•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

Assaults, cops and sit-ups: How the Oxford India Moot went dramatically wrong

Oxford India Moot: Promising beginnings
Oxford India Moot: Promising beginnings

The first Oxford India Moot was expected by participants to become a prestigious new competition in India’s mooting calendar.

Instead, it ended with participants relieved at the end of the “torture” that was the moot’s organisation, in the words of one.

The story first broke after moot participant and Amity Law School Delhi student Akanksha Sharma published a blog on Legally India and student website Lawctopus about the moot, held at the India International Centre (IIC) Delhi from 14 to 16 March, following a long Facebook post on Sunday about the incident by Medhavi Gandhi, who told Legally India that she had witnessed the events while accompanying a friend who was participating.

Hi-vis project

The OUSI is one of Oxford University’s “autonomous, independently-financed groups run by volunteers, who undertake to the University to conduct themselves to a high standard and to keep us informed of the events they organise”, according to the university.

The aim of OUSI, which was started by three alumni of Oxford’s Said business school according to a source with knowledge of its background, was to create a strong Oxford University alumni network in India.

The Oxford India Moot was intended to provide a cornerstone and high-visibility branding opportunity for the young organisation. More than 50 alumni and others are listed as being part of the moot’s organising committee, according to its website.

Abhishek V Chhabra, president of the Oxford University Society India (OUSI) alumni association, was heading the moot’s organising committee as confirmed by several participants of the moot. However, his name and picture were removed from the official website of the moot yesterday (though archived on Google cache).

On Saturday, 15 March, Chhabra had been taken to the Tughlaq Road police station in Delhi.

A series of unfortunate events

Chhabra and his driver allegedly assaulted three students from Punjab University’s law school at the mooting venue, according to the alleged victims and several students who participated at the moot.

The altercation reportedly followed a verbal scuffle over the team’s disqualification from the moot for arriving late at the venue, according to the female participant from Punjab University.

She said that the team had argued with Chhabra that the disqualification was unfair owing to confusion about timings created by the organisers, and they had attempted to video-recording Chhabra’s “rude” response on their phones.

“He snatched the phone from [M] and started dismantling it. So [R] goes to him and asks him to give back the phone. [R] takes out his phone. Abhishek snatches his phone from him and starts slapping him. Then [Chhabra] calls his driver and both start beating [R] up.

“At that time I entered that place with my husband. Meanwhile I started recording [on my phone]. The security guard held my husband and [R] and Abhishek groped me. He got my phone in his hand and deleted the video. My husband got my phone back. This was the time I called the police. Abhishek Chhabra was ready to make no apology,” she said.

Apparent apology / acceptance
Apparent apology / acceptance

Within a few hours after the arrest the female team member dropped her complaint against Chhabra. “I am from Chandigarh and it would have been very difficult for us to keep going back to Delhi [to follow up on criminal case]. [R]’s parents forced him to [fulfil] my conditions and he did. I wanted him to rub his nose on my feet and do sit ups and give a written apology,” she commented.

The team said that they would, however, forward a complaint against the organisers to OUSI, the British High Commission in India, and the British Council, whose director Rob Lynes is a member of OUSI’s board.

Chhabra did not respond to a message, email and several calls from Legally India seeking comment.


The 55-sponsor-strong moot did not hold a closing ceremony for the moot participants except the two finalists, and did not hand out participation certificates to winners of various awards and other participants, confirmed several independent sources who participated in the moot.

On Saturday the organisers had sent out an email informing the participants that the winning citations would be announced via email and on the official website of the moot, because there was not enough seating space available at the closing ceremony venue to accommodate the participants.

The team from Campus Law Centre (CLC) Delhi was finally announced winner of the moot, but the winning team members have to date not received a participation certificate, according to several participants.

So far the winners have not received the promised prize yet of “conditional” acceptance to the BCL course at Oxford University the promised prize of a scholarship from Oxford University Society India, conditional on admission to Oxford University in the ordinary admissions process, which was a major draw resulting in more than 45 teams participating in the moot, which was free to enter. [Correction: Oxford University has clarified that under the competition’s rules a seat in Oxford was never offered, but only a scholarship upon successful admission to the BCL].

CLC's speaker confirmed to Legally India that the closing ceremony had a line-up of “high profile” guests including former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, Times Now editor Arnab Goswami, Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, MC Mehta and others, out of whom Mehta, Goswami and Bhushan were spotted at the ceremony.

A rude shock

“It didn’t look like the moot was sponsored by so many people because all they gave us was one pen,” commented a participant on the organiser’s arrangements.

Despite sponsors such as Tata, NDTV, Network 18, Wipro, Khaitan & Co, Luthra & Luthra, Trilegal and nearly 50 others, there was no accommodation provided to any participating team and no food, tea or sufficient drinking water were provided at the venue, alleged several participants.

Participants also complained of mismanaged timelines and badly coordinated announcements at the venue.

“[The memorial] evaluation results were supposed to come out on the 15th of February. They pushed it and they pushed it and they pushed it. Then eventually they released it on the 2nd or 3rd of March, so several deadlines were missed. The moot was on the 15th of March so that didn’t give a lot of teams the time to come here [since selection on the moot was based on memorial evaluation],” a participant said.

Another participant told Legally India that the organisers were “extremely rude” and “yelled” at participants in case any clarifications were sought. She said that the courtrooms lacked court masters and had an organiser sitting to “time the arguments on [his or her] phone”.

Oxford University responded in a statement today that it would “urgently investigate” the allegations and the organisation of the moot, with which it had no involvement after the organisers declined the university’s help.

The OUSI did not respond to requests for comment other than in respect of the blog post published by Sharma, stating: “Please note that the contents of the abovementioned post are false and / or misrepresentative and defamatory in nature etc. Please remove the aforesaid post immediately. This email is without prejudice to any of the legal rights of the organizers of the abovementioned competition.”

Legally India thanks Lawctopus for its contribution in reporting this story.

Click to show 36 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.