Moeen Cheema

Senior Lecturer
PhD Candidate
LLM (Harvard); LLB (London)
+61 2 6125 1139
Room 247

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Moeen Cheema is a Senior Lecturer at the ANU College of Law, and the Convenor of the LLM program in Law, Governance and Development. Moeen has considerable experience of research, teaching and consultancy in the fields of comparative public law, criminal law, and legal and political developments in South Asia.

Moeen’s research is interdisciplinary and draws on critical approaches to law. He is especially interested in constitutional politics and judicial review; criminal justice systems; intersection of state and Islamic law; and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.

With an LLM from Harvard Law School and an LLB (Honours) from the University of London, Moeen is currently undertaking a PhD at ANU Law, where he is researching a contextualized history of the law and courts in postcolonial Pakistan.


- Co-Convenor of the Law, Governance and Development Program
- Member, Honours Thesis Review Committee, ANU College of Law

Significant research publications


Recent news

Moeen Cheema

ANU College of Law lecturer Moeen Cheema has been granted an Australia Awards Fellowship to assist with reform of the criminal justice system in Pakistan. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the awards earlier this week.

In the Media

Moeen Cheema interviewed by ABC The World Today
Moeen Cheema speaks to Voice of America

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.

Research projects & collaborations

Current Research Project:

Pakistan Prisons Research - This project involves the identification of suitable cases for provision of legal aid in several prisons in Pakistan. The emphasis is on serious criminal cases which carry death penalty or life  imprisonment and in which there is a heightened risk of miscarriage of justice and abuse of process due to factors such as the weak financial or social position of the accused, and bias due to the gender, religion/sect or caste/tribe. The project specifically focuses on those cases which are pursued as ‘jail petitions’ in the Supreme Court or ‘jail appeals’ before the High Courts. This project seeks to identify the nature and extent of systemic problems in substantive laws and trial processes which create vulnerability to abuse. A number of cases will also be identified for strategic litigation aimed at building precedents which may enable law reform. The project also entails engagement with trial judges, prosecutors, public defenders, prison and police officials with the aim of  highlighting the structural problems and sensitizing them to cultural factors which lead to recurrent miscarriages of justice.



  • Australia Awards Fellowship 2016-17: Promoting Criminal Justice Reform in Pakistan

This fellowship program will bring together several organizations that are involved in litigation, research and public advocacy aimed at the reform of the criminal justice system in Pakistan. The program will be designed to enhance the research, advocacy, public policy and law reform oriented skills of the fellows and the capacities of their organizations. The program will also aim to develop a sustainable network of partner organizations working on criminal justice research and reform in Pakistan.

  • ANU College of Law Small Grants Scheme 2014-2016 - This grant funded research on cases of women convicted of narcotics offences in Pakistan's prisons.


  • Evaluation of Judicial Trainings, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy, Pakistan, 2016 – Conducted an evaluation of the curriculum, methodology and effectiveness of judicial trainings imparted by the KPJA with the support of the UNDP.
  • Baseline Study on Rule of Law, Southern Districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, 2016 – Prepared a report for the UNDP Strengthening Rule of Law Program analysing the baseline data on public perception of and engagement with formal and informal justice sector institutions in the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. 
  • Correctional Services Policy, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, 2016 – Advised Aitebaar Program, Coffey on an integrated correctional services policy in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan covering prisons, probation and parole. 
  • International Commission of Jurists Report on Corpus Delicti, 2009 – Advised the ICJ on the possibilities of prosecution of murder based solely on circumstantial evidence in cases of enforced disappearance. The report included a comparative analysis of relevant criminal law in a number of jurisdictions as well as of the jurisprudence of international tribunals.
  • USAID Rule of Law Assessment in Pakistan, 2008 – Advised USAID team on the historical contexts of Pakistan's legal system and authored part of the Report. The report is available online at 
  • UN-Habitat Consultancy Project, 2006- 2007 – Advised UN-Habitat on land rights issues and compensation-related grievances in the areas of northern Pakistan affected by the earthquake of October 2005.
  • Relief and Information Systems for Earthquakes Pakistan (RISEPAK) – Led teams of students and researchers affiliated with RISEPAK based at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan, in research and date collection on post-earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction compensation scheme.


Books & edited collections

Book chapters

  • Election Disputes’ or Disputed Elections?: Judicial (Non-)Review of Elections in Pakistan, in Judicial Review of Elections in Asia, P J Yap (ed.), Routledge, 2016.
  • 'The Chaudhry Court: 'Rule of Law' or 'Judicialization of Politics'?', in Moeen Cheema and Ijaz Gilani (eds.), The Politics & Jurisprudence of the 'Chaudhry Court' (2005-2013), Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2015.
  • 'Police Order 2002: Police Reforms in Pakistan', in Ali, S. M. and Saquib, M. A. (ed.), Devolution and Governance Reforms in Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2008 (with Sikander Shah and Waleed Khalid).
  • 'Gender Discrimination: Exploring Judicial Bias in the Superior Courts of Pakistan', in Ghaznavi, D. and Khan, B. A. (ed.),  Managing NGOs in Developing Countries: Gender Challenges, Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2006.

Refereed journal articles

Conference papers & presentations

  • ASLI Workshop on “Transplantation of Foreign Public Law in Asia”, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, 3-4 November 2016
  • Washington International Law Journal Symposium on “Asian Courts and Constitutional Politics in the 21st Century”, University of Washington Law School, 3 October 2016
  • Workshop on Judicial Review of Elections in Asia, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, 3 July 2015
  • 12th ASLI Conference "Law 2.0: New Challenges in Asia", National Taiwan University, 21-22 May 2015
  • YCC-ASCL Workshop on Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Milan, 4 May 2015
  • 2014 International Judicial Conference, The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, 18-19 April 2014
  • 'Asian Legal Studies: New issues and new Scholarship' Workshop, Centre for Asian legal Studies, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, 5-6 December 2013
  • Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference: 'Receiving Laws/Giving Laws', Faculty of Law, University of Technology of Sydney, 10-12 December 2012
  • The Australian Society of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference 2011, T.C. Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, 29-31 July 2011
  • Law & Religion workshop, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, Melbourne Law School, 14 July 2011
  • Harvard-Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum 2010, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, 7-8 October 2010
  • 'Postcolonialism & Islam' Conference, Northern Association of Postcolonial Studies (NAPS), Sunderland, UK, 16-17 April  2010
  • Workshop on 'Islamic Law in the Courts: Judicial Interpretation of Shari’a in Modern Muslim States' at the University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, USA, 5-6 June 2009

Current courses

Previous courses

Year Course code Course name
2016 LAWS8016
Class #6799
Comparative Constitutional Law
2016 LAWS2249
Class #7384
Legal Theory
2016 LAWS6249
Class #9036
Legal Theory


The Quest for Legitimacy: Judicial Review Jurisdictions of the Superior Courts in Pakistan

This thesis aims to present a contextualized account of the law in postcolonial Pakistan and situate the judicial review jurisprudence of the superior courts, in particular their recent activism and populism, in the contexts of the historical developments of constitutional politics, evolution of state structures and broader social transformations. It will show how in each epoch of the post-colonial state’s history the superior courts positioned themselves within the state and vis a vis the demands that different segments of the society placed upon the state and its institutions. It will bring forth evidence that the courts did not define their role in accordance with certain abstract theories of constitutionalism, rule of law and separation of powers that had been deeply imbricated in the post-colonial state’s self-justifications. Rather, these courts re-situated themselves from time to time and re-fashioned their role in accordance with fundamental shifts in constitutional politics, state structure and state-society dialectics. In the process, these courts re-cast the theoretical conceptualizations of constitutionalism, rule of law, and separation of powers to better reflect their evolving role and jurisprudence. A deeper understanding of these phenomena – i.e. the evolution of judicial role in response to shifts in socio-political context, and the re-crafting of theoretical frameworks to justify it – will enable us to meaningfully scrutinize the courts’ recent jurisprudence and evaluate the judiciary’s future role in Pakistan’s governance scheme. As such, it will be argued that the courts’ role is deeply political in terms of defining the nature and relevant powers of state institutions and the imperatives for their actions. Perhaps the Pakistani situation is unique in this respect, but it might be worthwhile speculating if theory is often elsewhere a shorthand for such deeply contextualized arguments as well.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


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