to be contemplated. 

Laws and practices that are essentially colonial need to be reformed, institutions that had been designed to further the colonial agenda need to be re-oriented, and colonial ideology that pervades our thinking needs to be changed.

For instance, caste based division of labour among prisoners continues to exist in the Indian prison system, Indian courts are symbols of colonial hierarchies, including the use of archaic language, and certain indigenous communities are still denied full rights as citizens of the country. While changing these, we need to also ask ourselves the fundamental question: what does it mean to be colonial? 

Watch the discussion above.