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Prof. Anup Surendranath

Professor of Law

Professor Anup Surendranath teaches criminal law, constitutional law, and legal methods and is the executive director of Project 39A (a criminal justice programme at the University). Additionally, he holds the SK Malik Chair Professorship on Access to Justice at NLU Delhi and is also on the Advisory Council of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford. Professor Surendranath was invited by the Chief Justice of India RM Lodha in April 2014 to serve as the Deputy Registrar (Research) in the Supreme Court of India and served in that position until July 2015.

At Project 39A, Professor Surendranath leads a team of nearly 60 full time programme and administrative staff across three offices in Delhi, Pune, and Nagpur. As a criminal justice programme, Project 39A works on issues of forensics, mental health & criminal justice, sentencing, torture prevention & accountability, and legal aid. Project 39A also provides extensive pro bono legal representation to prisoners sentenced to death across the country and also provides legal aid to undertrial prisoners in Pune and Nagpur Central Prisons. Project 39A’s sustained representation of prisoners sentenced to death in the Supreme Court has led to significant changes and improvements in the law.

Professor Surendranath’s foray into India’s criminal justice system began with the Death Penalty Research Project (2013-16) and the resultant Death Penalty India Report (May 2016) is of particular significance, given that it is the first-ever empirical work on the administration of the death penalty in India. The project, initiated in June 2013 in collaboration with the National Legal Services Authority, sought to develop a socio-economic profile of prisoners sentenced to death in India and also map their interaction with the criminal justice system. Entirely supported by the University’s research funds, over 90 students were involved with the project in different phases. The Death Penalty India Report is a piece of definitive academic work in the Indian criminal justice space and its findings have been cited by the Law Commission of India, and in parliamentary debates in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and also in reports of the United Nations and the UN Secretary General. The report received prominent coverage in the national media and was also covered by major international publications like the New York Times and The Guardian.

Professor Surendranath’s doctoral research at the University of Oxford, supervised by Professor Sandra Fredman, was on equality and anti-discrimination in the context of reservation (affirmative action) policies in India.


  • ‘Death Penalty in India’ (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming September/ October 2022).
  • Anup Surendranath and Shivani Misra, ‘A Case for Different Standards in Age Determination Proceedings’, Volume 34 Issue No. 1, National Law School of India Review (March 2022).
  • Anup Surendranath and Gale Andrew, ‘State Legal Aid and Undertrials: Are There No Takers?’ Indian Law Review (February 2022).
  • Soumya AK, Maitreyi Misra, and Anup Surendranath, ‘Shapeshifting And Erroneous: The Many Inconsistencies in the Insanity Defence in India’, Volume 14 Issue No. 2, NUJS Law Review (August 2021).
  • Anup Surendranath, Neetika Vishwanath, and Preeti Pratishruti Dash, ‘Penological Justifications as Sentencing Factors in Death Penalty Sentencing’, Volume 6 Issue No. 2, Journal of the National Law University Delhi (January 2021).
  • Anup Surendranath, Neetika Vishwanath, and Preeti Pratishruti Dash, ‘The Enduring Gaps and Errors in Capital Sentencing in India’, Volume 32, National Law School of India Review (September 2020).
  • Anup Surendranath, ‘Limited Imagination on Reservation’, Volume 55 Issue No. 37, Economic and Political Weekly (September 2020).
  • Anup Surendranath, Neetika Vishwanath, and Preeti Pratishruti Dash, ‘Death Penalty Sentencing in Trial Court: Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Maharashtra’, (National Law University Delhi Press, May 2020).
  • Anup Surendranath, ‘Abolition of the Death Penalty: A Tough Road Ahead for India’, Volume 55 Issue No. 10, Economic and Political Weekly (March 2020).
  • Anup Surendranath and Neetika Vishwanath, ‘Human Sacrifice, Sentencing and the Death Penalty’, Volume 55 Issue No. 8, Economic and Political Weekly (February 2020).
  • Anup Surendranath, ‘Death Penalty for Child Rape: Dangerous and Ineffective’, India Seminar 711 (November 2018).
  • Anup Surendranath and Rishika Sahgal, ‘Fair Trial Rights and the Death Penalty in India’, India Exclusion Report 2017-18 (Yoda Press, 2018).
  • Anup Surendranath et. al, ‘Matters of Judgment: A Judges’ Opinion Study on the Death Penalty and the Criminal Justice System’ (National Law University Delhi Press, December 2017).
  • Anup Surendranath, ‘Understanding the Death Penalty in India: The Challenges and Potential of Empirical Research’ University of Melbourne Asian Law Centre Briefing Paper Series No. 8 (2017).
  • Anup Surendranath et. al, ‘Death Penalty India Report’ (National Law University Delhi Press, May 2016).
  • Anup Surendranath, ‘Life and Personal Liberty’, The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution, edited by Sujit Choudhry, Madhav Khosla, and Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Oxford University Press, March 2016).
  • Anup Surendranath, ‘Essential Practices Doctrine: Towards an Inevitable Constitutional Burial’, Volume 15, Journal of the National Human Rights Commission (2016).


D.Phil in Law, University of Oxford
M.Phil in Law (Distinction), University of Oxford
BCL (Distinction), University of Oxford
B.A., LL.B (Hons.), NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad


Felix Scholarship for the D.Phil in Law, University of Oxford
Gregory Kulkes Scholarship for the D.Phil in Law, University of Oxford
Peter Birks Memorial Scholarship for the M.Phil in Law, University of Oxford
Felix Scholarship for the BCL, University of Oxford


Areas of Interest

  • Constitutional Law
  • Judicial Process
  • Criminal Law & Criminal Justice
  • Access to Justice
  • Comparative Human Rights
  • Legal Pedagogy