The National Law School Of India University came into existence through a Notification under the National Law School Of India University Act (Karnataka Act 22 of 1986). It signified the culmination of efforts by the Judiciary, the Bar Council of India, the Karnataka Bar Council, the Bangalore University and the Government of Karnataka to reform legal education and to establish a center of excellence for legal education and research in India. The Chief Justice of India is the Chancellor of the University. The Chairman, Bar Council of India, is the Chairman of the General Council. These connections lend a stature and prestige to the School which is unparalleled in the history of legal education in India. The Karnataka Act confers complete administrative and academic autonomy which facilitates innovation and experimentation in the pursuit of excellence in legal education.
The Law School has undertaken many research projects funded by the UGC, the Government of India, the Government of Karnataka, the Department of Women and Child Development, the UN agencies, the World Bank, HIVOS etc. These have served to strengthen research and teaching at the Law School.
The National Law School has exchange programmes with the National University of Singapore, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada and Buceuius Law School, Germany. Students from the Law School have spent a Semester in these Law Schools and their students have spent at least a Trimester here. This has facilitated exchange of ideas and culture between not only the law schools but also the countries. Faculty members of this University have gone to the Universities of Wales, Warwick and Nottingham and Faculty from these Universities have spent some time here doing teaching and research under the Exchange and Faculty Improvement Programmes facilitated by the British Council, Chennai. A number of professors and judges from the U.S.A., Canada, U.K., Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Malaysia and New Zealand have visited and interacted with, and even taught, at the Law School.
The Law School offers through its Distance Education Department a Master’s Degree programme in Business Laws, and Post-Graduate Diploma programmes in Human Rights Law, Environmental Law, Medical Law and Ethics, Intellectual Property Law and Child Rights Law. Many officers and working professionals have enrolled for these courses. Faculty members of the Law School are also involved in the organisation of programmes for and the teaching of officers belonging to the administrative, postal and other services.
In addition to reaching out with legal education informally to members of the society through these programmes, the Law School has had, from the very start, a Legal Services Clinic and a Centre for Women and the Law reaching out with legal aid and advice to women and others from the disadvantaged sections of the society, and mediation and negotiation for settlement of disputes. Faculty and students of the Law School help in creating legal awareness mainly among women and girls through classes in colleges and schools in and around the city of Bangalore.
The Law School today has many research and extension centres and a number of Endowment Chairs. The challenge for the Law School is to stay ahead especially in the context of globalisation. The Law School has the social responsibility of continuing to be a Centre of Excellence in the field of legal education, a position which it came to occupy within the first ten years itself due mainly to the dedicated efforts of the Faculty and students during those initial and formative years. Globalisation has thrown up new challenges, and the professional legal education has to cater to the growing demands for skilled legal professionals who can effectively function in the emerging legal order. The present challenge is to measure up to internationally acceptable levels of excellence. By its Resolution dated 26th August, 2006 the General Council of the Law School has reiterated that:
[T]his Law School was established with a view to cater to the requirements of the legal profession, law teaching and research, and judiciary and it is expected that the students who study in this School will eventually become legal practitioners, law teachers or engage in legal research or enter the judiciary in due course.
The Law School has made web-based legal education and interaction a reality in the areas of distance education programmes and for that purpose improved infrastructural facilities to answer the needs. It has facilitated the use of technological aids in classrooms and Conference Halls. The Law School is moving towards setting up a Digital Library of its collections as part of the Open Access Initiative, and efforts are on to provide open and world-wide access to all law related source documents.
The activities here on campus are co-ordinated by twelve Activity Based Committees (ABCs) which are re-constituted every year, and by various informal groupings constituted for specific purposes. The student Convenors/Joint Convenors of the ABCs comprise the Co-ordination Council, which is responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of the various committees. The ABCs organise a wide range of internal as well as inter-institutional activities throughout the academic year. The following are some of the Committees which have been functioning in the area of legal awareness, public policy debates, cultural exchanges and others.
I. LEGAL SERVICES CLINIC.
One of the avowed objectives of the National Law School of India University is to promote legal education and research. In pursuance of the same the Legal Services Clinic offers legal and paralegal services by the faculty and the students. It not only provides a centre for practical professional training for students of law, but more importantly, provides free legal services to the socially and the economically backward sections of the society who have difficulty accessing the judicial system.
The mandate of the Legal Service Clinic is broadly classified into two: Legal Aid and Legal Awareness.
Legal Aid: A dedicated Legal Services Clinic has been in operation at the NLSIU campus in Nagarbhavi since August 2005. The Clinic has since been used to provide free legal advice and counselling for people from various sections of society, as well as facilitating mediation from time to time. Additionally, the Clinic has a pro-bono panel consisting of many eminent lawyers including many alumni of NLSIU who volunteer and handle these cases that come to the Clinic.
The Clinic is kept open from Monday to Saturday and can also be contacted during at 9620874243 for those people who cannot visit the Clinic in person. LSC also answers legal queries through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. LSC also has its own blog that can be accessed here (http://legalservicesclinic.wordpress.com/) through which clients can contact them.
Tie-up with NGOs-LSC has tie-ups with NGOs such as Stree Jagruti Samithi which works with domestic workers’ issues and Munnade, which focuses on garment factory workers. Apart from giving free legal advice to women through such NGOs, LSC also conducts Legal literacy programmes and has undertaken several other projects such as Legislative drafting for domestic workers, surveys on domestic violence etc.
Legal Awareness: Additionally, a lot of LSC’s activities concern promotion of legal awareness in the society. For this, the members of the Clinic along with other students regularly conduct Legal Literacy Programmes (LLPs) and street plays for different audiences. These LLPs are conducted for adolescents in several schools in the city. LSC also conducts them in many different NGOs. LSC also conducts one outstation LLP every year in a rural area in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, as well as other adjoining states. In association with the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, LSC conducts Legal Literacy programs in various schools and colleges. Further, LSC put up plays on new areas of law on various occasions like Rajyotsava, National Law Day etc.
The Clinic has also began publishing its own newsletter that explains legal issues to the lay man. Which is distributed all across Bangalore, and other libraries to generate legal awareness.
Research Projects: LSC has been deeply involved in pro-bono and public policy orientated research, and has been increasingly taking part in and helping coordinate projects in association with other organizations. In the past, the committee has focussed on building databases of magistrates, protection officers under PWDVA, shelter homes etc for future reference. The Committee has also extensively studied and made reports on the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act in Karnataka.
II. ACADEMIC SUPPORT PROGRAMME
It is a well known fact that a wide variety of circumstances-such as differing social positions, cultural barriers, past educational environment, etc.-can make it difficult for some students to enjoy the same academic success as others. Despite recognising that these differences are bound to arise as a result of their admissions process, few institutions do enough to remove the barriers that impede the academic progress of such students once they have been enrolled for their courses.
NLSIU set up the Academic Support Programme in the 1998-99 to address precisely this concern. Extra-tutorial assistance by way of lectures and individual-specific guidance is provided by senior students and alumni in the after-class hours to help those facing examination and project-related difficulties, especially in the junior batches.
The members of the ASP also co-ordinate orientations for incoming batches for the use of the library as well as with the basics of writing academic research papers by the appointment of individual project guides. In past years, the ASP has also taken up the task of preparing an online database of old question papers, which is now hosted on the NLSIU website. During the past two academic years, the Committee has undertaken the Library Indexing Programme which added a substantial number of previously uncovered articles to the online Library Search database. In addition, the Committee also prepared the “Guide to Researching and Writing a Paper” which was distributed to the students of the University.
III. CAMPUS DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
The Campus Development and Management Committee (CDMC), is a Student Committee tasked with the development and maintenance of the SBA Common Room and the SBA Library. It recognizes and identifies the student needs/essentials to development of effective infrastructure and intends to liaise with and coordinate with the authorities in order to make the campus a better place. Improving the collection of books in the SBA Library is another concern. Waste disposal is proving to be a thorn in the flesh in ensuring a green campus and the Committee is determined to exact a solution to the same. The Committee is also examining the possibility of harvesting rain water.
IV. LAW AND SOCIETY COMMITTEE
The Law and Society Committee started out as an informal group of students interested in critical legal thinking. In 2002-’03, it was constituted as an Activity-Based Committee under the Constitution of the Student Bar Association. The Committee’s area of interest is conducting and facilitating research and activities relating to the convergence of legal and social fields.
The Committee provides information on opportunities in the voluntary sector and to those who wish to pursue alternative law careers. The Socio-Legal Review The ‘Socio-Legal Review’ is an initiative of the Committee that hopes to inspire socio-legal writing among members of the legal and social science community. It aims at exploring themes relating to the interface of law and society and providing a platform for students and young scholars. The Committee is also strives when it gives ‘law and society’ an expansive interpretation, thereby keeping its basic criteria for contributions simply that of high academic merit, as long as there is a perceivable link. This would include not just writing about the role played by law in social change, or the role played by social dynamics in the formulation and implementation of law, but also writing that simply takes cognizance of legal institutions/ institutions of governance/administration, power structures in social commentary and so on. Through this effort, the journal also hopes to fill the lacunae relating to academic debate on socio-legal matters among law students.
V. STUDENT ADVOCATE COMMITTEE.
The primary mandate of the Student Advocate Committee is to publish the National Law School of India Review, the flagship journal of the National Law School. In addition, the Committee has included within its purview a range of activities that seek to promote legal writing and scholarship in NLSIU. The National Law School of India Review (formerly the Student Bar Review) is a peer reviewed journal which has grown from strength to strength in recent years. It is perhaps the finest law journal in India, and it features contributions on cutting edge legal issues from the likes of Justice S.B. Sinha, Judge, Supreme Court of India, Mr. Arvind Datar, Senior Counsel and Dr. Hans Koechler (University of Innsbruck).
The National Law School of India Review is published twice annually. The first issue contains articles on different areas of the law, while the second is typically a theme issue, concentrating on a specific area of legal scholarship. The second issue includes papers presented at the Annual NLSIR Symposium. Apart from a component containing articles and essays which comprehensively analyze the choice of subject matter, the NLSIR also features notes, reviews, comments and case studies which concentrate on contemporary developments. The NLSIR hosts an annual symposium in its endeavour to contribute to legal discourse by inviting experts both from India and abroad to present their views on current legal controversies. The First NLSIR symposium, held in April 2008, dealt with Challenges to India ‘s Patent Regime, and hosted the likes of Justice P.P. Naolekar, Judge, Supreme Court of India, Mr. Shamnad Basheer and others. The Second NLSIR Symposium in April 2009 considered the controversies in arbitration law, and invited the leading experts in the area, such as Mr. Gourab Banerji, Senior Counsel, Mr. Arvind Datar, Senior Counsel, and members of the judiciary, past and present, such as Justice N. Kumar, Judge, Karnataka High Court, and Justice Jayasimha Babu, Judge, Madras High Court (retd). The NLSIR, in collaboration with the Nani Palkhivala Foundation, hosts an annual essay competition on the symposium theme. The Student Advocate Committee also runs a “Project Conversion Cell”, which allows members of the student community to send in papers they have written in the course of completing their degree requirements. The Cell then gives students constructive advice on how develop these papers so that they may be published in academic journals, both Indian and international.
VI. THE CULTURAL AND FINE ARTS COMMITTEE
Cultural Committee (Cul. comm.) offers the most needed breaks from the more serious and strenuous law school activities. It takes pride in organising a whole bunch of energy ridden and absolutely fun intra-college events like the creative Art Mela (that includes painting, sketching, Mehendi, Clay modelling, Face n Toe painting), Playfest , MadAdz, Movie Spoofs, Western Music and Dance, Eastern Music and Dance. But that’s not all, Cultural Committee also organises mega inter-collegiate events like LeGala and Admit One-the only international level theatre festival. Admit One which started off as a small venture in 2006, has now grown into a full fledged theatre festival in only three years, where the best of college theatre teams/ amateur theatre teams from across the sub continent compete during the course of three days in November for the much coveted titles!
It is the events that ‘Cul Comm’ organizes that add colour to student life on campus. Fun often overrides competitive spirits, but that is not to say that hard work doesn’t go into events-both in terms of organization and performance, Cul Comm plays a major role in the organisation of `LeGala’- Law School’s inter-collegiate Literary and Cultural fest. The fest sees participation from colleges across the country in all events including choreography, theatre, music and fine arts. The fest is usually organized in the third week of November each year. Also, keeping with the committee’s mandate of ensuring continued interest in cultural activities on campus, Cul Comm organizes cultural performances in colloboration with Spic Macy every year. In its past years, the committee has also organized salsa and theatre workshops. The Committee aims to continue providing this break from routine campus life by organizing more theatre and dance workshops for the benefit of the student community. The A Cappella group ‘De Minimis’, has been very active over the past two years and has participated in a number of music events held in Bangalore including the much acclaimed Glorius – Festival of Harmony, Echo and other collegiate fests.