- Apprentice Lawyer
The Journalists” is a multi-part series where we interview the editorial board of some of the more popular legal journals in the country. In this edition, Campus Ambassadors Roopam Dadhich and Chendhil Kumar, interview Aachman Shekhar, fourth year student of NALSAR University and an Editor of the Indian Journal of Constitutional Law (IJCL).
Why did you want to become an editor in this journal?
The Indian Journal of Constitutional Law (IJCL), now in its 10th Edition, has always been a source of excellently thought-out and well-researched constitutional law scholarship.
I first came across the journal when I began studying Constitutional Law as part of law school curriculum in 2019 and was instantly hooked. I remember being amazed at how much knowledge I had gained about Constitutional Law and Constitutionalism after reading only a couple of articles.
This was followed by an increased engagement with constitutional scholarship, especially with the vibrant rights’ discourse in India. IJCL archives were of immense help throughout the process.
So, when the opportunity to become a part of IJCL’s editorial board presented itself, I was prepared to make the best of it. Looking back, it is one of my best decisions in law school.
Tell us more about the journal (the area it deals with)
IJCL is focused on core and comparative constitutional law, and is published under the aegis of the MK Nambyar SAARCLAW Chair in Comparative Constitutional Studies in cooperation with the Constitutional Law Society at NALSAR University.
We aim at providing a repository of qualitative and well-researched jurisprudence to constitutional lawyers, academicians, and students alike, while simultaneously encouraging contributions from all these quarters. In doing so, we seek to strike a balance between legal realities and academic ideals in our published pieces.
A brief note of clarification here; IJCL is an Indian journal of constitutional law and not a journal of Indian constitutional law. Therefore, its doors are open to anyone who wishes to write a piece analysing contemporary constitutional issues arising in any part of the world.
After all, our ambition for IJCL is to make it the flagship journal on constitutional law in the sub-continent and enrich constitutional scholarship worldwide.
Please explain the review process
IJCL relies on the peer review process to uphold the quality and validity of the individual pieces that it publishes. Its editorial board performs an initial appraisal of every submitted manuscript based on the interest and importance of the topic, the use of the scientific method, the clarity of presentation, and the relevance to readers.
If the piece is considered suitable to be sent to peer review, it will be reviewed by members of the journal's advisory board and/or other specialists of equal repute. The help of these individuals is invaluable in maintaining the quality of pieces at IJCL. Before the process begins, reviewers are required to disclose potential conflicts of interest that may affect their ability to provide an unbiased review of an article.
Peer Reviewers complete a referee report form and provide general comments to the editorial board and both general and specific comments to the author(s). Constructive comments that might help authors to improve their work are passed on anonymously (even if the piece is not ultimately accepted).
Revised manuscripts may be subject to further peer review if appropriate. If an article is not deemed suitable for publication in the journal to which it is submitted, our cascading process may be used to propose an alternative journal to consider the manuscript.
Throughout the process, the editorial board coordinates among the authors and the peer reviewers to ensure the highest quality of scholarship produced.
Please talk about your advisory board
IJCL is blessed to have an advisory board comprising of some of the most distinguished constitutional law scholars in the country. They have been a guiding light in our endeavour to make IJCL more accessible to the public at large.
We are extremely grateful to all of them for taking time out of their busy schedules to help and guide a student-run journal like ours.
What’s your role as an editor?
Our editorial board comprises of myself and 7 other constitutional law enthusiasts from NALSAR; who together have the final responsibility for the journal’s content.
My role as senior editor is to maintain and develop wherever possible the journal’s profile and reputation. I seek to ensure that the journal’s aims, scope, and content respond to any changes of direction in the field of constitutional law to incorporate newly-emerging work.
In doing so, my primary responsibilities include reading extensively on the latest developments in Constitutional Law and Theory, soliciting pieces from senior constitutional scholars and practitioners, reviewing and editing the hundreds of manuscripts we receive every year, and doing PR work for the journal.
What do you think the other students must do to become an editor with the journal?
I believe that the 3 prerequisites for becoming a member of the IJCL editorial board are – a deep appreciation of constitutional values, consistent engagement with constitutional law scholarship, and a strong work ethic.
The highly competitive editorial board test for IJCL tests all of these skills and more.
At the moment, only NALSAR students can become members of IJCL’s editorial board. However, I am sure that membership opportunities will be extended to other law schools soon.