Misery, Melancholy, and Misfortune: A Migrant Case Study

43 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2023 Last revised: 11 Apr 2024

See all articles by Jayanth K. Krishnan

Jayanth K. Krishnan

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: October 17, 2023


There is an ongoing crisis of despair involving migrants from abroad who are seeking refuge in one of the world’s longest-standing, post-World War II democracies – India. There are roughly 4.9 million noncitizen migrants in India, with most coming from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Because these migrants often live in the shadows, they are frequently deprived of their fundamental human rights.

On the one hand, it may seem surprising that this population remains so vulnerable. Albeit with notable exceptions, India’s Supreme Court has often been a leading institutional light in safeguarding the rights of many marginalized groups. Supreme Courts in other countries point to judgments from the Indian Supreme Court as a model for how to ensure that communities on the periphery are treated with dignity and due process. Furthermore, in periods of its progressive rights jurisprudence, the Court has been aided by a robust constitution and a vibrant civil society.

Yet when it comes to noncitizen migrants, there has been a dearth of sustained judicial support. Additionally, while there is certain, important bottom-up activism on behalf of these noncitizens, it has frankly not been enough to meet the cascade of needs that exist.

This project focuses on how institutional inadequacies, at both the governmental and societal levels, have left noncitizen migrants among some of the most isolated individuals within India. Namely, the absence of specialized and independent immigration courts, an outdated immigration statute, a lack of a strong immigration bar, insufficient legal education on immigration law, and little research on immigration doctrine are key reasons why migrants face such dire circumstances today. Otherwise put, India’s weak immigration infrastructure has sadly contributed to why noncitizen migrants have such difficulty accessing lawyers, the legal process, and ultimately justice within Indian society.

Keywords: Migration, Immigration, India, legal profession

Suggested Citation

Krishnan, Jayanth K., Misery, Melancholy, and Misfortune: A Migrant Case Study (October 17, 2023). 41 Wisconsin International Law Journal 367 (2024), Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4605045

Jayanth K. Krishnan (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.indiana.edu/about/people/details/krishnan-jayanth.html

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