ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why History Matters

Reading George Gadbois

Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings by George H Gadbois, Jr; edited and introduced by Vikram Raghavan and Vasujith Ram, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017; pp xxxii + 245, 795.



George H Gadbois, Jr was a veteran scholar of the Indian Supreme Court; his contributions are immense and enduring. He was the first to study the Court jurimetrically (Gadbois 1981), and also began the tradition of scholarly bioanalysis of the Court (Gadbois 2011). Vikram Raghavan has done a great service to the world of constitutional law by persuading Gadbois to have this work published (Raghavan and Ram 2017) and I was pleased to commend the publication of this first work by Gadbois—his 1961 master’s thesis at Duke University, in political science—to Oxford University Press. Gadbois had expressed a reluctance to do so and it is a source of joy that he allowed himself to be overruled.

Rarely do academic writers agree fully with each other and, although hailing my Indian Supreme Court and Politics (Baxi 1981) as “pioneering” and “most important ever written about the Supreme Court of India,” Gadbois found it somewhat too “untidy and loosely presented.” He recognised that even the “most original argument—that the post-Emergency Court has pursued an increasingly people-oriented ‘frankly populistic’ posture, is searching for new bases of legitimation of its power, and seeks to speak to the people at large,” but added, “Perhaps it is characteristic of books of this nature to be better at provoking than proving” (Gadbois 1981).

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Updated On : 13th Mar, 2021
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