Ashok Agrwaal

After graduating from law school in 1982 Ashok joined the bar in Delhi, India and have been practicing law since then. He started off as an independent lawyer, not affiliated to any firm and continues to be so even today.

Over the last 20 years his focus has been on issues of accountability and State impunity. In 1995 he filed a petition in the Indian Supreme Court seeking a comprehensive enquiry into allegations of enforced disappearances in the north-western Indian State of Punjab during the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, when the state was wracked by an armed insurrection. The final order, in October 2006, fell woefully short of expectations but it did result in the grant of minimal compensation to the families of over 1200 persons who had been disappeared (and then killed) by the Punjab police and other security forces. This is a first in independent Indian history.

Between 2002 and 2005 Ashok conducted a study of the effectiveness of the writ of habeas corpus in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has also been in the throes of a violent insurrection since 1990. An abridged version of his report is to be published shortly, in the form of a monograph, by South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), the Kathmandu based regional NGO, in collaboration with which the research was done.

Currently Ashok balances his time between practice and research/ writing. A paper, titled 'Law's Autonomy: A Paradigm of State Power' was recently published in a volume titled ‘Autonomy - Beyond Hermeneutics and Kant’, Paula Banerjee and Samir K. Das (eds.), (Delhi: Anthem, 2007). It explores the ambivalence of law in the context of individual and social autonomy. This paper, as well as the report on habeas corpus in Kashmir, can be downloaded from http://works.bepress.com/ashokagrwaal/

Another paper, tentatively titled Trivialising Justice: Reservations and the Rule of Law, will be published by Sage, as part of a volume on Law and Social Justice (part of a 4 volume status report on social justice in India), towards the end of this year or early next year.