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Research Assistant Opportunity at Project 39A


Project 39A draws inspiration from Article 39-A in the Indian Constitution on equal justice and opportunity in the legal system. We work on issues specific to the criminal justice system and undertake litigation, research and outreach relating to forensics, torture, legal aid, forensic psychiatry and the death penalty.

The National Law University, Delhi (‘University’) is seeking to engage six (6) full-time ‘Research Assistants’ for Project 39A, to work for a period of four (4) months on a research project examining the practical application of due process safeguards on arrest and remand, in Magistrate Courts in Delhi. 


Role of Magistrates in Ensuring Constitutional & Statutory Safeguards

The project will focus on the possibilities of justice represented by custodial safeguards, which come into play the moment a person steps into police custody, and the limits therein. Rather than considering justice as the endpoint of a process of investigation, or after a person has been the subject of custodial violence, this study will examine the first point of interaction between the state and the citizen in custody. Since access to justice, especially in custody, is mediated by class, caste, religion, and gender (for instance), that will be a central framework of the study. 

Article 22(2) of the Indian Constitution requires that the police produce arrested persons before the Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. The first production is the first time that the judiciary- the institution reflecting the rule of law and a check on the executive- must exercise its oversight powers to ensure constitutional and statutory protections for a person in custody. At this stage, the Magistrate is empowered to scrutinise the grounds and legality of the arrest, assess the availability of quality legal representation, consider the safety of the accused in custody, and make a determination on bail or further detention. Through subsequent remand hearings, the Magistrate is also required to monitor the investigation and the entire duration spent by the accused in police custody. Thus, the Magistrate is empowered to play a crucial role in balancing the rights of an accused with the requirements of a police investigation. 

This study will involve observing court proceedings on first production and remand, over a period of 90 days, to qualitatively consider the manner in which Magistrates are able to realise due process safeguards and protect the rights and dignity of the accused in custody, particularly those belonging to socio-economically vulnerable groups. 


  1. Conduct empirical research through observation of court proceedings in select Magistrate Courts in Delhi and interviews with relevant stakeholders, as per the project design. 
  2. Contribute to collating and analysing findings from court observations and interviews.
  3. Contribute to the writing of the report and/or other materials based on the findings of the project.  
  4. Any other work that may be necessary to ensure the effective implementation and completion of the project within the proposed timelines.


  1. A PhD or postgraduate degree in any of the relevant fields, including Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, or any other Social Sciences. 
  2. Demonstrable experience in conducting independent ethnographic or empirical research, particularly on socio-legal issues.  
  3. Knowledge and familiarity with issues related to the criminal justice system, courts, and criminal procedure. Prior work in Delhi courts would be an advantage. 
  4. Prior engagement with perspectives on systemic discrimination (for instance, due to caste, class, religion, gender, or sexuality) and its intersection with access to justice concerns.
  5. Ability to comprehend, converse, read and write Hindi, fluently. 

Compensation: Remuneration will be commensurate with qualifications and experience, and will be approximately INR 50,000 per month. Project 39A will incur all travel-related expenses separately. The duration of the contract currently will be four (4) months. The contract may be terminated before the completion of four (4) months or may be extended, as required.


Interested persons may submit their resumé and a statement of purpose, explaining their interest in working on this specific project and their relevant work experience. Applicants are requested to fill out the form in the link below and attach the relevant documents. 

In case of any difficulty in submission through the form, please send your queries to
Deadline: Applications must reach us no later than midnight of September 16, 2022. Applications received after this date will not be considered.


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